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12/21/2016

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Julie Maybee

Thanks so much, Joe and Shelley, for a terrific discussion. Joe, your answer to Shelley's questions about the state of the profession of philosophy raises an interesting conundrum for me. I teach at a predominantly minority institution (undergraduate), and we are always trying to bring in new majors to philosophy. I have one former student, however, who blames me for getting him interested in philosophy. He says that going into philosophy was the worst decision of his life (I think he exaggerates a bit as a joke--but not too much). Joe, I'd like to ask you, given the problems that philosophy has with welcoming members of underrepresented groups--including disabled people--how good can we really feel about encouraging them to become philosophers? I know we are always hoping that things will change, and that our students will help it change (though, statistically, things don't seemed to have changed that much since the 1970's), but I do feel somewhat guilty about my former student . . .

Joseph Stramondo

This is a really important question, Julie. I think, amidst all of these discussions of reforming the profession by broadening the diversity of its practitioners, we need to be careful NEVER to regard our students as mere means toward these ends. But, we also don't want to regard them as lacking the agency to make these difficult and risky choices. Perhaps my answer is dangerously close to slipping into the sort of ideal theory that I am criticizing in the interview, but I think there is some potential in not necessarily *encouraging* students to enter the profession, but informing them as clearly and fully as we can about both the potential joys and heartbreaks that come with this path, so they can make the choice with full awareness of the problems at hand. I am thinking something along the lines of fully informed "consent" to attempting to become a professional philosopher.

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