I have been thinking for a while that it would be quite valuable
if there were a list of philosophers that was searchable by area of research,
gender, race, grad student/junior/senior status, etc. Such a list would appear
to be useful to folks searching for appropriate referees for papers, for folks
trying to make sure they are not overlooking excellent junior women for their
volume or conference on Kantian ethics, or for folks trying to fill out an APA
symposium on a particular topic.
After posting this idea on Facebook yesterday I learned from
Sally Haslanger that the APA ad hoc committee on the status and future of the
profession has determined that there is a need for such a database. I was
especially happy to also learn from Dave Chalmers that the good folks who bring
you Phil Papers (and such) are planning just such a database.
So I was hoping to generate some discussion about what this
database should look like. It seems clear to me that it should be at the individual’s
option whether he or she is listed by sex or race. Should participation be
entirely voluntary such that others may not list one as philosopher of science?
This seems trickier. On the one hand, it would be nice if the list was complete
or nearly so and there are some who may not object to being so listed but will
not get around to bothering to register. On the other, it is possible that a
person may be mislabeled if they do not do the labeling themselves. Seemingly
it would be ideal if people had the option of adding their CV or a write up of
their interests to their listing in the database. Another issue is if there
should be a limit to the number of areas of philosophy a person can claim as
areas of research. If there is such a limit, then people like Frank Jackson
might be left off lists they belong on. But if there is no such limit people
might exaggerate how many areas they are research active in. Also, what are the
categories we want people to be able to register (or be registered) under? How
fine-grained should those categories be?
I seek input on these and other questions concerning such a
database of philosophers.