Moti Mizrahi

Non-native English Speakers in Philosophy

Moti Mizrahi, St. John’s College Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy

Abstract

There has been a lot of discussion recently about underrepresented groups in philosophy.  But one underrepresented group received very little, if any, attention. That group is non-native English speakers or people for whom English is a second language. Here are the numbers from two top philosophy programs in the United States: In the Department of Philosophy at New York University, out of 22 full-time faculty members, it appears that only one (4.54%) is a non-native English speaker. For the sake of comparison, out of 22 full-time faculty members, three (13.63%) are women. On the other hand, out of 30 full-time faculty members in the Department of Biochemistry (at the NYU School of Medicine), it appears that ten (33.33%) are non-native English speakers. In the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers New Brunswick, out of 30 full-time faculty members, it appears that only one (3.33%) is a non-native English speaker. For the sake of comparison, out of 30 full-time faculty members, five (16.66%) are women. On the other hand, out of 24 full-time faculty members in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, it appears that ten (41.66%) are non-native English speakers. In this paper, I will try to accomplish three goals: (1) To bring attention to these numbers and to the issues that non-native English speakers face as professional philosophers; (2) To consider explanations for why non-native English speakers are underrepresented in U.S. Philosophy Departments. I will propose that certain methodological commitments might be responsible for implicit biases against non-native English speakers. More explicitly, philosophers who think of philosophy as essentially conceptual analysis using formal logic and/or ordinary language might harbor prejudice against non-native English speakers; (3) To discuss what can and should be done to mitigate the marginalization of non-native English speakers in philosophy.