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Wesley Buckwalter

The omission is particularly striking in comparison to the current job market climate, which seems to have a growing preference for philosophy of science:

Kate Norlock

I'm sympathetic to the spirit of the post, but shortly after lamenting a lack of author-meets-critics sessions for a Lakotos-prize winning book, he writes with some shock, in reply to the suggestion that such sessions must be requested or lobbied for, that ethicists and epistemologists don't need to do that. But indeed, when it comes to author-meets-critics sessions, many more are proposed than are ever offered. I've never done the hard work of serving on the Eastern APA program committee, so I'm not in a position to criticize, but yes, involvement and participation count for a lot, and many of us have to ask for author-meets-critics sessions.

Neil Levy

"And it is not only philosophy of science. There is precious little naturalistically oriented philosophy at the next Eastern APA. No experimental philosophy, no naturalistic philosophy of cognitive science, no moral psychology, etc."

What am I, chopped liver?

Edouard Machery

Neil, you are not on the main program - the topic of my post. (chopped liver, mmmh ... no)

Edouard machery

Kate, there is a difference between lobbying to have a specific book or theme on the program and lobbying for having a whole area like Phil sci or x phi on the program. I doubt ethicists gage to do the latter.

Neil Levy

Are the group programs not "at the next Eastern SPA"?

Aaron Garrett

I wonder if it's due to the assumption that contemporary philosophy of science involves such a high bar of knowledge of contemporary science before you get to the philosophy that it's not suitable for a general program. I'm not saying this is good or right of course. And this doesn't explain the neglect of empirical philosophy, but that might be for different reasons -- viewed as new, controversial, or not yet a field in the same sense that ethics is. Moral psychology might just vary from year to year.

Craig Callender

I completely agree with the spirit of your post, Edouard. I haven't thought of the APA as "my" organization for at least decade. PacAPA had a decent amount of philsci when I was on the program comm ages ago, and Brandon Fitelson before that when he was at UCB, and perhaps (???) Paul Teller before that...I know I'm missing people. But its representation overall seems much more contingent than many other areas of comparable size. So I think of PSA as my home. The funny thing about the PSA is that through historical accident many in the mind/language areas don't go, unless it's phil neuro and related. I guess some philmind wasn't sciency enough? As that's mostly not the case now, I think all you X-phi-ers, phil linguistics-ers, perceptioners and moral psychers should come on over to the PSA. I know you (Edouard) already do, but more could. The only problem is that it doesn't meet so often.

James Woodward

I would just like to second what Edouard Machery and Craig Callender have said. As Edouard observes in his original post, it is not just philosophy of science that is largely absent from the APA. There is very little philosophy with serious empirical content of any kind; sessions in moral and political philosophy rarely incorporate relevant developments in moral psychology, social science or history, sessions in philosophy of mind often make no contact with psychology or neurobiology, metaphysicians opine about laws of nature without paying attention to the content of any science and so on. Nor, for that matter, is there much interest in philosophically relevant formal results, except in a few select areas such as logic, decision theory, and Bayesian confirmation theory. For example, I am not aware of any symposia that pay serious attention to the extraordinarily rich literature on causal inference that has developed both within philosophy and outside of it (e.g. in machine learning) despite the obvious relevance of these developments for philosophical theories of causation. At least as far as the APA goes, I have the sense of a discipline that is increasingly disconnected from other academic disciplines and increasingly inwardly focused and self-absorbed— both in the problems addressed and the sorts of arguments and evidence that are regarded as appropriate for addressing them. One indication of this is the virtual absence of speakers at APA symposia who are not professional philosophers. Although I’m sure people will be able to point to exceptions to this claim, the point that I am trying to make is a comparative one: For example, as I recall, in the 1990s the Pacific APA typically had some speakers at symposia who came from a wide variety of disciplines outside of philosophy such psychology, neurobiology, primatology, physics etc. This made for a much richer and more stimulating program; attendees at these meetings actually encountered ideas and modes of thinking that they had not heard before.

The intellectual isolation that characterizes the typical APA program cannot be good for philosophy. It seems to me that APA program committees have a responsibility to represent worthwhile and interesting developments throughout philosophy and also to represent at least some relevant developments from outside of philosophy.

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3QD Prize 2012: Wesley Buckwalter