Adrian Currie on ‘Inclusivity’ in the Philosophy profession

Posted on March 24, 2015 by

Adrian Currie has posted a very succinct and important post on how straight white males can help to make the discipline a bit more inclusive. It can be found here in it’s entirety, below is a snippet. Currie offers clear ways on how we could all do better. It is very much worth the read (disclaimer: I consider Currie a friend).

I’m a confident, cis, hetero, white, English-speaking, healthy, middle-class, male philosopher (a cchhewmmp?). So I’m one of *those* philosophers. I even have a beard. I also care deeply about philosophy’s lack of inclusiveness: it’s embarrassing; philosophy as a discipline suffers if its pool of potential awesomeness is restricted; people who could thrive philosophically miss out. However, working out how to help is hard, especially given that my capacity to be part of the problem is very real. I am one more cchhewmmp, after all. Roughly, then, I’m trying to learn how to “be an ally” (for me this involves going beyond recognizing the problem and trying to affect positive change).
This really matters: philosophy becoming more inclusive does not only require action from underprivileged groups; if anything people like me have more responsibility to do something. After all, we get a bunch of advantages from the very thing that ought to be changed, right? And if our behaviors play a large role in creating an exclusionary atmosphere, perhaps, you know, an obvious step is changing our behaviors? Anyway, I’ve compiled what I take to be an incomplete, and probably highly idiosyncratic, bunch of thoughts about how to do this. I’m really interested in being educated: if people have other advice, or criticism or suggestions or whatever, I’m happy to update it (anonymously or otherwise). Oh, and obviously a lot of this will carry over to other people (even for nervous, trans queer, colored [surely that’s not the right term? Is there an okay term for ‘non-white’? I guess there probably shouldn’t be?*], non-anglophone, physically or mentally unwell or disabled, lower-class female philosophers).

I should also point out that much of this advice isn’t necessarily about helping the under-privileged in philosophy per se, but could be seen as general thoughts about creating and supporting thriving philosophical communities. In that sense, then, we all have a lot to gain. I’m also focusing on rather localized behaviors, rather than anything more formal or organized. Let’s get on with this.

Privilege often leads to epistemic opacity. If you’re in a position of authority, it’s easy for you to just not know about problems. They’re not going to be salient to you, and chances are, no-one’s going to tell you. So,

(1) Get an outsider’s perspective. I typically feel pretty comfortable in philosophical contexts. But many do not. I remember in my early 20s asking my mother *that* question, you know, ‘why do women need their own clubs and spaces, and if they get it, why shouldn’t I?’ She just said something like ‘Adrian, every other space is your space’. And she was pretty much right. However, it was still difficult for me to get that somewhere that I felt mostly comfortable in, my territory I suppose, was actually very confronting and oppressive for other people. Keeping in mind that others have a different emotional perspective is important for checking your behavior.

Currie goes on top list 13 other ways we can help. Again, very much worth the read! I particularly like 11 and 12!