The Girls Who Cry Wolf

Here is a sober article on the discrimination hypothesis against women in philosophy. The authors identify six lines of argument for the hypothesis, and in each case

find that proponents of the discrimination hypothesis, who include distinguished philosophers in fields such as philosophy of science, metaphysics, and philosophy of language, have tended to present evidence selectively. Occasionally they have even presented as evidence what appears to be something more dubious—for example, studies supporting the discrimination hypothesis based on data that have been reported “lost” under suspicious circumstances.

Not surprising. Fabricating, fudging, and convincing themselves of victimhood narratives has become a profession for leftists. They really never learned the moral of the boy who cried wolf. The girls who cry wolf with their shoddy scholarship in support of the discrimination hypothesis do grave wrong to themselves, other women, men, and the profession as a whole:

(i) They wrong themselves by cultivating a victimhood mentality that results in susceptibility to character vices such as resentment and misandry and intellectual vices such as cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, and self-deception.

(ii) They wrong other women by creating an environment where claims of discrimination are taken less seriously, making it harder for real victims to be heard. This is amply demonstrated by Christina Hoff Sommers in her book, Who Stole Feminism? (Simon & Schuster, 1995), which, if it weren’t still so decisively damning all these years later, could benefit from a revision and update. President Trump should make that book mandatory reading for all women in academia.

(iii) They wrong men by accusing them of discrimination and bias with insufficient evidence, by fostering misandristic sentiments among women, and by promoting institutional practices that unjustly favor women over men.

(iv) They wrong the profession as a whole by injecting undue hostility and suspicion between colleagues, imposing suffocating bureaucratic PC policies on departments and events, lowering standards of scholarship, and by stifling open and honest inquiry with intimidation, silencing, and shaming tactics against dissenters.

Federal Philosopher

Federal Philosopher is a philosophy graduate student in New Jersey. She was awakened from her political slumbers after reading biographies of Margaret Thatcher. She loves philosophy, but thinks the profession has been hijacked by a bunch of leftist bullies who are little more than partisan journalists that happen to know philosophical jargon. She carries a recurve bow and quiver full of arrows at all times, so as not to trigger leftists by saying she packs a .380 in her purse.

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    • Care to elaborate? Finding the discrimination hypothesis fatuous does not itself constitute discrimination. An argument has to be forth instead of a snide remark hiding the fact that you don’t like that some people dissent from the institutionalized sexism in philosophy narrative.

    • Actually, finding the discrimination hypothesis fatuous does plausibly count as discriminatory; or if not discriminatory, morally suspect in some other way. The fact that the discriminatory hypothesis has even been proposed, and the fact that it is taken seriously by so many people (probably most of the profession), demonstrates that many women in philosophy feel marginalized, harassed, and disadvantaged. Isn’t the fact that so many philosophers feel that way (and can back it up with stories) evidence that the discrimination hypothesis is prima facie the best hypothesis? Do you know of a single woman in philosophy who doesn’t believe the discrimination hypothesis is more likely true than not? And are we all just irrational for believing it?

    • So the existence of members of x asserting y as true, and many members of x honestly believes y as true; therefore, via induction, y is likely true? If you say so…

      Likewise To disagree about the truth or falsity of a moral claim is again not enough, provided the person disagreeing is wrong, that the dissenter is guilty of some moral vice.

      One of the problems I have with systematic oppression narratives is that conclusion often doesn’t follow and can’t reasonably be inferred from the evidence. You mention women feeling “marginalized, harassed, and disadvantaged” — keyword “feeling.” Couldn’t that perception itself be mistaken? For instance, the fact, which is often sallied forth as incriminating, there is more men than women in philosophy isn’t itself evidence of systemic oppression. It’s prima facie evidence that men are more interested in philosophy than women. In fact, I would argue that if the the discriminatory hypothesis relies on such attenuated appeals to “microaggressions,” “hidden bias” and other insidious psychological states that are resistant to objective empirical detection in order to make its case, as it does, then increasing skepticism toward it and its asserted self-evidence is reasonable.

      That isn’t to say women as individuals haven’t faced and do face sexism in philosophy. But it’s quite the ontological trick to take a singular act of sexism and or anecdotal, limited personal experience of sexism and then apply it categorically as indicative of the whole profession writ large and indict all its males members as de facto guilty of it. In other words, how do you get from singular acts of sexism as perpetrated between individuals to systematic sexism? Feminists or “anti-racist” activists and social justice warriors haven’t really cared about cleaning up such a type of muddy inference because they thrive off it.

      As of knowing of a single woman in philosophy that dissents from this popular narrative — it’s also easy to believe it when the academy is predominantly an echo chamber of like-minded folks who live, eat and breathe and are otherwise inundated by their own bullshit — well, you just read one. Outside of this post’s author, Christina Hoff Sommers is another. I’m sure there are others if one endeavors to look.

    • So, criticizing the victim narrative serves to make the victim narrative more plausible. I suppose agreeing with the victim narrative would do the same as would leaving the victim narrative unchallenged.

      The victim narrative is, apparently, a necessary truth which enjoys an almost unique epistemic status. I want to learn more about this metaphysically peculiar set of propositions. Please elaborate more, JSaul.

    • You seem to miss JSaul’s point, “Stone Cold” Christian. One can and should responsibly criticize the discrimination hypothesis (which is what I take you to be snidely referring to with “victim narrative”), but posts like these don’t do that. They instead brashly dismiss it, and with a tone that implies that the author himself may be partially responsible for why so many find the discrimination hypothesis plausible. Likening defenders of the discrimination hypothesis, for example, to “girls who cry wolf” (in a cutesy turn of phrase that betrays the sexist thought that crying is better associated with girls, not boys, as the traditional saying has it) is downright offensive.

    • SaulK,

      I think you mistake that this blog, as being populated by people in academia, must always therefore abide by scholarly rules of discourse when its members criticize. That’s not doing philosophy, of course, but when this critique occurs here, the philosophers are fully aware they’re not doing philosophy but polemical politics.

      Moreover, I think you operate under illusion that the average feminist social justice warrior discourse — setting aside its intellectual merits, for the moment, which above I gave you some reasons to doubt — purporting the discriminatory hypothesis is worthy of academic refutation. Most of the time, it’s not, given that they’re the ones who threw civility out the window by indicting all men of thought crimes and all those dare to question their claims of victimhood as justification to implement their will on everybody are smeared as the scum of the earth. The epithets “sexist” and “misogynist” are serious indictments that are bandied about way too flippantly. Civility is for the civil, which most of the peddlers of this narrative are not. In other words, this is war: They fired first and the aggressors. We’re justifiably returning fire.

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