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Cpa Blog De L'Acp

CPA Blog de l'ACP

  • 22 Dec 2021 by Okwudili Ogbu Sylvester



    Although a large part of happiness is looking forward to something, this aspect of happiness has remained largely unexplored and unexplained. The bulk of the attempts to explain it so far have come from fields such as neuroscience, music and psychology. In this work, I have attempted to provide a deepened understanding of the phenomenon of anticipation from the philosophical perspective. In the process, I have also tried to provide a unified understanding of the phenomena of boredom, anxiety, peace, habituation/adaptation, and set-point, among others.

    But what I have tried most of all to do here is to establish an articulate definition of happiness and suffering, thus answering an all important historical question – since it is one that has engaged humanity over the centuries, especially philosophers and psychologists. For, it has never been clear what this word which, according to Aristotle, is the ultimate goal of all human striving means. This has not only led to the word being “overused”, as Kant and Seligman say, but has also inspired false values. Through an analysis of the phenomenon of anticipation, I have here attempted to ground the meaning of happiness. In the light of the findings, I have equally tried to show how it could be attained. In the final analysis I have identified happiness as peace and suffering as worry or anxiety. And I posit that the way to achieve peace is to lower expectation, or in more concrete terms, to lead a simple life.


    The Science of Expectation: Happiness as Anticipation. Milwaukee: Goldine and Jacobs Publishing, 2018. ISBN 9781938598333

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  • 15 Dec 2021 by Pablo Gilabert



    Human dignity: social movements invoke it, several national constitutions enshrine it, and it features prominently in international human rights documents. But what is it, and why is it important? My book offers a systematic defence of the view that human dignity is the moral heart of human rights. First, it develops the network of concepts associated with dignity, highlighting the notion of human dignity as an inherent, non-instrumental, egalitarian, and high-priority normative status of human persons. People have this status in virtue of their valuable human capacities rather than as a result of their national origin and other conventional features. Second, it shows how human dignity gives rise to an inspiring ideal of solidaristic empowerment, generating both negative duties not to undermine, and positive duties to facilitate, people’s pursuit of a flourishing life in which they develop and exercise their valuable capacities. The most urgent of these duties are correlative to human rights. Third, the book illustrates how the proposed dignitarian approach allows us to articulate the content, justification, and feasible implementation of specific and contested human rights, such as the rights to democratic political participation and decent labor conditions. Finally, the book’s dignitarian framework illuminates the arc of humanist justice, identifying both the difference and the continuity between basic human rights and more expansive requirements of social justice such as those defended by liberal egalitarians and democratic socialists. Human dignity is indeed the moral heart of human rights. Understanding it enables us to defend human rights as the urgent ethical and political project that puts humanity first. 



    Human Dignity and Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019. ISBN 9780198827221

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  • 08 Dec 2021 by Lynda Gaudemard


    The main aim of my book is to provide both a new interpretation of Descartes’s substance dualism and a new defence of substance dualism called “emergent creationist substance dualism.” According to this view, the mind is a nonphysical substance (created and maintained by God), which cannot begin to think without a well-disposed body. While the mind does not directly come from the body, the mind can be said to emerge from the body in the sense that it cannot be created by God independently from a suitable physical categorical basis. The textual basis for this interpretation can partly be found in Descartes’s embryology that is developed in detail in this book. I show that emergent creationist substance dualism is consistent with Descartes’s defence of creationism and that it does not necessarily entail that the mind cannot survive the body. Then, I explain why the view I attribute to Descartes has some connections with Hasker’s substance emergent dualism (1999). Indeed, Hasker claims that the mind is a non physical substance emerging from neurons and that consciousness has causal powers which effects cannot be explained by physical neurons. For its proponents, Hasker’s view explains what Descartes’s dualism fails to explain, especially why the mind regularly interacts with one and only one body. Despite its ontological costs, I argue that emergent creationist substance dualism faces fewer problems than its rivals.


    Rethinking Descartes’s Substance Dualism. Cham: Springer, 2021. ISBN 978-3-030-75413-6

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  • 01 Dec 2021 by Owen Ware

    Cover image for Owen Ware's book, Kant's Justification of EthicsKant's arguments for the reality of human freedom and the normativity of the moral law continue to inspire work in contemporary moral philosophy. A number of prominent ethicists invoke Kant, directly or indirectly, in their efforts to derive the authority of moral requirements from a more basic conception of action, agency, or rationality. But many commentators have detected a deep rift between the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason, leaving Kant's project of justification exposed to conflicting assessments and interpretations. In my book I defend the controversial view that Kant's mature writings on ethics share a unified commitment to the moral law's primacy. In this way my goal is to overturn a paradigmatic way of reading Kant's arguments for morality and freedom, situating them within Kant's critical methodology at large. The result, I claim, is a novel understanding of Kant that challenges much of what goes under the banner of Kantian arguments for moral normativity today.


    Kant's Justification of Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021. ISBN: 9780198849933

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  • 08 Nov 2021 by Katharina Nieswandt

    The following is a guest blog post by Katharina Nieswandt, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Concordia University in Montreal.


    The Question

    Why are only about one third of academic philosophers women?



    Mainly because only about one third of students who either enroll in the undergraduate major or stay after introductory classes are women.  I.e., at least in North America, the main pipeline leak occurs at the first stage of a potential academic career.  Retention within the university system thereafter is probably proportionate, except for a significant drop at the step from associate to full professor.  (Note, though, that quality data is hard to obtain, especially international data.  Some of the better statistics are: [1]; [2]; [3]).


    Follow-Up Question

    Why, then, do women either not enroll in the first place or drop out after the introduction?  I.e., why is philosophy not an attractive major to women?



    From a review of theoretical and empirical work on gender gaps in academia, we designed and implemented a survey (see section Study Design).  The two most important factors turned out to be self-perceptions of brilliance and of belonging (see section Main Results).  The following model depicts our results:



    Two features set this model apart from extant explanations.  (For important previous work, see: [4]; [5].)  First, it results from an empirical investigation that meets current methodological standards, including psychometrics and literature review (see section Study Design).  Second, we conducted inferential rather than only descriptive statistical analyses.  Therefore, the results license conclusions about the actual population (as far as a self-selected sample ever can), supported by data from the sample, rather than only licensing observations about the sampled population.


    Study Design

    Hypotheses were developed from an extensive survey of the literature on determinants of choice of major, academic gender gaps, role models, interests, abilities, and beliefs about brilliance (400 articles surveyed; 117 selected).

    These hypotheses were tested via a questionnaire (n = 467), in four waves of data collection (2018–2021).  The items (101, plus demographic questions) were partly created and validated for this purpose, partly taken from extant, validated questionnaires.  A pilot version (n = 136; 2019) was fine-tuned based on psychometric results and theoretical considerations.

    The study population were undergraduates at various types of North-American universities.  We contrasted philosophy with psychology students, as the two fields strongly overlap in topics (such as the mind, human nature, social groups, norms—albeit with different methods and foci), but they have inverse gender ratios (with 80% of psychology undergraduates being women) and inverse gender problems (with psychology losing women later in their career, viz. after the PhD), see: [1]; [6]; [7].


    Main Results

    The overall result was that the typical philosophy major perceives themselves as systematizing, as brilliant, does not value having a family, nor making money—all compared to the typical psychology major.  Fewer women than men show these self-perceptions and preferences.


    Before considering the details, please note that:

    • The inventories we used define the above properties as follows:  “Systematizing” is “the drive to analyse the variables in a system, to derive the underlying rules that govern the behaviour of a system […] and to construct systems” and contrasts with “empathizing,” i.e., “the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion,” thus allowing “you to predict a person’s behaviour, and to care about how others feel” ([8], p. 361; see also [9]).  “Brilliance” is defined as “raw aptitude” or a “fixed, innate talent” for cognitive tasks ([10], p. 262).  “Belonging” is defined as “the feeling that one fits in, belongs to, or is a member of the academic community in question” ([11], p. 700).  We defined “combativeness” as a confrontational approach to debate at the cost of interpersonal considerations ([III]).
    • All findings reported below were significant at a level of p ≤ 0.05 or stricter.
    • Our study cannot tell whether the gender differences we found are the result of nature of nurture.  Neither can it tell whether the reported perceptions are accurate—whether people who perceive themselves as systematizing, e.g., indeed possess high systematizing skills or whether philosophy, which is perceived as requiring these skills, indeed requires them.


    The most striking details:

    • In a structural equation model from gender to choice of a major (philosophy or psychology) via the self-perception as combative, self-perception as systematizing and prioritization of family/money/status, gender has no longer any independent explanatory power.  In other words, these variables together can model the effect of gender on major for the two fields without explanatory residue.  Their influence is indirect, mediated through the variable self-perception of belonging.
    • Perceiving oneself as systematizing is positively associated with: the self-perception as belonging in philosophy (and, in turn, with majoring in philosophy) and is negatively associated with the self-perception as belonging in psychology (and, in turn, with majoring in psychology).  These associations between systematizing and belonging are the strongest effects we observed.  The self-perception as systematizing is furthermore positively associated with a self-perception as combative and is negatively associated with the prioritization of family and of money.
    • Perceiving oneself as intellectually combative is positively associated with: identifying as a man and with perceiving oneself as belonging in philosophy (and, in turn, with majoring in philosophy).  Self-perception as combative is also positively associated with systematizing (see previous) and prioritization of status.  Importantly, it is through combativeness that systematizing is associated with identifying as a man; i.e., when combativeness is statistically taken into account, the direct association between identifying as a man and perceiving oneself as systematizing is no longer significant.
    • Surprisingly, there is no main effect for gender on prioritization of family.  Prioritization of family is positively associated with: prioritization of money and self-perception as empathizing.  It is negatively associated with systematizing (see above). 
    • There were interactions between systematizing, prioritization of money and prioritization of status with gender in predicting feelings of belonging in psychology.  Men who perceived themselves as highly systematizing or low in the prioritization of money or status also perceived that they do not belong in psychology to the same extent as women with comparable self-perceptions do.  We can only speculate as to the reasons.  One might think that public perceptions of psychology align more with female stereotypes and vice versa for philosophy and male (see [10]; [12]), and that students without clear priorities tend to perceive themselves as belonging where public perceptions suggest they fit and tend to choose accordingly.  (In other words, the less you have personal preferences, the more likely you could be to follow a social stereotype.)
    • Perceptions around brilliance are probably a major determinant of the other discussed perceptions and of interest.  Confirming findings from previous studies, we found that philosophy is perceived as requiring more brilliance than psychology (as in [10]; [12]; [13]) and that women perceive themselves as less brilliant than men perceive themselves (as in [14]; [15]).  In line with that, we also found that these perceptions predicted major, such that people who tend to think of themselves as brilliant tend to major in philosophy rather than psychology.  Interestingly, however, there is an interaction with gender: for women but not for men, perceiving themselves as less brilliant predicts choosing psychology, rather than philosophy, as their major.
    • Strikingly, these effects persisted even when controlling for high-school GPA and year in university.  There was a main effect of GPA on brilliance, such that people with high GPAs perceive themselves as higher in brilliance.  Crucially, women, on average, entered university with a higher GPA than men, but they nevertheless didn’t perceive themselves as more brilliant.  I.e., controlling for GPA, women have a lower opinion of their own brilliance than men have of theirs.  In addition, there was a noteworthy finding regarding year in university:  The further students progressed in their degree, no matter their field, the less likely they became to perceive psychology as requiring brilliance, while their brilliance perception for philosophy did not change.  In other words, university socialization increases the divide.



    Overall, our findings provide (of course defeasible) evidence for the claim that students choose philosophy because they perceive a good fit between philosophy, qua requiring brilliance, and themselves, qua being brilliant, combative, systematizing, and indifferent towards “worldly rewards,” like family-life and money.

    Future research should investigate whether these factors are causes of the gender gap or perhaps partly the result of a self-serving, stereotypical image that philosophy students develop after choosing philosophy as their major (perhaps reinforced by the discipline’s culture).  More research is also needed of the relations between combativeness, systematizing, and the sense of belonging in philosophy:  Is combativeness really the driving factor behind gender differences on these variables, as our research suggests?  In addition, it would be important to test to what extent our results generalize to comparisons between philosophy and other fields than psychology.

    Philosophical readers will ultimately be most interested in interventions. Foundational research rarely licenses pragmatic steps directly, of course, but the following two inferences appear justified:  First, there probably is no quick fix for philosophy’s unequal gender ratio, since that might be part and parcel of a general social perception of certain abilities, character traits and life priorities as female or male.  Second, pre-university interventions might be necessary, given the well-replicated finding that gender stereotypes develop early (see, e.g., [15]).



    • Maranges; Nieswandt; Hlobil; Iannuccilli & Dunfield (2021):  Explaining the gender gap in philosophy: An evidence-based model.
    • Maranges; Iannuccilli; Nieswandt; Hlobil & Dunfield (2021):  Brilliance beliefs, not mindsets, help explain the inverse gender gaps in psychology and philosophy.
    • Maranges; Iannuccilli; Nieswandt; Hlobil & Dunfield (2021):  What determines feeling of belonging and majoring in an academic field? Isolating factors by comparing psychology and philosophy.


    Contact, Team and Funding


    Works Cited

    1. Zippia (2021):  Careers: Assistant Professor of Philosophy. Retrieved July 2021.
    2. American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016): Humanities Indicators: Higher Education. Retrieved July 2021.
    3. Paxton, Figdor & Tiberius (2012): Quantifying the gender gap: An empirical study of the underrepresentation of women in philosophy. Hypatia, 27, 949–957.
    4. Thompson, Adleberg, Sims & Nahmias (2016): Why do women leave philosophy? Surveying students at the introductory level. Philosopher’s Imprint, 16, art. 6.
    5. Baron, Dougherty & Miller (2015): Why is there female under-representation among philosophy majors? Ergo 2, 329–365.
    6. de Brey, Snyder, Zhang & Dillow (2019): Digest of Education Statistics. National Center for Education Statistics.
    7. Yu, Kuncel & Sackett (2020): Some roads lead to psychology, some lead away: College student characteristics and psychology major choicePerspectives on Psychological Science, 15, 761–777.
    8. Baron-Cohen, Richler, Bisarya, Gurunathan, & Wheelwright (2003): The systemizing quotient: an investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, and normal sex differences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, series B, 358, 361–374.
    9. Greenberg, Warrier, Allison & Baron-Cohen (2018): Testing the Empathizing-Systematizing theory of sex difference and the Extreme Male Brain theory of autism in half a million people. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115, 12152-12157.
    10. Leslie, Cimpian, Meyer & Freeland (2015): Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines. Science. 347, 262–265.
    11. Good, Rattan & Dweck (2012): Why do women opt out? Sense of belonging and women’s representation in mathematics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 700–717.
    12. Storage, Horne, Cimpian & Leslie (2016): The frequency of “brilliant” and “genius” in teaching evaluations predicts the representation of women and African Americans across fields. PLoS ONE, 11, art. e0150194.
    13. Meyer, Cimpian & Leslie (2015): Women are underrepresented in fields where success is believed to require brilliance. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, art. 235.
    14. Correll (2001): Gender and the career choice process: The role of biased self-assessmentThe American Journal of Sociology, 106, 1691–1730.
    15. Bian, Leslie & Cimpian (2017): Gender stereotypes about intellectual ability emerge early and influence children’s interests. Science, 355, 389–391.