It’s Official: Philosophy Is Lost

Has academic philosophy become as hopelessly politicized as other humanities? That’s a question treated in a forthcoming paper in Philosophical Psychology entitled “Ideological Diversity, Hostility, and Discrimination in Philosophy.” From the abstract:

We found that survey participants clearly leaned left (75%), while right-leaning individuals (14%) and moderates (11%) were underrepresented. Moreover, and strikingly, across the political spectrum, from very left- leaning individuals and moderates to very right-leaning individuals, participants reported experiencing ideological hostility in the field, occasionally even from those from their own side of the political spectrum. Finally, while about half of the subjects believed that discrimination against left- or right-leaning individuals in the field is not justified, a significant minority displayed an explicit willingness to discriminate against colleagues with the opposite ideology.”

Some of the details from the full article are even worse:

“The more right-leaning the participant, the more hostility they reported personally experiencing from colleagues, and, overall, the more left-leaning the participant, the less hostility they reported personally experiencing.”

“Participants also perceived right-leaning individuals in the field… to experience more hostility than left-leaning subjects.”

“Participants reported that they would be more reluctant to defend their own argument if it led to a right-leaning conclusion… than if it led to a left-leaning one”

“There was no association between ideology and how often participants would be reluctant to defend their argument if it led to a left-leaning conclusion… These findings point toward an apparent stigma held by most participants, regardless of their political ideology, against defending right-leaning conclusions. Considered together with our other results, this reluctance to defend right-leaning conclusions may be the by-product of perceived or actual ideological discrimination within the field. It suggests the presence of ideological ‘self-censorship’”.

I think this is what is otherwise called in different contexts “epistemic closure.” Meanwhile, whenever I point out academic jobs ads that implicitly say “conservatives need not apply,” I am told it is an exaggerated phenomenon, etc. Thus, the finding of this study is significant:

“Significant correlations were found between ideology and the WTD [willingness to discriminate]

“The more left-leaning the participant, the more frequently a right-leaning perspective/individual would be viewed negatively in assessing grant applications, evaluating papers, inviting colleagues to symposia, and making hiring decisions involving two otherwise equally qualified candidates.

“There was a significant association between ideology and justification of discrimination against right-leaning individuals in the field… The more left-leaning the participant, the more justified they believed discrimination against right-leaning individuals to be. But… there was no significant association between ideology and justification of discrimination against left-leaning individuals.”

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