We need to talk about race. (And sex, and ability, and class and gender, and …)

This post has been corrected. It initially (and mistakenly) stated that there are only 2 (racialised-as-) black philosophers employed in philosophy departments in the UK. It turns out that there are at least 4 who are employed as lecturers or research associates (Dr Mahlet Zimeta, Dr Patrice HaynesDr James Wilson, and Dr Nathaniel Coleman). Of course this doesn’t undermine the point that philosophy has far to go before it can really be considered an inclusive discipline – more stats to support this point here. Thanks to Jules Holroyd for pointing out this mistake, and my apologies to anyone who I inadvertently overlooked.

How many black philosophers were you taught by? How many have you read? Chances are, the answer to both of these questions is ‘none’. Clearly our profession has problems with the underrepresentation of groups other than women. The good news is that the issue of underrepresentation of all minorities – both in philosophy, and in academia more widely – is starting to gain traction in the UK.

Complete equality in philosophy won’t happen overnight, but the efforts of groups like SWIP UK and Feminist Philosophers have shown that a large impact can be made in just a few years. (Take the Gendered Conference Campaign, which has pushed the issue of gender representation to the top of the list of priorities of most conference organisers). Now is the time for all of us to to think about all minorities in philosophy. Think of any undergraduates you know who aren’t white, male, able-bodied, middle-class native speakers… If we start to make changes to redress the balance in our profession now, then by the time they are ready to go on the job market they could be assessed completely fairly, on the basis of their philosophical ability, rather than partially (and implicity, but unfairly) on whether they fit an outdated stereotype of what a philosopher looks like. That would make philosophy better for everyone.

With this in mind, we have two exciting pieces of news for you – one is about the EWPG, and one is about PPLS and the University more widely.

First up, we are very pleased to announce that the EWPG has had our application to become a MAP Chapter accepted. If you haven’t heard of MAP then check out mapforthegap.com – in short, they (we?!) are a group of students who aim to “examine and address issues of minority participation in academic philosophy”. The EWPG are now one of the very first MAP chapters in the UK (scroll down to the bottom of this page to see us alongside Glasgow and KCL). I have no doubt that there will be plenty more joining us, and the dozens of US Chapters, soon.

Historically (and for good reasons) the EWPG has focused mainly on women in philosophy, but as we’ve recently been making an effort to expand our focus to include all underrepresented groups, this partnership with MAP is a great thing.

The second piece of news is that the University of Edinburgh is one of the first universities to apply for the Equality Challenge Unit’s new Race Equality Charter Mark. To earn this award the University will need to identify the barriers to equality that it contains, and to create an action plan to address them. If, or when, an award is made, the University will be required to regularly review and update this action plan. This, too, is a great thing, and should eventually mean greater inclusivity and diversity throughout the University. But it can only make a difference if the University is properly informed about what barriers to equality exist. In order to understand this they need your help, so please do the following three things:

  • Fill out the Race Equality Survey. There are only a few days left to do this, and it just takes ten minutes. Do it now!
  • Keep an eye out for emails inviting you to the PPLS lunchtime workshops on Equality and Diversity. This series is open to all staff and students in PPLS (including faculty, support staff, UGs and PGs), and will address each of the nine Protected Characteristics identified by the Equality Act 2010. The first workshop addressed the characteristic Race, and participants had the opportunity to discuss different “Race Labels”. You can contact Billy Lee for further information.
  • Share this post with your colleagues and (fellow) students, and encourage as many people as possible to fill out the survey and attend the lunchtime workshops.

The EWPG still has a lot to learn, and we hope that by being involved with MAP, and with initiatives that the University run for the Race Equality Charter Mark, we can get better at representing all different groups within philosophy. We need your help to do this as well though. Please talk about what we’re doing with other students and staff, and, as always, if you would like to get involved with the EWPG or the blog in any way, or if you have any suggestions for us, then please feel free to get in touch. We would love to hear from you.


CFR: New Enlightenment Lecture (2014)

The 2014 New Enlightenment Lecture will be delivered by Professor Rae Langton (University of Cambridge), who was Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh from 1999-2004, and the first woman to be appointed Professor of Philosophy in Edinburgh.

The lecture will be preceded by a roundtable discussion on issues surrounding underrepresentation in philosophy. Everyone is welcome (and encouraged) to attend and participate in this informal discussion. And a festive (and subsidised) dinner will be held at Field restaurant immediately after the lecture.


15:00 – 15:50 Roundtable Discussion
16:00 – 17:30 New Enlightenment Lecture given by Professor Rae Langton
17:40 – Dinner at Field

Places for both the lecture and the dinner are limited, anyone who wants to join us needs to register online by 03/12/2014. People who wish to register should indicate whether they are a postgraduate, or a member of staff/employed. No fee will apply to postgraduate students. The dinner fee for members of staff/employed will be £5.

The charge includes a three-course dinner, wine or soft drink with the meal and coffee. You must choose your dinner selection when you register.

The 2014 New Enlightenment Lecture is made possible by the generous financial support of the Scots Philosophical Association, and the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

CFP: 5th Annual Graduate Epistemology Conference

The EWPG are happy to provide advice on ensuring an inclusive event to any staff or students who would find it helpful. If you are organising an event at Edinburgh and would like to discuss measures that you could take, then please get in touch.

“The University of Edinburgh is pleased to announce a call for papers for the 5th Annual Edinburgh Graduate Epistemology Conference (27th-28th May 2015). Our keynote speakers this year will be Elizabeth Fricker (Oxford) and Jennifer Nagel (Toronto). All graduate presentations will have respondents from faculty members at Edinburgh or a neighbouring university.

We are inviting graduate students to submit essays within any area of epistemology (broadly construed). Essays should be approximately 4000 words, and should be anonymised for blind review.

We would really like the conference to be representative of the graduate community and so we strongly encourage submissions from anyone working on epistemology who is a member of an under-represented group.

We will be happy to help arrange childcare for any attendees who would find it helpful. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss this, or any accessibility requirements you may have.

The deadline for submissions is 1st March 2015. For more information, including details of how to submit, please visit our conference page: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/events/view/fifth-annual-graduate-epistemology-conference

This conference is generously sponsored by the Eidyn Research Centre, the University of Edinburgh and the Scots Philosophical Association, and is supported by the Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group.”

Co-Authorship and Coffee

The EWPG have two events coming up on Wednesday (19th), to which everyone is very welcome:

Wednesday, 1pm, Appleton Tower (M3)

Daniela Cutas (Umeå University) will be presenting a work in progress on the subject of co-authorship in Philosophy. To get a flavour of what her talk will be about please see her (short) paper on co-authorship more generally. It should be of special interest to junior researchers, as well as anyone interested in issues in the discipline of philosophy, and the world of publishing.

Wednesday, 3pm, DSB (7th Floor Common Room)

A chance to speak to Daniela, Maja Spener (Birmingham), and students and staff who are interested in issues of under-representation in philosophy. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided.

We hope to see many of you at one or both events!