Teaching Philosophy


published on April 7, 2021

Ben BakerOrcid-ID

Referee Report of (Hypothetical) Philosophy 101 Textbook by Professor Unspecified

This piece offers a critique of what is commonly the structure of introductory philosophy textbooks, syllabi, and courses. The basic criticism is that this structure perpetuates the systematic devaluing of the views of historically marginalized and exploited people. The form my critique takes is that of a referee report on a hypothetical manuscript for an introductory philosophy textbook, authored by “Dr. Unspecified.” I examine what the manuscript chooses to focus on and what it chooses to omit from discussion. I thereby outline much of the content typically used to introduce newcomers to philosophy, while illustrating that presenting exclusively that content supports a prejudiced view of philosophy. I try to show how this representation of philosophy marginalizes the concerns and insights of many and reinforces the disproportionate extent to which those who can do philosophy for a living are white, straight, men with typical body morphology. My report also identifies various ways that the content of an introductory philosophy textbook or course could be modified or supplemented in light of the sort of critique my report makes.