Intuitively, philosophy is for white men
Our familiar punching bag Philosatire now has three posts making fun of ableism, disability studies, and people with disabilities in general, so let’s say something about that.
Two days ago Philosatire published a post “satirizing” a recent allegation of assault. I don’t know what exactly Philosatire’s intentions were with this post and I don’t care because the upshot was that they directly compared people with disabilities to aliens. When I challenged them on Twitter, they gave a snide little response and then dug in their heels this morning:
To say that comparing the disabled to extraterrestrials is ableist is to imply that there’s something bad about being Grey. That’s terracism pure and simple. And it sickens us.
I don’t have explain what Philosatire was really implying when they equated disabled individuals with non-humans, because they made it explicit at the end of their original post, where they cite an imaginary commenter named “Borderline”:
In spite of his strong disagreements with CUFA over its handling of the Clockshadow case, Borderline contends that the dearth of Greys in philosophy is not a result of terracism in the profession but is rather explained by genetic differences that make Earthlings more suited to flourish under philosophy’s rigorous intellectual demands.
So there you are. People with disabilities don’t belong in philosophy because they just aren’t smart enough. Philosatire’s comparison doesn’t imply merely that people with disabilities aren’t human, but that they are less than human—at least in the sense of being inferior to the white men who dominate philosophy.
These two recent posts help illuminate the attitudes behind a Philosatire post from March that mocked the very idea of privilege and sought to undermine the credibility of feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and disability studies. Titled “Unfair Expectation of Evidential Support Spurs Movement”, the passage that’s relevant to us is this one:
Philosophers giving talks or posting on feminist philosophy, disability, social justice, site visits, race, etc. are being asked to support their views with reasons. The tactic will be a familiar one: “I understand your claim, but have you given any reason for us to accept it?”, “Is there an argument here”, “Is there a philosophically interesting position you’re defending?”, and other completely offensive comments. They’re all too common.
This characterization of justice-oriented fields is laughable to anyone who’s not so blinded by their privilege that they snicker like a grade-schooler just to hear the word. It may also be mystifying; after all, the same Serious Analytic Philosophers who disparage disability studies for its supposed lack of rigor (“lived experience lolwut”) are simultaneously willing to take the intuitions of Saul Kripke as axioms. But things make sense once we take Philosatire’s comparison of people with disabilities to aliens as indicative of deep-seated prejudice. Women, people of color, people with disabilities—not only are their intuitions given less weight, but their testimony about their actual histories are ignored.
Because, intuitively, they are alien to academic philosophy.