Statement from the Chairs of Philosophy at Dartmouth

As the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, and countless other members of the Black community by police and self-styled vigilantes brutally remind us, anti-Black racism, oppression, and violence in the United States remain terrible forces of destruction today. They are a scourge on our society, felt most acutely by Black communities, whose members already endure a legacy of significant and disproportionate rates of poverty, incarceration, morbidity, and premature death.

Alongside anti-Black racism are kindred injustices on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, migration status, disability, sexuality, gender identity, and their intersections. The mechanisms of racism and oppression are systemic, and we all owe a responsibility to see that they are exposed and rooted out.

We believe that philosophy offers powerful tools for addressing issues of justice, morality, equality, identity, truth, power, law, democracy, race and intersectionality, among others. But philosophy also reflects the legacy of privilege, oppression, and systemic racism. It is one of the whitest disciplines within the humanities.[1] By recent estimates, just 5% of philosophy bachelor's degree recipients, 3% of philosophy PhD recipients,[2] and 4.3% of tenured philosophy professors in the US are Black.[3],[4] Among members of the American Philosophical Association surveyed in 2018, just 8.8% self-identify as either Black/African-American (2.8%), American Indian/Alaska native (1%), or Hispanic/Latinx (5%).[5] All those groups are under-represented in philosophy compared to the US general population.[6]

The professional philosophical voices students hear at Dartmouth also are predominantly white voices, both in the classroom and on the page. We can do better to diversify our philosophical community and curriculum and to contribute to the struggle against racism.

To this end the Philosophy Department faculty has unanimously approved a series of changes as steps towards a more inclusive and enlightened study of philosophy at Dartmouth.

  • Curriculum. We commit to enriching our curriculum by including a broader range of voices in our syllabi and by expanding course offerings in order to draw fuller connections with matters of race, gender, class, and other crucial social concerns.
  • Programming. We commit to establishing for an initial five years a new public workshop series in Race, Gender and Justice.
  • Student fellowships. We commit to establishing, in each of the next two years, three Fellowships in Social Justice. These will be reading fellowships for undergraduates in Philosophy to pursue in-depth study in related topics during off-terms. Announcements of these fellowships and the application process for them will be posted to our website and circulated widely to the student community.
  • Faculty. We commit to redoubling our efforts to diversify our faculty. As part of that effort we shall establish a standing committee of our faculty devoted to recruiting philosophers from under-represented and marginalized groups to bring into the Philosophy Department at Dartmouth as visitors, instructors, and permanent members.

We commit to reviewing and reporting on these initiatives on an annual basis as we seek to improve and expand upon them. We will welcome further suggestions for how we can do better, as well as criticism, public and private, of our efforts.

To all those facing ongoing discrimination and violence, we stand with you. To our colleagues, students, and friends across the Dartmouth community, we support you in this difficult time. Our doors, our minds, and our hearts are open.

Sincerely,

Amie Thomasson, Chair of Philosophy (2020-2023)

Samuel Levey, Chair of Philosophy (2017-2020)

                                   

 

Further statements and information

 

Statements by Philosophy organizations:

 

Additional resources on race and demographics in philosophy:

 

Statement and list of resources for students from Dartmouth RMS:

 

Statement from Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon:

 

Statements by members of the Dartmouth Philosophy Department: