Difficult Women in Philosophy: Reflections from the Margin1

Yasemin J. Erden, Hannah M. Altorf

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In this paper we connect diversity with being on the margins of philosophy. We do this by reflecting on the programme that we, as diverse philosophers, designed and taught in a small university. Recently, the programme was closed. We examine some of the circumstances for the closure, in particular the impact of league tables. We argue that an idea (or ideal?) of objectivity, as a method in both science and philosophy, plays a role in establishing and maintaining the outsider status of the philosopher at the margins of the discipline. As a counterpoint to objectivity, we offer concrete examples of our experiences to illustrate what it is like to be at the margins of philosophy. We end with an examination of topics that are common to academics, i.e. issues of time and resources, that are compounded at the margins. Our paper seeks to show what is lost by the closure of our programme, and what philosophy loses when marginalised philosophers are silenced and/or excluded from key academic discourse. We argue that the particular contribution of the philosopher at the margin offers an important and irreplaceable contribution to discourses on the identity of philosophy and on the value of diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-259
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Diversity
  • Margin
  • Merit
  • Objectivity
  • Philosophy
  • Science


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