Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gary Gutting: Feminism And The Future Of Philosophy

Via the estimable Ph*l*s*phy M*t*bl*g: this, an embarrassment. Feminist philosophy is generally pretty embarrassing, and so is Gutting's hagiographical account of it.
   Somebody explain to me how anyone can take the following seriously:
...Sally Haslanger, in her seminal analysis of gender and race, says, “At the most general level, the task is to develop accounts of gender and race that will be effective tools in the fight against injustice.” She goes on to offer the following definition of “woman”: “S is a woman [if and only if] S is systematically subordinated along some dimension — economic, political, legal, social — and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction.”
Haslanger is a hack, and that is hackery of the first water. It's not true...it's not close to being true...it's not interestingly false...it's just bullshit.
   And don't even get me started on the idea that the point of philosophy is to "develop accounts of [anything] that will be effective tools in the fight against injustice." I mean, hey, fighting injustice: groovy. But (a) much of what these people want to fight isn't injustice, and (b) to the extent that's what you aim at, you're not doing philosophy. It's important...in fact, it's way more important than philosophy. But it's not philosophy. But, of course, that's how we get bullshit like Haslanger's: she's not even trying to get at the truth; she's trying to effect some political end. (Though, again, incidentally: whatever that end is, it almost certainly isn't justice.)

   Incidentally, Gutting starts off with this bit about Haslanger:
“There is a deep well of rage inside of me. Rage about how I as an individual have been treated in philosophy; rage about how others I know have been treated; and rage about the conditions that I’m sure affect many women and minorities in philosophy, and have caused many others to leave.” Those words, written a decade ago by Sally Haslanger, a distinguished professor of philosophy at M.I.T., well express the moral energy behind the feminist ferment currently shaking American philosophy.
 Here's the great Neven Sesardic on Haslanger's tribulations in philosophy. It's short and worth the read. tl;dr: Haslanger got a series of sweet-ass jobs despite having almost no publications, and then got hired into one of the world's best departments...but...because she still didn't have enough publications to get early tenure...was forced to...oh God, I can hardly even type it it's so horrible...get twice the ordinary number of letters of recommendation... I, for one, don't know how she's survived...

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