Great contribution in NY Times by Sally Haslanger; comments not so much

This week the NY Times will have five articles by and about women in philosophy. Sally’s is a great beginning. A sample:

With these numbers, you don’t need sexual harassment or racial harassment to prevent women and minorities from succeeding, for alienation, loneliness, implicit bias, stereotype threat, microaggression, and outright discrimination will do the job.  But in a world of such small numbers, harassment and bullying is easy.  

Odd but familiar is a recurring charge in the comments (as of now, 3:30 am cst): Sally hasn’t explained why there are so few women.

One’s reminded of the unpleasant joke, “Aside from that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?”

21 thoughts on “Great contribution in NY Times by Sally Haslanger; comments not so much

  1. I’m not sure why asking for the etiology of the situation is “odd”.

    In fact, I’d appreciate it if someone could provide a link to these data, if there is some current research. The one study I recall suggested that things “go wrong” at the undergraduate phase–i.e. young women are not opting to major in philosophy, let alone pursue graduate work. But I think that was dated. Any help is appreciated!

  2. I thought it was odd because I think SH has offered an account. If the comment said her explanation needed more citations it would not seem odd. But just saying she didn’t offer one at all is puzzling.

  3. LogicFan has a point; the closest Haslanger seems to come to offering an account of anything is the passage quoted in the OP. But that essentially takes the form “Given X, Y is sufficient to account for Z”, which does not appear to constitute an account of X (notwithstanding that it’s possible that Y could explain X).

  4. Maybe we are working with different conceptions of what an explanation is. I think saying something like, “she is so insecure about her abilities because her parents were constantly criticizing her” does given an explanation, although little more that an outline.

  5. Oh come on. This was a blog piece in the NYT, not an academic paper. We’ve done the academic papers, lots of us have. Go look for them.

    I seriously suspect that LogicFan trolls this issue, as I’ve seen them trolling on other blogs such as NewAPPS on this very topic.

  6. I may have misunderstood, but I thought LogicFan’s point was that we can understand, following Haslanger, why a discipline very low on women would then by a vicious cycle have a lot of trouble attracting women, while having no explanation for the difference between philosophy and other disciplines, since almost every discipline has at some point been almost entirely men.

    I wonder about that a lot, myself. Asking about it doesn’t seem at all trollish.

    (I do not understand Anonymous’s schema or annejjacobson’s analogy, so I think others are understanding the point differently.)

  7. It’s hard for me to see how asking questions to correct one’s own ignorance on a topic is “trolling”, whatever that means.

  8. That’s not “trolling”. That’s expressing a view which you disagree with. I am mistaken about things all the time, and that well may be the case here. If so, you should be able to state your case using rigorous argument.

  9. LogicFan, the fact that you phrase your points in a superficially qualified or self deprecatory way doesn’t magically make you a good faith commenter. In fact, writing in such a way is pretty classic behavior for what are sometimes called “concern trolls”. Neither your superficially calm tone nor the fact that you sometimes say non-trollish things doesn’t make up for the fact that many of your comments are thinly veiled derailments and dismissals of the point of the OP.

  10. I do not know what “concern trolls” are and I do not care. It is hard for me to see how asking for links to research on the causes of gender inequality in philosophy is a “derailment” or a “dismissal”. I concede that it is possible that I possess a sort of epistemic blindness here owing to stupidity.

    But let me say that I have a rule-of-thumb, which has served me well, and it is to be wary when persons resort to ad hominem attack, or censorship, or hand-waving, etc. to avoid rigorous engagement on disputed issues. So when I’ve seen somewhat unpopular beliefs–but beliefs which have nonetheless been thought carefully about–be met with emotional, rhetorically unpleasant, and evasive replies at the level of rational discourse, it has generally been the case that the proponents of those beliefs were on to something after all.

  11. I just posted a link with lots of the data. You participated in that thread, even. And even then you still post comment #13 here…that’s pretty good evidence that one is a troll. But I’ll leave it at that…

  12. I’m surprised this comment thread hasn’t been shut down. Calling someone a ‘troll’ is a silencing technique, and it remains so no matter who uses it, and no matter what their intentions.
    Arguably LogicFan did derail the topic, but surely others have contributed at least as much to the derailment by re-focusing comments on the the accusation of trolling.

  13. Whoa! Have been having a busy week, too busy to moderate apparently. I’d really rather we don’t get into discussions of who is and isn’t a troll. If there’s any more of that discussion, the comments on this post are likely to get closed.

  14. It would help if there could be a little more understanding of the fact that feminist blogs DO attract a lot of trolls, and so it probably isn’t a good idea to ask pointless questions which have already been answered here or elsewhere. And if you honestly do not have enough experience with feminist blogs to understand that this is a major issue, you probably should take on a bit more humble attitude when someone corrects you. There are reasons that longtimers respond to certain types of questions the way they do. You’re not going to get understanding responses until people see that you are making an honest effort. It’s not enough to say you are, you have to prove it.

  15. LogicFan’s question wasn’t pointless, and the idea that nobody should ask a question until they have researched whether it has ever “been answered here or elsewhere” it manifestly absurd.

  16. Dana, your comment is mind-boggling. I am here because I am interested in correcting injustice against women. I had assumed, perhaps naively, that that was the case for everyone on the blog.

    Your view is in fact dangerous from the point-of-view of justice because it could give the naive observer the impression that the feminist cause is simply the promotion of the interests of women, justice be damned. That is, we need not concern ourselves with analysis of the moral issues involved, as the result–undeserved advantages for women–is what is important. I cannot believe that many feminists share this view.

    I still don’t know what a “troll” is, and to be frank it’s hard to even make sense of your post. You said: “You’re not going to get understanding responses until people see that you are making an honest effort. It’s not enough to say you are, you have to prove it.” What does that mean? What is wrong with standard rational discussion?

  17. I’m really the chief person responsible for monitoring, but I’ve lost track of things this week.

    It think it is clear that accusations on the internet are pretty risky; we lack much of the background knowledge of our interlocutors that keeps our discussion sane. So:

    no more discussions of other people’s remarks, please. Otherwise, remarks get closed.

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