North Carolina’s infamous HB2, which prohibits LGBTQ people from getting the sorts of civil rights protections that women and racial minorities receive, as well as mocking the reality of trans* by demanding that everyone go to the restroom corresponding to the “biological sex” on their birth certificate (see here), has caused even more damage. Today, the NBA announced that, because of HB2, it would move its all-star game out of Charlotte in 2017. The league did add that if the HB2 problem were satisfactorily resolved, the city would get the game back in 2019. The league had been threatening this move for some time, and it could cost the Charlotte area economy around $100 million.
Governor Pat McCrory’s response to the move was truly breathtaking, however. As quoted in the Charlotte Observer, McCrory emailed that:
In a new paper, Maximilian Fochler conducted a series of structured interviews with scientists to make an STS point: when we think of capitalism as a system that depends on “accumulation,” there are many different kinds of things that one can accumulate, many of them non-financial. I think Fochler makes an important point, but I also think it should be pushed in a somewhat different, more critical direction.
First, though, the results of the interviews. Fochler interviewed both academic and non-academic scientists in Austria. On the academic side, he looked at those in charge of labs, and the post-docs who do most of the actual bench science. Both are engaged in a race to accumulate. The leaders have to produce peer-reviewed publications in order to get grants, which they need to then get more peer-reviewed publications (Fochler’s interview subjects were Austrian, but it should be noted that in this country, many of those scientists have to get grants to cover their salary. No grant, no paycheck). The post-docs are in perhaps the most dire situation: there are a lot more post-docs than there are positions for them, and so they have to engage in a competitive race to accumulate publications as well, in order to continue in their careers (or as Becker would say, adding a polite veneer, “invest in their human capital”), either by extending their current position or gaining another one. Adding to the stress, postdoc positions typically last 2-3 years, which is not enough time to accumulate a significant publication record (I will leave it to readers to draw the connections between this situation and that faced by the humanities precariat).
On the corporate side, we find the CEO’s of start-ups trying to generate peer-reviewed publications, positive lab results, and other indicia that their particular research program – and its endpoint product – is worthy of continued venture capital funding, with the goal of (eventually) selling the start-up to a larger pharmaceutical company. Since the scientific process apparently takes about 10 years, and the VC funding cycle is two or three years, this is a continuous worry. The scientists, on the other hand, much to their surprise (and mine, as I read the paper) work in a collaborative, non-competitive environment. This is because successes and failures are attributable to the entire company. Of course, the downside of this is that these scientists don’t accumulate anything they can use to parlay into their next job.
The simple point I would like to add is that, despite all of the accumulation, no one is making any real money. Not the post-docs, especially, though a move into to a faculty position adds some salary and a little job security, but also adds to the need to publish. The CEO’s and employees of the start-ups aren’t likely to get rich either: 90% of start-ups fail generally; pharmaceuticals don’t do that much better; and one study reported that “97% of drugs in preclinical tests never make it to market, and nor do 95% of the molecules in phase 1 clinical trials and 88% of molecules in phase 2. Not until phase 3 do their prospects get much better: Of the ones that make it that far, 56% are approved” (summative quote from here).
Big Data theorists have, for a while, been warily eyeing the growth of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), which is when “smart” technology is integrated into ordinary household devices like refrigerators and toasters. New fridges all have warning lights that remind you to change the water filter; IoT fridges will order the new filter for you. “Smart” utility meters are another example: they can monitor your utility usage moment by moment, making adjustments, say, to the HVAC to optimize power (or to prevent brownouts by automatically raising the temperature of everybody’s house a degree or two during peak hours). Such smart meters are obviously key if those with rooftop solar are going to sell their surplus capacity to the power company. They also enable very detailed surveillance of people’s home lives: they apparently know when you’re using power for the dishwasher, the shower, the TV, and so on.
Capital knows opportunity when it arrives; if your dishwasher is using more power than the average dishwasher, expect advertising for a new, energy-efficient model. If you routinely have lights on until very late at night, maybe you need some medicine to help you sleep, delivered to your web browser. Your boss sees opportunity as well: if you routinely disarm the alarm, turn on the lights and open the fridge at 3:30am, maybe you’ve been out clubbing too late to be a good worker, and you need to have your desk cleared by 5:00 today. This inference will be assisted by the fact that clubs now keep networked electronic records - ostensibly for security purposes - of who goes in and out (and who is banned: if you get thrown out of a club, all the other clubs on that network can refuse you entrance). What if your boss buys the data from the club networks, and the utility company and crunches it to measure productivity? Or, sells it to the insurance company, where you’re told that your new wellness initiative requires you to allow your devices to report that you come home and stay there by midnight every night, under penalty of punitive premiums? Your auto insurance bill will almost certainly go up too, because you’ll have installed the vehicle tracking devices that will, by then, be necessary to avoid punitive insurance rates.
But all of that is about surveilling the human. In a fascinating new paper, Kevin Haggerty and Daniel Trottier extend the study of surveillance to nature, noting that the practice is both pervasive and growing, on the one hand, and nearly completely ignored, on the other, with the partial exceptions of Latour and Haraway. I suspect that this is a paper destined to have a big impact; Haggerty in particular is a very significant surveillance theorist, and in a 2000 paper, he and Richard Ericson made a very influential push to orient surveillance studies around the Deleuzian notion of an “assemblage,” arguing that the Foucauldian “panopticon” had become dated. In the current paper, Haggerty and Trottier look at several ways that we now surveil nature that they expect to grow exponentially with developing technologies. None of them are exactly new, but things like RFID tags will make them a lot cheaper, easier, and more commonplace: the representation of ever-more-remote aspects of nature, often turning it into spectacle; using animals as agents (for example, as the Germans did during WWI, attaching cameras to homing pigeons); the increased use of biosentinels (where we rely on an animal’s response to the environment to infer information about that environment. The canary in the coal mine or the drug-sniffing dog are the textbook examples); and taking surveillance inspiration from nature (looking at insect eyes to develop cameras that can see a full 360 degrees, for example). They then suggest three implications for research into surveillance: (1) there are non-technological aspects of surveillance that need highlighting and study; (2) not all surveillance is of humans (contrary to what most of the literature talks about); and (3) we need to look carefully at inspirations for surveillance. They close by highlighting that the human/nature boundary has never been a particularly bright one, and it’s likely to get less so as we move on.
A bit over five years ago I wrote a blog post on Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber’s then-recently published paper on their argumentative theory of reasoning. At that point I was about to start a research project on deductive reasoning, having as my main hypothesis the idea that deductive reasoning is best understood from a dialogical – and thus, argumentative – perspective, and so naturally the argumentative theory of reasoning was something to pay attention to. Yesterday was officially the very last day of my research project, and fittingly, earlier this week we convened for the very last (official) reading group session of the project to discuss a very recent paper by Andy Norman (CMU), forthcoming in Biology and Philosophy: ,‘Why we reason: intention-alignment and the genesis of human rationality’. The paper presents a broadly evolutionary account of human reasoning faculties, which takes on board much of Mercier & Sperber's (M&S) argumentative theory, but modifying it in important respects. Here is the abstract:
Why do humans reason? Many animals draw inferences, but reasoning—the tendency to produce and respond to reason-giving performances—is biologically unusual, and demands evolutionary explanation. Mercier and Sperber (Behav Brain Sci 34:57–111, 2011) advance our understanding of reason’s adaptive function with their argumentative theory of reason (ATR). On this account, the “function of reason is argumentative… to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade.” ATR, they argue, helps to explain several well-known cognitive biases. In this paper, I develop a neighboring hypothesis called the intention alignment model (IAM) and contrast it with ATR. I conjecture that reasoning evolved primarily because it helped social hominins more readily and fully align their intentions. We use reasons to advance various proximal ends, but in the main, we do it to overwrite the beliefs and desires of others: to get others to think like us. Reason afforded our ancestors a powerful way to build and maintain the shared outlooks necessary for a highly collaborative existence. Yes, we sometimes argue so as to gain argumentative advantage over others, or otherwise advantage ourselves at the expense of those we argue with, but more often, we reason in ways that are mutually advantageous. In fact, there are excellent reasons for thinking this must be so. IAM, I suggest, neatly explains the available evidence, while also providing a more coherent account of reason’s origins.
(From the Dept. of Shameless Self-Promotion) I have just uploaded to ssrn a paper on Foucault's last two College de France lecture courses, On the Government of Self and Others and The Courage of Truth, looking at main concept Foucault analyzes there: parrhesia (roughly: frank speech). Those of you who were at my SPEP paper last year will recognize that this is the much revised and expanded version of that paper. The ultra-short version of my thesis is that I don't think that parrhesia as Foucault recounts in the ancient Cynics will get us anywhere today (that's going the opposite direction from the doxa on these lectures). Here is the abstract:
Foucault’s account of parrhēsia shows why it would have little critical traction today. In Foucault’s analysis, parrhēsia has both a political and an ethical phase; Cynicism is the most radical version of the ethical phase. The primary characteristic of Cynical parrhēsia is full visibility, something which Foucault does not endorse but which neoliberal biopolitics actively demands. More fundamentally, ethical parrhēsia fails as a resistance strategy because branding capital blurs the boundaries between affirmations of capital and its critique, enabling the full cooption of parrhēsia-as-visibility into the process of branding. Our problem is a lack of politics.
In addition to more textual work, the main additions are probably to the section on capital and branding, where I use the pharmaceutical industry as an example (drawing from this book by Phillip Mirowski. You should pour a stiff drink before starting). I also engage in the conclusion with an important paper by Kelly Happe on OWS (I discuss a different aspect of that paper here).
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.