...both the Law School and Philosophy Department for having me out the last few days, I had a great time in both places, and not only because of the lovely weather! I got excellent questions and feedback at both units on two different papers, and was grateful for the terrific hospitality on top of that. I also had a chance to have a long talk with my co-editor, Brit Brogaard, about the future of the PGR, and we should have some announcements before too long about plans going forward.
Mitchell Aboulafia is Professor of Philosophy at Manhattan College. He is a former member of the SPEP Advocacy Committee, who took his PhD at Boston College, a SPEP department, and then taught at the University of Colorado at Denver and Pennsylvania State University, the latter a longstanding SPEP bastion. He appears to have developed a bit of an obsession with the PGR lately, though readers should be aware of his bias and of the fact that many of his postings contain factual errors, indeed, easily correctable ones if he were at all intereseted in accuracy. But he is not. And, as I've noted before, it's not worth the time to engage with the lies, falsehoods, and silliness.
There may still be one top spot available in February (there has been an inquiry, but not yet a commitment), as well as 4th from the top spots. There is also still one top spot available in each of March and April, as well as some lower spots each of those months. May is wide open, but both top spots for June are already booked. I am planning on doing less blogging this summer (June, July, August)--meaning postings a few times each week, but not necessarily daily on weekdays--so I am cutting the summer rates: top spots will be $300, 2nd from the top $250, and third from the top $200.
UPDATE: Reader Robrecht Vandemeulebroecke kindly sends along a quick (and quite good) English translation:
Heidegger Society director steps down
According to information from [media outlet] SWR, the Freiburg philosopher Günter Figal has stepped down from his position as director of the Martin Heidegger Society. Yesterday Günter Figal declared on [radio station] SWR2 that the anti-semitic passages in the "black notebooks" published last year had shocked him. He felt he was no longer able to represent the Martin Heidegger Society, even though he had never deemed it to be a society for "hero worship". Figal said: "As director of a society bearing a person's name, one in a sense also represents that person, and after reading the black notebooks, especially the anti-semitic passages in the black notebooks, I no longer wish to do so. These utterances have not only shocked me, they have also changed my opinion of him in such a way that it would very difficult for me still to stand for this." De Freiburg philosopher said the time has now come to scrutinize Heidegger's philosophy in the nazi period. Quote Figal: "Heidegger's entanglement in National Socialism has been much more extensive than we could assess until now, and that means that the 1930's phase should be thoroughly re-examined in light of these findings. And this should be possible as soon as the requisite material becomes available." Critical Heidegger studies are hindered by the Heidegger heirs blocking access to thousands of manuscripts stored at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach. These manuscripts can only be perused with their permission. Günter Figal hereby joins the critics who have been demanding that this impediment finally be cleared in the interest of study.
While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach or have a different focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can increase creativity. With students in programs from 8 countries and 20 different U.S. states, Virtual Dissertation Groups are a great (free!) way to capture some of these benefits.
The setup is simple: Students participate in three-membered groups, with one student each month sending a short-ish piece of writing to the other two for comments.
This is an informative overview of the law and the developments emerging from the current OCR in interpreting Title IX. My guess is the courts will eventually undo some of the interpretations promulgated by the current OCR.
From the chapter "Of Liberty and Necessity" from the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding:
The general observations treasured up by a course of experience, give us the clue of human nature, and teach us to unravl all its intricacies. Pretexts and appearances no longer deceive us. Public declarations pass for the specious coloring of a cause. And though virtue and honor be allowed their proper weight and authority, that perfect disinterestedness, so often pretended to, is never expected in multitudes and parties; seldom in their leaders; and scaracely even in individuals of any rank or station.
The political philosopher Massimo Renzo, currently at the University of Warwick, has accepted appointment as Reader in the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law at King's College London, effective this fall. The political and legal philosopher John Tasioulas recently took over the Centre, moving to King's from the Quain Chair in Jurisprudence at University College London.
I have been forwarded the latest legal filings in the undergraduate's lawsuit against Peter Ludlow: they are Ludlow's motion to compel the plaintiff to comply with discovery requests--Download Motion to Compel-
I have not been able to review all this in detail, though I do note that the motion to compel includes allegations that the plaintiff may have destroyed relevant evidence which, if true, will doom her case. (It is impossible to redact all references to the plaintiff in these materials, and, in any case, filings in this case have appeared elsewhere unredacted multiple times now.
UPDATE: One reader points out that the exhibits included some personal information about the plaintiff, and thought it better not to put that into circulation, so I have removed the exhibits.
Matthew Ratcliffe (phenomenology, philosophy of emotions, philosophy of psychiatry), currently at the University of Durham, will take up the Chair in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Vienna this March.
CHE has the story. Among the researchers involved in this study was Princeton philosopher Sarah-Jane Leslie. My own impression has been that there are people who arrive in graduate school with what looks like an innate talent for philosophy (I can think of one man and one woman in the last 20 years that fall into that category), but that lots of others, through hard work, end up doing substantial work. What do readers think? And why would philosophy be more prone to such "innate talent" judgments than other fields?
Story here. Unfortunately for Barnett, the faculty panel's finding is non-binding--a faculty panel in the Ward Churchill case also came out against termination, which the University leadership and Regents ignored.
Someone reported the Philosophy Metametablog to Google for spam activity, and Google has shut down the blog with an option to reopen it. We will not be reopening it because:
1. Commentators regularly defamed each other and other philosophers by name. A trickle of comment deletion requests grew, and could well have become an unmanageable deluge.
2. Sockpuppetry was rampant, which we know because we tracked IP addresses. (Contrary to speculation, the Blogger platform can be modified to accommodate this.) Some commentators would post incendiary (mean-spirited, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transmisogynistic) remarks about Philosopher X, only to reply in the next comment with a spirited defense of Philosopher X. Comments of this sort often originated from the home institution or city of Philosopher X.
3. Though we regarded many comments with horror, we stuck to a program of non-intervention. This program is difficult to sustain when it requires that we permit both the identification of students who are alleged survivors of assault and the promulgation of ugly rumors and gossip.
Philosophers, plainly, have a lot of things they want to say. Some of the things they wish to say are funny and insightful (many are neither). There is also a large and interested audience. In its final week, the Philosophy Metametablog received over 2,500 unique visitors per day.
It's worth thinking about why the Philosophy Metametablog accrued so many visitors and comments so quickly. Some topics or perspectives simply cannot be breached at the major blogs: even reasoned, well-written, and respectful comments not in line with whatever orthodoxy happens to prevail are deleted or shouted down. So those who dissent can only turn elsewhere in frustration. It is sad that the only venues to which they may turn are unmoderated forums characterized by defamation, abuse, and sockpuppetry. One such forum is now gone. Other unmoderated forums will, of course, appear. But we hope that in the future, forums like Daily Nous and Leiter Reports will adopt a lighter touch in comment moderation.
I can't speak for "Justice Whineberg" as he was amusingly known there, but my plan is to run an open thread for discussion of issues in the profession once each week--but I will moderate it, but only for the nuttiness and defamation--heterodox views will be welcome, and anonymous postings will be permitted. I will approve comments with which I do not agree, so posting of comments is not endorsement. There is clearly a climate of fear among a lot of philosophy faculty and students due to the 2014 craziness on social media; since I have pushed back against a lot of this, starting with the attacks on due process last March, I might as well host the discussions. I read PMMB only irregularly, and it seemed to me there were often important perspectives represented there, perspectives otherwise silenced on philosophy-related social media. To reiterate, I will not approve defamatory or otherwise tortious commentary.
So this is "open thread" #1. Please be patient, as I am only on-line to moderate at irregular intervals.
Edouard Machery, a leading figure in experimental philosophy and philosophy of cognitive science in the HPS Program at the University of Pittsburgh, has a senior offer from Munich, with an opportunity to develop a research group there. He tells me a decision will be made before April 15, 2015, so before prospective students need to decide on US admissions offers.
UPDATE: Machery has accepted a counteroffer from Pitt, where he will be promoted to Distinguished Professor and have a postdoc attached to his position.
...and for understandable reasons, given that their cyber-ranting and raving (as well as some straight up lying) is having no impact on how the real world of academic institutions receives the rankings.
I go in for some outpatient eye surgery, and all of a sudden weird legal stuff happens in the philosophy world. Several who sent this asked whether Heidi Lockwood's affidavit about what others said or allegedly knew about Peter Ludlow prior to his appointment at Northwestern didn't constitute "hearsay" (out-of-court statements offered to prove the truth of what they assert). The answer is that most of it does not if, as I suspect, the claims are being offered only to show that people at Northwestern were allegedly on "notice" as to alleged prior misconduct by Ludlow, and thus Northwestern failed in its Title IX obligations by not investigating the allegations and by hiring him nonetheless. (The out-of-court statements don't have to be true to nonetheless show the party hearing them was on notice of possible wrongdoing.) It does not help, of course, that the parties Lockwood purports to quote or ascribe prior knowledge to (Professors Goldberg, Lackey and Reed at Northwestern, and Professor Kvanvig at Baylor) have flatly denied the accuracy of her affidavit. Lockwood may be right that Ludlow's lawsuits have chilled discussion of the case, but insofar as the speech chilled is false and defamatory, as Ludlow has alleged, then it should be chilled. Certainly the case has been extensively discussed notwithstanding some pending legal actions and the merits will ultimately be adjudicated not by blogs but by courts.
I was struck by the fact that while some allegations in the Lockwood affidavit would be relevant to the undergraduate's case if true, other allegations struck me as simply bizarre and irrelevant, even if true (a failure to "like" posts on Facebook, among them!). It's hard for me to figure what the plaintiff's lawyer was thinking. In any case, to the best of my knowledge, even false and harmful statements in an affidavit part of a legal motion can not be grounds for a tort suit. I do fear Professor Lockwood's statement in the Northwestern student paper that she came forward "because there are philosophers who have knowledge and want to talk, but are afraid to" could, in context, be grounds for tortious liability.
UPDATE: Professor Kvanvig gave permission to post the following statement about the Lockwood affidavit:
I am on the side of doing whatever I can to stop the insanity in our profession regarding sexual misconduct. But I will not be a pawn to be used by those on the same side, and I have been.
I was cited extensively in the most recent affidavit from Heidi Howkins Lockwood and the lawyers involved....
Citations to me were included without my permission and without prior efforts to allow me to correct attributions. Both elements, by themselves, are egregious.
In addition, the citations are inaccurate in the following way. Heidi and I have had several conversations about the current state of the discipline regarding sexual misconduct. In every case, I have expressed support and willingness to do whatever I can to make things change. But also in every case, the conversations were about the rumor mill in philosophy regarding the cases in question, and in every case the conversations were about this rumor mill. So when I am cited as saying that "X happened," the context was always, and would have been understood to always involve, the qualifier about the rumor mill. I have no knowledge of what has happened in the cases that have become public, nor of the cases that are still secret, with the exception of those at institutions where I have taught (which are, of course, not part of the issue here).
So, to attribute claims to me that certain things have happened is grossly irresponsible, since all that could be responsibly attributed is the claim that I, too, had heard rumors to such an effect.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)