Does philosophy have a culture problem? It’s something that’s worth thinking about, especially considering how many people honestly don’t like the idea of even bringing up race, culture, or the thought that we might have to improve the conversation in some way. Stereotypes harm productive discussion and in a realm like philosophy that’s the last thing that anyone wants.
So what can we do to increase inclusiveness within philosophy? Plenty, really.
1. Recognize Subtle Biases
We are often hypervigilant against open biases, because we know how damaging they can be. However, in our quest to stomp out the most obvious offenders, we ignore the stealthy ones that sneak right in through the front door and into the classroom. If you’re teaching a class, consider anonymous grading. This way you don’t think about race, gender, or background as you grade. The quality of the writing will stand out more than anything else.
2. Speak Up About Inclusiveness
When other people around you don’t know how to be inclusive, it’s often an infinite loop of frustration. People might not think to speak about more than just traditional European philosophers. There’s a wealth of knowledge in other cultures, to the point that we don’t think anyone’s ever truly reaped all of the available knowledge out there. There are so many underrepresented backgrounds that it’s hard to know where to really get started on such an issue.
3. Find Ongoing Resources
The fight isn’t going to be won in an afternoon, or even in a whole month’s worth of afternoons. This is an ongoing issue that you’ll have to tackle over and over again. The best way to be inclusive is to embrace it and share it with other people. Good ideas are contagious, and highlighting people that didn’t have a voice tends to get you noticed. Don’t be surprised if people start approaching you for better ideas to include more diversity in their day to day lives.
Philosophy isn’t supposed to shy away from the controversial. It’s supposed to help humans understand this beautiful existence we call life, and ultimately become even better humans because of it. And at the end of the day, if we aren’t doing that…what’s the point?