Diversify the Discipline

In TPM Issue 93, we asked philosophers to weigh in on the notion of diversity in philosophy. What’s the current state of play?  What’s changed and what should change?  What particular, personal questions arise for people as they find their way into the discipline. But most of all, we asked our contributors to think where possible about how philosophy might be diversified – what can we actually do, right now, to move ourselves and our study in the right direction?

We begin with Helen Beebee, who along with Jennifer Saul, wrote a report ten years ago on the representation of women in philosophy in the United Kingdom.  It got a lot of attention since and led to the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme. (There’s more at bpa.ac.uk/swip/good-practice-on-gender-bias.) The recommendations in that are now followed by 28 UK philosophy departments and 13 learned societies.

Ian James Kidd argues that if we are going to diversify the undergraduate curriculum, we ought to do it well, and that means, in part, keeping an eye on and avoiding certain habits of thought that can arise in students. He calls them neophilia and xenophilia.

Shen-yi Liao wonders what a Taiwanese philosopher is.  Is it a Taiwanese person who teaches philosophy?  The clutch of questions in this neighbourhood can lead to some puzzles, but we can make some headway by thinking about concepts.  Do we make concepts as we want them to be?

What’s the actual state of diversity in the discipline?  Eric Schwitzgebel, Liam Kofi Bright, Carolyn Dicey Jennings, Morgan Thompson and Eric Winsberg take a close look at the data.  If you want to know what’s going on now, and where the recent trends have headed, read on.

Simon Fokt, a driving force behind the Diversity Reading List, argues that nothing is more philosophical than diversity itself.  More than thirty volunteers and over one hundred contributors have co-created the DRL. If you want to expand your horizons, or your reading list, visit diversityreadinglist.org.

Up next, Rochelle DuFord asks, what practices make for an inclusive philosophy classroom?  As usual, a bit of money would help, but even without it, there are steps that can be taken.  Have a look at phildiversity.weebly.com for more.

And finally, Zahra Thani thinks about her own experiences as a philosophy student and argues that all philosophy should be taught with an eye on why we think this or that counts as philosophy.


The Diversity of Philosophy Students and Faculty in the United States

Reloading the Canon

Diverse Philosophies: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?

Diversify Thought: Teach Intersectionality

Women in Philosophy: What's Changed?

There is Nothing More Philosophical Than Diversity

What Practices Make for an Inclusive Philosophy Classroom?