The History of Philosophy as a giant poster, but without women (again).

The History of Philosophy as a giant poster, but without women (again)..

It just oughtn’t to be acceptable anymore for members of the profession to react to this depiction of the history of our discipline without protest.

Significant or interesting philosophers of the past were NOT all men, and even if women were a minority, it is not such a small minority that it couldn’t show in a pictorial representation.

I am not saying that the creator of the poster is to blame, but that we, as professional philosophers, should probably not consider using this as a teaching resource.

On the plurality of statements

Some people have expressed concern over signing the September Statement because they feel it isn’t strong enough. (See, for example, Jessica Wilson’s public facebook post.) Specifically, some people feel the September Statement doesn’t effectively criticize the PGR, or implicitly endorses the PGR.

If you’re one such person, there’s now an October Statement, courtesy of John Protevi. So if you didn’t want to sign the September Statement because you felt it was too conciliatory to rankings or the PGR in general, you can sign the October Statement instead.

Or better yet, you can sign both! There’s nothing inconsistent with signing the former to publicly boycott a Leiter-run PGR (and publicly express solidarity with those who have been treated badly), and then signing the latter to express concern about the general effect of rankings in our profession.

UPDATE: From Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa in the comments thread:

I was part of the discussion in which the September Statement language in question — the bit that has been read by some as suggesting that the ranking system is on the whole valuable — was drafted. The language is this:

“We therefore decline to take the PGR survey, we decline to serve on the PGR advisory board, and we decline to send Professor Leiter information to help him compile the survey (e.g. updated faculty lists and corrections). We are only declining to volunteer our services to the PGR *while it is under the control of Brian Leiter*. With a different leadership structure, the benefits of the guide might be achieved without detriment to our colleague.”

The last sentence — the one at issue here — was a late addition to the statement. It was added in order to further emphasise that the statement did not constitute an objection to the PGR tout court, but only to emphasise that it was the strictly weaker objection to the PGR under Leiter’s control. (Some people were considering signing, but were worried about giving the impression that they were taking a stance against the PGR itself.) The intention was that the statement be explicitly neutral on what attitudes signatories might have toward other possible versions of the PGR. So I can confirm with what I think is some authority Richard Heck’s suggestion [in the comments] that the language was never intended to imply that a Leiter-free PGR would be better than no PGR at all.

In retrospect, I do think that in our efforts to avoid giving the impression that the September Statement represented an anti-PGR stance, we may have inadvertently chosen wording that is suggestive of the opposite; reference to ‘the benefits’ of the PGR does seem to presuppose that there are benefits. This doesn’t entail that there are *net* benefits, but I do see that the sentence on the whole could easily be thought to carry the implicature that there are. It’s hard to write in a way that’s neutral about everything one might want to be neutral about. We did contemplate language like “with a different leadership structure, any benefits there may be to the guide might be achieved without….” but in addition to being super ugly-wordy, this feels like it insinuates that we thought there wasn’t value. We signers of the original statement had no consensus about whether there was value to the PGR, so we aimed not to commit about that question.