The ballot has arrived for officer elections to the Philosophy of Science Association. These kinds of things are usually so boring. Not this time!
I've written posts before about the limited scope of papers presented at PSA meetings and in their journal, Philosophy of Science. At the last meeting, more papers were rejected than were accepted. There were surprisingly few papers authored by women. The topics tend to be technical, obscure, and unrelated to science policy. One session that I attended was the presentation of a paper which I had already seen published in a journal a couple of years prior. Deadlines are moved without announcement. And so on.
In general, my impression has been that the Society does little to cultivate the careers of its members who are not established--that is, it is not particularly welcoming to most grad students, to professors at undergraduate institutions, or to those doing original and creative research. Luckily, other organizations who do have been gaining momentum--HOPOS, ISHPSSB, and 4S.
The language on the ballots certainly conveys the discontent I feel. And there is also protective, defensive language to counter it.
On one side, candidates write:
"I would be especially interested in exploring opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate training that highlighted the role for philosophy of science beyond the boundaries of philosophy, and in seeing the PSA more actively enhance the immediate postdoctoral future of its most junior members."
"As a professional organization part of PSA's mission is surely to nurture young scholars. Can this be addressed...?"
"I think it makes sense for PSA meetings to be representative of the most current, creative, and well-regarded research being practiced by its members...I would also encourage a greater voice for the PSA in public policy and public education."
And on the other:
"The main purpose of the PSA is to promote high-quality research in the philosophy of science, and the PSA has done so very successfully in the past."
"The PSA does not need major changes."