Journal of Social Philosophy’s latest special issue brings work on women in philosophy together with recent scholarship on subtle forms of discrimination, especially implicit bias. The articles address the ways that implicit bias might explain the low numbers of women in the profession, as well as the possible implications of implicit bias for philosophical methodology.
Questions are raised about the possibility of gendered “intuitions” in experimental philosophy, and about the socio-political effects of certain styles of philosophical argumentation. Focusing on implicit bias and other subtle forms of sexism, several authors examine the profession of philosophy, including the systems of ranking and evaluating one another’s work, and the roles that philosophy plays within increasingly corporatized universities. Questions about possible routes for change and about moral responsibility for implicit bias are also discussed.
Earlier this month, Mr Justice Michael Burton ruled that employees holding philosophical views based on science and reason should be afforded the same legal protection from discrimination as those with religious beliefs. The case concerned Tim Nicholson, the former head of sustainability for Grainger, the UK’s largest listed residential property company. Nicholson claimed that he had been sacked due to his environmental beliefs. But Grainger’s lawyers contended that environmental views are political and a “lifestyle choice” which cannot be compared to religion or philosophy.
Mr Burton ruled that Nicholson’s views were entitled to the same protection as religious views and that the case should go before an employment tribunal. The written ruling, which looked at whether philosophy could be underpinned by a scientific belief, quoted from Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy and ultimately concluded that a belief in climate change, while a political view about science, can also be a philosophical one. Interestingly, Mr Burton ruled last year that Al Gore’s environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth was political and partisan as he assessed whether it should be shown to schools. (You can read about the case here and here.)