A Concern Discussed at a session at the Pacific APA

I don’t think anything is gained by my identifying either the session or the speakers, particularly since the problem is quite general.  I should say that in the remarks I mention, both very mainstream analytic philosophy and philosophy of race and gender were discussed.

A speaker remarked that there was little feminist work done in an analytic area.  In the discussion another philosopher maintained that in fact there was on-going work by feminists in that area, but that it challenged the structure the speaker used to define the area.  The voices of such feminist philosophers are mostly at least muted since (a) it is extremely difficult to get such work published, and (b) if it does get into print, just about no one reads it or discusses it.  Several other women at the meeting registered that it was good that we were talking about gate-keepers.  Afterward a women who had given a paper I thought genuinely brilliant and illuminating told me that she had given up on publishing in journals and now relied on being invited to publish.

Another kind of example:  A recent paper in a visible publication said its main idea came from an impressive book by a woman philosopher.  Previously two mainstream presses had said they couldn’t find anyone to review it, and another editor completely reversed the main thesis and then rejected it as not interesting.

Our profession can ill-afford such silencing.  One remarkable contribution outsiders can make to a profession is to provide new and critical perspectives on traditional topics.  This contribution is just lost if people refuse to consider it.

Probably we all get self-published books from people who have discovered the secret of the universe.  In contrast, the outsiders I am describing tend to be highly credentialed.