Philosophy for Everyone: Considerations on the Lack of Diversity in Academic Philosophy

Jones, Nic R. 2020. "Philosophy for Everyone: Considerations on the Lack of Diversity in Academic Philosophy." Symposion 7(2): 195-217. https://doi.org/10.5840/symposion20207215.

The lack of diversity in academic philosophy has been well documented. This paper examines the reasons for this issue, identifying two intertwining norms within philosophy which contribute to it: the assertion that the Adversary Method is the primary mode of argumentation and the excessive boundary policing surrounding what constitutes “real” philosophy. These norms reinforce each other, creating a space where diverse practitioners must defend their work as philosophy before it can be engaged with philosophically. Therefore, if we are to address the diversity issue, these norms must change. I advocate for the community of philosophical inquiry to serve as a new standard of practice, as it requires a simultaneous reimagining of both norms, thereby addressing the issues that arise from the two elements working in tandem. With its emphasis on epistemic openness and constructive collaboration, and a broader definition of philosophy which conceptualizes it as a method of questioning/analyzing rather than a particular subject matter, I posit that its implementation would facilitate a more welcoming climate for diverse practitioners. While these changes are unlikely to solve the diversity problem “once and for all,” I argue that they would significantly help to improve it.