The Supreme Court delivered a major victory for reproductive rights today in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, striking down two of Texas’ recent restrictions on abortion (these have been copied in other states, so the effect of the ruling is much larger than Texas): requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and requiring abortion facilities to meet ambulatory surgical center standards. The net effect would have been to radically curtail the availability of abortion to women in Texas, as the law would have closed most of the clinics in the state. As always, poor women who couldn't travel the sometimes extravagant distances needed would suffer the most (it was so bad that the appellate Court said that women in West Texas could just go to New Mexico, which has very permissive abortion laws. Apparently women's health isn't that important). The fig leaf with which the Texas legislature tried to cover these restrictions will be familiar to those who have been watching state legislatures on abortion: “women’s health.” In getting the case to the Supreme Court, the 5th Circuit basically announced that the Courts were bound by legislative findings of fact and then a rational basis review test. In an opinion by Justice Breyer (n.b. not Kennedy, who joined the majority, however), the Supreme Court invalidated both of those lines of argument in this case.
People in the UK today are voting on whether to leave the EU, in what has universally become known as the “Brexit.” Current polling shows the referendum will be very, very close, and the political situation is extremely volatile. Over the weekend, a liberal, pro-Europe MP was brutally murdered by a member (or at least supporter) of a far right party who gave his name as “Death to Traitors” in his first court appearance. Ironically, the murder may have hurt the exit campaign. On the other hand, the BBC is now running a story that if the Brexit succeeds, it may prompt London – which will almost certainly vote to stay – to demand its own exit from the UK; Northern Ireland and Scotland might follow suit. I haven’t seen anyone say that further devolution is likely, but it would be on the table for discussion. In the meantime, British far right parties like UKIP have supported the exit, claiming that there is too much immigration and too many regulations emanating from Brussels. It’s an occasion for right-wing nationalism to gain political power and prominence. In other words, Brexit is the UK’s Donald Trump, with two primary differences: the Brexit vote looks like it’s going to be close, and the new mayor of London really is Muslim.
I’ve lived in England on two separate occasions – once in London on a semester-abroad as an undergraduate, in Fall 1992, and for a year in graduate school (1997-98), reading in the Bodleian library in Oxford. Fall 1992, of course, was when the Maastricht treaty establishing the EU and setting the groundwork for the common currency was debated and ratified. The UK joined, though it stipulated that it would not join the Euro, and demanded a number of other specific concessions as conditions for membership. One of the main anti-Europe arguments was that there were too many regulations emanating from Brussels, and the no-campaign selected British Beef as a good example of the sort of industry that did not require foreign regulation. Not long after that, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, aka “Mad Cow Disease,” went from a minor to a major news item. BSE, which one contracts mainly by eating infected meat, is invariably fatal, has a very long incubation period of several years, is essentially undetectable prior to symptoms (I will never be able to donate blood because I lived in England when I did), and is virtually impossible to destroy – it withstands temperatures of 600 degrees. It also turns out to have started in England, where the British Beef industry had been feeding rendered carcasses to cattle as a protein supplement. The EU banned such feeding practices in 1994, having previously banned beef from England into other member states.
I am currently supervising a MA thesis on interpersonal justification (by Sebastiano Lommi), and this is providing me with the opportunity to connect the dots between a number of topics and questions I’ve been interested in for years. In particular questions pertaining the epistemic value of deliberation, metaphors for argumentation, and the Enlightenment ideal of epistemic autonomy are all coming together. In this post I argue that the process whereby knowledge is shared through argumentation and exchange of reasons preserves the autonomy of the knowing subject to a greater extent than through testimony alone. Ultimately, the goal is to hit the sweet spot between preserving the autonomy of the knower while avoiding an overly individualistic picture of knowledge, i.e. one where the social dimension of knowledge is not sufficiently recognized.
The work of developmental psychologist Paul L. Harris (e.g. his book Trusting what you’re told) has been an important influence for my thinking on these matters. It is thanks to him that I got to see these issues through the lenses of Enlightenment ideals -- the exhortation to think for yourself -- which were a reaction to the then-prevailing model of (excessive) deference towards authority and testimony. Harris argues that the emphasis on the autonomy of the knowing subject thus conceived (as found in e.g. Kant, Rousseau, and centuries later in Piaget) swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, leading to a mistaken conception of knowledge and learning as essentially individual processes, disregarding how much we in fact learn from others.
In recent decades, the importance of taking into account the social aspects of knowledge became increasingly acknowledged in epistemology, leading to the emergence of the subfield of social epistemology. Arguably, the main focus of social epistemology until now has been on testimony, though there has also been some work on interpersonal justification, understood as "argument addressed to those who disagree with us, or to ourselves when we are of two minds" (Ralws) (see here for Goldman’s classic ‘Argumentation and interpersonal justification’, where he argues (mistakenly, in my opinion) that personal justification remains the primitive notion). While these may not be the two only processes whereby a person shares knowledge with others, for present purposes I take these to be paradigmatic cases.
Today, the Fourth Circuit – which covers North Carolina – allowed to let stand its earlier ruling legitimating the Department of Education’s definition of “sex discrimination” to include “gender discrimination.” The case was specifically about a Virginia trans* male high school student who was banished to the women’s room. No doubt there will be an appeal to the Supreme Court, but for now, the law of the land here is that refusing to allow public school students to go to the bathroom that matches their gender identity puts states at risk of losing a lot of federal money.
Last week, there were two more noteworthy developments around North Carolina’s HB2 (the law that forces trans* people to go to the bathroom of their “biological sex” as listed on their birth certificate, bans cities from expanding anti-discrimination law to include protections for the LGBTQ, and which bans municipalities from raising their own minimum wage). First, on Friday, the UNC System filed legal papers indicating that it will not enforce HB2 on system campuses. The move seems to have been orchestrated by new system president Margaret Spellings, and the affidavit includes the statements that “there is nothing in the Act that prevents any transgender person from using the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity,” and that neither the system nor its member institutions has “changed any of its policies or practices regarding transgender students or employees,” since the act lacks any enforcement provision. UNC mainly wants off the defendant list, but Spellings’ leadership here – and I don’t say this sort of thing often – has been pretty good. She hasn’t denounced the law in so many words, but she’s both protecting the system and our trans* students. Second, the bad PR continues: the law made the New Yorker (the op-ed draws the correct connection to racial integration, and how Southern states resisted that).
With all this news, maybe it’s time to point out some of the obvious problems in the arguments of the bill’s defenders, and what their theoretical assumptions seem to be. Collectively, these demonstrate two, intertwined things. On the one hand, the law is mainly expressive: that is, it doesn’t actually do anything, except scream from the rooftops that the state of North Carolina does not like LGBTQ people. And that, more than anything else, I suspect, is why the backlash against it has been so intense. On the other hand, it shows that the North Carolina legislature operates according to a theory of sovereignty that finds its clearest expression in Carl Schmitt, and the law itself is an attempt to relegate trans* people to what Agamben calls homo sacer. Here’s the arguments:
In order to update my post from January, I contacted Mark Fiegener of the NSF (National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics) who was kind enough to supply me with information from the Survey of Earned Doctorates on gender for graduates of doctoral programs in philosophy using a shorter time scale: 2004-2014. Using this information, I can now provide a new list of programs with an above average percentage of women graduates in philosophy. Only 86 programs had sufficient data in this time period, and 35 had an above average percentage of women graduates between 2004 and 2014 (information from the other programs was suppressed by the NSF for reasons of small numbers/privacy). Comparing these 35 to the previous list of 39 programs with an above average percentage of women graduates 1973-2014, 11 of the 39 do not make the more recent list (CUNY, Emory, Harvard, Illinois-Chicago, Maryland, NYU, Pittsburgh, Rice, Rutgers, Stanford, and UMass Amherst), and an additional 2 did not have sufficient data to be included (Claremont and Tennessee), but 26 of the 39 show up on this new list. Update: Note that some of these 11 do have above average percentages of women in the APDA data between 2012 and 2015 (namely, Emory, Harvard, Illinois-Chicago, Maryland, and Pittsburgh). I will aim to do a full comparison with the APDA data soon. Of the 11 programs that became a focal point for my previous post (because of what I took to be an unwarranted call for their closure), 1 did not have sufficient data to be included, but the other 10 had an average 36.93% women graduates (compared to an overall average of 29.31% women graduates for the 86 programs included). Note: I did not attempt to obtain shorter time scale data for racial and ethnic minorities simply because of the small numbers involved, which would have meant suppressed information for most programs. Here is the list of 35 programs with a greater than mean percentage of women graduates for 2004-2014:
Eric Schwitzgebel alerted me to a post at the Leiter Reports blog on the work of Jonathan Strassfeld (University of Rochester), who has compiled a document with philosophers appointed at 11 doctoral programs in the United States between 1930 and 1979: Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, U Penn, and Yale. I was curious whether appointments in this period could predict present day diversity for these programs. My prediction was that a higher percentage of women among those appointed in this period would predict a higher percentage of women among faculty and graduate students today. I also wondered, given my work with Eric Schwitzgebel, whether area of specialization would interact with this effect (in that work, women were shown to be more likely to specialize in Value Theory). Although this is not a formal analysis, it appears as though programs that appointed a higher percentage of women in this period do have a higher percentage of women and non-white graduates today, and that there is some interaction with area of specialization such that programs with more faculty in LEMM/analytic fields tend to correspond with lower percentages of women, and historical fields tend to correspond with higher percentages of women. Given this first pass look at Strassfeld’s data, I think it would be useful to attempt to collect this data for a larger set of programs, to more formally explore these connections. More details on my first pass look at Strassfeld's data below. (Numbers updated on 5/29/16 to reflect a change made to Strassfeld's data. Namely, I had incorrectly removed one woman faculty member from the analysis, which Strassfeld pointed out to me.)
If you’re an SSRN user, you got the notice in your Inbox yesterday; if you’re not, follow the links at the top of Leiter’s post here. Read the comments, too. It’s hard to know what to make of this acquisition, but for those not familiar, here’s a quick backgrounder: SSRN.com (“Social Science Research Network”) has, for a very long time, been a repository for freely available research online, particularly in law. Most law faculty post their papers on SSRN, where anybody else may freely download and read them. SSRN also has other categories: I post my papers there, and there’s an entire set of categories for philosophy. When you post a paper on SSRN, it makes you swear that you have the right to do so, and underscores that it does not take copyright in anything. I’m a heavy user of the site, as is every legal academic I know (that’s how I got to it: I read lots of law journal articles). Elsevier has now bought SSRN.
Philosophers tend to use academia.edu, which is unfortunate. You can’t download anything from the site without registering for it, and when you do, it tries to scrape the web and link your papers to your academia.edu site (or at least, it did when I make this mistake several years ago), and then sends you an email asking you to make sure the papers listed are all yours (the overinclusion in my case was comical, as there is somebody in physics whose initials are G Hull). You also get a barrage of emails: somebody just searched for you on google and found your academia.edu page! Click here to know where they were! Good grief. In computer terms, the site is basically trying hard to be sticky (causing people to go there and linger), and so it imitates Facebook, giving you lots of opportunities to curate your image, follow people, be followed, explore homepages, and so on, when all you thought you wanted to do was share your work for anybody who wanted to read it (the 5th comment on the Leiter page linked above goes into more detail). Did I mention that it comes with piles of corporate money?
The Supreme Court today issued a much-anticipated ruling in Zubik v. Burwell, the latest lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive provision. The ACA requires that insurance plans offer contraceptive coverage at zero cost, and includes a clause that employers who object to providing such coverage can request exemption from it, in which case the insurance company provides the contraception coverage, and the government pays them. In the current case, the nonprofit petitioners said that even being required to request exemption from the contraception mandate substantially burdened their religious freedom, since it would make them "complicit" in their employees' acquisition of contraception. As I do every time someone mentions this case, I'll point out now that these employees also receive wages from the company, which could also be used to purchase contraception. So that theory of the case would imply that wages are immoral. Given the political climate in the U.S., I should probably add that I consider this argument a reductio.
Now we know how the Hollow Claim ends. After oral argument the Court requested additional briefs to see, essentially, whether the parties could work things out themselves, providing both contraception and religious accommodati0n. Both parties submitted supplemental briefs indicating they could, and so today the SCOTUS ordered them to get busy on that project:
"Following oral argument, the Court requested supplemental briefing from the parties addressing “whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners’ employees, through petitioners’ insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners.” Post, p. ___. Both petitioners and the Government now confirm that such an option is feasible. Petitioners have clarified that their religious exercise is not infringed where they “need to do nothing more than contract for a plan that does not include coverage for some or all forms of contraception,” even if their employees receive cost-free contraceptive coverage from the same insurance company. Supplemental Brief for Petitioners 4. The Government has confirmed that the challenged procedures “for employers with insured plans could be modified to operate in the manner posited in the Court’s order while still ensuring that the affected women receive contraceptive coverage seamlessly, together with the rest of their health coverage.” Supplemental Brief for Respondents 14–15.
In light of the positions asserted by the parties in their supplemental briefs, the Court vacates the judgments below and remands to the respective United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Tenth, and D. C. Circuits. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates petitioners’ religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners’ health plans “receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.” Id., at 1. We anticipate that the Courts of Appeals will allow the parties sufficient time to resolve any outstanding issues between them."
In the meantime, it is worth pointing out that this is an exercise in the Courts ordering biopolitics to happen, and rejecting efforts to get out of that process through judicial fiat. I mention that only because (shameless self-promotion), I think the logic, if not the language, is on the general same page as how the Courts handled school desegregation in its heyday: the Court sets the outer parameters, but basically they want a policy-making process to happen, if with juridical supervision.
As Carolyn Dicey Jennings and I have documented, academic philosophy in the United States is highly gender skewed, with gender ratios more characteristic of engineering and the physical sciences than of the humanities and social sciences. However, unlike engineering and the physical sciences, philosophy appears to have stalled out in its progress toward gender parity.
Some of the best data on gender in U.S. academia are from the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). In an earlier post, I analyzed the philosophy data since 1973, creating this graph:
The quadratic fit (green) is statistically much better than the linear fit (red; AICc .996 vs .004), meaning that it is highly unlikely that the apparent flattening is chance variation from a linear trend.
Since the 1990s, the gender ratio of U.S. PhDs in philosophy has hovered steadily around 25-30%.
The SED site contains data on gender by broad field, going back to 1979. It is interesting to juxtapose these data with the philosophy data. (The philosophy data are noisier, as you'd expect, due to smaller numbers relative to the SED's broad fields.)
The overall trend is clear: Although philosophy's percentages are currently similar to the percentages in engineering and physical sciences, the trend in philosophy has flattened out in the 21st century, while engineering and the physical sciences continue to make progress toward gender parity. All the broad areas show roughly linear upward trends, except for the humanities which appears to have flattened at approximately parity.
These data speak against two reactions that I have sometimes heard to Carolyn's and my work on gender disparity in philosophy. One reaction is "well, that just shows that philosophy is sociologically more like engineering and the physical sciences than we might have previously thought". Another is "although philosophy has recently stalled in its progress toward gender parity, that is true in lots of other disciplines as well". Neither claim appears to be true.
[I am leaving for Hong Kong later today, so comment approval might be delayed, but please feel free to post your thoughts and I'll approve them and respond when I can!]
When the North Carolina legislature passed - in 12 hours from start to governor's signature - HB2, consigning transgender individuals to the bathrooms of their "biological sex" as listed on their birth certificate, UNC''s new system president Margaret Spellings issued a prosaic statement that "university institutions must require" restroom access policies that comply with the law.
The US Dept. of Justice, following its letters to the governor, has now sent a letter to Spellings and other top UNC administrators informing them that HB2's bathroom provision violates both Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act. The system apparently nets somewhere around $1 billion in Title IX money annually. The letter does not (as popular media tends to report) threaten that money directly - but it does threaten to get a court order forcing the system not to enforce HB2.
In critical work on neoliberalism, there’s probably two or three main schools of thought. One approaches the subject as a matter of political economy. David Harvey, whose analysis is explicitly Marxian, is the most well-known figure in this approach; another prominent author in that camp is Philip Mirowksi. The other major school is broadly Foucauldian, taking its cue from Foucault’s Birth of Biopolitics lectures. A third group, represented by autonomist Marxists like Paolo Virno, Franco Berardi, and of course Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, attempt a synthesis (I won’t have much to say about them here). All sides have methodological critiques of the other; here I just want to note that the Foucauldians generally tend to be concerned with a topic that seems neglected in political economy: granted that neoliberalism expects us all to behave as homo economicus, defined as a risk-calculating, utility-maximizing investor in himself (gendered pronoun deliberate), how does neoliberalism get people to actually do this? After all, it is not a natural human set of behaviors. More specifically, not just how does neoliberalism get people to do this, but how does it get them to do so enthusiastically, treating the definition of the human as homo economicus as the true, correct and only way to be human? In other words, Foucauldians insist that critiques of neoliberalism need an account of subjectification.
Wendy Brown’s new(ish) Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Zone Books, 2015) makes a substantial contribution to the Foucauldian camp by focusing on “Foucault’s innovation in conceiving neoliberalism as a political rationality” (120). The political rationality is “governance” as “the decentering of the state and other centers of rule and tracks in its place the specifically modern dispersal of socially organizing powers throughout the order and of powers ‘conducting’ and not only constraining or overtly regulating the subject” (125).
"Does it matter if the story of the escape from Egypt is historically true?" Rabbi Suzanne Singer asked us, her congregants, on Saturday, at the Passover Seder dinner at Temple Beth El in Riverside.
We're a liberal Reform Judaism congregation. Everyone except me seemed to be shaking their heads, no, it doesn't matter. I was nodding, however. Yes, it does matter.
Rabbi Singer walked over to me with the microphone, "Okay, Eric, why does it matter?"
I say "we" are a Reform Judaism congregation, but let me be clear: I am not Jewish. My wife Pauline is. My teenage son Davy is. Davy even teaches at the religious school. My nine-year-old daughter Kate, adopted from China at age one, recently described herself as "half Jewish". We're members. We volunteer, attend some of the services. Sometimes I try to chant the chants, sometimes I don't. I always feel a little... ambiguous.
I hadn't been expecting to speak. I came out with some version of the following thought. If the story of Passover is literally true, then there's a miracle-working God. And it would matter if there were such a God. I don't think I would like the moral character of that God, a God who kills so many innocent Egyptians. I'm glad it's not literally true. It matters.
I find it interesting, I added, that we ("we"?) have this celebratory holiday about the death of children, contrary to the values of most of us now. It's interesting how we struggle to deal with that change in values while keeping the traditions of the holiday.
In adding a clause to Hegel, Marx remarked once that the great world historical events occur twice: first as a tragedy, and then as a farce. For a 21st century version, I propose adding that it’s getting harder to tell the difference. I am of course talking about North Carolina’s infamous HB2, which requires trans* individuals to go to the restroom of their “biological sex” as recorded on their birth certificate, AND makes several forms of discrimination (racial, etc.) illegal in the state (but not against the LGBTQ) AND bars local municipalities from extending further protections (it does more, but those are enough for one blogpost). The clear intent, and the net effect, is to deprive gender non-conforming individuals from equal protection of the law, and to invite discrimination against them.
In defense of the inevitable firestorm this caused, most of the few state leaders who both support it and who have spoken on it have basically gone into a defensive crouch. The governor claimed to be “blind-sided” by questions about the law, and unclear about its implications. More generally, supporters busy themselves telling fairy tales about the danger to public safety that having “biological” men in the women’s room will cause, no matter how much those men have transitioned into being women. Nevermind that there is zero evidence that there has ever been a problem in this regard, including in the hundreds of jurisdictions that have passed ordinances like Charlotte’s, and nevermind that transitioning is about the most difficult possible way to prey on people in public restrooms. Oh, and nevermind that the law is without theoretical foundation unless you think that trans* individuals are sexual predators, and that cis folks are not.
On the farce side, this means that people who appear to be men will have to use the women’s room (and vice versa), which will almost certainly cause greater discomfort for more people than the previous status quo. On the tragic side, the law is totally unenforceable, and so encourages vigilantism against all gender non-conforming individuals, since they are now all on a continuum that ends with “not being not manly enough to use the men’s room.” As Mary Elizabeth Williams writes on Salon:
As noted in the APDA update posted over a week ago, we are in the middle of two important projects:
We are adding individual editing to the website in May 2016. Up to March 2016, placement data were edited by project personnel, placement officers, or department chairs. In the future, individual graduates will have the option to claim their entry. To do this, we require a contact email for the graduates in our database. We currently have email addresses for roughly one quarter of the database. For graduates: to ensure that you are included among those who have access to individual editing, please provide your email address here: http://goo.gl/forms/mXUbpeH5ic
Along with individual editing, in May 2016 we will add a brief qualitative survey for graduates. We will use linguistic analysis to compare these responses across graduates, connecting them to metadata on graduating institution, gender, graduation year, area of specialization, and placement type. Participants will be compensated for their time. Again, to do this, we require the contact email for the graduates in our database. For graduates:To ensure that you are sent the qualitative survey, please provide your email address here: http://goo.gl/forms/mXUbpeH5ic
Please feel free to send the form to past philosophy graduates you know who may want to be included! As it says above, time they spend filling out the qualitative survey in May will be compensated (by a $50 Amazon gift card raffle for every 50 participants). And note: it is our policy to treat the email addresses as private and accessible only by project personnel.
This is a brief notice that APDA has finalized its update for the 2015 report. Here is the report from 2015 and here is the update. Please contact me (cjennings3 at ucmerced.edu) with feedback or leave comments and suggestions below.
Update: I replaced one of the links as I noticed that the AOS table had been mismatched to the gender table.
Update (4/15/16): I will list here errors that are discovered in the data/report:
University of Washington--4 grads (2 2012, 2 2014) should be listed as temporary academic, but are currently permanent (but non TT) academic.
University of Texas, Austin--placement records are missing several graduates and should be checked against the placement page (the placement page was down when we attempted to check it in November).
University of Arkansas--this program was not contacted for data and should be included in future reports.
Yesterday the Guardianpublished the results of a research conducted on the over 70 million comments that have been placed at Guardian articles over the years. The question was: is there a pattern in who gets most abusive comments? Given the Guardian’s policy to block comments (blocked by moderators) when they are not aligned with the spirit of constructive debate, this constitutes an extremely dataset to explore online behavior (it is reassuring by the way that only 2% of the 70m comments were blocked!). It has been long felt that women, and in particular women speaking from a feminist perspective, receive much online abuse in reaction to what they write. (Comment sections are one such venue, but think also of Twitter and other social media platforms.) But crunching the numbers is the right way to go if one wants to move from the level of ‘impressions’ to more concrete corroboration. The results will probably not come across as surprising:
Although the majority of our regular opinion writers are white men, we found that those who experienced the highest levels of abuse and dismissive trolling were not. The 10 regular writers who got the most abuse were eight women (four white and four non-white) and two black men. Two of the women and one of the men were gay. And of the eight women in the “top 10”, one was Muslim and one Jewish.
And the 10 regular writers who got the least abuse? All men.
In an interesting new piece, Jim Thatcher, David O'Sullivan and Dillonn Mahmoudi propose that big data functions in the context of capital as “accumulation by dispossession,” which is David Harvey’s term for what Marx called “primitive accumulation,” the process by which capital adds to its wealth by taking goods from others and adding them to the system. Marx: “so-called primitive accumulation, therefore, is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production” (Capital I, 875 [I am using the Penguin edition]). Perhaps the best example of this is the one detailed by Marx: the enclosure movement in England involved the privatization of agricultural common spaces in England, such that it was no longer possible to graze sheep on lands held by the community in common; the result was that a lot of peasants, who ended up with no or inadequate amounts of private property, lost everything of value they had and became “free labor,” forced to sell themselves to the emerging factories. As Marx sums up the process:
“The spoliation of the Church’s property, the fraudulent alienation of the state domains, the theft of the common lands, the usurpation of feudal and clan property and its transformation into modern private property under circumstances of ruthless terrorism, all these things were just so many idyllic methods of primitive accumulation. They conquered the field for capitalist agriculture, incorporated the soil into capital, and created for the urban industries the necessary supplies of free and rightless proletarians” (895)
I am very sympathetic to the thesis, and there is something profoundly right about it, insofar as Thatcher et al. rely on the separation of the valued information from the person who produces it. But I also think it needs tweaking, for reasons that emerge in the paper itself: the data trail that a person leaves is generally itself without value, and only becomes valuable when aggregated with a lot of other data. In other words, as I tried to argue a while ago, data is itself without value; it is only when it becomes information that it realizes that value.
It seems to me that the accumulation processes of big data is involved in a much earlier stage, the commodification of data into information itself, which involves both the elevation of exchange value over use value, and the conversion of qualitatively different items of data into commensurable units of information. These are, to an extent, equivalent processes, as Marx notes: “as use values, commodities differ above all in quality, while as exchange values, they can only differ in quantity, and therefore do not contain an atom of use-value” (128). Still, I think it’s worth teasing the two threads apart here.
Consider cases in which a person sincerely endorses some proposition ("women are just as smart as men", "family is more important than work", "the working poor deserve as much respect as the financially well off"), but often behaves in ways that fail to fit with that sincerely endorsed proposition (typically treats individual women as dumb, consistently prioritizes work time over family, sees nothing wrong in his or others' disrespectful behavior toward the working poor). Call such cases "dissonant cases" of belief. Intellectualism is the view that in dissonant cases the person genuinely believes the sincerely endorsed proposition, even if she fails to live accordingly.Broad-based views, in contrast, treat belief as a matter of how you steer your way through the world generally.
Dissonant cases of belief are, I think, "antecedently unclear cases" of the sort I discussed in this post on pragmatic metaphysics. The philosophical concept of belief is sufficiently vague or open-textured that we can choose whether to embrace an account of belief that counts dissonant cases as cases of belief, as intellectualism would do, or whether instead to embrace an account that counts them as cases of failure to believe or as in-between cases that aren't quite classifiable either as believing or as failing to believe.
I offer the following pragmatic grounds for rejecting intellectualism in favor of a broad-based view. My argument has a trunk and three branches.
The trunk argument.
Belief is one of the most central and important concepts in all of philosophy. It is central to philosophy of mind: Belief is the most commonly discussed of the "propositional attitudes". It is central to philosophy of action, where it's standard to regard actions as arising from the interaction of beliefs, desires, and intentions. It is central to epistemology, much of which concerns the conditions under which beliefs are justified or count as knowledge. A concept this important to philosophical thinking should be reserved for the most important thing in the vicinity that can plausibly answer to it. The most important thing in the vicinity is not our patterns of intellectual endorsement. It is our overall patterns of action and reaction. What we say matters, but what we do in general, how we live our lives through the world -- that matters even more.
Consider a case of implicit classism. Daniel, for example, sincerely says that the working poor deserve equal respect, but in fact for the most part he treats them disrespectfully and doesn't find it jarring when others do so. If we, as philosophers, choose describe Daniel as believing what he intellectually endorses, then we implicitly convey the idea that Daniel's patterns of intellectual endorsement are what matter most to philosophy: Daniel has the attitude that stands at the center of so much of epistemology, philosophy of action, and philosophy of mind. If we instead describe Daniel as a mixed-up, in-betweenish, or even failing to believe what he intellectually endorses, we do not implicitly convey that intellectualist idea.
As I noted in a previous post, APDA is in the middle of finalizing data for a new report. This will be a follow up to the report released in August 2015. We hope to include data on graduates with no listed placements and Carnegie Classifications, among other improvements. It is our aim to release the new report by April 15th, so that it can be useful to those who have applied to graduate programs this year. (Until that time, editing on the site has been turned off so that we can verify and analyze the data. We will turn back on editing in May when we turn on a new feature to allow for individual editing.)
In preparation for that report, I have been trying to determine the best way of displaying our data. I am attaching four DRAFT images that present data for 104 universities using pie charts (on gender, AOS, job type, and graduation year: gender and AOS use data from APDA alone, whereas job type and graduation year also uses graduation information from outside APDA, discussed in this post). I used pie charts because they are visually intuitive and I want the data to be as accessible as possible. I used suggestions from this post to help avoid some common criticisms of pie charts. (Note: I tend to analyze data in R, using ggplot2 for graphs, which is the language I provide below for anyone with expertise in this area.) At the top left of each image are the data for the full set of 104 universities. (Universities are included only if we have both an external source of graduation data and placement records for that university with recorded graduation years in this time period.)
I am looking for feedback on these charts. Are these easy to understand? Are there alterations that would be beneficial? Two other options, with images below: 1) Replace pie charts with bar graphs (one sample version below). 2) Make university-specific sets of charts. (This is more time-intensive than 1.)
Note also: We aim to release tables and regression analyses, as we did last time, and any images we release will be in addition to that work. Your input is welcome!
The Academic Placement Data and Analysis project (APDA) hopes to release program specific placement rates in the next week or two (before April 15th). These placement rates compare placement data to graduation data, so good graduation data are crucial. Yet, finding consistent graduation data is surprisingly tricky. The project currently uses the following external sources:
We gather data from multiple sources because each data set is incomplete, and for different reasons. For instance, the Survey of Earned Doctorates gathers data from programs in the United States alone, while the American Philosophical Association collects data from programs in the United States and Canada. Since the Review of Metaphysics publication supplied names we were able to integrate this information into APDA. For the other three sources we compiled the number of graduates for the years 2012-2015 into a single spreadsheet, assuming the later of the two years when a range was provided (e.g. 2011-2012). If I remove the programs that had missing data from all three remaining sources (SED, PhilJobs, APA) then we have data on 105 universities. How do these sources compare to one another and to the data contained in APDA?