Following our earlier discussion about the merits of particularism comes this review by Timonthy Chappell of Jonathan Dancy’s new book, Ethics Without Principles. Book reviewing, I’ve learned, is a genuine art, and this review is a rare achievement: biting, funny, and informative. Check it out!
Here’s an ethical issue (actually, a pair of them) which I’m sure all of us have faced, or will. Sometimes students come to instructors seeking letters of recommendation – for graduate school, for jobs, for postdocs, or what have you. And sometimes these students are such that we could not, without dishonesty, write a fully positive and utterly enthusiastic letter. But there seems to be an expectation on the part of a lot of people – not only students who request these letters, but also those decision-makers who will read them – that every such letter should be completely positive, so that a letter that contains any negative comment at all will simply doom the person whom it ‘recommends.’
In light of this, there are three obvious strategies. (I’m sure there are more, but these seem to be the most obvious, and probably the most common.)
A quick alert to those who haven’t already seen it over at Fake Barn Country (or elsewhere): there’s a new ethics journal, the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy. The first issue contains articles by Joseph Raz, Gideon Jaffe, and John Brunero.
Here’s the first paragraph of their editorial policy:
The Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy is a peer-reviewed online journal in moral, political and legal philosophy. The journal welcomes submissions of articles in any of these and related fields of research. Articles submitted to the Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy will be reviewed by the editors and external referees according to the highest academic standards. The journal is committed to speedy and efficient review, normally not exceeding 6 to 8 weeks from submission.
It’s nice to see growth in online journals in philosophy. Another noteworthy item about JESP is that they accept simultaneous submissions. (Of course, to take advantage of that, the other journal(s) to which one is submitting must accept simultaneous submissions, too.) It will be interesting to see if this catches on.
After reading this interview in which Rev. John Paris, a bioethicist at Boston College, discusses the Terry Schiavo case, I began to wonder about the absence of philosophers in public discussions of ethical issues. The Schiavo case raises all the issues that are the stock in trade of the contributors (and many of the commenters) at PEA Soup: the value and purpose of life, the moral obligations among family members, the significance of personal autonomy, moral disagreement in a pluralistic society. And that just scratches the surface. But it’s frustrating to see that of all the talking heads that emerge when an issue like this leaps to public attention, none are philosophers. (I’m not blaming us here at PEA Soup; CNN hasn’t called me to comment, and I’m assume that’s true of my fellow PEA Brains as well!)
I recently received an e-mail from a former student proposing a good question: She had recently begun trying to read the contemporary literature in philosophical ethics (the sorts of things you’d find in journals like Ethics, Philoosphical Studies, Mind, Journal of Philosophy, etc.), and needless to say she felt a little lost, as so much of the literature presupposes working knowledge of certain texts, claims, and arguments. She then requested a list of the ten books that would be most valuable in trying to understand the literature in contemporary (analytic) ethics.
Brian Weatherson points us blogaholics to Julie Van Camp’s piece on the female-friendliness of the Philosophical Gourmet Report and philosophy graduate departments. (The piece is in the Spring 2004 APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy.) She notes a broad phenomenon that many of us find troubling, namely that “Philosophy remains the most male-dominated field of the humanities in the academy.”
My own experience with graduate students and junior faculty indicates that this troubling fact is changing, but perhaps that’s just because I’ve been lucky enough to be around female-friendly departments and areas of study, where the ratio of women to men is at, near, or in some cases even better than an even split. In any case, while some robust discussion of Van Camp’s piece is going on over at Weatherson’s blog, I wanted to raise a related fact that troubles me: as discouraging, gender-balance-wise, as the make-up of the profession is, the philosophical blogosphere seems even worse. Again, my evidence is only anecdotal, but we’ve seen very few female commentators on PEA Soup, and the ratio of female to male blog authors also seems disproportional. (That’s not to say that there are no female philosophers taking advantage of this medium, of course: Jessica Wilson is a blogger, for example.)
Blogging on PEA Soup has been light lately, which I’ll armchair-diagnose as a symptom of getting slammed with various other tasks at the moment. (At least that’s my excuse.) So I thought I’d take a moment to pick up a discussion that has taken place on other blogs, such as Brian Weatherson’s Thoughts, Arguments, and Rants, about the practice of blogging itself.