Susan Haack’s “Not One of the Boys: Memoir of an Academic Misfit.”

By Susan Haack

Susan Haack in Shanghai, China (June 2014)


Susan Haack is not only a real philosopher–by which I mean an authentic, serious philosopher–she is also an all-around brilliant real philosopher, and a truly independent thinker.

Indeed, she is arguably the greatest living philosopher, whether inside or outside the professional academy.

And among other truly independent thinkers alive today, only Noam Chomsky seems to me comparable to her.

The essay re-published below, Haack’s “Not One of the Boys: Memoir of an Academic Misfit,” was originally published in Cosmos + Taxis 8 (2020), as the final article in a two-part Festschrift, edited by Mark Migotti, “Philosophy, The World, Life, and The Law: In Honour of Susan Haack,” which itself is also all-around brilliant, and I cannot recommend too highly.

You can download or read free complete .pdf versions of both parts of “Philosophy, The World, Life, and The Law: In Honour of Susan Haack,” HERE.

And you can also download or read a free complete .pdf version of “”Not One of the Boys: Memoir of an Academic Misfit,” HERE.


Not One of the Boys: Memoir of an Academic Misfit

© 2020 Susan Haack. All rights reserved.

An unlearned carpenter of my acquaintance once said in my hearing: “There is very little difference between one man and another; but what little there is, is very important.” — William James (1890)[1]

In his heart every man knows very well that, being unique, he will be in the world only once, and that no imaginable chance will for a second time gather together in a unity so strangely variegated an assortment as he is. — Friedrich Nietzsche (1874)[2]

Looking back over my fifty-plus years in the academy I realize that — though I have always felt I chose the right career, and have been doing the work I was made to do — I was never one of the boys; or one of the girls, either, for that matter. I have always been something of a misfit.

For one thing, I never quite fitted in socially. Indeed, I still recall the culture-shock when I first arrived in Oxford: No one in my family had ever been to university; my accent betrayed my lower-middle-class origins; I hadn’t, like most of my classmates, attended a private school; and I hadn’t been well-prepared for the level of work expected of me. I didn’t even know what the meals were called — what I had grown up calling “dinner” was “lunch,” and what I had grown up calling “tea” was “dinner.” Quite unconsciously, I soon learned to speak better; by dint of very hard work, I soon caught up academically. But it wasn’t until many years later that I understood the extent to which Oxford was about “contacts” and pedigree rather than education.[3]

And even much later, when I was an established professor, I felt awkward among colleagues and peers. I’ve never been particularly good at small talk with people I hardly know;[4] don’t care for beer, or cheap wine, or the whisky that one chairman favored; detest those loud “receptions”; and never could disguise how little I cared for discussions of soccer, cricket or, later, football, baseball, etc., or how uncomfortable I was with those one-sided, mutually-reinforcing conversations about political issues, real and academic..

Moreover, I have learned over the years that I am temperamentally resistant to bandwagons, philosophical and otherwise; hopeless at “networking,” the tit-for-tat exchange of academic favors, “going along to get along,” and at self-promotion; that I have very low tolerance for meetings where nothing I say ever makes any difference to what happens; and that I am unmoved by the kind of institutional loyalty that apparently enables many to believe in the wonderfulness of “our” students or “our” department or “our” school or “our” university simply because they’re ours. Nor do I feel what I think of as gender loyalty, a sense that I must ally myself with other women in my profession simply because they are women — any more than I feel I must ally myself with any and every British philosopher simply because he or she is British. And I am, frankly, repelled by the grubby scrambling after those wretched “rankings” that is now so common in philosophy departments. In short, I’ve never been any good at academic politicking, in any of its myriad forms.

And on top of all this, I have the deplorable habit of saying what I mean, with neither talent for nor inclination to fudge over disagreements or muffle criticism with flattering tact, and an infuriating way of seeing the funny side of philosophers’ egregiously absurd or outrageously pretentious claims — that there are no such things as beliefs,[5] that it’s just superstitious to care whether your beliefs are true,[6] that feminism obliges us to “reinvent science and theorizing,”[7] and so forth.

Most to the present purpose, though, I have never quite fitted in intellectually, either; somehow, both my interests and my ideas have almost always managed to be out of the current fashion, and often out of the mainstream altogether. From the beginning, just about, I seem to have been swimming against the intellectual tide.

When I started, it was acknowledged, albeit somewhat grudgingly that, maybe, women could do philosophy — preferably ethics, aesthetics, and such, supposedly the “softer” side of the subject. But I was already out of step;[8] I found ethics impossibly hard — but as I learned logic, I found it more congenial, more manageable, posing philosophical questions to which I might contribute. In fact, I still recall, after I’d written a paper on deontic logic for my tutorial in ethics with her, Philippa Foot observing, quite kindly, “yes, I see; this is obviously more your kind of thing!” And when I arrived in my first job, as a very junior lecturer at New Hall, Cambridge, I did a deal with a neighboring college: I would teach the young men from St. John’s logic, in exchange for Renford Bambrough’s teaching the young ladies from New Hall ethics. (One of those young men, by the way, was Graham Priest, whom I taught logic from the propositional calculus through Gödel’s theorem — though I’m glad to say that it was not I, but Richard Routley, who was responsible for his later diversion into soi-disant “dialethic logic.”)

But even in logic I soon found myself still out of step: arguing, against Quine’s insistence that “prelogical peoples,” and hence deviant logics, were merely “mythical,” an invention of bad translators,[9] that there can be genuinely deviant logical systems, and even that it was possible that such a system might be better than the classical Frege-Russell system. Now, however, I’m getting ahead of myself; before explaining why my ideas have never been in the mainstream, I should say something about how those ideas evolved and why the scope of my work turned out to be so much broader than most others’. For one of the ways in which I’ve never quite fitted in intellectually is that, at a time when professional philosophy has gradually become more and more hyper-specialized, my interests have grown broader and broader.


William James once described his philosophical work as “flights” (lectures and articles) and “perchings” (books).[10] The avian metaphor is lovely; but my version would be rather different. After the first flutterings, my work seems to have been a matter of spreading my wings (extending my scope to new questions and new fields), then landing and digging for something juicy (figuring out new details, new problems, new ways to navigate unfamiliar territory), then swooping back (returning to older questions in light of what I have spotted from the new perspective) and then, spreading my wings a bit more, moving on further, digging a little deeper — and so on. In fact, you might describe my journey as a philosopher as Samuel Butler describes Ernest Pontifex’s journey to intellectual maturity: as like the flight of a snipe,[11] zig-zagging over many fields.

So, while I began in logic and philosophy of language, as soon as I was asked to teach the year-long course on Epistemology and Metaphysics offered by the philosophy department at the University of Warwick, I began spreading my wings as I thought, taught, and eventually wrote, about these new questions. Around the same time, prompted by Quine’s casual dismissal of his observations about truth,[12] I began reading C. S. Peirce seriously; and was inspired to dig deeper as well as stretch further. So after Deviant Logic[13] and Philosophy of Logics,[14] I started real epistemological work; eventually, after many years, finishing Evidence and Inquiry.[15]

This book led to a whole raft of unexpected invitations to defend the objectivity of epistemic standards against skeptics of many kinds, requiring me to spread my wings much further as I developed the sustained response to postmodernist skepticism expressed in the essays in Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate.[16] Among my targets were radical feminist, post-colonialist, and sociological critiques of the pretensions of the sciences to tell us something of how the world is; and so this critique led, in due course, to the even more ambitious topics and themes of Defending Science — Within Reason,[17] which offers an account not only of the epistemology of science and its metaphysical presuppositions, but also of its place in society and its relation to law, literature, and religion.

My involvement with questions about the law, like many of my philosophical turns, was almost pure chance, fortuitous intellectual opportunism — in this instance, prompted by my discovering that a colleague in the law school at the University of Miami was using my Evidence and Inquiry in a course on the analysis of evidence. As I learned more about why my work was relevant to evidence scholars, I discovered that, while I had a theory of evidence and its quality, the legal system was dealing on a daily basis with evidence far more complex and tangled than any philosopher could imagine. So I have spent many years refining and amplifying my foundherentist ideas as I applied them in the law, exploring the consequences of my critical common-sensist philosophy of science for courts’ handling of expert testimony;[18] and — glimpsing new possibilities out of the corner of my eye — gradually getting familiar with the work of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and then developing my own neo-pragmatist philosophy of law.[19] This involved, in part, thinking about legal systems qua evolving social institutions, looping back to ideas I had earlier developed in metaphysics and in philosophy of the social sciences.

By this time, I had been reading the old pragmatists for many years, and as a result my metaphysical ideas had already moved well beyond the mainstream analytic focus on our language or our conceptual schemes: My metaphysics, like my philosophy of science, is “worldly,” and so depends on experience; not, however, the recherché experience needed by the sciences, but close attention to aspects of everyday experience so familiar we don’t usually notice them. This was the approach that led to my Innocent Realism, an ontological picture — very different from the more familiar forms of realism — of a world best described as a pluralistic universe.[20] And this required me to return to issues from Evidence and Inquiry as I developed and deepened the understanding of mind I had begun to sketch in response to Stich’s and the Churchlands’ skepticism about the very existence of beliefs and other propositional attitudes. Similarly, my thinking about the role of logic, first in science and then in law, led me back to issues from Philosophy of Logics about the scope and limits of formal methods.[21] And teaching a class on philosophy and literature — I focused on epistemological novels — was not only, like my many discussions with Meggan Padvorac, enormously enjoyable, but also led me to all kinds of interesting questions about intellectual integrity, misleading evidence, sham reasoning, and so on.

Putting Philosophy to Work[22] brought a good deal of this together, along with some wry reflections about the state of my profession, rife as it now is with perverse incentives that gradually undermine the genuine desire to figure things out without which serious philosophy is impossible. More recently still, noticing a distinct rise of scientism in philosophy, as in our culture more generally, I returned to issues from Defending Science, to articulate just what this mistake is, what forms it takes, and what’s wrong with it.[23] And of late, after decades of wrestling with the ever more unreasonable demands of referees, editors, copy-editors and, especially, academic publishers, I have turned my attention to the horrendous condition of academic publishing.[24]

As I said, ever since I began reading Peirce seriously in the 1970s, my work has always been informed by the insights of the classical pragmatist tradition — a distaste for the a priori method and a focus on the world, a repudiation of false dichotomies and a search for continuities and, most relevant here, a lack of concern for disciplinary and sub-disciplinary boundaries. The “AOS” and “AOC” of job advertisements and résumés signal that the norm in our profession today is for most people to work in two or three areas at most; and no doubt some think I’m all too given to trespassing on their proprietary territory. But really I’m just doing what’s needed to follow ideas and problems where they lead me, without much concern for the boundaries of those professional specialties and sub-specialties.[25] In consequence, though my path occasionally crosses others’ — the path of those soi-disant “virtue epistemologists,” for example, or of the “epistemology of testimony” crowd, or the path of those scientistic atheists who ally themselves with the “Brights,”[26] and so on — I’ve always been the outsider.

Moreover, while my work has gradually become more and more interdisciplinary, it has somehow never been interdisciplinary in any of the currently fashionable ways. I don’t do neurophilosophy, for example, or philosophy of literature, or even philosophy of law, as these are usually understood today; and I have never had any enthusiasm for those team-taught courses where faculty members from different departments talk past each other and the students flounder. And of course I’m an outsider, too, in my attitude to the history of philosophy, the study of which seems to be frankly despised by many in the analytic mainstream; and in my pragmatism, which would have been readily recognizable to Peirce, James, Dewey, Mead, or to Sidney Hook or Stan Thayer, for that matter, but is utterly unlike the Vulgar Pragmatism of Rorty and his followers, and far removed from the “Analytic” Pragmatism of Brandom and his disciples. (I won’t soon forget the reaction when I mentioned George Herbert Mead’s important contributions to philosophy of mind in a talk at NYU: “Mead? Where’s he?” — apparently my audience thought I was referring to some up-and-coming contemporary philosopher of mind they somehow didn’t know about.) I don’t quite fit, even, in the circle of Peirce scholars, James scholars, Dewey scholars, etc., though I have many valued friends among them; for my concern has always been, not only to understand and interpret these remarkable thinkers of the past, but to learn from them — to find, in their ideas, ways of tackling the problems I encounter in my work.


But it’s not just the scope and focus of my work, but also its content and its approach that don’t quite fit the conventional mould. Indeed, even my style of writing — which, unlike the stilted, impersonal “social science” style adopted by so many philosophers today, is direct, plain-spoken, and yet informal, conversational, idiomatic, sometimes even humorous[27] — is far from the norm. But I’ll focus here on my philosophical approach and the content of my work.

Even early on, while I was still concentrating primarily on logic and philosophy of language, I was never tempted to participate in the “Davidsonic boom” that was then dominating British philosophy, nor to sign up for the Kripke cult, or join to Popper’s band of disciples or the rival inductivist crew. While I was concerned to grasp the technical complexities of Tarski’s theory of truth, I was never disposed to hope that this theory would do all the philosophical work that Popper, or Davidson, expected of it. And while at this time I was impressed (too impressed, I now believe) by Quine’s seductively smooth prose and the sense of important philosophical substance his logical cleverness conveyed, I was no follower. I worked on the deviant logics he thought mythical; I also pointed out inconsistencies in his ideas about analyticity,[28] worked hard to figure out what reasons could possibly lie behind his dogmatic repudiation of quantified modal logic, and asked questions about the epistemology and metaphysics of logic that he brushed aside with a rhetorical question: “if sheer logic is not conclusive, what is?”[29] Indeed, the plural in the title of my Philosophy of Logics itself revealed my off-center slant.

As I began writing Evidence and Inquiry, though, I found myself even more out of step with others in the field. The false dichotomies here, I found, were even worse than those I’d encountered in my earlier logical work: foundationalism vs. coherentism, of course, but also internalism vs. externalism, logical vs. causal approaches, evidentialism vs. reliabilism, apriorism vs. scientism, and so on. After a whole lot of work, I arrived at my foundherentism, marrying the strong points of foundationalism and coherentism while avoiding their weaknesses, and including both internal and external elements. My approach put evidence and its quality center-stage, but at the same time was concerned to articulate the connection between a belief’s being more, or less, justified by foundherentist standards and the likelihood of its being true. My approach was also naturalistic, in the sense of allowing the contributory relevance of results from psychology, etc., to epistemology, but not in any sense scientistic. (Puzzling over “Epistemology Naturalized,” by this time I had realized how skillfully Quine’s way of doing philosophy could disguise fatal ambiguities that blurred genuine insights.) And so on.

The response of the epistemological mainstream was predictably defensive. Despite my having argued in excruciating detail that foundherentism really is a new approach, some simply couldn’t escape the false dichotomy of foundationalism vs. coherentism: Several authors were sure that I was really a covert foundationalist; others were equally sure that I was really a covert coherentist. And as for evidentialism vs. reliabilism — well, my repudiation of this false dichotomy prompted a truly bizarre correspondence with Alvin Goldman, who was apparently quite unable to escape its grip. First he sent me a draft paper in which he described me as focusing exclusively on evidence and paying no attention to truth; in response to which I politely pointed out that the last chapter of my book was precisely about the relation between evidential quality and likely truth. In reply he sent me another draft, now describing me as a reliabilist like himself; in response to which I asked him, rather less politely, please to look at my chapter 7 — devoted to a thorough-going critique of reliabilism — and to remove his endnote thanking me for my help!

Though I touched briefly on issues about testimony and about the conduct of inquiry, Evidence and Inquiry had focused primarily on the degree of justification of the beliefs of individual knowing subjects. In the mainstream, however, interest in these crucial questions had waned rapidly — not, apparently, because people believed solutions had been found, but because they were bored with them, and felt like moving on. Mainstream attention turned to social epistemology and virtue epistemology — and, almost unbelievably, back to Gettierology, which in 1993 I had thought was, thank goodness, in decline. (A decade earlier, I had written a paper explaining why Gettier-type “paradoxes” were inevitable, and harmless, given the mismatch between the gradational character of justification and the categorical character of knowledge; but I didn’t think it worth publishing until the second, 2009, edition of Evidence and Inquiry, at the peak of a new Gettier boom.)[30]

However, despite the mostly dispiritingly defensive reception among specialists in epistemology, the first edition of Evidence and Inquiry found many readers elsewhere, among philosophers in other areas, legal scholars, natural scientists, economists, etc. — including some who pressed me to give a verdict on the then-burgeoning new specialty of “feminist epistemology.” Wisely or not, I agreed; but concluded that, so far as I could see, there was no such connection between feminism and epistemology as the rubric “feminist epistemology” required. The idea that feminist epistemology would represent “women’s ways of knowing” simply reintroduced old, indefensible sexist stereotypes; the idea that considerations of what was to women’s advantage should determine theory-choice would not only undermine inquiry by politicizing it, but undermine the possibility even of determining what is to women’s advantage.

This didn’t make me popular with some professional feminists, who evidently thought that women in philosophy should stick together — we might have our internecine disputes, but we must display our solidarity in the face of the sexism they believed to be endemic in the field. I must, they concluded, be some kind of reactionary, hostile to feminism. This was what I meant when I said I was never one of the girls any more than I was ever one of the boys: while I like and respect some of the women in philosophy, I like and respect them as individuals, not as fellow members of my “gender.” (I like and respect some of the men in the field, too!)

It didn’t help matters, probably, when a few years later I wrote what I hoped and believed was a very temperate essay in which I expressed some reservations about affirmative action, and specifically about preferential hiring of women in universities:[31] an essay that one referee wanted suppressed from my Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate, and that no reviewer dared even mention. (That was disturbing; but as I said in my introduction to the book, “better ostracism than ostrichism.”)[32] Nor, sadly, did it help when, shortly afterwards, I wrote my own humanist, individualist, feminist position-statement — stressing, not women-as-a-class, but what all humans beings have in common, and what’s unique about each and every individual.[33] By this time, I fear, feminist philosophers were already sure I was beyond the pale, and wouldn’t condescend to read me.

But Manifesto tackled not only the “feminist philosophy” crew, but a whole variety of postmodern confusions, including confusions about science. Mainstream philosophers seem mostly to have ignored postmodernism; but some mainstream philosophers of science, probably prompted by the wild claims of radical sociologists of science, had begun, very cautiously, to try to accommodate some social elements in their logical models of scientific inference. Once again, however, I found myself out of line. For one thing, I saw philosophy of science, not as a freestanding specialty, but as intimately related both to epistemology and to metaphysics. As a result, I found myself thinking in ways quite outside the usual late twentieth-century/early twenty-first century lines, ways more akin to the ideas of such thinkers as Thomas Huxley, Albert Einstein, John Dewey, Percy Bridgman, and Gustav Bergmann. So in Defending Science — Within Reason[34]I developed what I called my Critical Common-sensist philosophy of science.

As I’d already suggested in Evidence and Inquiry,[35] in Defending Science I argued that scientific inquiry is continuous with everyday empirical inquiry, only more so: It is usually more careful, more thorough, more rigorous; it often relies on instruments and other specialized tools; and it is generally the work of many people, both within and across generations. There’s no “scientific method,” i.e., no method used by all, and only, scientists. There are the familiar procedures of everyday inquiry: make an informed conjecture, see how well it stands up to the evidence you have and any further evidence you can get, use your judgement whether to accept it, to draw no conclusion but seek out more evidence, or to start over; but these are not used only by scientists. And there are the special tools and procedures developed by scientists over hundreds of years — from models and metaphors to aid the imagination, instruments of observation and measurement to aid the senses, through the calculus, the theory of probability, the computer, etc., to aid reasoning powers, means for the dissemination of results so that evidence can be shared, and incentives to keep scientists productive and honest; but these scientific “helps” to inquiry, always evolving and often local to a specific scientific field, aren’t used by all scientists. These helps engage scientists’ imagination, extend and refine their sensory reach, enable new reasoning powers, and (up to a point) maintain honesty and encourage creativity and the sharing of results. This is how the sciences have been as successful as they have.

The evidence for scientific claims, my argument continued, is continuous with the evidence for everyday empirical claims, only more so — a mix of sensory evidence and reasons, but far more complex and tangled: The experiential components are often meditated by instruments, with all their theoretical backing; the reasoning is often dependent on computer programs, with all the assumptions built into them; and such evidence is almost always a shared resource, the result of many people’s work. Thinking about the sharing of results, i.e., scientists’ pooling of evidence, I was obliged to dig deeper into issues about social aspects of epistemology, only touched on in Evidence and Inquiry.

The evidence for scientific claims rests ultimately on experience, and of course it’s individuals who have experience. But the evidence for such claims is almost always a shared resource. So, unlike the social epistemologists, who seemed concerned with the warrant of scientific claims for a group or team of people, I started from what I’d done in Evidence and Inquiry to explain the degree to which a claim would be warranted for an individual. Then I turned to how to handle the degree of warrant for many people, whether members of the same team or scattered around the world or even over centuries; a matter, I suggested, of the degree of warrant for a hypothetical individual who had all the evidence possessed by these people all together, discounted by some measure of how justified each person is in believing the others reliable. And finally I constructed an account of the degree of warrant of a scientific claim at a time.[36] (This, as I noted, turned Popper’s “epistemology without a knowing subject” on its head.)[37]

This approach suggested an important role for epistemologically-informed sociology of science: in the form, for instance, of questions about what kinds of environment enable such work and what kinds impede it, the kinds of perverse incentives that encourage scientific fraud, and so on. But this was more in keeping with the ideas of earlier sociological thinkers like Robert Merton than with the radical skepticism about the epistemological pretensions of the sciences then in vogue among up-and-coming sociologists of science.

Moreover, I had distinguished the social from the natural sciences in a somewhat non-standard way; and repudiated the false dichotomies that I believed impeded an understanding of how the two are alike (both use the same procedures and methods as everyday empirical inquiry) and how they are different (the social sciences using different specialized helps, and seeking different kinds of explanation, in terms of people’s beliefs, desires, plans, fears, etc., rather than physical forces). So I was more than somewhat out of line with mainstream thought among philosophers of the social sciences, too.

The epistemological strands of my Defending Science intertwined with metaphysical elements derived from the conception of a pluralistic universe at the heart of the Innocent Realism I was then developing. But once more I was out of step. Some philosophers of science wanted to eschew ontological commitments entirely, some to derive such commitments from scientific theories, and some to skirt the issue by appeal to a Kripke-Putnam theory of reference for natural kind terms. I, however, was arguing that — while, for science to be even possible, there must be real kinds and real laws — there is no guarantee that current scientific vocabulary matches real kinds, which is why the language of science is constantly shifting and changing; and that these shifts and changes of meaning need not impede inquiry, but can actually advance it when they come closer to real kinds in the world. This suggested another reason (besides their failure to accommodate experiential input) why those formal models of scientific inference failed; and suggested that the metaphors often used by scientists are not only important helps to the imagination, but can also contribute to the evolution of scientific vocabulary.[38]

Unfortunately, if predictably, Defending Science was greeted with less than overwhelming enthusiasm by the philosophy of science establishment: One reviewer even had the poor taste to complain that the thinkers I relied on were dead — no boost for his and his friends’ citation counts there, I suppose! Another reviewer, apparently quite unable to read the book, thought I had said that science is “just common-sense.”[39] However, like Evidence and Inquiry, Defending Science found a large and appreciative audience elsewhere: among philosophers not specialists in the field, among scientists of every kind, and among lawyers and law professors struggling to understand how best to deal with scientific testimony — but I’ll get to them later.

When I thought about the relation of science and imaginative literature, I was concerned both with the similarities and with the differences between the two, notably with the difference between the imaginative (common to both) and the imaginary (the province of fiction). It was while I was thinking about literature, by the way, that my path crossed the virtue epistemologists’; or more precisely, the path of Linda Zagzebski and her followers.[40] (I had already filed Sosa’s “virtue epistemology”[41] in my head under “reliabilism,” itself filed under “failed theories”). Epistemological virtues, I concluded, are often best understood through the rich detail of novels such as Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith, Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh, and Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night. But instead of mining these rich resources, the “virtue epistemology” crowd seemed to have settled for a somewhat hackneyed list of rather thinly described virtues, and hadn’t articulated that what makes a virtue epistemological is the subject’s relation, and his reaction, to evidence. So I found myself out on a limb yet again when, at a conference on virtue epistemology at which I had spoken about Butler’s extraordinary semi-autobiographical novel, an audience member asked me how on earth I had come up with that example (nowhere to be found, I gathered, in the “virtue epistemology” literature). I tried to explain that this book was one I had loved for years, but that I had only recently articulated its epistemological lessons. He looked baffled.

I remember, while I was writing chapter 9 of Evidence and Inquiry, “Vulgar Pragmatism: An Unedifying Prospect,” thinking that if I were Richard Rorty, and really believed, as he professed to, that standards of epistemological evaluation were purely conventional, I wouldn’t bother going after epistemologists, who are really very small fry indeed; I’d be raring to dismantle the legal system — which, if there really are no objective standards for the evaluation of evidence, could be nothing but a cruel farce. Not surprisingly, then, I later found myself drawn into questions about epistemology and the law of evidence and, especially, the legal system’s handling of scientific testimony.

Once again, though, I found myself at odds with the social epistemologists, some of whom had begun to interest themselves in questions about testimony, and were applying their work to legal contexts. They seemed too content with what sounded to me like verbal solutions of no practical help; and their work seemed insufficiently informed either by the nitty-gritty details of real-life evidence in real-life cases or by an awareness of the very special constraints on the presentation of evidence imposed by legal rules and procedures. And since I saw legal degrees of proof as something quite different from mathematical probabilities, I was even more sharply at odds with the Bayesian wing of the “New Evidence Scholarship” then predominant in legal circles; but at the same time was underwhelmed by the “story-based,” “narrative” approach that was its main rival — too much hand-waving, not enough details. And neither philosophers nor legal scholars had much interest in my reply to Peirce’s critique of adversarialism, or even in my reply to Bentham’s objections to exclusionary rules of evidence.

As my legal interests began to extend to questions about scientific evidence specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court was handing down a series of decisions on the standards of admissibility of such testimony in a trilogy of cases: Daubert (1993), Joiner (1997) and Kumho Tire (1999).[42] And my first paper on these matters even opened with a newspaper headline announcing the Joiner ruling: “Supreme Court Rules There is No Real Distinction between Methodology and Conclusions.”[43] But again I was out of mainstream thinking. Legal scholars weren’t terribly interested when I showed that Justice Blackmun’s ruling in Daubert had Popper’s and Hempel’s incompatible philosophies of science completely confused; nor, more surprisingly, when I showed that this ruling had also confused “scientific” and “reliable,” as if all and only scientific testimony were reliable. Neither, so far as I know, were philosophers of science much interested.

Nonetheless — perhaps because in an early piece in this area I had cracked a memorable joke about Justice Blackmun getting his Hoppers and his Pempels all mixed up[44] — I soon began receiving interesting legal invitations; and eventually, quite without planning to, became something of an expert on the epidemiological evidence so often crucial to toxic-tort cases. Predictably, however, Evidence Matters,[45] where much of this work can be found, bears little resemblance either to standard legal texts on evidence, or to other philosophical work in the area.

Naturally this book is pragmatist in orientation; but not, of course, in the sense of following Judge Posner’s confused idea that pragmatism means eschewing theory. Rather, it is pragmatist because of its worldly, nuts-and-bolts approach to the law, quite in keeping with the ideas of Holmes or of Benjamin Cardozo, also a legal pragmatist of the classical stripe. The epistemology on which it calls is foundherentist, and the philosophy of science Critical Common-sensist. Undertaking this work enabled me to deepen my foundherentist critique of epistemological atomism, as I argued that a congeries of pieces of evidence, none sufficient by itself, may in some circumstances jointly warrant a conclusion to the legally required degree of proof; and legal probabilism, showing that degrees of proof differ from mathematical probabilities, and that Bayesian efforts to analyze evidence fail and that the “doubling of risk” standard for admissibility of epidemiological evidence in toxic torts are both bad epistemology and bad policy. This volume also includes thoughts about truth in the law, and about the relation of law and morality; none, as usual with me, the standard kind of thing. Moreover, because those legal invitations had include many from other countries — the U.K., and Canada, across Europe, across Latin America, and even in China — Evidence Matters is probably more aware than much evidence scholarship of important differences in evidentiary procedure in different jurisdictions; subsequently, I have written specifically about this.[46]

When I presented an early paper on epistemology and the law of evidence at Notre Dame Law School,[47] John Finnis commented that I was “a real pragmatist, not like Rorty.” This prompted me to begin reading Holmes seriously. The first result was a paper on his famous lecture, “The Path of the Law,” arguing, against the received view, that Holmes’s so-called “prediction theory” was no such thing, but only the first step towards something much subtler and much deeper. The next was a paper exploring Holmes’s critique of Christopher Columbus Langdell’s idea of a legal system as a set of axioms from which correct decisions could be deduced. Holmes was right, I argued, to say that “the life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience”;[48] but it remained to be seen whether the more powerful apparatus of modern logic, not known to Langdell or Holmes, might be up to the task of formalizing legal decisions. It would not, I concluded; and thus set my face against those many, especially in Europe, working on legal logics of one style or another.[49] The reason for the limits of formalism here, I realized, as with the sciences, lay in the shifts and changes of meaning of legal concepts over time.[50]

All this eventually this led me to develop my own neo-classical pragmatist legal philosophy. Innocent Realism proposes a pluralistic universe of natural stuff, things, kinds, phenomena, laws, and so forth overlaid, in “our” small corner of this universe, by a whole raft of human artifacts, physical, social, imaginative, intellectual, and so on. Legal systems are a pluralistic universe within this pluralistic universe; indeed, the U.S. legal system is a pluralistic universe in itself, within this pluralistic universe of legal systems within the pluralistic universe of the world. This gave rise to many good questions about the evolution of legal systems, the ways different systems borrow from each other, and so forth. (But I haven’t focused on such familiar questions as “what is law?” — to which I can only reply that the concept of law is itself fuzzy and itself evolving.)

Although the subtitle of Defending Science was “Between Scientism and Cynicism,” I had devoted more space to dismantling cynicism than I did to combating scientism, simply because the anti-scientific critiques of radical sociologists and rhetoricians of science, feminist and post-colonialist science critics, etc., seemed the more immediate danger. Before long, however, there was a kind of backlash, both in the academy and in our culture more generally: an alarming rise in the popularity of a crude scientism often, but not always, driven by anti-religious sentiment. My first response was to try to articulate exactly what scientism is, what’s wrong with it, and how to spot its telltale signs;[51] my next, to continue this work by showing the extraordinary weakness of the scientistic philosophy then coming into vogue.[52]

This naturally put me at loggerheads with the “Experimental Philosophy” flash-mob and with reductionists of every stripe, from Ladyman and Ross and their soi-disant “naturalized metaphysics” to Alexander Rosenberg and his depressing “physics fixes all the facts” bravado. It even put me at odds with many readers of Free Inquiry — a journal to which I had already contributed on several occasions — when I said in their pages that one might repudiate scientism without having any kind of religious agenda, and that it was no less fallacious to argue that, if religion doesn’t explain anything, science must explain everything than it was to argue that, if science can’t explain something, religion must explain it.[53]

Still, while by this point I felt yet more alienated from the majority in my profession, there was an upside: spelling out the crucial difference between today’s scientistic philosophy and Peirce’s aspiration to make philosophy scientific — by which he meant that it should be undertaken with the “Scientific Attitude,” the genuine desire to find out the truth, and use the “Scientific Method,” i.e., experience and reason — enabled me to articulate why it can seem that you can do philosophy from your armchair, when in fact it depends on experience. As Peirce had argued, unlike the sciences, which require specialized, recherché experience, what philosophy requires is close attention to aspects of the experience we all have every day but seldom notice. This means you can do philosophy anywhere, without the need for expeditions, instruments, etc., but not that it’s a purely a priori exercise. And this, of course, is precisely the middle way that’s needed, the way to avoid both the extravagances of wild, unanchored a priori philosophical speculation and the equal-and-opposite extravagances of “X-phi” and all the other forms of scientism now rife in our field.

And, because that Free Inquiry paper had begun by agreeing with the editor’s observation in his letter of invitation that professional philosophy is in bad shape, while disagreeing with his diagnosis — that the problem is the rise of religiously-oriented work in the field and the horrible influence of the Templeton Foundation — it meshed neatly with other pieces I’d written about the state of the profession: “Preposterism and Its Consequences” (1996),[54] on the appalling culture of grants and research projects; “Out of Step: Academic Ethics in a Preposterous Environment” (2013),[55] on the virtues needed to do good intellectual work and the ways in which our over-administered universities are systematically eroding them; and “The Fragmentation of Philosophy” (2016),[56] on the disastrous splitting of our discipline into a host of sub-specialties and cliques. This, together with my frustration with academic publishers — the extraordinary length to which I had to go to be treated as an author rather than a fungible content-provider with no rights in my own work, prompted me to carry on this work in another piece, “The Academic-Publication Racket: Whatever Happened to Authors’ Rights?” (2019).[57]

I’ve long thought that philosophy should be, not hermetic and self-absorbed, but engaged, concerning itself with what Dewey called “problems of men.” I suppose that was why, in light of a recent invitation to give the Theoria lecture, I chose a topic that engaged my logical, my epistemological, my metaphysical, and my worldly concerns: the idea that we are now living in the era of “post-truth.” This meshed neatly with a series of earlier papers on truth, in the course of which I developed my “Laconicist” approach (Kiriake Xerohemona’s word) to the concept. But even when I’m writing about “post-truth” my slant is distinctive. The problem, I emphasized, is that the idea that we are now post-truth is ambiguous; and that while it is true on one understanding (unconcern for truth is on the rise), it is false on the other (the concept of truth is illegitimate, out of date).

I can’t guess, of course, which, if any, of my ideas will stand the test of time; I can only hope that some, at least, will do so. But I can be pretty sure I’ll never be mainstream, not in this lifetime anyway. As Peirce once said, “there is a kink in my damned brain that prevents me from thinking as other people think”;[58] I guess there’s a kink in my brain, too.


Not surprisingly, I have never had a “prestigious” job, landed a major grant, held any academic office with the power of patronage, or anything of that kind. None of this has really bothered me; though I’d be lying if I said I don’t get annoyed when one of those “lucky,” well-connected few who seem to lead charmed academic lives feels entitled to condescend to me. And naturally I dislike unwarranted criticisms of things I never said and absurdly defensive reactions to ideas of mine threatening to those who might have to admit that they were wrong if I were right.

I suppose I could have used a thicker skin, because academics can be — well, they can be quite nasty. I don’t want to dwell on this, but I’ll note few particularly egregious examples of thing kind of thing I mean. I was dismayed to learn that Bernard Williams — who had been chair of the philosophy department at Cambridge when I was a Ph.D. student there — had simply ignored the help I gave him, decades later, in response to his request for references on pragmatism; and instead used “pragmatism” to refer to Rorty’s confusions — and dismissed my response to Rorty’s misunderstandings about truth as if they were as unsophisticated and unsubtle as John Searle’s or Jay Rosenberg’s.[59] I was disappointed to learn that when, in 2008, Anil Gupta “discovered” that we needed a theory of empirical justification combining the strong points of foundationalism and coherentism, he didn’t so much as mention my work.[60] I was distressed to discover how many people seized so eagerly on a pitifully weak paper by Peter Tramel claiming that my foundherentism is a form of foundationalism — apparently without having read either Tramel or myself with any care.[61] I was disgruntled when the organizers of a conference on “the point and purpose of epistemic evaluation” — at which mine was the only paper that referred to real-world issues at all! — asked me to make my paper “more like ours” before publication.[62] And I was disheartened when the editors of several anthologies wanted to include my critique of feminist epistemology, but apparently had no interest in, or perhaps no knowledge of, my constructive epistemological work.

And then there was the editor-in-chief of a journal for which I was putting together an issue on “Feminist Epistemology: For and Against” who urged me to accept what he agreed was a very weak paper from a feminist Big Noise. The reason, it turned out, wasn’t that he thought I shouldn’t reject bad papers from big noises — though that would have been be bad enough; it was that accepting this weak paper would make the feminist epistemologists look bad — which was not the project for which I thought I’d signed up. (I resisted; and instead accepted an even-handed and sober paper from Iddo Landau[63] — the beginning of our now decades-long friendship.)

But, though I would certainly have preferred to have been less intellectually lonely and — much as I have enjoyed my discussions with Peirce et al. — to have had more living people to talk to, there has surely been a bright side. I have enjoyed a full intellectual life — with all the frustrations and disappointments such a life inevitably involves, to be sure, but also with its moments of exhilaration and the pleasurable company of “clean, humorous intellect.”[64] I have enjoyed the privilege of teaching generations of students of many and various talents, some of whom have become my good friends and respected colleagues; and of making, along the way, not “contacts,” but much-valued friends among philosophical, and now, legal thinkers — and many others, too, all around the world. Some of these, sadly, are no longer alive; I will mention particularly Robert L. Heilbroner,[65] Jacques Barzun,[66] Peter Strawson,[67] Louise Rosenblatt,[68] and Sidney Ratner.[69]

Sometimes people suggest to me that my work has not been valued as it should be “because you’re a woman.” In my estimation, though, in many quarters my work has been valued as it should be; though, granted, this has more often been by other outsiders than by the mainstream. And while I have certainly encountered my share of sexism,[70] I have also had some remarkable good fortune on this score, notably Oxford’s admirable practice of grading undergraduate final exams anonymously — but for which I might never have got past the first post.[71] I suspect, though, that my biggest problem hasn’t been my sex, but my stubbornly independent temperament.[72]

As you see, my academic and intellectual independence, the freedom to think things through for myself, hindered only (only!) by my own weaknesses, prejudices, and blind spots, has come at quite a high price: isolation, a sense of alienation, and sometimes real resentment and hostility on the part of some who are unwilling, or not in a position, to pay the price such freedom requires. (Perhaps that explains my experience at the Humanities Center at the University of Minnesota, where my first lecture had a tiny audience, my second a much larger one; and after the second a shy graduate student came up, handed me a brown-paper package — which turned out to contain a copy of Helmut Schoeck’s Envy,[73] inscribed “To Susan Haack, with admiration” — and scuttled away before I could thank him.)

So I’ll end with a treasured memory, a favorite anecdote that strikes all the right notes: Sometime in the mid 1990s, Sidney Ratner called to tell me that during a dinner at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton the previous evening, Morton White, who knew something of my work on pragmatism, had asked him “who is she?” — a question expecting the answer, “she’s So-and-So’s student, from Such-and-Such University.” “I hope I didn’t say the wrong thing,” Sidney went on. “What did you say?” I asked. “I said, ‘she’s very independent,’” said Sidney; “was that all right?” — to which I replied, “Sidney, if you weren’t in New Jersey, I’d kiss you!” That was the nicest, as well as the most accurate, answer he could have given.[74]


[1] William James, “The Importance of Individuals,” The Open Court 4, no. 154 (August 1890): 24–37, reprinted in William James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897; New York: Dover, 1956), 255–62, 256–57.

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, “Schopenhauer as Educator” (1874), in Untimely Meditations, trans. J. R. Hollingsworth (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 125–94, 127.

[3] The penny finally dropped during a lunch with Lord Quinton, Sir Alfred Ayer, and Sir Peter Strawson (the other members of the small British contingent) at a 1988 conference at Washington University in St. Louis for Quine’s eightieth birthday. The conversation turned to the applicants for a chair at Oxford. Sir Peter, who was on the hiring committee, groaned about one applicant: “Do I really have to read his boring book?” he asked; to which Sir Freddie replied: “I don’t see why, he didn’t even go to a proper school.” (Ayer went to Eton; how far down the list of prestigious private boys’ schools the concept of “proper school” reached, I don’t know to this day).

[4] Now I remember a quite extraordinary conversation with Richard Rorty, when we found ourselves the first to arrive for a lecture at a conference in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Trying to be civil but not too cordial — since we would inevitably clash philosophically during the event — I asked whether his wife had accompanied him; she hadn’t, he replied: “We’re bird-watchers, and Mary only comes when I’m going to a part of the world where there are birds we’ve never seen before.” I was about to explode: “But look, you say there’s no such thing as the way the world is, so what the heck do you mean, ‘parts of the world where there are birds we’ve never seen’?” Luckily, just then a pure black hummingbird flew by, and the conversation was saved.

[5] Paul Churchland, “Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes,” Journal of Philosophy 88, no. 2 (1981): 67–89; Stephen P. Stich, From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science: The Case against Belief (Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books, 1985); Patricia Churchland, “Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy 64, no. 10 (1987): 544–53. See also Susan Haack, Evidence and Inquiry, 2nd expanded ed. (1993; Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2009), chap. 8.

[6] Stephen P. Stich, The Fragmentation of Reason: Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation (Cambridge MA: Bradford Books, 1990) (by 1990, Stich had finally acknowledged that, after all, there are beliefs). See also Haack, Evidence and Inquiry, chap. 9.

[7] Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), 252. Asked, nearly a decade later, what breakthroughs feminist science had achieved, Harding replied that we had learned that menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause aren’t diseases. Well, duh. See Colleen Cordes, “2 Scholars Examine the ‘Bizarre War’ Against Science They Say is Being Waged by the Academic Left,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 27, 1994.

[8] I use the phrase deliberately because, as we’ll see, when, many decades later, I ventured into writing about academic ethics, this became my title. Susan Haack, “Out of Step: Academic Ethics in a Preposterous Environment” (2012), in Susan Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work: Inquiry and Its Place in Culture,2nd ed. (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2013), 251–68 (text) & 313–17 (notes).

[9] W. V. Quine, “Carnap and Logical Truth,” in The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, ed. P.A. Schilpp (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1963), 385–406, 387.

[10] William James, “On Some Omissions of Introspective Psychology,” Mind 9, no. 33 (1884):1–26, pp. 2–3.

[11] Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh (1901; New York: Random House, 1998), 241 (I understand that a “snipe-hunt” is the idiom for a wild-goose chase in Ohio).

[12] W.V. Quine, Word and Object (Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1960), 23.

[13] Susan Haack, Deviant Logic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974). A second, expanded edition was published in 1996 under the title Deviant Logic, Fuzzy Logic: Beyond the Formalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

[14] Susan Haack, Philosophy of Logics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978).

[15] Haack, Evidence and Inquiry.

[16] Susan Haack, Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate: Unfashionable Essays (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

[17] Susan Haack, Defending Science — Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003).

[18] Susan Haack, Evidence Matters: Science, Proof, and Truth in the Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

[19] Susan Haack, “On Legal Pragmatism: Where Does ‘The Path of the Law’ Lead Us?”, The American Journal of Jurisprudence 50 (2005): 71–105; “On Logic in the Law: ‘Something, but Not All,’” Ratio Juris 20, no. 1 (2007): 1–31; “The Pluralistic Universe of Law: Towards a Neo-Classical Legal Pragmatism,” Ratio Juris 21, no. 4 (2008): 453–80; “The Pragmatist Tradition: Lessons for Legal Theorists,” Washington University Law Review 95 (2018): 1049–82; “The Pragmatist [Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.],” in The Pragmatism and Prejudice of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., ed. Seth Vanatta (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2019), 169–89.

[20] Susan Haack, “Realisms and Their Rivals: Recovering Our Innocence,” Facta Philosophica 4, no. 1 (March 2002): 67–88; Susan Haack, “The World According to Innocent Realism: The One and the Many, the Real and the Imaginary, the Natural and the Social” (2014), in Susan Haack: Reintegrating Philosophy, eds. Julia Göhner and Eva-Maria Jung (Berlin: Springer, 2016), 33–58; Susan Haack, “Brave New World: Nature, Culture, and the Limits of Reductionism,” in Explaining the Mind, eds. Bartosz Brozek, Jerzy Stelmach, and Łuckasz Kwiatek (Kraków: Copernicus Center Press, 2018), 37–68.

[21] Susan Haack, “Formal Philosophy: A Plea for Pluralism” (2005), in Susan Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work: Inquiry and Its Place in Culture, expanded ed. (2008; Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2013), 235–50 (text) & 310–13 (notes).

[22] Susan Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work, 2nd expanded ed. (2008; Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2013).

[23] Susan Haack, “Six Signs of Scientism” (2010), in Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work, 105–20 (text) & 287–83 (notes); Susan Haack, Scientism and Its Discontents (Rounded Globe, 2017).

[24] Susan Haack, “The Academic-Publication Racket: Whatever Happened to Authors’ Rights?” Borderless Philosophy 2 (2019): 1–21.

[25] Susan Haack, “The Fragmentation of Philosophy, the Road to Reintegration,” in Göhner and Jung, Susan Haack: Reintegrating Philosophy, 3–32.

[26] See, e.g., “The Brights’ Principles,” The Brights, accessed January 2, 2020,

[27] I have written on the role of humor in philosophy in Susan Haack, “Serious Philosophy,” Spazio filosofico 18 (2016): 395–407.

[28] Susan Haack, “Analyticity and Logical Truth in The Roots of Reference,” Theoria 42, no. 2 (1977): 129–43, reprinted in Haack, Deviant Logic, Fuzzy Logic, 214–225.

[29] W. V. Quine, Philosophy of Logic, 2nd ed. (1970; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986), 81.

[30] Susan Haack, “Know’ is Just a Four-letter Word” (written in 1983), in Haack, Evidence and Inquiry, 2nded.., 391–430.

[31] Susan Haack, “The best man for the job may be a woman’… and other alien thoughts on affirmative action in the academy” (1996), in Haack, Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate, 167–88. This paper was written at the invitation of Martha Nussbaum for presentation at an APA session she had told me would be a “debate.” It wasn’t; all the other presenters, and most of the audience, were keen supporters of preferential hiring of women in the academy. The only exception was the small contingent of black faculty in the room, who thanked me warmly for saying that it wasn’t clear to me that the problems they faced and the problems white women faced were entirely the same.

[32] Haack, Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate, x.

[33] Susan Haack, “After My Own Heart: Dorothy Sayers’s Feminism” (2001), in Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work, 221–29 (text) & 309–10 (notes).

[34] Susan Haack, Defending Science — Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism.

[35] Haack, Evidence and Inquiry, 164.

[36] Haack, Defending Science, 69–72 (this task proved extremely complicated, not least because scientists will likely differ in their background beliefs; but the analogy of many people working in the same giant crossword puzzle proved helpful).

[37] Haack, Defending Science, 60. Some of my arguments here were anticipated in Susan Haack, “Epistemology with a Knowing Subject,” Review of Metaphysics XXXIII, no. 2 (December 1979): 309–35.

[38] See Susan Haack, “The Art of Scientific Metaphors,” Revista de filosofia portuguesa (forthcoming 2020).

[39] To be fair, by this time there were many fewer general philosophers of science than there had once been; the field had split into philosophy of physics, philosophy of biology, etc.

[40] Linda Zagzebski, Virtues of the Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

[41] Ernest Sosa, “The Raft and the Pyramid: Coherence versus Foundations in the Theory of Knowledge,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5, no. 1 (1980): 3–25.

[42] Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993); Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136 (1997); Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999).

[43] Susan Haack, “An Epistemologist in the Bramble Bush: At the Supreme Court with Mr. Joiner,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law 26, no. 2 (April 2001): 217–48.

[44] Susan Haack, “Trial and Error: The Supreme Court’s Philosophy of Science,” American Journal of Public Health 95 supp. (2005): 66–73, reprinted as “Trial and Error: Two Confusions in Daubert,” in Haack, Evidence Matters, 104–21.

[45] Susan Haack, Evidence Matters: Science, Proof, and Truth in the Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

[46] See, e.g., Susan Haack, “La justicia, la verdad y la prueba: No tan simple, después de todo,” in Debatiendo con Taruffo, eds. Jordi Ferrer Beltrán and Carmen Vázquez (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2016), 311–36.

[47] Susan Haack, “Epistemology and the Law of Evidence: Or, Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” Olin Lecture, Notre Dame Law School, published in American Journal of Jurisprudence 49 (2004): 43–61, reprinted in Haack, Evidence Matters, 27–46.

[48] Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Common Law (1881), in Collected Works of Justice Holmes, ed. Sheldon M. Novick (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 3:111–325, 115.

[49] Susan Haack, “On Logic in the Law: Something, but Not All,” Ratio Juris 20, no.1 (2007): 1–31.

[50] Susan Haack, “The Growth of Meaning and the Limits of Formalism, in Science and Law” (2009), amplified version, “Ripensare la rationalità: La Crescita di significato e i limiti del formalismo,” Diritti & Questione Pubbliche XIX, no. 1 (2019): 160–79.

[51] Susa Haack, “Six Signs of Scientism” (2010), in Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work, 105–20 (text) & 278–83 (notes).

[52] Susan Haack, Scientism and Its Discontents, (Rounded Globe, 2017).

[53] Susan Haack, “The Real Question: Can Philosophy be Saved?” Free Inquiry 37, no. 6 (2017): 40–43.

[54] Susan Haack, “Preposterism and Its Consequences,” Social Philosophy and Policy 13, no. 2 (Summer 1996): 296–315.

[55] Susan Haack, “Out of Step: Academic Ethics in a Preposterous Environment,” in Haack, Putting Philosophy to Work 251–68 (text) & 313–17 (notes).

[56] Susan Haack, “The Fragmentation of Philosophy, the Road to Reintegration,” in Göhner and Jung, Susan Haack: Reintegrating Philosophy, 3–32.

[57] Susan Haack, “The Academic Publication Racket.”

[58] My source is E. T. Bell, The Development of Mathematics (New York: McGraw Hill, 1949), 519.

[59] Bernard Williams, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002). Mark Migotti, I’m glad to say, pointed out how grossly inappropriate this was. See Mark Migotti, “Pragmatism, Genealogy, and Truth” (Critical Notice of Williams, Truth and Truthfulness), Dialogue 48 (Winter 2009): 185–203.

[60] Anil Gupta, Empiricism and Experience (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). Curiously enough, Gupta did refer to two papers in Louis Pojman’s anthology on epistemology; but missed mine, which appeared between the first and the second of these. See Louis Pojman, Theory of Knowledge: Classical and Contemporary Sources (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1998). Go figure!

[61] Peter Tramel, “Haack’s Foundherentism is a Foundationalism,” Synthese 160, no. 2 (2008): 215–228. See also Susan Haack, “The Role of Experience in Empirical Justification,” in Göhner and Jung,, Susan Haack: Reintegrating Philosophy, 157–65 (responding to commentators who had picked up Tramel’s muddled ideas).

[62] I declined. The paper is “The Embedded Epistemologist: Dispatches from the Legal Front,” Ratio Juris, 25, no. 2 (2012): 206–35.

[63] Iddo Landau, “Should There Be a Separatist Feminist Epistemology?” The Monist 77, no. 4 (1994): 462–71. (Prof. Landau and I corresponded for several years, by the way, without my knowing whether he was a man or a woman.)

[64] F. M. Cornford, Monographia Academica: Being a Guide for the Young Academic, reprinted in University Policy: F. H. Cornford’s Cambridge and his Advice to the Young Academic, ed. G. Johnson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 100.

[65] After Evidence and Inquiry, Robert L. Heilbroner (1919–2005) — historian of economic ideas, author of the best-selling The Worldly Philosophers sent me a charming letter the burden of which was “My God, woman, you can actually write” (quite a compliment coming from him). We soon became fast friends.

[66] My correspondence with Jacques Barzun (1907–2012), historian of ideas and former Provost of Columbia, began after I sent him a copy of Manifesto of a Passionate Moderate, where I had used his word, “preposterize.” See Jacques Barzun, The American University: How it Runs, Where It is Going (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), 221. Later, he would send me a copy of his A Word or Two before You Go, inscribed “To Susan Haack, gourmet of words” (again, quite a compliment, coming from him).

[67] I first met Peter Strawson (1919–2006), Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, at that conference in St. Louis mentioned earlier. He proved a very helpful and agreeable correspondent over a series of letters that began with my signing “Yours respectfully, Susan Haack” and his signing “Yours sincerely, Peter Strawson,” but soon moved to “Love, Peter” and “Love, Susan.”

[68] I first met literary theorist and educator Louise Rosenblatt (1904–2005), author of Literature as Exploration (1933), at a dinner with her husband, Sidney Ratner; she was 90 years old at the time. Later, after Sidney’s death, she would visit Miami in the winter, where she taught a class in my course on philosophy and literature, and delighted me with stories of her time as Margaret Mead’s roommate at Barnard College.

[69] I met Sidney Ratner (1908–1996), a historian of economics who had at one point collaborated with Dewey, through meetings of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. There followed an enjoyable correspondence in the course of which he sent me a copy of Dewey’s correspondence with Arthur Bentley — whose reaction to reading Peirce for the first time was exactly like mine: “Oh my goodness, I just found a goldmine!”

[70] Readers can find one such story in “The best man for the job may be a woman, and other alien thoughts on affirmative action.” But I don’t care to dwell too much on such past injustices and condescension — it’s a waste of a short life.

[71] At least, if what I was subsequently told by someone in a position to know — that in my case, after they learned the names of the candidates, the examiners had sent the class list back to the Registrar’s office with a little note saying “check this one; it can’t be a woman” — was true.

[72] Of course, the two issues intertwine; probably an independent woman philosopher is even harder for the establishment to stomach than an independent male philosopher is.

[73] Helmut Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior (1966), trans. Michael Glenny and Betty Ross, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987) (I have always wondered whether philosophy graduate students might have been discouraged from attending my lectures by a graduate director who was, I fear, disturbed by my critique of feminist epistemology; but, of course, I can’t actually know what happened.)

[74] My thanks to Mark Migotti , who, as usual, gave me very helpful comments on a draft, and to Nicholas Mignanelli for his help with formatting the footnotes.


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Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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