Those Crazy Philosophers

In the last week I've read an amazing amount of stuff by philosophers that the ordinary person would regard as stark raving mad.  I wonder about this. Is that the job of philosophy--to take seriously what nobody else takes seriously?  Or do academics suffer from boredom, and need to find ever more outrageous things to say? Or does the pressure to publish favor positions that no one else has ever taken?  OK, here's my parade of horribles (stealing the phrase from this week's Supreme Court hearings)--
  1. Our thoughts are not about anything. You can't possibly think about Paris. Since you can't think about Paris, you also can't make a plan to go to Paris.  It can't be your purpose to go to Paris. Theists don't think about God (that he exists), atheists don't think about God (that he doesn't exist). Biologists don't think about evolution. Nobody thinks about anything.  (Source: Alex Rosenberg, The Atheist's Guide to Reality).
  2. Dogs should be citizens, cats should be citizens. There should be chicken citizens and cow citizens.  Animal citizens would have not only negative rights (they can't be eaten or used for medical research) but also positive rights.  We have to give them the same freedom of movement that humans have.  Not allowing cats in restaurants is treating them as if they were second class. It's like not letting black people in restaurants. They're entitled to medical care, like humans are.  They're entitled to political representation.  Excluding them is like excluding people with disabilities. (Source: Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka, Zoopolis).
  3. To solve the problem of climate change, it would be a good idea to encourage people to have smaller children.  They could do this by having children using IVF, and using pre-implantation diagnosis, or by giving their kids growth-retarding hormones.  People who had smaller children would have smaller ecological footprints. If you could shrink your kids enough, you might be entitled to have three children instead of two. (Source:  Matthew Liao, Anders Sandberg, and Rebeca Roache, "Human Engineering and Climate Change," forthcoming in Ethics, Policy and the Environment.)
I have some other items for the parade of horribles, but that's enough for now. Some day in the far future, some descendant of mine may have a large family of tiny children--six inches tall at most, a tiny citizen chicken living in the spare bedroom, and a commitment to never presume to be having thoughts about anything.  When one of the tiny kids says "I'm thinking about our tiny chicken" he will be scolded for stupidity, like today's theists are scolded by atheists.  Call me old-fashioned, but this doesn't sound good to me.


Role Reversal

Isn't it odd how the debate on the individual mandate makes conservatives forget to be conservatives?  There's a good conservative argument for the mandate.  People without insurance benefit from emergency rooms that are required to give them care.  Even if they never visit the ER in the next year, its existence puts them at lower risk of a medical disaster. If they don't pay for their unused care, and people with insurance do pay, the non-payers are freeloaders.   Conservatives should be saying "hell no!"  But in fact, it's liberals who want the mandate.  They want it not so much to catch freeloaders, but because they think everyone should have all the benefits of medical insurance.  I want the individual mandate for both reasons, being a liberal with a conservative impulse or two.  It's tiresome hearing uninsured people on the radio saying they're healthy and don't want to visit doctors. Of course they'll go to the emergency room if they have a problem, and of course it's good for them that it exists, however much they use it.  Pay-as-you-go makes about as much sense as charging trapeze artists for a safety net only after they fall. Or charging people for the fire department, only if they have a fire.

p.s.  Good stuff here.  Sigh.

p.p.s. Via Brian Leiter.  Super clear and convincing.


Zoopolis (2) - Animal Citizens

This morning's New York Times has two horrifying stories about the treatment of animals -- one about horse racing in America, and the other about dog-dumping in Puerto Rico.  In the US, the report says, 24 horses die in horse races every week, mostly as a result of the use of pain medication to mask injuries.  In Puerto Rico, there's a place called Dead Dog Beach, where people abandon surplus puppies.  Nice.  Against that background, it feels a little academic to dive into a discussion of whether domesticated animals should be granted citizenship.  This is the kind of thing people argue about furiously, but only in vegan restaurants.

Speaking of which, there is a really good new vegan restaurant in Dallas--the V Spot, on Henderson, just east of The Pearl Cup. This is the type of vegan restaurant it's really hard to find -- elegant and upscale, and with no faux meat or tofu to be seen.  The wild mushroom risotto is excellent, and the chocolate cake is to-die-for!  Expect a few bumps in the service, though.  This is a new restaurant, and they were inundated with guests when we went on a Friday night.  As a result, they kept running out of things.  Go with a flexible attitude, and I bet you will like it.

Anyhow.  Citizenship for animals.  Good idea?


Donaldson & Kymlicka argue that all sentient animals, everywhere, have negative rights.  They may not be eaten or worn or used in medical experiments.  As far as that goes, they are in the same camp as the ur-animal-rights philosopher Tom Regan, "abolitionist" Gary Francione, and other ARTists (animal rights theorists).

As I said in my last post, I'm skeptical about applying this sort of very strong rights talk to animals.  It presupposes that the whole foundation of strong rights (or "inviolability", as D&K put it) is a very minimal subjective point of view -- being a someone, as opposed to a something. I think that's implausible, and rights are not actually intrinsic, but "constructed" out of much more varied and heterogeneous materials than simple subjectivity.  NB:  we have lots of strong reasons to take animals seriously, even if we don't go along with heavy-duty rights talk.

But never mind.  Suppose that all sentient animals do have strong negative rights.  D&K argue that we must go much further.  The domesticated animals of the US should be granted citizenship here, and the domesticated animals of Canada should be granted citizenship there, etc.  Other animals, wild (lions, deer) and semi-wild (rats, squirrels) just have negative rights, and aren't entitled to citizenship.  They put the citizenship view forward as a competitor to the abolitionist view that the relationship between humans and domesticated animals is irredeemable.  The "enemy" in this book is the view that it would be best for domesticated animals to go extinct, and for a chasm to separate humans from the rest of animals, living independent, dignified lives "out there" beyond us.

Animal citizenship would benefit animals in lots of ways. For example, dogs would have much more  freedom of movement.  Which brings me back to the V Spot.  Throughout our meal, we could hear a dog barking behind the restaurant.  After dinner, we saw the dog was tethered to a short leash attached to a rail.  This restriction of animal movement keeps animals second class and less visible, say the authors. In France, they claim, you see dogs in restaurants all the time, and there's no public health disaster as a result. Greater freedom of movement would also involve changes in these kinds of restrictions, abolishing leash laws, additional dog parks, etc..

Another difference is that domesticated animals would receive whatever government-mandated medical care exists in the country where they are citizens.  I take it the idea is that if there's national health care, it would have a veterinary wing. If there's mandatory health insurance, as under Obama's new health care system, somehow animals would have to receive health insurance too. In natural disasters, emergency workers would rescue domesticated animals along with people.  There wouldn't be any prioritizing of human victims.

The idea is not that animals would get to vote, via human proxies (or some such), but that there would be human representatives for animal interests, who would exercise their right to have input into public affairs for them.

One could take some of these items out of the "animal citizen" package and implement them, probably with wide public support. But what about the whole package--the idea that domesticated animals ought to be reclassified as full and equal citizens?  A less sympathetic reader will find this book comical, I think.  Talking about chicken citizens and cow citizens (they do talk this way) will just seem ludicrous.  I find it not so much ludicrous as deeply unrealistic.  But ... why?

Here's one worry I have:  any society can only incorporate so many dependent, non-contributing citizens.  We certainly incorporate dependent children as citizens, but down the line, we gain independent, contributing citizens as a result.  The better care we give to children as children, the more independent and contributing they are, later on.

D&K practically insure that their animal citizens will be non-contributing by placing major limits on their being put to work or used for resources.  Here they're talking about whether dogs and donkeys could be put to work in a place they call "Sheepville"--
We would need safeguards in place to ensure dogs or donkeys were not exploited in Sheepville.  For example, only dogs and donkeys who enjoy the work, and who enjoy the company of sheep (and of other working dogs and donkeys), would be considered. These animals would need to have the option of other activities (staying in bed, hanging out with humans, or sticking to a pasture with their own species, etc.) as a way of assessing their preference for guarding the sheep. And in any case, the hours of work would need to be strictly limited so the donkey or dog didn't feel that they were always on call.  With all these provisos in place, we an imagine that a life involving a limited number of hours of guard duty could be a deeply satisfying life--offering variety, the satisfactions of directed activity, and plenty of social contacts.
Animal citizens have to be pampered to this degree because we have only two real choices: pampering them and exploiting them.  There's no way to tell a dog he has to earn a living, help him make his own career choices, and encourage him to rationally come to terms with the fact that it can be pretty miserable and dull to work a 40-hour week.  If exploitation is ruled out, then we are talking about adding largely non-contributing citizens to the rolls.

Now, for people with dogs, of course dogs do contribute--they are wonderful companions, and people with pets happily take care of them. The question is whether other citizens, who don't get the benefit of this companionship, ought to have the amount of responsibility for animals that comes with elevating then to citizen status. Dogs and cats contribute little or nothing to them.

The inevitable interjection from D&K will be something about people with severe disabilities.  They can be virtually non-contributing too, but no one doubts they should be citizens, and that the public should collectively accommodate and provide for them.  The thing is, though, that people with severe disabilities are the parents, children, siblings, future selves, and past selves, of human citizens.  To draw an analogy between people with disabilities and animals, you've got to think none of these relationships make any moral difference. Most people think they do.


Despite these misgivings, I think this this book is thoughtful, clear, original, and interesting. It's a must read for anyone who "does" animal ethics, and would make a great reading in a course on animal rights.  It's a great question whether we just have obligations to animals, or they also have full-blown rights; and if they do have rights, whether it makes sense to elevate some animals to full citizenship.  Two more chapters to go--on wild and semi-wild animals.


Trayvon Martin

So heart-breaking.  I have a teenage son who goes around wearing hoodies and walks to the convenience store for snacks. I've never worried that he'd be shot by the local neighborhood watch patroller.  Should I mention that he's white? Newt Gingrich recently said it was "disgraceful" for President Obama to mention that Trayvon Martin was black. Now that (Gingrich, that is) is disgraceful.  Here's a touching report (from ABC news) on how black mothers prepare their sons for the real world.
Across the country Trayvon Martin’s death has touched a raw nerve in the African American community. It was stunning when a young, black, unarmed teenager was gunned down, having committed no crime other than walking through a gated community to get Skittles and iced tea.
Concern has spread across the country from ordinary citizens, to celebrities, even the president of the United States. President Obama said on Thursday, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Although this story has exploded onto the national scene, for women with African American sons, it is a conversation all too familiar.
“I don’t want to be like Trayvon Martin’s mom, burying my child,” said Racine Tucker-Hamilton, a suburban mom with two teenage sons.
Tucker-Hamilton and fellow suburban mom, LeGreta Dennis, told ABC News that they have given their sons specific instructions for survival even though they are honor roll students.
“Basically, once they started looking like men, which is about 14 or 15, even though they’re children, I basically told them, now you’re perceived as a black man in society,” said Dennis. “You know how they say, ‘buyers beware,’ it’s like young men beware.”
This conversation in many black households is a non-negotiable. Even a simple trip to the grocery store is not routine.
“I tell them, always you have to keep your hands out of your pocket because people perceive that as threatening or they may think that you’ve stolen something,” said Tucker-Hamilton. “And if you are in public, and the noise level starts getting a little high and a little loud, you need to tone it down.”
Both women are keenly aware of how their sons could be perceived in public, advising their children on nuanced aspects of their dress and behavior. They have to remember that some view them as “under suspicion.”
“If you walk in a building and you have your hood on from being outside, take that hood off. If you’re in a store and you buy something, always put your item, even if it’s a pack of gum, get it in a bag and get your receipt so they’ll be no issue there,” said Dennis.
The moms say to always remember to smile and don’t stand too close to people, particularly woman. They  caution their sons to be aware of their behavior around police officers if they are pulled over while driving.
Dennis said, “Don’t reach for anything, roll down the window, be respectful, ask the officer if you could please call your parents. I want to be on the phone to hear the conversation.”
The teenage boys also feel the pressure.
Adam, Tucker-Hamilton’s son, said, “Sometimes when I’m riding in the Metro, I’ll walk right by somebody and they’ll kinda tighten up.”
“You do become conscious of it when you realize that employees of the store start looking at you a certain way,” said Marcus, Dennis’ 16-year-old son.
Dennis’ older son, Brandon, a 17-year-old wearing glasses and a polo shirt said, “It is frustrating. I get kinda angry, I’ve got to admit.”
The mothers’ concerns are supported by research. A Justice Department study found that black males were three to four times more likely to have police threaten or use force against them than their white counterparts.
Until something changes, Tucker-Hamilton admits, “It’s painful, but it is our reality. The bottom line is, at the end of the day, I want my sons to come home alive.”


NYT: Why is it ethical to eat meat?

The New York Times is running a contest for people who think they have the answer, with a "veritable murderer's row of judges" assessing the submissions, including Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, and Jonathan Safran Foer. What fun, and this should be interesting, but did all five judges have to be men?  There are lots of appropriate women who could have been on that panel, including (dare I say?) me!


Free Will Free-for-all

The online debate about free will is heating up, thanks to high profile author Sam Harris's new book on the subject. The Chronicle of Higher Education had a nice forum on free will yesterday, starting with an essay by Jerry Coyne. Hilary Bok and Al Mele write in defense of compatibilism, but not in response to Coyne.  His argument is very simple. Restating a bit, the idea is that any mental event, M, must be identical to some brain event N.  Brain events lawfully necessitate further events in the brain and body.  So whatever thought or behavior actually happens after M, nothing else could have happened. So at least in one important sense, the owner of M isn't free.

If we can't rebut this argument (wouldn't it be nice?), maybe we can get more comfortable with it than it first appears.  If I know my daughter is thinking if p then q, and p, then I can predict fairly confidently that she will think q. Why? Because the mental has a certain sort of  lawfulness, independent of the underlying physical stuff that makes it up.  Like you can know things about a sphere, regardless of what it's made out of, you can know things about thoughts, without knowing anything about their physical composition. If you want to feel free from something, you can feel free from your brain, like a ball could feel free from being made of plastic or mud or ice (if balls could think).  It's going to have the same geometry, regardless.

Hey, it's something ...

How is it that the laws of neuroscience, and ultimately physics, govern what happens in our brains, but the laws of thought do as well?  Why do these two sets of laws mesh with each other?  When you say mental states are brain states, it's not time to retire, because everything's now nice and clear.  You actually wind up with a lot of new and difficult things to think about.


Zoopolis (1)

It's been a while since I've read anything on animal ethics that's new and different, but Zoopolis, the new book by Sue Donaldson and political philosopher Will Kymlicka, is new and different -- and well worth reading.  I'm going to "live blog" the book a bit, as in: write about it as I continue to read it (I'm about 1/3 of the way through).

Zoopolis is a work in the rights tradition of thought about animals--the tradition that says animals have the type of inviolability ordinarily assigned just to human beings. Animals are not just morally considerable. It's not enough to say their interests deserve equal consideration.  According to ART (animal rights theory), they are not to be sacrificed even if that would be for the general good. All this is really the starting point of the book, though the authors do devote a chapter to supporting the claim that animals have robust rights.

The main point of the book is that fully characterizing the rights of animals requires putting them in the same political categories we use for human beings.  When people step off a plane in some country (their example), they are treated very differently depending on whether they're citizens of that country, or citizens of a different sovereign country, or resident aliens. D&K propose that domesticated animals like dogs and cats have rights based on their being our fellow citizens.  Wild animals have rights based on their being like citizens of a different sovereign country.  And "liminal" animals (like rats and squirrels) have rights based on being akin to resident aliens. (What rights?  I don't know yet--that's the topic of the chapters I haven't gotten to.)

The authors are parting company here with abolitionist author Gary Francione, who argues that domesticated animals are in a condition of slavery, and would go extinct in an ethically ideal world.  D&K criticize him for not recognizing that domestication is partly a result of animal agency.  Animals like wolves gravitated toward our world for what it offered them.  They naturally evolved toward dependency and neoteny.  Those are not inherently bad things, and not inconsistent with living a good life--D&K argue.  They complain that Francione sees indignity in dependency, thereby also denigrating people who are dependent on others due to a disability.  Furthermore, they point out that "liminal" animals are dependent on us too, without our deliberate intervention.  So a full account of animal rights needs to be a nuanced account of the animals among us, and should not idealize a complete separation between humans and animals "out there," flourishing apart from us.


All the stuff on domesticated animals in this book is interesting and very persuasively argued, but let's back up.  As much as the authors want the reader to buy into basic rights for animals, and move on to their topic of political categories, I can't help but focus on step one.  The first chapter is a very useful statement of the case for animal rights, which starts by making it clear what's at stake.  The issue is not just whether animals "count," or they're morally considerable, or their equal interests should receive equal consideration. The AR theorist says something much stronger: that animals are inviolable--their good cannot be dispensed with even if doing so would be for the general good.  Rights are precisely protections against that sort of subordination to the general good.

It is a huge deal to grant that anyone has rights, in this sense of a shield that makes the individual inviolable.  One individual's rights put limits on the behavior of everyone else. These could be limits that are life-changing or even life-costing.  Because of these enormous ramifications, I find it striking -- in fact, amazing -- how little it takes for an individual to have rights, on D&K's view.  All it takes, they say, is selfhood. Here's one way they put it --
"...[W]e believe that respecting inviolability is, first and foremost, a process of intersubjective recognition -- that is, the first question is simply whether there is a 'subject' there, whether there is 'someone home'. This process of intersubjective recognition precedes any attempt to enumerate his or her capacities or interests. Once we know there is someone home, we know we are dealing with a vulnerable self, a being with subjective experience whose life can go better or worse as experienced from the inside. And so we know we should respect their inviolable rights, even before we know their variable capacities such as intelligence or moral agency."
As soon as "we know we are dealing with a vulnerable self" we also "know we should respect their inviolable rights."  Self, therefore inviolable rights.  It's incredibly simple. And of course, this secures animal rights, since we do experience intersubjective recognition with animals.

Setting aside the question of animals, does this "self --> rights" story really make sense?  Take the classic situation rights are supposed to resolve.  Five people need organ transplants.  Another person, Frank, walks into the hospital at just the right time.  Can we dismantle him and distribute his organs, to save five?  Here's the situation, as D&K see it--

Frank (SELF)

We look at Frank, intuit a subject, a self, and so realize we must respect his inviolable rights.  We can't remove his organs to save Alice, Bob, Carol, Dan, and Ellen. The problem is that the real situation is this--

Alice (SELF) 
Bob (SELF) 
Carol (SELF) 
Dan (SELF) 
Ellen (SELF)  
Frank (SELF)

All the potential beneficiaries of the transplant are selves too.  I don't see how it can be the selfhood of Frank, all on its own, that reveals to us that we must grant him an inviolable right, thereby forcing us (effectively) to side with him against the other five. Doesn't the selfhood of the others also make a bid for our concern?  If we really focus intently on selfhood and set aside all our preconceptions about what's permissible here, couldn't the selfhood of Alice give her a competing right--for example, a right to equal consideration of her interests?

The personhood account of rights is the only alternative D&K consider. This view is also supposed to account for why Frank can't be dismantled, but bars at least most animals from having rights. I'm not questioning the selfhood view because I support the personhood view. In fact, it strikes me as being just as hopeless.  The personhood of Frank makes a bid for our concern, tempting us to say he has rights and should be considered inviolable, but the personhood of the others makes a competing bid as well--again, maybe they all have a right to equal consideration of their interests.

Alice (PERSON) 
Carol (PERSON) 
Ellen (PERSON)   
Frank (PERSON) 

So -- why does Frank have rights, and do animals have them too?  I don't find the book's answer promising.  Nevertheless, even if rights are actually nonsense upon stilts, and nobody has them ... or humans have them but animals don't ... animals are still morally considerable, and I find it plausible that the exact sort of consideration they're owed depends on the categories D&K proposes.  So I will keep reading. Stay tuned for more on the guts of the book -- the views on animal citizenship, etc.


Give and Take

Some very good philosophers accept money from the Templeton Foundation, which makes me pay attention to arguments why this is a bad thing to do.  One type of argument puzzles me ... a lot.  The argument for not taking their money is that the Templeton Foundation, or at least the family, supports nefarious causes like Rick Santorum's presidential campaign.  Here's how Jerry Coyne suspects Templeton Takers will defend themselves--
But of course money-hungry scientists will just dismiss this as an irrelevant side effect: a mere peccadillo of the Foundation’s boss that doesn’t have anything to do with their science fiefdom. “Our money,” they will say, “is used just to do science, and there are no strings attached.”
But no, the best response is much better than that.   If I gave money to the Templeton Foundation, I'd be supporting Rick Santorum.  But  taking from the Foundation has the opposite effect--it surely means they have less to give to Rick Santorum and other bad causes. If you take from people who are prone to support bad causes, you actually take away from bad causes.  This obvious point seems to be ignored whenever the topic of Templeton funding comes up.

Think about it. Suppose the Templeton Foundation is inclined to spend millions of dollars torturing kittens, and suddenly they decide they'll fund torturing kittens OR the study of free will, depending on who applies for grants.  The kitten matter is not a good reason to avoid their money--it's just the opposite.  If I get a free will grant from Templeton, it's double good--I both get to do some free will research and get to save some kittens.  What a deal!

Now, you might say if I put a Templeton credit in the footnotes of my free will papers, I will thus confer credibility on the torturing of kittens, for anyone who knows what Templeton is up to.  People all over the place will think the practice is not so bad after all, since it's supported by a foundation that also funds top of the line free will research. Or .... will they?  I don't know that these associations are such a strong factor in influencing how people think, and besides, however harmful the associations are, it seems even worse to let the kitty torturers have all of the foundation's vast funds.  If you think about this in consequentialist terms, it could even come out that philosophers have an obligation to take Templeton money!


The Bazaarness of Philosophy

Colin McGinn writes in The Stone that "philosophy" is a bad word for philosophy.  It brings to mind someone who works on "unearthing and explicating the 'meaning of life' and what the ultimate goods are" - but philosophers may do nothing of the kind.

I do get this - back in the days when I "did" philosophy of mind and language it annoyed me no end to sit next to someone on a train or plane and get asked about the meaning of life, just because I said I studied philosophy.  People don't understand that most of philosophy is not that sort of thing.

But it's not just being taken for a meaning-ologist that bothers McGinn. He wants to be seen as a scientist.
Our current name is harmful because it posits a big gap between the sciences and philosophy; we do something that is not a science. Thus we do not share in the intellectual prestige associated with that thoroughly modern word. We are accordingly not covered by the media that cover the sciences, and what we do remains a mystery to most people. But it is really quite clear that academic philosophy is a science. The dictionary defines a science as “a systematically organized body of knowledge on any subject.” This is a very broad definition, which includes not just subjects like physics and chemistry but also psychology, economics, mathematics and even “library science.”
Okay .... I'd sure like to be seen as a scientist, but here's the thing.  If you're around philosophy for a long time, you can't help but notice that philosophers don't seem much like scientists.  Top level philosophy sometimes does seem to reveal what is simply true.  There are genuine insights--discoveries that everyone simply has to bow down to.  (Like... what?  Hilary Putnam's famous article "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" comes to mind.) But much of the time, philosophy makes me think of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul--lots and lots of stalls, people selling different things at every stall.  They sell with the tools of logic, making "arguments", but something funny's going on when "arguments" support contradictory conclusions.

Each of the arguers in the philosophical Bazaar certainly feels like a scientist--a systematic, rationally-guided knower. The focus of each philosopher is on reality-- philosophers are not making stuff up, as in writing fiction or composing music.  But there's just no ignoring the people shouting in the other stalls.  Their existence calls into question whether what's produced at each stall is really very science-like at all.

Because of all this fragmentation, you get a phrase in philosophy that's really strange, when you think about it.  If you're describing what a philosopher thinks, it's common to say "For X, _____."  As in, "For Hume, the self is a bundle."  What does this even mean?  Either the self is a bundle or it is not. How can it be that "for Hume" the self is a bundle?  This locution raises a disconcerting possibility.  What philosophy offers is not discovery of truths, but ways of thinking about things.  Hume thought of the self as a bundle: that was his way of thinking of the self.  Thus, "for him" the self was a bundle. Perhaps we'd like to adopt that way of thinking too.  Then for us too, the self would be a bundle.  But that's not to say it would be a bundle. If you wanted philosophy to be a science, you'd have to somehow overcome the Grand Bazaar tendency, and get rid of all that "for X"-ing.

McGinn doesn't seem to notice the Bazaarness of philosophy. He writes--
Academic philosophy obviously falls under this capacious meaning. Moreover, most of the marks of science as commonly understood are shared by academic philosophy: the subject is systematic, rigorous, replete with technical vocabulary, often in conflict with common sense, capable of refutation, produces hypotheses, uses symbolic notation, is about the natural world, is institutionalized, peer-reviewed, tenure-granting, etc. We may as well recognize that we are a science, even if not one that makes empirical observations or uses much mathematics. Once we do this officially, we can expect to be treated like scientists.
Can it really be true that 10 people are being "systematic and rigorous", if they arrive at 10 different conclusions on the same subject?  Not really, and that's why we're stuck with the word "philosophy."  McGinn says it's "faintly shameful" but so is the whole business of selling views as if they were rationally supported, when the guy or gal at the next stall is selling something else.