See page 45 of the just-released agenda items. A report prepared by a university committee for the Provost had not recommended closure, but had recommended other measures to reduce costs (see the report to the Provost here: Download APER Committee Report). My frequent guest-blogger Professor Christopher Pynes, who is a Professor of Philosophy at Western Illinois, tells me via e-mail that he is on the road at the moment, but I hope he will be able to post about these developments before long and advise about ways in which readers might help avert this catastrophe.
UPDATE: Roger Clawson is the Chair of the Board of Trustees--his e-mail contact information is here. Remember that they face a difficult budgetary situation; what they need to hear about is the value of philosophy. It would be particularly nice for professionals outside academia, who studied philosophy as an undergraduate, were to contact Mr. Clawson about the value of their undergraduate course of study. I will be writing to Mr. Clawson as well, since was fortunate to be a Mary Olive Woods Lecturer there a few years ago, and was very impressed by the faculty and the students I met. (There are some more details about enrollments here from the Philosophy Department Chair.)
ANOTHER: A wonderful letter from Prof. David Ozonoff, a cancer epidemiologist at Boston University, which he kindly gave me permission to share:
Dear Trustee Clawson
I am sure you will hear from many professional philosophers about the value of their discipline and asking you to reconsider any decision to discontinue it at WIU. I am not a philosopher, but a physician-epidemiologist. Epidemiology, as I am sure you know, is the study of the distribution and determinants of diseases in population, and throughout my rather long career I have concentrated on cancer epidemiology, especially the detection and analysis of cancer clusters. My current research is quite theoretical but aimed at finding efficient methods to mine large datasets for clues to the causes of cancer.
This may not sound very close to philosophy but for the last six months I have been deeply immersed in the philosophy of language and philosophical logic because they hold the keys to some of the most intractable puzzles in cancer epidemiology. In particular, untangling the interaction of the criteria for when something “causes” something else is at the heart of current practice (so-called causal inference). I use the work of academic philosophers on a daily basis. Indeed, I have read little else in the last 6 months but books and papers on philosophical logic, much of it quite technical. Because I am not a philosopher, I depend heavily on the expositions and research of today’s academic philosophers for my work. This is a connection I suspect would not have occurred to you, but it is the cutting edge of today’s epidemiological analysis. The first book has now appeared on the Philosophy of Epidemiology by Alex Broadbent (who has also written a well-regarded text on Philosophy for Graduate Students). This is an exciting career future for today’s philosophy student.
I was a Department Chair for 26 years at a School of Public Health at a major research university and am well aware of the budgetary pressures, required work-arounds and compromises needed to keep the lights on and the roof from leaking. I am hoping that in this case, one of those compromises won’t result in the loss of an excellent and well-regarded Department that is at the core of a liberal arts university and a discipline of emerging importance in the field of public health.
With best wishes and respect for the difficult job you do,
The latest sexual harassment scandal in academic philosophy has, predictably, brought the usual know-nothing pontificators out in force, busy signaling their rectitude while actually harming the interests of the complainant against Pogge. Let me explain.
is rightly considered a pillar of civilised society. But people have a tendency to over-apply it in irrelevant cases. The presumption of your innocence means that the state can't punish you for a crime unless it proves that you committed it. That's it. It has nothing to do with how one individual should treat or think about another, or whether an organisation should develop or continue a relationship with an accused individual. The presumption of innocence doesn't protect you from being unfriended on facebook, or shunned at conferences, or widely thought by other people to be a criminal. It just protects from being criminally convicted.
Why is the "presumption of innocence" considered "a pillar of civilized society"? Presumably because there is moral value in avoiding sanctioning the innocent, and we can avoid sanctioning the innocent if we shift the burden of proof to the accuser. That moral value exists outside the legal context, though it is particularly important in the legal context because the sanctions are very serious. But even when the sanctions are less serious, the moral value of the presumption remains. Think of it this way: the First Amendment protection of free speech prevents the state from sanctioning you for the content of your speech (except under very special circumstances), but that doesn't mean "freedom of speech" has no value, and deserves no moral weight, in contexts other than the exercise of state power. I do not suggest that there should be a legal remedy for "unfriending" on Facebook or for swarmy pontificators and shunners like Ichikawa et al., but I do think it obvious that a "presumption of innocence" plays a useful role in regulating our informal dealings with others, even if it is a defeasible assumption (and is defeated in this case, about which more in a moment).
Princeton philosopher Delia Graff Fara writes about her own " unpleasant experience" with Professor Pogge (which she kindly gave me permission to share):
I had a mildly unpleasant experience with Pogge when I was a senior undergraduate at Harvard and he was a visiting professor who stayed in my "house", Harvard's equivalent to residential colleges at Princeton and Yale. (I lived in Cabot House.)
In brief, I was having a meeting with Pogge during and after dinner in our dining hall to talk about Rawls and Rousseau, the subjects of my senior thesis. He kept me talking for longer than I felt comfortable with. It was night and the dining hall had long since emptied out. I finally ended the meeting when he started rubbing my thigh, by just saying that it was late and that I needed to leave.
Over that decade, nearly one hundred women have been awarded PhDs in philosophy from just three schools, two mediocre and one a joke: the University of Memphis, the University of Oregon, and the California Institute of Integral Studies. Indeed, of the ten programs that graduated the highest percentage of women during this decade, just three are leading and serious PhD programs: MIT, North Carolina, and Minnesota. Those concerned about the representation of women in the profession should be greatly alarmed by these facts. As we've noted before, women are hardly well-served by getting PhDs from weak (or worse) programs.
One of the items in Pogge's defense struck me as odd; namely, the use of a "polygraph" as defense. While I am not sure what the current status of polygraphs in the American legal context is, but in science&technology studies the technology counts largely as debunked and - outside of people who write spy stories for television - isn't taken seriously (I just accepted a paper on polygraphs in fiction, for a special issue on how science fiction and science mutually influence each other). It's not permissible in Germany in legal contexts to the best of my knowledge. So, is Pogge's use of the device a "publicity stunt" or does it have bearings on any legal or Yale's regulatory procedures?
Polygraph test results are generally not admissible as evidence in American courts (the state of New Mexico is an exception). The exclusion dates to a court decision from the 1920s, but almost all American courts, state and federal, continue to follow that approach. The reason is that we know that some serial liars are very good at passing these tests, and some totally truthful witnesses regularly fail them. Polygraph tests try to pick up typical biomarkers of being untruthful, but the correlation is imperfect. If, in fact, Professor Pogge passed a polygraph test, as he asserts, nothing would preclude Yale from considering that, but it would not be admissible were the matter adjudicated in federal court or state court in Connecticut. Given the unreliability of such tests, there is no reason a complainant should subject herself to one.
UPDATE: Professor Pogge's response has moved from a Yale site to his personal site; the link, above, has been fixed.
(Thanks to various readers who sent this along. I was teaching my last class of the quarter this afternoon, so have not read it yet, but wanted to share it. I may have additional comments once I digest its content.)
ADDENDUM: From the story:
“It breaks my heart to have to say it,” said Christia Mercer, a former colleague from the Columbia philosophy department, “but it’s clear that Thomas uses his reputation as a supporter of justice to prey unjustly on those who trust and admire him, who then — once victimized — are too intimidated by his reputation and power to tell their stories.”
MAY 22 UPDATE: Professor Pogge responds to the allegations. Given his denials, he ought to bring a libel action, at least against the author of the fundraising site which accused him of rape and attempted rape. Since I agree with Professor Pogge that cyberspace is a poor forum for adjudicating these matters, this would also provide a formal setting for adjudicating these very serious, and, if false, defamatory, allegations. It may be that the statute of limitations has expired on the defamatory per se allegations, but if so, then one wonders why no legal remedy was sought in a timely way. (I can imagine reasons, but libel per se, where there is no need to prove damages, is the strongest kind of defamation claim.)
In his statement, Pogge claimed Lopez Aguilar’s assertions had already been disproven: “One version of her allegations was thoroughly investigated in quasi-judicial proceedings by a Yale committee of five faculty members and one Federal judge, who found her charges of sexual harassment to be not credible.”
The panel’s actual finding was that there was “insufficient evidence” with which “to corroborate either Ms. Lopez’s or Mr. Pogge’s differing accounts.”
Pogge also pointed to “enthusiastic emails,” which were included in the BuzzFeed News investigation, that Lopez Aguilar wrote him after the Chile trip.
Pogge derided the claim that he had “attacked” Lopez Aguilar during her senior year. That appears to be a reference to language from a public fundraising plea written by a friend of Lopez Aguilar’s. Lopez Aguilar herself did not allege inappropriate physical contact until after graduation.
In short, almost half the students are majoring in economic, biology or math. But some of my colleagues think this is typical of national trends, with students gravitating towards majors that purportedly lead to jobs (or, I guess, business school or medical school--or law school, if you add in poli sci). But barely 4% History majors, even though Chicago has one of the best history departments in the country? If you look at the core humanities fields, they account for just 12% of undergraduate majors. Do readers know of other data on undergraduate majors from other schools?
Digging through my draft but unused posts, I found this funny one:
Last August, after I posted a link to the Illinois boycott statement organized by John Protevi, he sent me the following interesting e-mail:
From: John Protevi [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 9:30 AM
To: Leiter, Brian
Subject: Thanks for the link
Brian, many thanks for the link to the boycott pledge. Despite our differences and my own often admittedly sophomoric reactions to them, I have never hesitated in thanking you for your solidarity on many important issues, and so I’ll do so here and on Facebook and Twitter.
John does seem to have a lot of time on his hands for stuff, both important and trivial, but it's nice to know that even he is aware of his "own admittedly sophomoric" propensities.
John hasn't gotten less sophomoric in the interim, but he's at least a trooper on behalf of academic freedom!
An "open letter" from twenty-one law faculty--this largely (but not wholly) a group of right-leaning law professors, though many of the issues have been raised by others across the political spectrum in law.
It is related to the incidents mentioned here. The allegations in this new case are, from what I can gather, much more serious than in prior cases. The interesting question will be how the university involved responds to a light being shone on events.
...and a somewhat odd interpretation of it by Prof. Schwitzgebel, but it could be I am misunderstanding the data presented. Looking at data on PhDs awarded to women in philosophy, engineering, and physical sciences, he writes:
The overall trend is clear: Although philosophy's percentages are currently similar to the percentages in engineering and physical sciences, the trend in philosophy has flattened out in the 21st century, while engineering and the physical sciences continue to make progress toward gender parity. All the broad areas show roughly linear upward trends, except for the humanities which appears to have flattened at approximately parity.
But what the chart shows is that engineering and physical sciences started well below philosophy in percentage of PhDs earned by women, and the physical sciences have finally caught up to philosophy, while engineering still lags behind philosophy, but has improved over the time period examined. Only if engineering and the physical sciences continue to award more PhDs to women going forward would Schwitzgebel's interpretation make sense. As of now, it may be that all three fields have or will plateau in the 25-30% range. Am I misreading his data?
...and I'm sure at least Professor Van Norden knows that all too well. Huge stretches of European philosophy--from Hegel to the present, say, or in the 12th through 14th-centuries--are also neglected in many of the top 50 PhD programs. Most of the top 50 PhD programs do not have any faculty teaching American philosophy of the 19th-century. What unites the curricula at these programs is not a commitment to "European and American philosophy" but a commitment to a style of doing philosophy, that derives from some British philosophers, some Continental European ones, and some American ones (it's also a style that is increasingly popular in parts of Asia, by the way)--and it's a style whose leading practitioners now include Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and African-Americans. I empathize with the desires of Professors Garfield and van Norden to see their fields less neglected--I'd like to see my own fields less neglected too! But playing the "diversity card" in this context is a dangerous game to play, that will lead to changes in the field that I'm quite sure Prof. Van Norden won't welcome (I know Prof. Garfield less well, so can offer no opinion about how he might view the ramifications).
IHE has the story. And the data is bullshit: productivity without any screen for quality. The more shit shovelled per capita, the "better" a department is. Whoever cooked up this scam must be laughing all the way to the bank. But that some administrators actually pay for this is what's really amazing.
A new study finds no such effect. If it is accurate, that is hopeful: it may mean that norms, including the implicit ones, are changing in positive ways. Comments are open for any readers who know more about this latest study and its soundness.
Votes of no confidence spread. President Cross is in a difficult situation; the Regents should all resign, they have more power and they have been complicit in laying the seeds for the destruction of what was a great state university system. Shame, shame.
The data and various charts are here. What I can't tell from this data is what is "held constant" when the authors say that women are more likely than men to get permanent posts all else equal. For example, does this analysis "hold constant" the quality of the PhD program from which the graduates come? I'm not sure. If more women are graduating from strong programs, proportionally, than men, then the result wouldn't be surprising. Comments are open for anyone who can clarify what's going on here.
Following up on last week's post about the latest AAAS elections, I thought I'd take a look at the institutional affiliations of five years' worth of elections. A quick note about how the AAAS process works (I owe most of this to the late Ruth Marcus, perhaps things have changed a lot in the last few years, that I do not know, but I will surely be corrected if so). Briefly, only current members can nominate new candidates for membership; nominees are vetted by a selection committee for each sub-field, which consists of four or five current members; nominees are then submitted to the entire membership for a vote (this means, e.g., that those outside philosophy can vote for nominees in philosophy); voting is on a scale, and if one gives the lowest score to a nominee (as I imagine Ruth did more than once!), you have to submit a written explanation with the negative vote; the vote of the entire membership, however, is not binding on the selection committee, which based on the vote, recommends new members (there is always some negotiation about how many each field is allowed to recommend for final membership each year--philosophy usually has at least five). Because the members of the selection committee in a given year is not a matter of public record, and since their influence on the final outcome is enormous, there are sometimes surprises in the results. That being said, patterns do become clear: e.g., after X is elected one year, one or two of his prominent students are elected a year or two later; after Y is elected one year, one or two of her colleagues are elected in the next couple of years. I've seen clear patterns of elections over a period of a few years involving, e.g., Christian philosophers, Kant scholars and Kantian moral philosophers, epistemologists, philosophers of physics, members of a particular department, and so on. At the end of the day, the main fault of the AAAS tends to involve sins of omission rather than inclusion (more on that in another post).
Although the list of new members 2012-2016 by institutional affiliation correlates fairly well with a ranking of leading American research universities based on reputation surveys, there are clear outliers at both ends (e.g., NYU, Northwestern, Cal Tech, Michigan, Texas). In the case of NYU, the explanation is probably that they have recruited senior superstars in various fields, but with a handful of exceptions (like philosophy), they have mostly been superimposed upon otherwise weak departments. In other cases, it may be that the faculties are really stronger than given credit for in reputational surveys (esp. the shoddy ones conducted by U.S. News). Finally, in some cases I expect the 'friends-of-friends' aspect of the AAAS either helps or hinders the school's performance.
Finally, note that there are fields or "sections" of the AAAS that are specific for law, for engineering, and for medicine: any school with these fields will be at an advantage in terms of potential electees.
1. Harvard University (56)
2. Stanford University (43)
3. Massachusetts of Institute of Technology (42) (no medical or law school)
4. University of California, Berkeley (35) (no medical school)
4. Yale University (35)
6. Princeton University (33) (no medical or law school)
7. University of Chicago (29) (no engineering)
8. New York University (26)
8. Northwestern University (26)
10. University of California, Los Angeles (24)
11. Columbia University (22)
12. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (17)
13. University of Pennsylvania (15)
14. Cornell University (14)
15. University of California, San Diego (12) (no law school)
The petition is here. (Thanks to philosopher Joel Pust [Delaware] for organizing this.) The background statement hedges a bit more than is really necessary in my view, crediting claims by the college that are nonsensical and won't stand up in court. But the basic text of the statement is good and I urge all members of the academic community to sign the petition. Here's the key text:
We the undersigned, as members of the community of scholars, protest the apparent termination without due process by Dickinson College of Professor Crispin Sartwell, a TENURED associate professor of philosophy, contrary to Dickinson's own Academic Handbook, AAUP guidelines, and the customary standards of tenure.
Unless the College can produce a formal letter of resignation by Professor Sartwell or evidence that he accepted a separation agreement, we call for Professor Sartwell to be reinstated immediately and for the administration of Dickinson College to act in accordance with Dickinson's Academic Handbook and accepted AAUP standards in all subsequent dealings with Professor Sartwell.
UPDATE: The petition was released April 21, and garnered about 100 signatures in its first five days. In the last 24 hours, since this post went up, more than 80 additional philosophers and academics in other fields have signed--thank you! But I hope even more readers will join them as signatories. Ned Block, Jeff McMahan, John Gardner, Neil Tennant, Keith Whittington, Alex Byrne, Peter Vallentyne, Richard Moran, and C.D.C. Reeve are among the distinguished senior scholars who have signed in the last day: please join them! Colleges hate unfavorable attention to their bad behavior. Legal remedies are being sought, but the academic community can make known its concern with what has transpired.
UPDATE: A reader who teaches philosophy to undergraduates writes with two objections that deserve a response:
First, I detect from the tone of your post, perhaps wrongly, the implicit view that there is something crazy about undergrads giving professors advice about what to include on syllabi in the first place. If that's your view, I disagree. I think it's awesome for students to give respectful, constructive criticism to their teachers—and I think what Taylor writes certainly counts as that—as long as it's allowed to be a two-way conversation, and professors have the courage to defend what they teach, as well as of course the ultimate right to make the decisions. Would we really rather have students who always just passively accept our curricular choices? To me criticism can be a sign that students are taking responsibility for their own education. Our role should be to take their criticism seriously, help them to articulate it better, and then respectfully disagree—or, if appropriate, to take their advice! We should be trying to encourage this sort of conversation, rather than shut it down. If we were more committed to actually teaching students how to have this sort of debate well, maybe we would end up with (a) better, more interesting philosophy courses and (b) fewer puerile, easy-to-dismiss lists of demands. A win-win! (I certainly don't mean to lump Taylor's piece in with the latter category, by the way.)
Of course, we already have a way of getting feedback from undergraduates, namely, course evaluations, and student evaluations, at all levels, are useful I've found, especially if one pays attention to recurrent criticisms or worries. The value of feedback from undergraduates has nothing to do with whether a professional association's blog should provide a platform for advice that is based simply on speculation about the effects of "diversifying" the syllabus for which there is no known empirical support.
A prospective graduate student asked me to share her, shall we say, "unusual" experience during the recently concluded admissions cycle. Here's how it started (prior to April 15):
I am a prospective graduate student currently considering offers for the following academic year. It has come to my attention that, in an attempt to gage the interest of wait listed students, some institutions may be inadvertently violating the rules set out by the APA -- that students should have until April 15th to accept or reject financial offers. On your blog, you have encouraged prospective students to report these violations. I have sent a brief sketch of this situation to the APA, and I thought it could be helpful to discuss this in the philosophical community.
I experienced the following scenario this afternoon: I am wait listed at a highly ranked institution. The GDS called me and asked, "If I were to give you an offer right now, would you accept it?" I felt strongly that if I were to say yes, an offer would be given to me instantly, and I would be bound to accept it (on April 11th). However, this institution is not my first choice, and as a result I was put into the awkward position of rejecting what I perceived to be a conditional offer, the condition being my immediate acceptance. I would still like an offer from this institution, but I would also like the courtesy afforded to me by the APA, which is to have until the end of the 15th to decide. I am on other wait lists, and wish to see how that comes out before making a final decision. However, I worry that I may have lost out on an offer that would have been mine as a result of this exchange.
I think that this experience should perhaps encourage the APA to investigate this notion of a verbal offer—or the promise of one—conditioned on acceptance prior to April 15th. Does this seem to you as it does to me to be against the rules? Or do you think I'm reading too much into a DGS' attempt to gage interest in my likelihood of acceptance?
I think this kind of conditional offer violates the APA rules. It's one thing to ask a candidate about their level of interest, it's another to frame an inquiry as reported here. In the end, the student went elsewhere, but with yet another wrinkle:
Interestingly, before I declined, they placed me in yet another cart-before-the-horse situation. This program guarantees a semester of fellowship and I had been told so on multiple occasions. However, they provided me an offer without any, and when I asked about it I was told that they had sent out more offers than fellowships, and that they would give them to those who accepted the soonest while supplies last. Perhaps this is less worrying than the earlier issue, but it still seems fishy that they would require me to sign a contract of the offer *without* a fellowship listed in order to potentially obtain said fellowship. Again, it seems rather against the spirit, if not the letter, of the APA deadline to take away previously guaranteed fellowship to those who execute their right to wait until the end of the day on April 15th.
I sincerely hope this does not occur in the future to others. It makes this more difficult and stressful for all involved.
UPDATE: J.D. Trout, a distinguished philosopher of science at Loyola University, Chicago, writes:
When I was fresh out of graduate school and on the philosophy job market, I received a call from a dean at a small rural college where I had interviewed. After exchanging pleasantries, the dean explained that they wanted to make a hiring decision soon, that they had winnowed the list down to two candidates, and that I was their top choice. He then asked, “What would you say if I were to make you an offer?” implying that I would get the real offer if I said yes to the hypothetical one. I explained that I still didn’t know; he hadn’t made me an actual offer. I told him that I would think differently about the attractions of a job if I had an actual rather than an imaginary offer. At the time, I think I was mainly interested in letting the dean know that I recognized his question as a low-rent hustle; they didn’t want to waste time on a candidate’s offer that might not be accepted (potentially losing their other candidate in the process). The dean made an actual offer and told me I had four days to decide. I took another job.
One week ago, I received an email from APA Development Director Robert Audi asking me to donate to the APA, and I posted about it here. Commenting on that post, Joshua Smith, gave some reasonable and constructive advice on the APA’s email practices. Another commenter Curt as well as Brian Leiter made important comments to the APA about donation requests.
The email, which I will provide in full below the fold for context, had the subject line: Help Expand Philosophy’s Influence.
If you have been reading my guest posts, you will know that I am all about expanding the influence of philosophy. The problem I have with this email request from the Executive Director is that the email doesn’t explain what the funds are going to support or how it is going to expand philosophy’s influence. Supporting work that is relevant to philosophers and supporting the work of philosophers is not the same thing as expanding philosophy’s influence. I would suggest that no matter the development goal, tell people what that money is going to support. How are the funds going to “expand” philosophy’s influence or “represent” philosophy in the public arena? If it’s just to support another newsletter, conference, or maintain current activities, then that’s not enough of an explanation. It certainly doesn't justify a second request so soon after Audi's.
Is it too much to ask the Executive Director of the APA to provide a vision for expanding philosophy’s influence before asking for money? I don’t think so. Full letter below. Comments are open.
This post is strictly for those following the pathetic saga that began with the fall 2014 smear campaign to take down the PGR.
For nearly 17 months, we've been involved in an extended negotiation and appeals process, first with the University of British Columbia, now with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, regarding requests filed under Canada's version of a "freedom of information" act (hereafter, "FIPPA"). The UBC Privacy manager, after taking months and months of extensions in response to the original requests, released highly redacted materials, offering what was, in our view, an implausibly generous interpretation of FIPPA's exceptions. The Commissioner's Office, in turn, upheld some of these exceptions, but not others, but again with multiple extensions of time for response (when we challenged one of the extensions, we were informed that if we challenged the extension then they wouldn't continue reviewing the case at all!). We have only just gotten the additional unredacted material.
...some of whom were involved in the disgraceful Kipnis affair (which they actually have the audacity to revisit and try to rationalize in this new letter--and see also). Here's the letter. I would guess from the content that one of the primary authors was the author of the FP blog post we discussed awhile back. (The letter even cites the FP blog post, and makes clear the author learned nothing from the discussion of it, which is part of what is quite alarming about these zealots.) This crowd has long made clear their contempt for fairness and due process, so their posture in this matter is hardly surprising. I assume the adults at the AAUP will ignore this.
MOVING TO FRONT--ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 9 (UPDATED, AND UPDATED AGAIN ON APRIL 12, APRIL 14)
Professor Sartwell reports this development on his blog, though he has also shared with me the documentation confirming that this is, indeed, what has transpired. (Our earlier coverage of his case.) I have assisted him in finding a suitable Pennsylvania lawyer to vindicate his contractual rights of tenure and academic freedom, which the College appears to have violated. Legal representation is expensive, and the College has all the advantages here. I urged Prof. Sartwell to create a "GoFundMe" page to assist with his legal expenses, and I have donated myself and urge others to do so. I can not emphasize enough how serious this incident is: a tenured professor, engaging in lawful extramural speech on his blog, was first removed from his classes mid-term and now informed that he is no longer an employee--without any process or hearings whatsoever. Prof. Sartwell is entitled to fair legal process to vindicate his contractual and other legal rights, and I hope the community will support him.
UPDATE: Philosopher Joel Pust (Delaware) kindly calls to my attention a highly selective account in the Dickinson newspaper about recent events. Basically, the College, after removing Sartwell involuntarily from his classes and from campus, is trying to treat statements by Prof. Sartwell on various social media as tantamount to his having resigned his position, even though the College had sent him a termination agreement, which he never signed and explicitly rejected. (Some of the statements, in context, were clearly assertions that the College planned to terminate him, an asessment that proved correct; others, in context, express Sartwell's anger about how he is being treated.) The fact remains that Sartwell was removed from his classes without any kind of hearing or process, and the College has now informed him that he is no longer a faculty member without any hearing or process, even though he declined to sign the proposed termination agreement and rejected its terms.
APRIL 12 UPDATE: The AAUP has now written to Dickinson College about the Sartwell case: Download AAUP Letter to President Roseman 4-12-16. I want to add two additional comments about some of the bizarre claims made by Dickinson and that I've even seen reiterated on social media by people clearly not very knowledgeable about law. First, posting a country music video, "Time to Get a Gun," a song which itself contains no death threats, is not itself a death threat. Making a death threat is a crime in most jurisdictions, and yet no criminal charges have been filed against Prof. Sartwell, and for obvious reasons: he committed no crime. Second, notice the hypocrisy in Dickinson's position in this matter: on the one hand, they demanded that Prof. Sartwell receive a psychiatric evaluation; on the other hand, they now want to assert that e-mails and social media comments by the person they deemed in need of psychiatric evaluation constitute resignation from the faculty, even though at the very same time he rejected, more than once, proposed termination agreements. The more I learn about this case, the more appalling Dickinson's behavior appears. Thank you to those who have donated in support of assisting Prof. Sartwell to get a fair hearing for his legal rights.
APRIL 14 UPDATE: Thanks to all those who have donated to Prof. Sartwell's legal fund. He's closing in on the $5,000 goal; I hope others will contribute. Small amounts matter too! It's important for Dickinson to see that the academic community objects to this treatment of a tenured faculty member.
Robert Audi, Chair of the the new APA Development Committee has sent out an email to APA members asking them to donate. As I have written on this blog before, I believe in development as a means for promoting philosophy. I hope that the development committee reaches out to groups and philosophy supporters other than its members as sources of development funding. I have included the full letter below the fold for those who are not current members of the APA who might want to donate. Comments are open for development suggestions.
UPDATE: Moving to the front as a reminder (and I've had some reports, from faculty and students, of schools trying to force earlier decisions)
A philosopher at a PhD program writes: "For the first time I'm involved with grad admissions, and we're already hearing from our candidates that we have waitlisted for fellowships that other schools are trying to impose deadlines for their fellowship offers in advance of the April 15 standard. (One offender is trying to impose a March 5 deadline.) Would you consider using your blog to let your grad school applicant readers know that they cannot be railroaded into a decision earlier than the April 15 standard?"
The American Philosophical Association's official position on offers of admission and aid is here:
Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution. In those instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institutions and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer.
IHE has the details of the latest AAUP survey. IHE also reports the ten highest paying private and public research universities:
Top Private University Faculty Salaries for Full Professors, 2015-16 (Average)
University of Chicago
New York University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Pennsylvania
Johns Hopkins University
Top Public University Faculty Salaries for Full Professors, 2015-16 (Average)
University of California at Los Angeles
University of California at Berkeley
Rutgers University at Newark
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
University of Virginia
University of California at Santa Barbara
University of California at San Diego
University of California at Irvine
Rutgers University at New Brunswick
University of Maryland at Baltimore
It's very important to note that the average salary data includes law and business faculties, but not medical school faculties. That explains why, e.g., Rutgers-Newark (which has law and business schools) has higher average salaries than Rutgers-New Brunswick. Similarly, University of Maryland's law school is at Baltimore, not College Park. In the case of the private universities, Chicago's strong result is due entirely to the law and business schools, as I've been told by former high level administrators here (full professors in the humanities are not, alas, making on average $232,400). Princeton's strong showing is particularly notable given that it has neither a law school, nor a business school--but this should hardly be surprising given Princeton's extraordinary wealth.
A few involve faculty, most involve staff, all are on the spectrum from pathetic to creepy. What the heck is wrong with people that they behave in these ways in what is supposed to be a professional context?
ADDENDUM: On the Choudhry case (the former Law Dean at Berkeley), this is relevant. He plainly should have been removed from the Deanship, but at present, there is no case for removing him from his tenured faculty position.
One recent study found that adding more women to the syllabus didn't make much difference, which is what I would have expected. Anecdotally, I have had the impression that sexual harassment has been a major deterrent for female students, though lower levels of tolerance for this misconduct may help change that. But a senior female philosopher elsewhere writes with an interesting and different take:
My assessment of the undergrad women in philosophy thing: undergrad women get sick of being talked over and strawmanned by their peers in and out of the classroom, and get sick of classes where the male students endlessly hold forth about their own thoughts. Relatedly, they find many thought experiments overall less compelling perhaps because, (a) women may start out in philosophy feeling less impressed with a priori speculation in general, perhaps because of confidence issues and the topics, and more importantly (b) they are less able to receive credence for their thoughts about the thought experiments when they try to engage with their peers, and (c) a lot of it seems like just more blowhard bullshitting by a bunch of dudes, on esoteric topics that they aren’t really allowed to engage in fully (see (b)). (Metaphysics is really a lot like that. Trad epistemology too.)
I will say that over two decades of teaching, it has seemed to me that the students who speak out of proportion to what they have to say are overwhelmingly male. Maintaining control of the classroom, and creating a welcoming environment for all student contributions, can probably go some distance to rectifying this--but that, of course, supposes levels of pedagogical talent and sensitivity that many philosophy faculty probably lack. But I'm curious what readers make of this diagnosis.
Brandeis's motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a gay student found to have violated the school's sexual harassment policies was denied; an excerpt from the linked article (which includes further links to the opinion):
A judge rebuked Brandeis University for denying fundamental due process rights to a student who was found guilty of sexual misconduct for a variety of non-violent offenses: most notably, because he had awakened his then-boyfriend with nonconsensual kisses.
The process that Brandeis employed to investigate the matter was "essentially secret and inquisitorial," according to Dennis Saylor, a federal judge who ruled that the accused student's lawsuit against Brandeis should continue.
This is a significant victory for advocates of due process in campus sexual misconduct investigations. It's also an implicit skewering of affirmative consent as official policy. The accused, "John Doe," was found responsible for stolen kisses, suggestive touches, and a wandering eye—all within the context of an established sexual relationship. His former partner and accuser, J.C., did not file a complaint with the university until well after the incidents took place. In fact, J.C.'s participation in Brandeis' "sexual assault training" program caused him to re-evaluate the relationship.
The two began dating in the fall of 2011. They broke up in the summer of 2013. In January 2014, J.C. made a two-sentence accusation against Doe, who was not informed of the nature of the charges against him. He was also denied a lawyer, the opportunity to evaluate evidence against him, and the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, including his accuser. Brandeis uses the "special investigator" model to handle sexual assault disputes: a single administrator reviews the charges, investigates them, and makes a decision. There was no panel hearing. There was just one person's decision....
Jason Brennan (Georgetown) on his experience replying to critics (most recently, of his views about the adjunct problem):
The philosophy blogosphere has quite a few people, writing anonymously, who write nasty, angry, and dishonest invective against others, but then faint and cry if anyone says anything back to them in response, even if the responses are moderate.
There's a lively debate in the comments between Jamie Dreier and others regarding the standard of proof question at the FP blog. I linked in my original piece to the arguments of my colleague Geoffrey Stone, but let me quote his analysis here, since I think it states the case clearly and thus identifies the issues those on the other side of the question need to dispute:
To justify its insistence on the preponderance of the evidence standard, the Department of Education draws an analogy to civil actions in court. In the typical civil law suit for damages, whether the issue is a car accident, a breach of contract, or an assault, the standard is preponderance of the evidence. But this is a bad analogy.
For a college or university to expel a student for sexual assault is a matter of grave consequence both for the institution and for the student. Such an expulsion will haunt the students for the rest of his days, especially in the world of the Internet. Indeed, it may well destroy his chosen career prospects. This is especially likely, for example, for law students.
Moreover, the procedures used in these disciplinary hearings do not come close to those employed in civil actions, which involve judges, juries, rules of evidence, lawyers, discovery, and a host of other procedural protections designed to enhance the reliability of the proceedings. Even at their best, college and university disciplinary proceedings are a far cry from civil actions in terms of fairness to the accused.
Thus, although the Department of Education may well be right that “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is unnecessary in these circumstances because there is no risk of imprisonment or a formal criminal record, it is completely unfair, in my judgment, for a college or university to suspend or expel a student on the ground that he committed a sexual assault if the institution is only 51 percent confident that he did so.
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)