Several interesting things have been happening online over the last week. First, there is a new philosophy of science group blog: It’s Only a Theory. Posts so far have mostly been about the nature of scientific theories and specifically about the semantic view of theories. The blog seems to be an offshoot of a discussion from the HOPOS list that was started by Gabriele Contessa and then moved over to the blog. I think it is a great idea and I look forward to the extension of the discussion into other areas of philosophy of science.
The next exciting development is the launch of an online research engine for philosophy papers. We have David Bourget and David Chalmers of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University to thank for this development. I am thrilled. I particularly like the feature that allows one to browse the latest philosophy journals. Particularly for someone who is not at an institution with deep journal resources this is a wonderful feature. One might quibble with the categories that they are using, but first, they are very self-aware about their choices and acknowledge that other interests might produce a different categorization, and second, they are open to suggestions and this feature is likely to rapidly evolve. It also has this wonderful, self-correcting feature that allows one to upload papers that the search engine might have missed or works in progress. I will post some thoughts on this in relation to feminist philosophy in another post (soon).
Finally, at Lemmings, Brit Brogaard raises the question of why there are so few female speakers at conferences (Female speakers: a rarity). There is one comment that reinforces one of her hypotheses: there just aren’t that many women in the conference field (in this case, philosophy of mind). A quick reminder about the numbers of women in philosophy (check out Knowledge and Experience for the a good account of current numbers – left hand column of the blog) also helps with part of the explanation. There is more to fill out however. The lower numbers of women means that it is less likely that there are going to be women organizing the conferences, it means that the men organizing the conferences are going to be less likely to think of women to invite, and so on. The aggregation of these small effects perpetuates the absence of women on these programs and their inclusion in the subsequent published volumes and so on. But wait! Here are some conferences that don’t seem to have that problem. Check out the webpages for FEAST, SAF (Society for Analytical Feminism), and the interdisciplinary group FEMMSS. One might argue that the problem is that women are only liberally included (in fact, they dominate) when the topics are explicitly feminist. That, in itself, does not seem all that surprising but when you put together that information with the point that women seem to be so poorly represented in other venues, I think it is clear that there is a problem.
Update: I just noticed that I had missed another reference to women and conferences at Feminist Philosophers.