What Do APDA, the Demographics in Philosophy Project, and the Publication Ethics Project Have in Common?

What do APDA, the Demographics in Philosophy project, and the Publication Ethics project have in common?  All of them are projects (more or less associated with the APA) that aim to increase the diversity of philosophy. Each of their project teams seems to be composed exclusively of nondisabled philosophers. And all of their project teams seem largely uninformed about disability, ableism, and the distinct disadvantages that disabled philosophers confront in philosophy. 

Indeed, I submit that the examinations and analyses of disability and the underrepresentation of disabled philosophers (at all levels) in which these projects have engaged are quite unsatisfactory. I think that if more philosophers were informed about disability and ableism and were genuinely concerned about the situation of disabled philosophers in the profession, they themselves would recognize that the leading funded projects on diversity in the profession do an inadequate job with respect to disability. Furthermore, I’d like to think that if more philosophers cared about the current exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession, they would recommend that these project teams go back to their respective drawing boards and reassess their methodologies, findings, and the assumptions on which they rely.

Consider the following: The information about disabled philosophers (at all levels of the discipline) that the APDA project provides is decontextualized and conditioned by a medicalized and individualized understanding of disability. The information that the Demographics in Philosophy project offers about disability is dated and pays little attention to the specific circumstances of disabled philosophers, trafficking in generalities and a set of predetermined issues and conclusions into which the circumstances surrounding disabled philosophers are made to fit. The Publication Ethics project has disregarded disability and ableism in almost every way, at virtually every stage of its development. In short, none of these projects has conducted informed work that, in a systematic way, promises to improve the current situation of disabled philosophers, either by articulating the distinct factors that produce this terrible state of affairs or by explaining to the wider profession that certain distinct measures must be implemented to change it, not to mention suggesting what these measures would be.

My recent book, Foucault and Feminist Philosophy of Disability, examines the grievous situation of disabled philosophers in ways that and to an extent that no other philosophical work on disability has done, though my earlier studies of the exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession variously deal with certain aspects of this exclusion in more detail than does the book. Hence, I think that the members of these projects (and philosophers in general) have a responsibility to read the book. The book would provide these projects with the conceptual and political tools that they require to understand the structural, institutional, social, and philosophical mechanisms that reproduce (among other things) the exclusion of disabled philosophers from the profession, the poor outcomes for disabled philosophy students, and the refusal of philosophers to seriously engage with critical philosophical work on disability.

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