Last week the Pacific Division of the APA met. For a very brief, visual summary, see this post at Feminist Philosophers. I found the meeting truly interesting for a change. It wasn’t so much the sessions, though there were good sessions, but rather the professional dynamics that were visible in more informal interactions, though these “informal interactions” were fueled by the sessions. Here are my “highlights”, though some of them might be more appropriately referred to as “lowlights”. I acknowledge that this report on my Pacific APA may bear little or no resemblance to your APA!
- A P-SWIP/BayFAP reception where I had several fascinating conversations. One was about the question of wanting to live a life that addresses issues of social relevance and doing philosophy of science. Are these different impulses? If not, how do we integrate them and yet still do work that is judged to be good by the standards of the field. This conversation was followed by another about the ongoing and so little changed sexism that female graduate experience. The latter was particularly disconcerting to me. I left graduate school 28 years ago and the stories that I was hearing were too similar to my own experience. The reports that male graduate students (at least some) truly believe that female graduate students get all the jobs was particularly worrying.
- A Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Science that had 55 articles only 5 of which were by female philosophers and two of those were co-authored with males. More disturbing is that there was only one article discussing feminist philosophy of science (by Cassandra Pinnick) and the theme of that article was that there was nothing of value that it had to offer and that feminist should stay out of science and stick to politics!
- A memorial session for Richard Rorty which reminded me of the startling experience of the meta-philosophical critique, a possibility that had not yet occurred to me when I read it as I finished graduate school and something that the experience above remind me is so sorely needed.
- A mini-conference on Making Philosophy of Science More Socially Relevant organized by Nancy Cartwright, Sophia Efstathiou, Helen Longino, Katie Plaisance. These sessions were an example of where one might go if one engages in such a critique and a hopeful sign that at least some philosophers are interested in integrating all the aspects of their lives as philosophers and participants in their social and political life.
- Blogging connects you to people! Several people came up to me and recognized my name from blogging both on Knowledge and Experience and here. I also got to know some of the bloggers who contribute regularly to the blogs that I read.
Update: Check out Philosophy’s Sexism at the APA particularly the comments. I think these are discussions we need to be having. What are we ourselves doing to keep these sexist practices in place?