"Bad Philosophy" and "Derivative Philosophy": Labels that Keep Women out of the Canon

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Efforts to include women in the canon have long been beset by reactionary gatekeeping, typified by the charge “That's not philosophy.” That charge doesn't apply to early and mid-analytic female philosophers—Welby, Ladd-Franklin, Bryant, Jones, de Laguna, Stebbing, Ambrose, MacDonald—with job titles like lecturer in logic and professor of philosophy and publications in Mind, the Journal of Philosophy, and Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. It's hopeless to dismiss their work as “not philosophy.” But comparable reactionary gatekeeping affects them, this paper argues, typified by the labels “bad philosophy” and “derivative philosophy.” Virtue and vice epistemology help explain why these women have been neglected and why their own approaches are epistemically virtuous. Their contemporaries and historians are deficient in scholarly virtues in labelling these women's work “bad” or derived from male mentors with no or specious justification. Their disparaged qualities—intellectual humility, modesty, critical self-reflection, disclosing biases—are often epistemic virtues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-253
Number of pages16
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2023


  • women in philosophy
  • Ambrose
  • Barcan
  • Bryant
  • de Laguna
  • E. E. C. Jones
  • Macdonald
  • Stebbing
  • Welby
  • MacDonald


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