2016 Philosophy News in Review, Part 1


What were the news stories, events, and issues that occupied the philosophy profession in 2016? Here’s part one of a month-by-month look at some of the more popular and interesting posts here at Daily Nous over the past year.

seasonal photo of Daily Nous editorial staff

January 

The crackdown in Turkey on those opposed to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was getting underway, and the arrest of Jülide Yazıcı, a philosophy student at Boğaziçi University, provided a focal point for the attention of academics, many of whom signed on to a petition calling for the release of her and others. Yazıcı was reportedly released from prison in July.

The other big story of January concerned the editorial policies of special issues of philosophy journals, prompted by Jean-Yves Beziau’s strange, unedited musings about the relationship between logical pluralism and homosexuality in a special issue of Synthese (see update 7 (!) on that post for the ridiculous coda to that story).

Philosophers were concerned with the dangers of doing philosophy online, made salient by responses from members of the public to an essay in the The Stone at The New York Times.

We also discussed what not to say in letters of recommendation and a proposal to limit the number of pages of research upon which tenure decisions are based.

February

The philosophy community mobilized in support of their colleagues at Mount St. Mary’s University who had called their school’s president to account for allegedly unethical practices and were fired or demoted in response. The support was successful, with the philosophers reinstated in their positions and the president forced to resign.

Another event uniting philosophers was the creation of a philosophy “cheat sheet” for scientists, provoked by science populizer Bill Nye’s embarrassingly ill-informed ramblings about philosophy. Nye said that some of the criticism he received for that was “legitimate” and has subsequently met with some philosophers.

There was a discussion about the interplay between diversity of approaches and judgments of quality in academic philosophy, and relatedly, the habits of highly effective philosophers, and also relatedly, alas, whether academic philosophy is unfriendly, and yes, jeez, also relatedly, the American Philosophical Association (APA) issued a statement on bullying and harassment.

There was also some wondering about whether this is the golden age of philosophy.

March

The most popular post in March was “Philosophers On the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race,” with the contributions focusing mainly on Trump and Sanders (note the words: “Trump has already won”). However, the most significant event in the philosophy profession this month was the death of Hilary Putnam.

professor of philosophy at Dickinson College was removed from his position for some unusual reasons (later raising procedural and other concerns). He was reinstated over the summer.

In other news, an associate professor of philosophy at Oxford generated some discussion of work-life balance when he walked away from his job (some further thoughts on that).

We looked at some research on why women stop studying philosophy,  a philosophy department’s efforts at diversifying philosophy, and had a long discussion of bias, subjectivity, and superficiality in philosophy.

There was also some further support for the idea that this is the golden age of philosophy, along with some hand wringing about #kidsthesedays.


Stay tuned for parts 2,3, & 4.

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