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12/06/2022

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Anon Postdoc

I think how acceptable this will be will depend a little on how you frame things. The following are some different ways to "engage with other disciplines" which might reasonably garner different responses:

1. Galifianakis (2022) has argued that [insert standard philosophical argument]. (Where it just so happens that Galifianakis is not a philosopher and published in the Journal of Zoological Studies).

I hope that no one would have objections to this first kind of use, just as they shouldn't have objections to you citing work in lower ranked philosophy journals, or by philosophers but not in a journal, etc., if the quality of the argument is good.

2. Galifianakis (2022) presents empirical evidence to the conclusion that blah, and this is relevant to blag philosophical issue in blink way.

Here I think there is more room to debate whether empirical evidence can be in general, or is specifically in this case, relevant to a philosophical issue. But that would seem like a reason for a reviewer (for example) to ask you to defend that thesis, not a reason to object to using the non-philosophical work in the first place. That might mean that engaging with the work requires you to defend a specific philosophical thesis about its relevance a bit more, but that doesn't seem like an unreasonable requirement if the empirical work isn't clearly relevant.

3. Galifianakis (2022) argues that blah—and since Galifianakis is an expert on blag, this lends support to blah.

I think this is a more questionable use that some will reasonably object to. That a physicist (for example) prefers the A theory to the B theory of time seems like no reason to prefer the A theory to the B theory to me. I guess there are views on which it might do so, but they would certainly need to be made explicit and defended (at least I would ask someone to do so if I was a reviewer).

I guess my advice is to be clear about which you are doing.

If you are really just doing 1 then I would tend to just present the argument as though a philosopher wrote it. Definitely not mentioning explicitly where it was published or the qualifications of the person who wrote it (which you shouldn't really be doing in any case). Hopefully the quality of the argument will overcome whatever (unjustified) prejudice someone might have by the time they look at the references to see that it wasn't published in a philosophy journal.

Similarly, if you are really doing 2. then you want your readers to know that. If it looks like you're doing 1 then it might seem like you are trying to smuggle in a contested assumption about the relevance of empirical work—much better to be up front with that assumption (even if you are really just going to assume it).

Worst would be doing 1 or 2 and being mistaken for doing 3.

anon postdoc

In my AOS (philosophy of biology), I think there's often little reason make a distinction between, say a "philosopher" and a "biologist". This actually seems to be reflected in certain areas of philosophy, particularly in the area generally considered "philosophy of science". (I say this having published and served as a referee for journals in both philosophy and in biology.)

Consider, for example, Van Valen - the biologist who came up with the Red Queen Hypothesis, the Ecological Species Concept, and notions of differential persistence and growth (greatly extending the scope of natural selective processes.) His work is widely discussed in phil bio. And, I don't think many philosophers of biology see any meaningful difference between much of Van Valen's work (or other work like it) and what's being produced by people in philosophy departments. I think this holds true throughout much of the work in the philosophy of science generally.

It's sad that academia has these kludge-y and odd disciplinary boundaries that might lead philosophers to avoid topics viewed as being "outside" philosophy.

Michel

Absolutely. I wouldn't bat an eyelid (at either doing or seeing it).

There's a decent bit of this in aesthetics, too. Like the philosophy of science, there's a large and immediately relevant external literature (and set of real-world practices) to engage with. That literature spans not just art history, but also psychology, literature and literary theory (although the relationship between these and the philosophy of literature is somewhat fraught), etc.

wmst student

I think one aspect of engaging with philosophical work outside of philosophy not really discussed here is that you will generally be perceived as unserious if you engage with other theoretical humanities -- English, women studies, area studies, even history. Evidence for this is plastered all over Leiter's blog. Does anyone have any comments or advice for navigating this issue?

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