The Whiteness of Philosophy– and other Humanities

Eric Schwitzgebel decided to compare philosophy’s racial makeup to that of other humanities subjects.  He found that– unlike the picture with gender– Philosophy is not an outlier among the humanities with regard to race.  There are many humanities subjects just as white as philosophy.  But importantly his conclusion is not a complacent one.  Instead, his work leads him to float an important hypothesis:

Despite aspiring to be a broad, topically-driven inquiry into fundamental questions about truth, knowledge, beauty, and morality, perhaps philosophy as currently practiced in the U.S. is experienced by students as something closer to the study of a piece of ethnically European cultural history.

Adjuncting and the stink of femaleness or poverty

A guest post by Elizabeth Picciuto.

This is my third year as an adjunct. From what I hear from hiring committees. I’m pretty sure that means I will have the stink of adjunct “staleness.” Among the zillions of reasons that adjuncting is a rotten state of affairs, allow me to add my own. I adjunct because I have three children, one of whom has severe physical and cognitive disabilities. Accepting a one year VAP means not only uprooting my typical kids. I must find new doctors (orthopedics, gastroenterology, pulmonology etc. etc.) and acquaint them with his complex medical background. I must find local schools that actually fund their special education. I must create a new IEP (that is, a contract with a school system that lays out what his requirements are for an appropriate public education). I must find accessible housing. In short, it’s too large a burden for a 1 year job that pays $55-ish K, (if you’re lucky).

Caregiving, of course, falls disproportionately on women and those from less advantaged backgrounds. And so, the stink of “staleness” may really be the stink of femaleness or poverty.

I’ve heard people say that if people really want to stay in philosophy, they’d make some sacrifices. I feel like I’ve made plenty of sacrifices just to finish my dissertation. I’m happy to move nearly anywhere for a low-paying job as long as it offers job security and health benefits. How much more of a sacrifice am I supposed to make? Honestly, do we really want to excise from the field people who also value their families’ well-beings? Mightn’t they have something philosophically interesting to say?