Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Female offspring and philosophy

Dalton Conley and Emily Rauscher report:
Washington (2008) finds that, controlling for total number of children, each additional daughter makes a member of Congress more likely to vote liberally and attributes this finding to socialization. However, daughters’ influence could manifest differently for elite politicians and the general citizenry, thanks to the selection gradient particular to the political process. This study asks whether the proportion of female biological offspring affects political party identification. Using nationally-representative data from the General Social Survey, we find that female offspring induce more conservative political identification. We hypothesize that this results from the change in reproductive fitness strategy that daughters may evince.

I don't yet see an ungated copy, do you?  By the way, I applaud the authors for their "stones" in writing the last paragraph of the paper, such as:
The conservative emphasis on family, traditional values and gender roles, and prolife anti-abortion sentiments all stress investment in children – for both men and women. Conservative policies mirror the genetic interests of women, writ large. They attempt to promote paternal investment in offspring. Further, they stress investment in conceived offspring – “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In short, Conservative policies support the genetic fitness of women by capitalizing on each pregnancy, reducing male promiscuity, and increasing paternal investment in children. Such policies may impinge on the freedom of parents’ immediate offspring, but they increase the expected number of grandchildren via daughters.

I'm not sure that's true as stated, but it does deserve further debate. 
In Inside Higher Ed Jason Stanley, professor of analytic philosophy, wonders why no one takes his colleagues seriously.
Perhaps philosophy has fallen into disfavor among humanists because philosophy has not been true to its roots. According to one sort of myth of this sort, traditional philosophers were commentators on culture. In the 1920s, philosophy was then ruined by the Logical Positivists, who created a new, dry, vision of philosophy. In their quest to declare the traditional questions of metaphysics meaningless, they divorced philosophy from the broader connections with culture and politics that give it life. The Positivists lost favor on the continent, and obtained posts in the barren intellectual wastelands of Chicago and New Haven, bringing their dry, logical methodology with them from Vienna.
This story is false in every detail. [...]
Logical Positivism, in its embrace of the transformational power of science and reason, does not mark a break with traditional philosophy. Rather, it is a continuation of it. [...]
It is Slavoj Zizek who is markedly out of place in this tradition, and not Saul Kripke.

Yeah, sure. Who leads more people to read philosophy? Not that I recommend Hegel to my friends, but who's been inspired to read philosophy by Kripke? Analytical philosophers appear to be stuck in an echo chamber that reinforces their prejudice that they're to culmination of the tradition, rather than a detour to a dead end. A visit to the Philosophy section of their local bookstore, or Amazon's rankings, should indicate that their notion of what is philosophy is very different from that of the general reader - who considers philosophy to be something similar to what it has been for the last twenty-five centuries. How many analytic philosophers read Greek, or anything prior to Frege?

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