Folllowing up on last week, the Advisory Board and I have agreed on the following statement regarding the plan for the PGR:
The 2014-15 PGR will proceed as planned, with Berit Brogaard joining Brian Leiter as co-editor and taking over responsibility for the surveys and the compilation of results, with assistance as needed from Brian and the Advisory Board. At the conclusion of the 2014-15 PGR, Brian will step down as an editor of the PGR and join the Advisory Board. Berit will take over as editor until such time as a co-editor can be appointed to assist with future iterations of the report. After 2014, Berit will have ultimate decision-making authority over the PGR. Upon completion of the 2014-15 PGR, Berit will appoint a small advisory transition committee that she will consult on possible improvement, both substantive and operational, in the PGR going forward.
Of the 50 members of the Advisory Board, 45 voted in favor of this plan, none voted against, and 2 Board members abstained (believing, as I understand it, that I should not have agreed to step down, or not in these circumstances). I supported it as well and made that clear prior to the vote. Three Board members were simply not on e-mail in recent days. (Five Board members resigned over the past two weeks, some because of the controversy, and some because of unrelated concerns about the PGR methodology. I thanked each of them for their help and service.) The current members of the Advisory Board are Rachel Barney, Cristina Bicchieri, Ned Block, Christopher Bobonich, Berit Brogaard, John Carriero, David Chalmers, Justin D'Arms, David Davies, John Deigh, Keith DeRose, Lisa Downing, Julia Driver, Delia Graff Fara, John Martin Fischer, Graeme Forbes, Michael Forster, John Gardner, Don Garrett, Alvin Goldman, Anil Gupta, Christopher Hitchcock, John Horty, Shelly Kagan, Pierre Keller, Michelle Kosch, Scott MacDonald, Edouard Machery, Cheryl Misak, Calvin Normore, Laurie Paul, Peter Poellner, Greg Restall, Michael Rosen, Alexander Rosenberg, Jonathan Schaffer, David Schmidtz, Christopher Shields, Susanna Siegel, Brian Skyrms, Ernest Sosa, Jason Stanley, Stephen Stich, Iain Thomson, Bryan van Norden, Katja Vogt, Ted Warfield, Michael Weisberg, Timothy Williamson, Allen Wood. (Changes in the composition of the Board were announced earlier in the summer here.)
We have always observed the rule that Board discussions are confidential, but I want to thank the Board for finding a constructive resolution, one that involved compromises on many sides, not only mine.
What follows are now my own reflections on recent events and an explanation of my reasons for endorsing this plan of action. I speak here for myself, obviously, and no one else.
I want, first, to thank the many philosophers and students who have written me recently both to protest the campaign against me and to urge me not to step down from the PGR. I feel I owe them, in particular, an explanation. I agreed to step down as the editor of the PGR, for a mix of reasons personal and practical: personally, I have been telling colleagues for quite some time that I thought the 2014 PGR was the last one I would do, because it is just too much work; and practically, the campaign against me might have interfered with successful completion of the 2014 PGR. I would rather not have had to make the decision in the face of a sometimes irrational cyber-mob, but sometimes one must play the hand that is dealt, and given the value of getting the 2014 PGR out and helping it continue into the future, it seemed to me an acceptable compromise--helped greatly, I should add, by Berit Brogaard's willingness to step up and undertake significant responsibilities, plus my confidence in her as someone to take the helm going forward.
One Advisory Board member (not Alex Rosenberg, though he has expressed similar views) wrote to me regarding the current controversy (with permission to quote):
I really do not understand what is going on. You used some strong, and arguably inappropriate, language in mostly private communications with people who had criticized or threatened you. The response has been a well-organized attempt to force you to give up the editorship of the PGR. But, as has been repeatedly noted, the intemperate language that has provoked the politeness police had exactly nothing to do with your behavior as editor of the PGR. You have consistently let important matters be decided by a vote of the board. You have scrupulously maintained the confidentiality of people’s rankings. You have worked hard over many years to improve the methodology and usefulness of the PGR. So why is your use of intemperate language any more relevant to your editorship of the PGR than it is to, say, your law school professorship? Would the politeness police urge that you be fired from your teaching position because you called someone a "sanctimonious ass"?
Many on (and off) the Board have said similar things to me, including some who thought a change in leadership was in the longterm interest of the PGR whatever the merits of the controversy (a point with which I agree). Others, however, plainly disagree with the above, thinking that "the PGR aura," as it were, gives my criticisms extra force. I'm doubtful, but I have nothing to add to what I've said earlier about this issue (including in the updates).
Some others who have written me (including some on the Board) have made a different argument: namely, that it's just not appropriate for an editor of a professional journal or a professional ranking to also be an outspoken polemicist and critic as well. In essence, it is a version of what in law we often refer to as "an appearance of impropriety," the standard to which we hold judges. Can one so opinionated and outspoken be charged with editorial tasks that demand a degree of impartiality and fairness? This is not an unreasonable view of the situation, but I stand by the fact that there has never been any impropriety in my administering of the PGR as the only relevant point. And I also note that, unlike a judge, I am, as PGE editor (or co-editor) primarily an aggregator and facilitator, not one rendering final judgments that will determine liberty or incarceration, prosperity or penury. But if someone feels editing the PGR means forfeiting certain expressive rights, then I accept that they have a reason not to participate while I remain as one of the editors. And since I value my expressive rights (including my right to express myself in ways some others may find offensive), that gives me an additional reason to dissociate from the PGR so that those philosophers will, I hope, participate in the future.
SHORTER STATEMENT: For those who prefer Tweets! I also learned from David Wallace (Oxford) that a third of the signatories to the so-called "boycott" statement from Oxford are graduate students, so not even eligible to be evaluators! (CORRECTION: Prof. Wallace writes: "Just quickly: It’s not that the additional Oxford signatories are grad students, it’s that they are non-Faculty (postdocs, college lecturers, that sort of thing). The point isn’t that they aren’t entitled to sign whatever they like (though obviously there’s no chance they’d be asked to evaluate); it’s that CDJ is dividing the total number of signatories from Oxford by the total number of faculty members from Oxford, not by the (much larger) total number of academics associated with Oxford." My thanks to David Wallace for clarifying this. As I noted earlier, only about 55 nominated evaluators actully signed the boycott statement.)