A while ago I asked what function national philosophical societies and associations fulfilled. The question didn't get a lot of response, perhaps because most people really couldn't care less about their national organization.
Recently, though, I had a conversation with my friend and colleague Ronnie DeSousa, who happens to be President of the Canadian Philosophical Association. Now, my own view is that this organization, with its absurd rules, should be dissolved. (For instance, every other President must be a francophone, though francophones constitute 25% of Canada's population.) I suggested to Ronnie that we should just become the American Philosophical Association, Northern Division (if the Americans would accept us).
Ronnie disagrees. He writes in an email to me:
I see two good reasons to preserve and strengthen the CPA.
The first is to remind our philistine rulers that short-term business profits are not the only goals worth supporting. It is an uphill battle well worth fighting, for example, to continue pushing for philosophy in high schools. The CFHSS [the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences], of which the CPA is a member, defends the humanities and social science in general. But for both humanists and social scientists sometimes think that any need for philosophy can be met in-house. And recent statistics indicate that we lose out to areas such as “folklore studies” in SSHRCC grants. So we need a strong presence in CFHSS, which also facilitates the meetings of related societies – history of science, women and philosophy, and others—that also meet conveniently under their aegis.
The second reason is that, while the job market in Anglophone philosophy transcends national borders, many Canadians strongly prefer to live in Canada. To that end, we encourage students to participate and to network at the annual meeting. This becomes ineffectual if we disdain to attend precisely because they are too many student presentations.
Perhaps we need to make it more difficult, hence more prestigious, to deliver a paper at our Congress. That, together with some high-profile invited presentations, might make it worthwhile for seasoned professionals to attend more regularly.
An interesting response, since he cites no intellectual or professional reason to preserve the CPA. I do agree, however, that it is a sad sign of present times that folklore studies does better than philosophy in grant applications.