« Á Compelling argument for Multiculturalism from a dubious source and with dubious premises | Main | Modern Indian philosophy: Institutions and Western ties [Guest post by Joel Katzav] »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Hi Eric,

Thanks for this.
I wonder if you could elaborate on your last piece of advice (the justification/explanation for): "Co-author with child-less people or empty-nesters who can write the first draft."?


Bence Nanay

Are A, B and C supposed to exhaust the options? Some of my best friends do academia out of vanity, for example - that would be D. And that really makes the very real and important problem you talk about even worse...

Eric Schliesser

Bence, you just outed me!

Eric Schliesser

Fleur, could you say more about your question? Is it a question about the practicalities of co-authoring (which can, in fact, be very time-consuming) or is there an ethical concern about (say) off-loading work to others lurking in your question?

Fleur Jongepier

The latter. I was wondering what would justify (c), if not the implicit idea that those who don't have / want children don't have an equal right to leisure?

Fleur Jongepier

Sorry, of course by (c) I meant the third bullet at the end.

Eric Schliesser

Fleur, I am unsure I am following your train of thought (along different dimensions), so I am unsure what to elaborate on. But for the record: I do not think leisure requires justification!

Ingrid Robeyns

I think Fleur's question could possibly be restated as: Isn't the last suggestion (co-authoring with childless scholars) free-riding on their work/effort? Or, put differently, why would childless academics have to do more work when co-authoring with a colleagues who is also a parent? I think that's a very valid question, and hence I think that last suggestion of your list, Eric, may be problematic.

However, I do not think that the right way to frame it, is to say that they have 'an equal right to leisure', except if one believes that unpaid family work is similar to 'leisure', to which I would vehemently object (and on which there is a large philosophical literature). For academics who are good academic citizens (e.g. not shirking on committee duties, refereeing, intensity of student/PhD supervision etc.) and who also have significant care duties, 'leisure' is an almost-empty category. That, to me, is the biggest problem, since it erodes our quality of life and cannot be sustainable.

And YES to the political agenda that's needed! The only way to really address this is by collective action. And it's also possible to free-ride on the collective action efforts of others. (if one agrees with their political goal, but is happy to let them do the work to get their, and in the meantime only care for one's own private interests). The least one could do, if one thinks work/life balance is currently unhealthy in academia, is to speak up and/or support those who speak up publicly.

Eric Schliesser

Ingrid and Fleur, let me start by stating that there are forms of co-authorship that are clearly problematic (and in the low countries context especially frequent: supervisors adding their names to their PhD students's efforts, or even effacing their students' efforts in their own publications). FWIW: to guard against that familiar temptation I basically never co-author with my own PhD students (during their PhD). So, I can see why you may worry. But that's not what I have in mind or recommending.
Moreover, I am making no claim that "childless academics *have* to do more work." I think that misreading is very revealing about the zero-sum, exploitative, and overworked environments we find ourselves in, in fact.
Rather, all I am assuming is that (i) some partnerships can have unequal division of labors and yet be non-exploitative, and (ii) that if you qua overworked academic parent/lover want an otherwise utterly equal child-less or non-parenting academic to co-author with you (and be willing to write a first draft especially), you need to make yourself an attractive co-author along some other dimension--that's not impossible because there may be all kinds of benefits of writing and publishing with you (established scholar that you are). I have not argued for (i) and maybe that's required.

I agree with what Ingrid says about leisure--a word I did not use in my original post.

Ingrid Robeyns

Thanks Eric. Just to be sure, I am not saying that my restatement is what Fleur actually thinks (I don't have special capacities to read her mind...) but rather that this is how someone could read that suggestion. So your clarification is very helpful, thanks.

Co-authoring with PhDs is very tricky but I don't think it is necessary to be rejected. Sometimes there is an occasion that is hugely advantageous to both parties, since both benefit from the expertise the other has. It also can be a a process whereby the PhD learns how to write an academic article. The PhDs I supervised with whom I co-authored have, I believe, all been quite eager to do so, for one (or both) of the above reasons. But this is probably something on which to devote another post...:)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


Blog powered by Typepad