What Railton Really Said

Some important points are raised in this post over at Up@Night about Peter Railton’s Dewey Lecture.

I’ve also been noticing that Railton didn’t just give a talk about depression in philosophy. He used depression as an example while making a bigger point. And it’s occurred to me to be concerned that, as a discipline, it is all too easy for us to hear only the elements of Railton’s message that are most comfortable for us to hear, and/or relatively easy for us to act upon without challenging too much of the status quo.

Railton’s lecture came in an era in which an unprecedented number of philosophers have started working towards making our profession one that offers basic respect and dignity to its most vulnerable members, and regards them as valuable, instead of expecting them to tolerate degrading treatment and working conditions as a matter of course, and rewarding only the ones who survive this. Unprecedented numbers of philosophers have started to worry about the intellectual deficits we may be creating for philosophy by acting without any awareness of, or any solidarity with, those who are most professionally vulnerable. And of course, here as in any similar movement, others push back against any effort for change, using the language of “excessive political correctness” and like rhetoric to present solidarity as unreasonable, and activism as ridiculous.

It is in that context that Railton makes statements like this one:

If the philosophical profession can show solidarity with our most vulnerable members, even as they show solidarity with the many communities they aspire to serve, then Dewey will look down upon the philosophical world and smile.

We do Railton — and the discipline — a disservice if we overlook what he really said.

New APA travel fund for philosophers of color

From Amy Ferrer:

At its meeting in November, the APA board of officers approved a proposal from the task force on diversity and inclusion to create a travel assistance fund for philosophers of color.

The fund will subsidize travel for philosophers of color who would otherwise find it challenging to participate in APA divisional meetings and other APA-sponsored conferences. The fund is supported exclusively by donations.

Donate to the new APA Travel Assistance Fund for Philosophers of Color!

To help get the new fund off the ground, APA member Janice Dowell and the Marc Sanders Foundation have issued a challenge. Professor Dowell, the winner of the 2014 Sanders Prize in Metaethics, has pledged $1,000 of her prize money to the travel assistance fund, and the Marc Sanders Foundation has committed another $2,000 to it—but only if the APA raises $5,000 in additional donations for the travel assistance fund by April 10.

We need your help to launch this important travel assistance fund and meet our challenge goal. Please give generously before April 10 and make your dollars go even further. Any amount is deeply appreciated and will go a long way to support diversity in philosophy.

Donate now!

With gratitude,

Amy E. Ferrer

Executive Director

Please consider donating! The APA continues to promote new programs for inclusiveness in philosophy, but their resources are limited and their ability to undertake these programs successfully relies on the collective support of members.