Two birds, one stone

A few of you will know, however dimly, that two significant debates have been developing over the past week at places like
Experimental Philosophy and Feminist Philosophers. It’s time to bring the What Sorts Collective Mind/Geist to sorting out both debates, and all in less time that it takes to say “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?”. Two birds, one stone.

Ah, the context, for those blessed enough to be NOT in the know. The first goes back to the pre-conference workshop on Experimental Philosophy at the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, held in Philadelphia last week. Near the end of that workshop some hairy whackaloon cretin stood up and delivered a sermon (not quite from the mount, but close by) about the lack of women in experimental philosophy, as represented in the workshop and more generally. Thus ensued Debate #1, mostly conducted pairwise and in whispers in the bathrooms around the conference site, but then taken up at both the aforementioned blogs in no doubt more sanitized forms. Are women under-represented in (what they insist on calling) “x-phi”? If so, why is that? And if not, why do hairy whackaloon cretins seem to think that? And why are these people let out on the weekends, anyway?

Segue, without missing a beat, to Debate #2: should “we” set up a new society with a focus on (ok, I’ll play along) x-phi. And, more importantly, if so, what should we call it? SEP, being already taken by another bunch of blokes, was superceded by SEEP (“empirical and experimental”–better to be inclusive, no?). Being the helpful soul I always am, I suggested that if we’re going that far, we should go to SWEEP: the Society for Wickedly Empirical and Experimental Philosophy. Otherwise we’d miss a huge opportunity to leave a large footprint on the world.

But, alas, as usual, your hardy correspondent, being Edward-de-Bono-deprived as a child, was not thinking far enough outside of the triangle (or whatever that shape was that REALLY privileged kids got to escape from). In a late night conversation in some undisclosed transvestite bar in East Montreal, as overhead by (an ear connected to) a voice of sanity in a sea of perversion and inanity, SPP president Colin Allen was able, as usual, to see to the heart of both problems, and solve them, quicker than you can say “Can I have another pint of St. Ambroise with my poutine?” in French. (He was also overhead to mutter that, although he should be credited with the suggestion in order to be properly recognized by promotional committees in his university, should it be so attributed to him IN PUBLIC, he would deny any knowledge of the suggestion. But I think he’s just playing with our minds.)

The Society will hereby be known as the Society for Philosophy by Experimental Research Methods. Interested women should contact The Society. All we need now is a logo, and thunderbirds are go. I’ll let the folks over at both blogs know that they need fret no more.

2 thoughts on “Two birds, one stone

  1. Okay, I’m dense. What is experimental philosophy? How’s it different from social psych?

  2. Sadly, I think the acronym is taken already, and by someone from your own department, no less. But perhaps the Society for the Protection of Equal Rights for Men is now defunct — or maybe the whole thing was just like an urban myth for grad students.

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