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.
Harriet McBryde Johnson was a lawyer and disability rights activist who was herself severely disabled. Her wonderful essay, “Unspeakable Conversations,” which she wrote for the New York Times Magazine, is an account of her debate with philosopher Peter Singer. In “Unspeakable Conversations,” she argues persuasively that pity for people with disabilities– an attitude commonly adopted by the non-disabled– is inappropriate, and rooted in prejudice.
I was put in mind of Johnson’s essay when I stumbled on this local news puff piece about Dominic, a two-legged greyhound.
Dominic is so obviously happy, so successfully doggish, that it’s impossible to entertain the notion that pity is the appropriate response. With pity off the table, the reporter seems confused. He actually says, out loud and on mic, “you’d think he’d have a chip on his shoulder, or something.”
It’s an entire case study in disability prejudice in a few seconds of b-roll. And because it’s dog disability the reporter is grappling with, the prejudice that underlies some pity-responses is much easier to see.