The earlier thread generated some interesting, substantive discussion. I'll highlight three comments that made what I thought were noteworthy points.
From Christian Munthe:
What Hilde points out is not that evidence has been discounted by anyone. What she is quoted to say is that while one administration may judge that a body of evidence does not warrant formal charges of harrassment against a person, another administration may be warranted as using the very same body as a reason not to hire this person. Her expressed disagreement is obviously meant to convey the message that, were she a decision-maker in the second type of administration-case, given the boddy of evidence at hand in the present case, she would evaluate the evidence in exactly this way, and that she also thinks that the academic professors handling this case should have assessed the matter likewise. Nothing strange here.
From commenter X (a student):
Isn’t this effectively saying McGinn should never be permitted to teach again. Given the school in question is not a graduate program, the position is pretty clearly a major step-down from his previous post, and the term of the contract is a single year, that’s what it looks like. Considering he wasn’t actually found to have committed sexual harassment (whether we disagree with the finding or not), this is a pretty draconian punishment for an allegation and very public breakdown. So on top of a major blow to his reputation, he appears to have been barred from his vocation of 30 + years without much due process. I don’t know all the circumstances of the case, but I’ve heard suggestions there is much worse conduct a foot in many departments. Conversely the punishment seems pretty maximal - short of criminal charges what more could be done? While I appreciate people what to take a stand against powerful men, this seems a bit draconian.
And from a tenure-track philosopher:
In light of Lindemann's comments and the above discussion, I have one question and one longer comment:
1. The principle behind Lindemann's comments seems to be the following: University administrations have the ability and the duty to override faculty appointments, even when there is no legal impediment per se to the appointment. Doesn't this same line of reasoning apply to the Salaita case?
2. I am worried that the profession's admirable desire to remedy the problem of sexism and harassment has led to a naive reliance on administrative oversight and intervention that, in the end, will only further erode what autonomy faculty as a whole still possess. Lindemann's comments show that she cares more about keeping McGinn out of the academy than she does about the faculty's right to determine who will join its ranks. It is possible to express regret that the ECU faculty decided to make McGinn an offer of employment without defending--valorizing even--the procedurally dubious intervention of the administration to override such appointments. Lindemann does not do this.
Meanwhile, over at the Feminist Philosophers blog, philosopher Louise Antony (U Mass/Amherst) responds to the earlier discussion of Prof. Lindemann's comments from CHE pertaining to the East Carolina decision with the following:
In light of the discussion on Brian Leiter’s blog, I want to say something in support of Hilde Lindemann’s comments in the recent Chronicle of Higher Education article on the East Carolina U/Colin McGinn incident. Many commenters are incensed that Prof. Lindemann seemed to endorse the use of “unofficial information” (as Daily Nous put it) in decisions such as the ECU Phil. Department’s vote to offer a distinguished visiting position to Colin McGinn. I’m baffled by this. Is there anyone out there in Bloggo-land who wants to say that scholarly achievement is the only consideration that should count in deciding whether or not to offer someone a position? (Anyone who says that it is the only thing that counts is simply wrong.) Every department I’ve ever been affiliated with has always – and quite rightly — taken into account both the candidate’s likely collegiality and his or her potential as a teacher and mentor. So now the question is: what kind of evidence can one use in assessing a candidate’s collegiality and potential as a teacher and mentor? Postings on a public blog can provide evidence. Disciplinary actions taken by a candidate’s previous employer can also provide evidence. What about the appropriate standard? Bearing in mind that a hiring meeting is not a criminal trial, that there is no “presumption of innocence” to be overcome, and that an individual’s being brought up for consideration does not engender any presumptive right to the position, it’s clear that the appropriate standard is the one typically used in normal hiring deliberations: what, given the evidence, is it reasonable to believe about how this colleague will behave toward his or her colleagues and students? An official finding that a person has engaged in sexual harassment is certainly very strong evidence that that person is untrustworthy – but it’s not the only evidence that can support that conclusion.
I understand that there’s tremendous concern about false accusation and innuendo – at least when the case at hand involves men and sex. So yes, the evidence needs to be looked at carefully in any particular instance. But are hiring committees supposed to ignore the evidence that exists? Are they supposed to disregard the fact of disciplinary actions taken by a previous employer? Are they supposed to ignore what the candidate has to say about the matter on a public blog? A decision not to offer a position to someone because there’s good reason to think the person is a danger to students is not a violation of anyone’s rights. A decision to go ahead and appoint such a person despite the evidence is reprehensible.
(A sidenote: the FP bloggers are, as a matter of policy, actively discouraged from linking to this blog, even when discussing content here, apparently because verboten views are sometimes expressed here. Although I sometimes disagree with content on the FP blog, I do make it a practice to link to FP when content there is being discussed. It's perhaps worth emphasizing, as readers increasingly write to me, that the FP blog represents some feminist philosophers, but it does not represent feminist philosophers tout court.)
I tend to agree with Prof. Antony about the relevant evidentiary standards in the hiring process, but as some of the commenters on the initial thread noted, that isn't quite what happened here: a hiring decision by a department (for a one-year position) was overturned by administrators, for reasons unknown. I will add that I think there should always be serious concern about "false accusation and innuendo"--even in the hiring process--and not only (as Prof. Antony says sarcastically) when it "involves men and sex."
Prof. McGinn was highly critical of much of my commentary on and coverage of his case (for example). But one can believe that he was correctly and effectively sanctioned by the University of Miami (note that the victim in that case does not agree) and still believe that that does not mean he should never be hired again to teach philosophy anywhere. What do readers think? Should loss of a job for sexual misconduct bar someone from any future academic appointment?
I am opening this for further discussion of any of the issues addressed above; as before keep it substantive, and comments must include, at a minimum, a real, identifying e-mail address, which will not appear.