This is Helen De Cruz's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Helen De Cruz's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Helen De Cruz
Recent Activity
Hi Specialist: I think your reasoning is correct - being in a general philosophy helps you to "pass" as a philosopher even if your work is rather unconventional. But I think it does highlight some very problematic aspect of our profession, namely that some fields of philosophy are regarded as inherently less philosophical (Kristie Dotson has an excellent musing on this in Hypatia), and thus the perceived need for passing, by placing one's work in a journal that is regarded as having a high standard of excellence.
Hi Anon - I'm not sure what the rationale of the Bingo strategy is, only that many people seem to think it looks good to have a smorgasbord of publication venues in one's CV. It's easier to do that if you work either in a broad field like epistemology or have several fields of specialization. Fortunately, I don't think that it's a necessary condition for a good CV and the discipline still recognizes specialists whose work does not fit in a wide array of journals. There seem to be several motivations why people send to top journals, among others: 1. Belief that one needs top publications to get a tenure track job. Even before I had a TT job, I didn't send to top journals except a few times. It just doesn't seem to be the case - and Carolyn Dicey Jenning's work confirms this - that one needs to have such papers to be hired. 2. Wanting to be perceived as a leader in the field. I fear that it is increasingly the case that if you want to be perceived as a research star (not just land a TT and get tenure), publication in such journals *is* important, which is problematic for some fields. For instance, there's very few papers in philosophy of race, feminism, philosophy of religion, aesthetics etc etc in such journals.
Hi Anon - you're probably on to something that this is genre related, and your remarks made me think about Tolkien's Eucatastrophe hypothesis, the idea that the sudden happy turn in fairy tales points to a deeper reality (his idea of a Christian reality where all ends well). But while I did not make a systematic study of noir and other genres, even there the absence of happy endings does not necessarily mean the just-world beliefs as frustrated. For instance, in The Maltese Falcon (at least the movie, I did not read the Hammett novel), Brigid and Sam are clearly in love, but since Brigid killed Sam's partner he has no choice but to turn her over to the police. He says he'll wait for her. It's a sad ending, but what Brigid got was what she deserved, and so it does not subvert just world beliefs.
I like this post; there is a lot to think about. I wouldn't be surprised if there was something like racial dysphoria. As a child, I so desperately wanted to belong, growing up in Belgium which is mostly white, with about 10% or less people of North African or west Asian origin (Turkish etc). I am of mixed heritage: my father's Malaysian (although, ironically, there he is racially typed as "Eurasian" because of the Kristang language - a sort of Portuguese mixed with a lot of Malay - and his surname, De Cruz, which indicates European ancestry too, but he does look Asian for the rest), and my mother is Belgian. Children kept on asking me if I was adopted, where my father was from, whether I had ever visited Malaysia, etc etc. At some point during summer camp, I had a total meltdown when a kid asked these questions for the what seemed 100th time in just a few days, and the teachers punished me severely by grounding me for the rest of the camp, saying I should be grateful that people took an interest in me at all. How angry I was, and how I wished to be white like the other kids. That would solve all my problems: I'd make friends more easily. As a teenager too, when I started noticing overt racism (and Belgium is incredibly racist with a 50% unemployment rate of people who are not white), and I called people out on it, I was told I was playing the "race card". So I would've paid a lot of money to be able to pass for white, and I tried my best by not sitting in the sun in the summer. I find it problematic that such attempts to pass as white would be seen as a form of deception, although there are some disanalogies in this case. For the moment, I'm OK with who I am but I do envy people who have a clear ancestral history that is clear-cut and that they can identify with. For instance, I do not speak Kristang, I only visited Malaysia once, I can cook some Malaysian meals but they don't taste as authentic as my father's. I feel more connected to my mother's white ancestry, simply because I lived in Belgium for most of my life, and was raised to a significant extent by my grandmother who had a rich cultural heritage of folk tales, Mary worship, pancakes and waffles, etc. I can imagine what it would be like to strongly emotionally identify with someone of another race and wanting to belong. I do not know all the details of the case, but it seems on the face of it that racial dysphoria is possible.
I like the messiness of the characters too, as well as the fact that the creators consciously go against the just world beliefs of their audience. The consensus about JWBs is that they are causally related to victim-blaming, in which case we would be better off not having any JWB. The empirical evidence for this is rather ambiguous. For instance, one paper shows that women (but not men) with high JWB are willing to allot higher compensation to rape victims if given the opportunity to do so - so JWB seem to incite people to actions that are victim-compensatory. The problem arises when victims cannot be compensated, in which case people switch to victim-blaming.
By Helen De Cruz Game of Thrones is a pretty violent show, but this is not, or not mainly, why it shocks its viewers - which it repeatedly does, and especially did in the final two episodes of this season. So what makes the show so shocking? What sets Game... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
By Helen De Cruz My son just turned two. Like other toddlers, one would say he’s got terrible taste. He loves brightly colored toys, mostly cars, and he loves movies about cars and nursery rhymes. We don’t own a television, but thanks to YouTube and DVDs, he’s got a fair... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
Alex: this is indeed unpleasant and awkward. A good reminder to be cautious about this
Oops! it should be (Marcus will fix the link).
I worry about this too, but I do think that the search committee can get more information in this way. For instance, in Europe application packages are quite minimalistic (no research or teaching statements, in my experience), and the personal website is a place where you can put those. Also, they allow search committee members to quickly look through some of your work to get a sense of the broader corpus of work, not just your writing sample. I fear that you are right that the personal website gives information about race, gender etc that you might not want disclosed at that point. But you can still then alter the website to make that kind of info inaccessible (e.g., only placing your initials, no personal photo).
Yes - confabulation about the past comes close. Interestingly, there is still what psychologists call a "reality bias" about the past that we don't seem to have about the future (see e.g., here,
Thank you James! I also imagine that in such a world, reliance on memory would be more important than it is in this world. Now, memory is cued by the external environment to an important extent, but in the philosophical hallucination world, you'd need to carefully remember where what is (in your table example). It seems prima facie plausible that philosophical hallucinations might cause embarrassment, since they might plausibly lead to embarrassing behaviors (greeting people who aren't there, etc). Psychological hallucinations also cause embarrassment (I think), but for a different reason - especially in western culture there's an association with mental illness and people are anxious not to be categorized as mentally ill (Those people I heard mentioning their hallucination always pointed out circumstances such as extreme fatigue to stress that this was not the normal state of affairs). In a world with philosophical hallucinations, that association wouldn't be there since everyone would have such hallucinations. The broader problem - in how far are thought experiments useful given that the "the nearest possible world where the thought experiment is true is likely to be so different from ours that the thought experiment's becomes nearly useless in the actual world" is a big one. It's one reason I think speculative fiction writing would be a fruitful activity for philosophers since the medium of a novel or novella or even a short story would allow one to flesh out the details better. What would a world look like with actual people seeds (as in Judith Jarvis Thomson's work) look like?
By Helen De Cruz Thank you to the contributors of this blog for inviting me to write here! I've been reading some recent work in philosophy of perception (a field I am fairly unfamiliar with), and I found the accounts of hallucination quite striking. Here's a passage from Susanna Schellenberg's... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2015 at Philosophical Percolations
I recently talked to a US theologian, who just got a job in a really difficult market. He was reflecting on the challenges facing theologians. You can either work in a secular university, in a religious studies department. Those jobs generally discourage you from making any normative claims, or recognizing... Continue reading
High registration fees at conferences and workshops ignore the growing group of people who have a PhD but are not securely employed and have no institutional support. Often, there are only reduced rates for students. High conference fees creates a barrier of entry for adjuncts, lecturers and other non-tenure track... Continue reading
Hello, r - I acknowledge this is a concern. The paper I am talking about is by someone who is untenured at a relatively small institution. But there are other papers that are unpublished and available online by senior people that can enjoy the name brand of their authors (which is an important form of branding too, next to the reputation of the journal). I'm not sure what would happen in philosophy if we moved to a system where it was de rigueur to put pieces online as is the case now in physics which makes anonymous review next to impossible. However, I don't think it's a problem to cite papers by big names (as well as small names) that are unpublished if I deem them good - if I think they are not very good and they do not substantially contribute to discussion I see no reason to cite them.
Hi Roberta - I love the Phil-Sci archive and it would be great to have a venue like this for other philosophical works. PhilPapers allows one to upload drafts, but there is - to the best of my knowledge - no separate heading for unpublished papers. This could easily be added to PhilPapers and it would be preferable to, for instance,, since academia doesn't give stable URLs (I've shifted from to to So a pre-print archive that provides stable urls and maybe also allows for comments, statistic tracking etc. As for the paucity of citations - it is unfortunate feature of our discipline. I used to cite lots and have drastically revised that downwards (although I still have many more citations more than the average philosophy paper). As Marcus Arvan says, it makes entry into debates more difficult for specialists (compared for instance with cognitive science papers where there's often a citation-dense introduction to the literature at the start of the paper), it makes citations a scarce good, favors to be bestowed on people sparingly, and it skews the citation rates of star academics to run-of-the-mill philosophers even further (if you can only cite a few, one might feel compelled to cite big names so as to anticipate reviewers' concerns)
Hi Anon: I'm not saying it isn't risky to put one's papers freely online - possibly compromising the chances of the paper of getting accepted b/c people will google it and anonymous review will be difficult. I'm just saying, if one benefits from the research one reads in an unpublished paper, why not cite it?
I'm writing a paper where I'm citing an unpublished paper. It's by a relatively junior author, available on the internet, and it has been already cited, for example, I recently saw a citation to it in a published paper that's already in print for several years (that paper is very... Continue reading
Hi Wesley: I was struck by how value-laden the WC piece is (not just this one, also their previous ones). Some normative implications they spell out "Unfortunately, despite their success once hired, women apply for tenure-track positions in far smaller percentages than their male graduate student counterparts (14, 16, 18). Why might this be? One reason may be omnipresent discouraging messages about sexism in hiring, but does current evidence support such messages?" Their conclusion extrapolates, in an unwarranted manner, from the available evidence, e.g., that they've found"a surprisingly welcoming atmosphere today for female job candidates' - the study only discusses tenure-track hires, not work environment (which qualitative work still suggests might be unwelcoming for women in STEM), senior appointments, mentoring etc. So you are right, given this unwarranted extrapolation, that the risk exists even if WC are correct about their narrow claim. Whether that's still an inductive risk - I think so. Suppose that WC's stronger claims about welcoming climates, and it being a "propitious time for women launching careers in academic science" is true, then I think the inductive risk disappears, since it would then seem that efforts to implement more fairness for women have succeeded across the board. Unless their work would cause some backlash, the inductive risk remains insofar that they have demonstrated that the climate and opportunities in STEM are truly the same for women across the board. This, however, they have not done (I think), given their narrow conceptualization of what counts as personal choices. So given the emphasis they place on the broader claims they make, there is still inductive risk, I think. It's possible for authors to write about matters of biases in a less value-laden way, just reporting, as you say, what they found. It would still be the case that people would read things in it, of course.
In their series that could be titled "Academic sexism is a myth", Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci have a newest installment: on the basis of fictive scenarios, faculty members in STEM disciplines had to make decisions about hiring particular male or female candidates. I'm not going to talk in detail... Continue reading
Earlier this month, Andrew Cullison, Jonathan Jacobs, Mark Lance, Kevin Timpe and I launched a survey to gauge interest for an open access philosophy book press. Following the successful launch of open access philosophy journals like Ergo and Philosopher’s Imprint we wanted to see if there was sufficient interest for... Continue reading
Thank you, Sebastian Lutz - this sort of feedback is very helpful for us to assess whether there is sufficient interest, motivation etc for a specialized OA philosophy book press. My sense is that by having a specialized press for philosophy books, we'd have more control over the editorial practice, peer review, etc (all aspects of quality control that philosophers might be concerned about).
Philosophers: Please take the following survey to help us assess the feasibility and interest for an open access philosophy press, by following this link. It should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. This survey aims to gage the interest of professional philosophers in helping to create, operate,... Continue reading