The out-going editors, Franz Huber and Jonathan Weisberg, asked me to share the following, which I'm happy to do in support of open-acess publishing:
We are looking for qualified candidates to become managing editors of Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy, effective July 1, 2019. Ben Bradley (Syracuse) and Alastair Wilson (Birmingham) have generously volunteered to serve. We welcome applications that propose to complete this team, but also applications that propose their own, distinct team (e.g. for logistical or funding reasons).
Responsibilities include handling the day-to-day editorial business including the recruitment of area editors; managing copy-editing and production and publication; securing funding; and maintaining the editorial management system. Information about the journal, including its mission and policies, as well as statistics, can be found here:
MOVING TO FRONT FROM OCTOBER 16--MORE READER RESPONSES WELCOME!
Thanks to more than 600 non-academic readers who responded to the earlier poll; here are the results
on-academic readers, what is your field or profession?
Medicine or medical profession
Law or legal profession
Teacher (not at the university level)
Engineer or scientist
Religion (e.g., minister, rabbi, theologian)
Business or finance
Politics or government
Writer (fiction, non-fiction, poetry)
I'll invite comments from readers on a couple of things. First, I''m curious to hear about the "other professions" that I left out among my choices. Second, I'd be interested in more details about, e.g., the government work or the IT work etc. that you'd care to provide, since the categories were obviously broad. Finally, if anyone cares to say why they read (did you study philosophy at one point? are you here for other stuff?), I'd find that useful.
Given that the Twitter Red Guard continue to dissemble and moan about Professor Stock's and my expose of the APA blog scandal, perhaps a reality check is in order.
Nathan Oseroff, a man in his late 20s, who has a prominent on-line position with the American Philosophical Association (that he continuously advertises), took it upon himself to launch a jihad against feminist philosophers, especially philosopher Kathleen Stock (Sussex) who held what he, in his superior wisdom, deemed to be a "morally unacceptable" opinion about the proposed gender self-ID law in the United Kingdom (this law would permit anyone to redesignate their gender for all legal purposes without any medical or other oversight, evaluation or waiting periods). This man used his role at the APA blog to post a comment attacking Prof. Stock on the APA's blog that violated blog guidelines (the editor in charge of the blog apologized to Prof. Stock, removed the comment and briefly suspended the offender--remarkably, he has not been removed entirely).
This adult male also took to social media to defame Prof. Stock as someone who directed "hate" at her students and colleagues. Doing so would be grossly unprofessional conduct, but this man's only evidence for his libelous charge was that Prof. Stock had a different view about the gender self-ID Law in the UK than he did. In addition, it turns out that this man also abused his role at the APA to "police" the conference practices of a philosophy society that had actually accepted one of his papers, even though the APA, let alone its blog or its editors, has no authority about how professional societies referee papers.
This adult man, who is almost 30 years old, objected that no one should criticize him since he is a PhD student in philosophy. Some of his fellow Twitteratti, endorsed this view (unsurprisingly, they are all similarly situated: adults in school engaged in stupid on-line conduct!).
I suggest that Donald Trump should enroll in a PhD program soon, since some segment of the population apparently believes that misconduct is entitled to a free pass if the perpetrator is an adult PhD student. (Unfortunately for Trump, that segment may consist only of the Twitter Red Guard.)
Terence Irwin (ancient philosophy, ethics), emeritus at both Oxford and Cornell Universities, will be teaching two courses per quarter at Stanford for at least the next three years, starting with the Winter Quarter of 2018-19. Stanford already has one of the top programs for ancient philosophy in the U.S..
Here. I do not ultimately find it persuasive (see this comment by philosopher Sophie Allen [Keele] which identifies a key weakness of the response), but it is mostly serious and substantive (unlike most of the responses to Professor Stock from Nathan Oseroff & the Twitter Red Guard, I. Pohl, Talia Mae Bettcher, L. Mollica, Asia Ferrin et al.) and worth reading for anyone who has been following this debate. (It goes off the rails towards the end, however, in trying to rationalize the idiotic rhetoric of those who would silence debate--speaking of which, this reaction is representative of the totalitarian mindset in parts of academic philosophy.)
ADDENDUM: The last link no longer works, but Professor Stock caught a screen shot of this disgraceful performance by philosopher Rebecca Kukla (Georgetown).
Jonathan Kramnick, a philosophically-informed English professor at Yale, has a long and generally plausible takedown of the "interdisciplinarity" blather that has now overrun the universities; it is unfortunately behind a paywall, but here's an excerpt:
A discipline is an academic unit. It is neither a naturally occurring category nor an arbitrary relic of the history of higher learning. Rather, a discipline is an evolving body of skills, methods, and norms designed to explain parts of the world worth knowing something about. To recognize the importance of disciplines — to fight for their survival — is therefore to advocate for a picture of the world, an ontology. It is to insist that the world does not have a single order that is adequately captured by, for example, biology or physics or computation.
A pluralistic array of disciplines matches up with a pluralistic vision of the world: endocrine cells for the biologists, tectonic plates for the geologists, librettos for the musicologists, and so on. Pluralism of this variety should put limits on the way disciplines are coordinated. It should insist that no one discipline is reducible to another. It should also provide the foundations for an interdisciplinarity that is interactive, not reductive, one that takes as its premise that each discipline has something to contribute to matters of shared concern in virtue of its own methods and objects. This is an interdisciplinarity worth having....
A cliché sprung from the tech industry and business schools in the mid-’90s to describe how companies can appeal to neglected sectors of the market, "innovation" is now so ubiquitous in academic culture as almost to pass without notice. [Steven] Pinker pairs it however with a sibling piece of corporate jargon — "silo" — that is worth our attention. "If anything is naïve and simplistic," he writes, "it is the conviction that the legacy silos of academia should be fortified and that we should be forever content with current ways of making sense of the world." Surely many readers of this essay have at some point heard a dean or outside consulting agency decry faculty lodged in silos, or departments siloed in tepid irrelevance, each split off from the other. The history of this pejorative and its migration into the lexicon of university administration tells a fascinating story.
I put "harassment" in quotes for the obvious reason: Trott conflates actual harassment, such as death threats, with on-line "trolling" and no doubt any criticism, at least of her friends and tastes. Her essay really isn't about harassment, but another tired attempt to whitewash suppression of the views she doesn't like--hence this bit of self-serving blather: "Only such community projects [like the APA Blog!] can resist posts that draw in traffic and do real [sic] harm by discussing experiences and identities of marginalized groups in philosophically abstract and distant tones as if people’s lives are puzzles." In her world, the 'harassment' of Professor Tuvel is, no doubt, a model of good community behavior!
(Thanks to several readers who sent this nonsense along.)
UPDATE: Just to drive home the point that the word 'harassment' doesn't mean anything, we have (who else?) Nathan Oseroff tweeting this morning as follows:
We are also concerned about the suppression of proper academic analysis and discussion of the social phenomenon of transgenderism, and its multiple causes and effects. Members of our group have experienced campus protests, calls for dismissal in the press, harassment, foiled plots to bring about dismissal, no-platforming, and attempts to censor academic research and publications. Such attacks are out of line with the ordinary reception of critical ideas in the academy, where it is normally accepted that disagreement is reasonable and even productive.
Many of our universities have close links with trans advocacy organisations who provide “training” of academics and management, and who, it is reasonable to suppose, influence university policy through these links. Definitions used by these organisations of what counts as “transphobic” can be dangerously all-encompassing and go well beyond what a reasonable law would describe. They would not withstand academic analysis, and yet their effect is to curtail academic freedom and facilitate the censoring of academic work. We also worry about the effect of such definitions on the success rates of journal submissions and research grant applications from governmental bodies such as the AHRC and ESRC.
When I came across Weigel's sneering review of The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, I thought it a bit thin on substance and a bit thick on rhetorical tricks: here was another standard-issue comp lit PhD invested in identity politics and pissing all over the enemy. (I confess to having little patience for Haidt, who did some clever psychology experiments early in his career--although he consistently misinterpreted their philosophical import--before becoming a public pontificator who apparently believes the main issue in academia these days is not enough Republican faculty: go figure?) Now someone has gone to the trouble to eviscerate the review, rather amusingly so. But let's not knock ad hominem attacks, at least when not strictly fallacious. Dr. Weigel's father, it turns out, is a retired tax partner at a "white shoe" New York law firm; I'd bet she even has a trust fund. Any reader of Adolph Reed would hardly be surprised that an elite female child of ruling class privilege would turn out to be deeply invested in identity politics, to the point that its opponents are unintelligible to her.
If you've studied philosophy at the undergraduate or graduate level, and are thinking about law school, I would like to urge you to consider the University of Chicago Law School. The Law School trails only Yale in per capita placement in law teaching, and graduates are also hugely successful in the private firm market, and in clerkships. Although we have a relatively small faculty (38 full-time academic faculty), we have two philosophers full-time in the Law School (myself and Martha Nussbaum), and a large number of colleagues with philosophical interests of various kinds (including William Baude, Aziz Huq, Richard McAdams, David Strauss, and David Weisbach, among others). We also have a steady stream of visiting faculty with philosophy training, including in recent years John Tasioulas (King's College, London), Robert Mark Simpson (University College London), Ryan Doerfler (Penn), Leslie Green (Oxford), and Alon Harel (Hebrew U), among many others. We also host an annual Law & Philosophy Fellow; past fellows include Amanda Greene (now at University College London), Adam Hosein (now at Northeastern University), Nicolas Delon (now at New College, Florida), Sarah Conly (Bowdoin College), and Ben Laurence (now teaching in philosophy and human rights here at Chicago), among others.
Each year, we offer a Law & Philosophy Workshop, on a designated theme, which 2L and 3L students (as well as PhD students) may take for credit. This year, I'm running the Workshop (with Nethanel Lipshitz, our Law & Philosophy Fellow) on the theme, "Enlightenment Liberalism and Its Critics, Left and Right"; outside speakers this year include Jeremy Waldron, David Brink, and Allen Wood, among others. Prior themes have included "Life and Death" (Martha Nussbaum), "Freedom and Responsibility" (me), "Legal and Philosophical Issues about Race" (Nussbaum), and "Free Speech and Its Critics" (me). Speakers have included Gary Watson, Derk Pereboom, Hanna Pickard, Seana Shiffrin, Jeff McMahan, Dan Brock, Derrick Darby, Charles Mills, Joshua Cohen, Pamela Hieryonimi, and Mary Kate McGowan, among many others.
The Law School also sponsors the annual Dewey Lecture in Law & Philosophy, which in the last few years has brought Philip Pettit, Elizabeth Anderson, and Axel Honneth to the Law School; upcoming Dewey Lecturers are Steven Lukes and Seyla Benhabib.
We also have regular offerings in the Law School in jurisprudence, feminist philosophy, political philosophy and other areas. Martha Nussbaum and I each teach a Spring course open to 1L students (as well as upper-level students): I always offer the basic "Jurisprudence" class, while Martha usually teaches either "Feminist Philosophy" or "Emotions, Reason, and the Law." Martha and I also offer seminars each year that are open to JD students, ranging over topics from "Hellenstic Ethics" to "Bernard Williams," to "Freedom and Responsibility, Contemporary and Historical," to "Global Inequality: Philosophical and Economic Perspectives." In a typical year, I usually supervise a couple of independent study projects related to philosophical topics as well.
Of all the law schools in the U.S., the Chicago experience is also probably most like that of a graduate program in a PhD field, in terms of the intellectual engagement of both faculty and students. We've also been very successful at recruiting students with philosophy backgrounds, so you will have many like-minded peers. This year, more than 15% of the 1L class either majored in philosophy or (in three cases) has a graduate degree in the field. I doubt the percentage of philosophy students in law school is higher anywhere in the country.
Chicago currently has substantial merit aid to offer to very strong students (the best-known are the Rubenstein Scholarships, but there are other sources of aid, including for students interested in a JD/PhD). Philosophy students, both those with undergraduate majors and those with advanced degrees, have been very successful in getting this aid, and have performed very well at the Law School; as a result philosophy students receive favorable consideration here. Excellent numerical credentials are very important, of course, but even within that pool, applicants with philosophy backgrounds stand out. Students with philosophy backgrounds have recently turned down Yale, Harvard, and other peer law schools to come to Chicago.
Fascism in America? This is interesting, because it's basically a video op-ed by philosopher Jason Stanley (Yale), drawing on his recent book. It's plainly true that Trump uses the rhetorical ploys Stanley describes, though I'm less sure that equates to fascism, as opposed to just dangerously illiberal demagoguery (there's a lot of political space on the far right, from fascism to illiberalism to authoritarianism). So far, at least, all of Trump's policies have been implemented legally, and he actually hasn't defied any adverse court orders, despite all the bluster. Fascist rhetoric does not itself make for fascism. As my colleagues Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq have shown--focusing more on institutions than rhetoric--backsliding into an illiberal or authoritarian regime has happened in many places and remains a real possibility, including here. Whether that will take the distinctively fascist form is less clear.
UPDATE: Professor Stanley writes: "I completely agree with your post. I am very careful in my book to restrict my analysis to rhetoric - my book is about fascist propaganda and ideology, not fascist policies. I tried to keep the video so restricted as well - to the rhetoric, not the policies."
Here. The story of her early life, "upbringing" (you'll see why I put it in quotes if you read the interview), and time in graduate school and just after makes for gripping reading. Her comment on the University of Oregon department was also funny: "I needed to get out of Oregon, which was a hostile cesspool of a department, riddled by sexual harassment scandals, fractured by ideological battles, bitterly resentful of anything they counted as ‘mainstream’ philosophy, and marked by mean-girl pissing contests over what counted as ‘proper’ feminism. It was awful."
MOVING TO FRONT (ORIGINALLY POSTED SEPTEMBER 19)--UPDATED
A longtime member of the MIT faculty, Professor Bromberger wrote widely in philosophy of linguistics and epistemology (more details here). There is a brief announcement from the MIT Facebook page here. I will add links to memorial notices when they appear.
UPDATE: Philosopher of science Brad Wray (Aarhus) writes:
I just saw on your site that Sylvain B. died. He was a wonderful person. I was at MIT for a term in 2015 for a sabbatical leave.
He was already very old – in his 90s. But he was still coming in for talks, and was involved in a reading group with Chomsky.
He had a very interesting life. The family escaped Belgium when the Nazis came in, and ended up in America via France (I believe with help from a Portuguese embassy worker). You can find the details of that on the web. But then he went and fought in the war. He returned to do a PhD at Harvard, on a topic inspired by Duhem. People were not reading Duhem in the USA – even Quine had to have Duhem drawn to his attention when he was presenting his own underdetermination paper.
Incidentally, Sylvain was the one who gave Hempel the shadow and the flag pole counter example (Hempel acknowledges this), but Sylvain said it was a tower in his own example.
Sylvain also brought Kuhn to MIT, when Kuhn was looking to leave Princeton.
Sensible and balanced analysis of some of the issues by philosopher Leslie Green (Oxford). Because it is sensible and balanced, he will surely be vilified by the usual brainless automatons in cyberspace!
MOVING TO FRONT--ORIGINALLY POSTED OCTOBER 12: I'd love to hear from more readers in the "other" fields. I'm fascinated and flattered to have such a diverse group of readers, and enjoy hearing about your different areas of expertise. Many thanks.
Thanks to the nearly 2200 readers who participated in the poll; here are the results:
What is your academic field (if you are a student or faculty member)?
Chemistry or Physics
English or Comparative Literature
Other humanities field
Other social science field
Other natural science field
I am not in academia (neither faculty nor student)
Compared to the survey two years ago (which did not get as many responses, however), there has been a slight decline (62% to 59%) in the percentage of philosophy readers, and a clear increase (14% to 18%) in non-academic readers. This would fit with one hypothesis I have about the increase in readership, which started after the New York Times ran a front-page story about "L'Affaire Ronell" which included a link to this blog. But I'll do a separate poll on that question at a later date.
So 59% of readers are connected to academic philosophy; 8% to other humanities fields; 7% to social science fields; 5% to natural science fields; and 4% to my other academic field, law. I'd be curious to hear from readers about the "other" humanities, social science, and natural science fields. You don't need to post with your full name. Thanks.
It seems that I’ve been blacklisted by Springer for having the temerity to ask if I might be paid for reviewing an article submitted to one of their journals. This past Wednesday, I received an email requesting that I review an article for Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. I replied that, before considering it, I’d like to know if the journal is published by a non-profit company and, if not, how much I would be paid for doing the review. Yesterday, an associate editor of the journal wrote to say that she was asked to uninvite me as a potential reviewer.
Requesting to be paid when the publisher isn’t a non-profit has been a longstanding policy of mine. I’ve never understood why we professors, who are supposed to be so smart, are so willing to be exploited.
Andreja Novakovic (19th-century European philosophy, esp. Hegel), Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, has accepted a tenured offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where she will start in July 2019.
...at 3AM. This is a very interesting interview, although I should note that it is implausible that Nietzsche was positively influenced by Rousseau; the similarities Neuhouser points to--"Both genealogies have 'de-naturalizing' ambitions—they reveal the human-made character of phenomena normally taken to be natural or merely given—and...both emphasize the contingent nature of the developments in question"--reflect ideas and themes important in German philosophy and culture, starting with Herder. There was no need for Nietzsche to look to Rousseau for such an approach, and no evidence he did so.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY: Over 1600 responses (thank you!), more welcome! Please take a moment if you haven't already responded. Thanks!
This is the first of a couple of polls I'm going to run, in light of the noticetable up-tick in readership since August (the blog is getting about 15-20% more traffic than this time last year most days). This first poll asks my academic readers (i.e., those who are faculty or students) to indicate their primary academic field; non-academic readers, please check the last option in the poll. I'll do a separate poll aimed at non-academic readers.
Thank you! (I neglected to put Medicine as a field of choice--folks in academic Medicine, please choose "other natural science" field.)
ADDENDUM: After the poll started, I realized I should have had a category for academic librarians--apologies to the many readers in that category. I suggest you choose your field of focus as a librarian from the choices below.
A moral philosopher, perhaps best-known for her work on animal ethics, Professor Midgley spent most of her teaching career at Newcastle University. I will add links to memorial notices as they appear. (Thanks to several readers for sending along news of her passing.)
UPDATE: An obituary from The Guardian written by philosopher Jane Heal (Cambridge).
Below the fold, some comments from Ian Ground at Newcastle about Professor Midgley:
...which sometimes leads to rejection. I suspect both hiring departments and admissions committees in philosophy will start doing this more systematically in the years ahead--yet another reason why students, and especially graduate students seeking jobs, should have either no Internet presence or a wholly professional one (i.e., no ranting about politics, abusive tirades about faculty or fellow students, narcissistic displays [e.g., going on about one's mental health, one's sex life, one's private affairs] etc.).
So here are the results of Monday's poll to see who might prefer a less politicized organization meeting the needs of philosophers:
Would you leave the APA and join a new dues-charging professional philosophy association that does much of what the APA does, but without the current political agends/projects?
There's no reason to think this sample is representative of the population of philosophers at large, but that's OK: what the poll does suggest is that there's at least nearly 800 philosophy faculty and students out there who are quite open to an alternative, and another 200+ who might be persuadable if a new organization did the right things.
So questions for discussion here: (1) what would you want from a new philosophy organization to make it worth joining and paying dues? and (2) would you be willing to invest time and effort in creating it? For the latter, it would obviously help if you post under your actual name; for the former, that's not necessary. Please submit comments only once; they may take awhile to appear. Only comments responding to one or both of these two questions will appear.
The CFP for the next meeting of ISNS is now on-line. We will be able to cover travel and lodging for speakers whose papers are accepted for presentation (accepted papers will presumptively appear in the annual issue of Inquiry devoted to ISNS papers). Please note the word limits! (We'll review papers a bit longer, but they may need to be cut for publication purposes.) The majority of papers selected during the CFP process have been written by PhD students.
The 4th annual meeting of ISNS will be hosted by Brown University on May 31 and June 1, 2019, thanks to the good efforts of Professor Bernard Reginster. Confirmed invited speakers are Taylor Carman (Barnard/Columbia), Beatrice Han-Pile (Essex), and Scott Jenkins (Kansas). We expect to select two or three additional speakers based on the CFP.
An untenured philosopher, who asked that I not use her name, writes:
I just participated in your recent poll about the APA and voted "Definitely"; this may be of little interest but I'm writing because I belong to a group that the identity politics folks describe as a 'triple minority’: 'queer'; 'person of colour'; woman (scare quotes because I dislike those labels). I should, then, be all for these measures designed to include and promote people like me. I'm not, though, because I feel quite included and promoted enough qua the only identity I care to adopt: philosopher. And if I don’t, it’s as someone whose primary interests lie in ancient Greek philosophy and not as a ‘WOC’ (or ‘QWOC’ or whatever absurd acronym best captures my demographic).
I'm not even sure what it means to "Publish more papers of interest to under-represented groups in philosophy" -- do 'under-represented groups' have special philosophical interests? Will it be assumed that people like me are more interested in, say, standpoint epistemology than in Platonic metaphysics?
While I wouldn't dare put my name to any of these thoughts (since I don't have tenure and the times are what they are) I'm truly disturbed by these proposals formulated to help groups under-represented along the lines of sex/orientation/race/etc. I find the suggestions in the most recent APA blog post scary and, frankly, stupid as a philosopher and condescending as a member of various ‘under-represented’ groups.
Sorry for this rather rambling email, but I also just wanted to write and thank you -- I've been reading your blog since I was a first-year undergrad a dozen years ago and I'm always grateful to read (the ever-decreasing) voices of sanity in this profession.
...require ensuring that members of under-represented groups can publish at least in proportion to their presence as faculty in the discipline or in proportion to their presence as researchers with a particular AOS. Targets even higher than proportional representation might be desirable to restore balance after a period of inequity or due to the special value of perspectives of members from some under-represented groups on some issues.
There are, of course, groups under-represented in the major Anglophone philosophy journals: Marxists, for example, or Nietzscheans. But these are not the groups meant: the groups at issue appear to be racial and ethnic minorities, women, and perhaps LGBT philosophers. In the absence of evidence that journal editorial practices explicitly or implicitly aim to exclude philosophers from these groups (I am not aware of such evidence, perhaps it exists), what problem are we trying to solve with the proposed reserved journal slots for members of these groups? There is a nod to the Millian idea about a diversity of views, but there's no evidence for thinking this proposal, as opposed to actually encouraging a diversity of philosophical viewsand approaches, would realize the Millian aim. There's also a little bit of identity politics "standpoint" epistemology, so unlike the Marxist kind. (What about journal editors who find identity politics standpoint epistemology implausible? Will the APA really be declaring this the official epistemology of the organization?) These thin, putatively philosophical rationales to one side, what this really seems to be is just another case of the corporate personnel "diversity" agenda, this time in the service of undermining the scholarly integrity of academic publishing. (On the history of the "diversity" mantra, see this. There are compelling reasons for affirmative action for African-Americans and perhaps some other groups, but "diversity" is not one of them.)
So I share the shock of many readers I've heard from about this proposal; the question is what to do. A philosopher elsewhere, who wrote to me about this proposal, put it this way:
It [the proposal, above] seems to recommend some version of eliminating blind review in philosophy journals. I’ve been hearing about it all day from colleagues and friends. I’m kind of in disbelief; this is such a tremendously bad idea for some many different reasons! I’m writing you because you’ve been critical of the APA before, and maybe you can provide advice (and maybe this would be worth a post) on what one can do if (a) one doesn’t want to support, with one’s money and energy, these aspect of the APA that seem to be detrimental to our discipline (at least according to the values of many philosophers), but (b) really benefits from and appreciates other aspects of the APA, such as the conferences and the journal (which I do think is a pretty good journal, and we do need more good journals…). Is there a way to disentangle (a) and (b)? Is there a way to suggest, as a large group, that the APA move their membership to “APA lite” that funds (b) but not (a), thereby avoiding having their work and money going to things like the APA blog and the “diversity” group?
I can't imagine the APA would set up such a fees structure, certainly not given the capture of the organization by the Diversity-Uber-Alles crowd. One possibility, which more than one person has raised with me over the last couple of years, is the need for an alternative organization that performs something like the (b) functions mentioned, above, by my correspondent. So here's a poll; I'll open the results for discussion later in the week. Absolute numbers matter more here than percentages, so do vote if you have any view on the matter. Those interested in alternatives to the APA need to know whether there's some significant number of philosophers out there interested in an alternative.
UPDATE: So after about 12 hours, here are the results; I will keep the poll open for another day since, as I noted this morning, the absolute numbers are more important than the proportions.
Would you leave the APA and join a new dues-charging professional philosophy association that does much of what the APA does, but without the current political agends/projects?
1. Eugene Debs. Stalwart if unsuccessful socialist agitator for an alternative to devotion to the market.
2. H.L. Mencken. Merciless critic of religious, patriotic and other bullshit, with his own parochial prejudices to be sure, but a great writer who punched up, down, and sideways without apology.
3. A. Philip Randolph. The most important labor and civil rights leader of the century, who made MLK possible, and who always championed, from the beginning, the interdependence of racial and economic progress.
4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He betrayed his class and saved America from fascism and probably saved the world from the Nazis. The Reagan reaction of the last forty years was against his vision for social democracy.
5. Bayard Rustin. He organized the 1963 March on Washington, and worked with A. Philip Randolph on behalf of the same goals: Randolph and Rustin were a team. He did all this as a gay African-American, and in the face of enormous bigotry both within and outside the movement. A person of enormous dignity and courage, whom I had the privilege to interview in the early 1980s. I will never forget it.
Your favorites? Comments may take awhile to appear, so post only once! But I'm curious to hear from readers and I will require you to post with your full name and valid e-mail address
...from historian Christopher Browning (North Carolina). Some are interesting, some just superficial. The best line is describing Mitch McConnell as "the gravedigger of American democracy." His main theme is not that we are heading for Nazi-style totalitarianism (one big obstacle, which he only indirectly mentions, is the absence of a constitutional provision for the suspension of all civil liberties, which made Hindenburg's complicity with Hitler possible), but that we are heading in the direction of "illiberal democracy," in which there are elections, but checks on the abuse of power are muted. Here's a good example:
[O]ther hallmarks of illiberal democracy are the neutralization of a free press and the steady diminution of basic human rights. On these issues, often described as the guardrails of democracy against authoritarian encroachment, the Trump administration either has won or seems poised to win significant gains for illiberalism. Upon his appointment as chancellor, Hitler immediately created a new Ministry of People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels, who remained one of his closest political advisers.
In Trump’s presidency, those functions have effectively been privatized in the form of Fox News and Sean Hannity. Fox faithfully trumpets the “alternative facts” of the Trump version of events, and in turn Trump frequently finds inspiration for his tweets and fantasy-filled statements from his daily monitoring of Fox commentators and his late-night phone calls with Hannity. The result is the creation of a “Trump bubble” for his base to inhabit that is unrecognizable to viewers of PBS, CNN, and MSNBC and readers of TheWashington Post and TheNew York Times. The highly critical free media not only provide no effective check on Trump’s ability to be a serial liar without political penalty; on the contrary, they provide yet another enemy around which to mobilize the grievances and resentments of his base. A free press does not have to be repressed when it can be rendered irrelevant and even exploited for political gain.
Professor Browning also suggests that appointing Federalist Society loyalists to the federal courts is comparable to the attack on judicial independence in, say, Poland. This is misleading (or perhaps reflects a lack of appreciation of the extent of the assault on judicial independence in Poland). Here it might be worth recalling the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdi, fourteen years ago, involving a U.S. citizen challenging his detention at Guantanamo. The best opinion in that case was by Justice Scalia, the worst by Justice Thomas, both stalwarts of the Federalist Society. I fear that some of those elevated to the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, may be more like Thomas than Scalia, but certainly not all are. Federalist Society ideology is not as monolithic, or consistently reactionary, as Professor Browning may suppose. A conservative Supreme Court can do damage on many fronts, but it is far from being a rubber-stamp for executive power.
Philosopher John Haldane (Baylor & St Andrews) writes:
The Royal Institute of Philosophy, of which I am Chair, is in an ongoing process of development and renewal. In connection with this we have just elected (Lady) Onora O’Neill as President in succession to the late (Lord) Stewart Sutherland and we are now looking to appoint a new Director, and a new editor of Philosophy, to succeed Anthony O’Hear who has occupied both positions since 1994. Details of the Institute and of these positions can be got through the Institute’s website https://royalinstitutephilosophy.org/recruitment-for-the-positions-of-academic-director-and-of-editors-of-philosophy/