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.

4 thoughts on “A Concern Discussed at a session at the Pacific APA

  1. I don’t see a need to identify session or speakers, but I’d be very interested to know what the area and content are in order to have a look at the work under discussion. In general, is there a place or way in which this kind of work is publicized? If not, shouldn’t there be?

  2. That’s certainly true. I do wonder if there isn’t some kind of intermediate solution though, where people could put work up which is in process (as opposed to being unpublishable), like e.g. ArXiv or, in a closer field, LingBuzz or Semantics Archive in linguistics. A great deal of the work that goes up in places like that ends up getting published, but it’s still accessible earlier (and without paywall). Clearly this wouldn’t solve the problem you discuss, but at least it would give an avenue to disseminate the work and let it perhaps start to change the state of the field to one that was more friendly to those who currently count as outsiders.

  3. Eric, I think that’s a great idea, and I suspect some people are doing that, on academia.edu in particular. I think others have had bad experiences, though, in open forums.

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