Thomas Baldwin (York) asked me to share the following:
At the end of September 2015 the editorship of Mind will move from Thomas Baldwin (York) to Adrian Moore (Oxford) and Lucy O'Brien (UCL). In order to ensure that this change is straightforward, the York editorial team are working to ensure that only a small number of papers are in the process of being considered for publication at the time of the changeover. However it will be difficult to achieve this goal while new papers continue to be submitted, especially because submissions to Mind have recently increased by 30%. As a result we have decided to introduce a four-month moratorium on the acceptance of new submissions from July 1 2015 until 31 October 2015.
I first encountered this famous remark of Heine's in Freud, who was discussing revenge; Heine wrote:
Mine is a most peaceable disposition. My wishes are: a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door; and if God wants to make my happiness complete, he will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. Before death I shall, moved in my heart, forgive them all the wrong they did me in their lifetime. One must, it is true, forgive one's enemies-- but not before they have been hanged.
...at CHE. Jason tells me that he donated his fee from CHE, and is donating all of the royalties from his recent book on propaganda, to the Prison Policy Initiative, with which he is involved. Please take a moment to check out the PPI and the work it is doing to counter our inhumane incarceration practices.
Interesting piece by a college professor, about ten years into his teaching career; some excerpts:
Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.
Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best....
The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed's current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.
This new understanding of social justice politics resembles what University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. calls a politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed. Reed derides this sort of political approach as essentially being a non-politics, a discourse that "is focused much more on taxonomy than politics [which] emphasizes the names by which we should call some strains of inequality [ ... ] over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them." Under such a conception, people become more concerned with signaling goodness, usually through semantics and empty gestures, than with actually working to effect change.
(Thanks to Ryan Doerfler for the pointer.)
I'm curious to hear what readers make of this. I have very little to do with undergraduates--I taught Nietzsche here to undergrads two years ago, it was a lively and engaged group, and I did not encounter any problems like this. I certainly have never encountered nonsense like this at the Law School here, or with the graduate students, but in neither case is that surprising. So, those who teach undergraduates regularly, is the author on to something or not?
Adam Pautz (philosophy of mind, metaphysics), Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at Brown University. That's a significant catch for Brown, which will solidify its top twenty status even after Jaegwon Kim's retirement.
One is left with the misgiving that this was a work conceived and executed with an eye only to Kant’s famous example (‘7+5=12’), which subsequently had to be hedged and qualified as soon as an expert critic drew attention to Gödelian incompleteness (for, surely, any epistemology for arithmetic must be able to deal with quantified sentences).
Readers of this journal are unlikely to be persuaded by this brand of empiricist apriorism, interesting though the prospects for some account of that kind might be. The details of execution are neither adequate nor convincing. The author observes that ‘The approach I am advocating does not seem to have been considered before’ (p. 199). If her account, as here executed, turns out to be the only possible one of this kind, then we have an explanation, perhaps, as to why it has not been considered before....
...she had asked if I wanted to post more about this, and I declined (she found a taker, needless to say). Kipnis was wronged by the frivolous Title IX retaliation complaint. The students responsible are suffering for their unfortunate decision. No good will come of prolonging this. The comments on Kipnis's response are mostly and predictably stupid (though there are a few adult responses later on, see, e.g., "DC" and "Andy Metz"). (ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, I fully understand why Prof. Kipnis wanted to reply, given the misleading accusations being made against her.)
UPDATE: Philippe Lemoine writes:
While I understand why you didn't want to publish Kipnis's reply to the student who filed a complaint against her, I wish you had and had opened comment for people to discuss it, for the way in which Prof. Weinberg has been moderating this discussion is quite scandalous. Several of my comments have been censored and, when asked why by email, Prof. Weinberg gave me reasons that were patently fallacious.
I was in particular noting that, despite what many people assume (including apparently Kipnis), nothing in the public record indicate that the graduate student who accused Ludlow of rape denied that she had previously been dating him. Not even Pogin, in the ridiculous letter that she sent to Kipnis, said that. Yet, if the graduate student had denied that she had at some point been dating Ludlow, Pogin would presumably be in a position to know that.
In fact, in his complaint against Northwestern and the graduate student in question, Ludlow claims not just that he was in a relationship with her, but that she admitted as much both in her complaint against him and in answering the questions of the private investigator hired by the university to investigate it. Of course, he could lie about that, but it strikes me as rather unlikely given how easily this could be verified.
Prof. Weinberg justified his decision of censoring the comment where I was making this point by claiming that I was suggesting that the graduate student was lying about the nature of her relationship with Ludlow, when it's clear that I did nothing of the sort, since the central point I was making is that nothing in the public record indicates that she denied that she had previously been dating him.
When I read so many established philosophers defending the anonymous graduate student who justified the frivolous complaint that s/he filed against Kipnis on Daily Nous, I have to assume that they only do so out of a misguided desire to protect a student and not because they actually agree with the complete nonsense s/he wrote, otherwise this profession is really in trouble.
One small comment: since no one has a presumptive entitlement to their comment appearing here on any other blog, I don't think "censorship" is the relevant issue. But I do think, given that I've heard from others that certain points are being excluded from the debate elsewhere, that it is worthwhile to open comments here, though I will edit and/or moderate for relevance and constructive content. Comments on either side of this issue are of course welcome.
...because of his views on killing the disabled (the article is in German, I'm opening comments if someone has time to translate more of it). This is, as I recall, not the first time Singer has had trouble in Germany, where, given the history, they are more sensitive than the typical utilitarian to the implications of such views.
Professor Emeritus at Boston University, he was especially well-known for his philosophical work in philosophy of religion, where he was a defender of atheism. (He also wrote one of the only books in English on American and Scandinavian legal realism.) There is an obituary here.
Here. It's an open question, of course, whether the Philosopher's Annual is really neglecting this area (it is admittedly a small subfield) or whether these papers are as strong as the "top ten" that PA comes up with. Other subfields might do something similar, not so much because they are being "neglected" by PA, but because it might be useful to have some notable papers identified each year by experts in the various subfields.
One of the complainants apparently believes that factual errors in Kipnis's first article--which the complainant believes were significant and harmful, but which seem to Kipnis (and many other readers, myself included) minor and largely beside the point--somehow justify the filing of a Title IX "retaliation" complaint. They do not, and they should not. This student is getting terrible advice, and only digging her hole deeper. The only sensible response to events of the last week is a mea culpa for having abused Title IX by filing a frivolous retaliation complaint against lawful speech by a faculty member with no professional or other connection with the graduate student victim of sexual harassment.
...this time at CHE (behind their paywall). It does contain some new information (new to me, at least, I had not seen this previously) about the rape complaint against Peter Ludlow: it says "the university found him responsible for sexual harassment" but not rape. It also reports that, "Northwestern has banned him from the campus, [Ludlow] said, and has scheduled a hearing for next month on whether he should be fired."
The University of Wisconsin System would see $250 million in cuts and sweeping changes in its operations, under a proposal put forward by GOP lawmakers Friday that would still be less dramatic than changes proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.
Lawmakers on the Legislature's budget committee are poised to reduce Walker's controversial proposed cuts to the UW System from $300 million over two years to $250 million, which UW System leaders praised, but faculty members on campuses said was not nearly enough. The extra $50 million would be distributed to campuses around the state that are judged by UW leaders to be hardest hit by the cuts, according to a GOP motion.
The Joint Finance Committee would continue for another two years the freeze on tuition for undergraduate state residents that was proposed by the governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate.
In addition, the provisions of academic tenure for professors would no longer be included in state law. The UW Board of Regents could choose to retain tenure under its rules or decline to do so, which would allow it to lay off any faculty in cases of budget difficulties or changes to academic programs.
The hypocrisy is that they reduce funding but freeze tuition: they should take their own neoliberal ideology seriously. Let the University of Wisconsin be a private university, which is what it's becoming. Let it charge what the fabled "market" will bear, but don't slash its funding and freeze its tuition, that's just hypocrisy and cowardice. Let the universities raise salaries to compensate for eliminating tenure, since tenure is the single most important form of non-monetary compensation faculty receive.
Unless the Neanderthal Scott Walker and the Repugs in Wisconsin are soundly defeated, this is America's future.
UPDATE: More on the legislative attack on tenure and other mischief. Comments open for more information, insight, perspective.
A wise decision, though the comments of the student suggests she still does not understand the wrongfulness of her conduct; Prof. Eisenman's observations are interesting:
"I don't blame any students who brought charges against me," Eisenman told The Huffington Post on Monday. "They're just students, they're learning, they're smart, they're trying things out, they make mistakes." He continued: "I do hold responsible the administrators overseeing Title IX. It was well within their prerogative to examine the charge and to determine it was without merit...."
The student, who didn't want her name publicly revealed, said part of the reason she withdrew her complaint against Eisenman was that investigators had begun to probe the case without getting her full statement.
"I cannot continue to be so naive as to hope that internal complaint processes can safely be made use of in good faith. It's clear that they cannot," the student wrote in withdrawing her complaint on Sunday....
Eisenman said he believes Title IX is essential, but the law's protections must "be treated with respect." He said he worries that unfounded investigations weaken the law. "This makes it much more [susceptible to] attacks with from the right," he said.
I don't usually link to right-wing crazy blogs, but this bit of satire is too good to let pass. Indeed, it's such good satire that the person who sent it to me thought it might be real (it is not, I assure you).
My colleague Geoffrey Stone discusses two recent cases at Northwestern, including the one involving Kipnis. (I should note that we did not discuss these cases prior to either of us writing about it, but his view was wholly predictable given his past work.) It's truly depressing to see some philosophers who should really know better trying to rationalize Kipnis's mistreatment and the abuse of Title IX. Read Prof. Stone's article! (That some other philosophers are on the wrong side of this issue is not surprising, but still depressing, and it bodes ill for the future of this 'profession,' such as it is.)
Rachael Briggs (metaphysics, epistemology, decision theory), currently at the Australian National University, has accepted appointment as Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. (Still confirming the start date.)
Mathias Frisch, a philosopher of science and physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, has been offered a Chair at the Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany, which has a large group of philosophers of science already. Germany academia has become a much more attractive place to work (no doubt due to government investment in higher education) over the last twenty years, so much so that we have seen a number of senior figures--Stephann Hartmann, Hannes Leitgeb, Michael Forster, among others--leave top British and American universities (or turn down offers from top British and American universities) in order to take up posts in Germany.
A propos today's madness: NCC isn't as catchy as "the New Infantilism," but he owns the trademark now! But I like the idea: create colleges to cater to "the New Infants." Why not, we already have blogs that do so!
...a Northwestern radio, television and film professor had a Title IX "retaliation" complaint filed against her after writing an opinion piece in CHE about sexual politics and paranoia on campus; her chilling account of this appalling Kafkaesque ordeal is behind a paywall [UPDATE: A free version, for 24 hours is here], but here is an excerpt:
When I first heard that students at my university had staged a protest over an essay I’d written in The ChronicleReview about sexual politics on campus — and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows — I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual-assault allegations, and I’d been writing about the new consensual-relations codes governing professor-student dating. Also, I’d been writing as a feminist. And I hadn’t sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed symbolically incoherent.
According to our campus newspaper, the mattress-carriers were marching to the university president’s office with a petition demanding "a swift, official condemnation" of my article. One student said she’d had a "very visceral reaction" to the essay; another called it "terrifying." I’d argued that the new codes infantilized students while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone’s ideas, which seemed to prove my point....
Things seemed less amusing when I received an email from my university’s Title IX coordinator informing me that two students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and "subsequent public statements" (which turned out to be a tweet), and that the university would retain an outside investigator to handle the complaints....
I was being charged with retaliation, it said, though it failed to explain how an essay that mentioned no one by name could be construed as retaliatory, or how a publication fell under the province of Title IX, which, as I understood it, dealt with sexual misconduct and gender discrimination....
I wrote back to the Title IX coordinator asking for clarification: When would I learn the specifics of these complaints, which, I pointed out, appeared to violate my academic freedom? And what about my rights — was I entitled to a lawyer? I received a polite response with a link to another website. No, I could not have an attorney present during the investigation, unless I’d been charged with sexual violence. I was, however, allowed to have a "support person" from the university community there, though that person couldn’t speak. I wouldn’t be informed about the substance of the complaints until I met with the investigators.
Apparently the idea was that they’d tell me the charges, and then, while I was collecting my wits, interrogate me about them. The term "kangaroo court" came to mind....
I replied that I wanted to know the charges before agreeing to a meeting. They told me, cordially, that they wanted to set up a meeting during which they would inform me of the charges and pose questions. I replied, in what I hoped was a cordial tone, that I wouldn’t answer questions until I’d had time to consider the charges....
I’d plummeted into an underground world of secret tribunals and capricious, medieval rules, and I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about it....
Both complainants were graduate students. One turned out to have nothing whatsoever to do with the essay. She was bringing charges on behalf of the university community as well as on behalf of two students I’d mentioned — not by name — because the essay had a "chilling effect" on students’ ability to report sexual misconduct. I’d also made deliberate mistakes, she charged (a few small errors that hadn’t been caught in fact-checking were later corrected by the editors), and had violated the nonretaliation provision of the faculty handbook.
The other complainant was someone I’d mentioned fleetingly (again, not by name) in connection with the professor’s lawsuits. She charged that mentioning her was retaliatory and created a hostile environment (though I’d said nothing disparaging), and that I’d omitted information I should have included about her. This seemed paradoxical — should I have written more? And is what I didn’t write really the business of Title IX? She also charged that something I’d tweeted to someone else regarding the essay had actually referred to her. (It hadn’t.)
Please pause to note that a Title IX charge can now be brought against a professor over a tweet. Also that my tweets were apparently being monitored.
Much of this remains puzzling to me, including how someone can bring charges in someone else’s name, who is allowing intellectual disagreement to be redefined as retaliation, and why a professor can’t write about a legal case that’s been nationally reported, precisely because she’s employed by the university where the events took place. Wouldn’t this mean that academic freedom doesn’t extend to academics discussing matters involving their own workplaces?
As I understand it, any Title IX charge that’s filed has to be investigated, which effectively empowers anyone on campus to individually decide, and expand, what Title IX covers. Anyone with a grudge, a political agenda, or a desire for attention can quite easily leverage the system.
And there are a lot of grudges these days. The reality is that the more colleges devote themselves to creating "safe spaces" — that new watchword — for students, the more dangerous those campuses become for professors. It’s astounding how aggressive students’ assertions of vulnerability have gotten in the past few years. Emotional discomfort is regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated....
I’d been asked to keep the charges confidential, but this became moot when, shortly before my campus meeting with the investigators, a graduate student published an article on a well-trafficked site excoriating me and the essay, and announcing that two students had filed Title IX retaliation complaints against me. She didn’t identify her source for this information or specify her own relationship to the situation, though she seemed well versed on all the inside details; in fact, she knew more about the process than I did.
It wasn’t me alone on the chopping block. She also excoriated our university’s president for his op-ed essay on academic freedom, which, she charged, was really a veiled commentary on the pending Title IX charges against me and thus subverted the process by issuing a covert advance verdict in my favor. (He’d obliquely mentioned the controversy over the essay, among other campus free-speech issues.) She didn’t seem particularly concerned that she herself was subverting the process by charging that the process had been subverted, and by revealing the complaints in the first place.
She was also surprisingly unconcerned about how effectively her article demolished its own premises about the asymmetry of institutional power. If a graduate student can publicly blast her own university’s president, mock his ideas, and fear no repercussions, then clearly the retaliatory power that university employment confers on anyone — from professors to presidents — is nil. Nor had my own essay exactly had a chilling effect on anyone’s freedom of expression....
At the end of the interrogation, the investigators asked if I wanted to file my own retaliation complaint against the student who’d revealed the charges. I said that I believed all parties involved were using the process for political purposes. I declined to press charges against anyone....
Nothing I say here is meant to suggest that sexual assault on campuses isn’t a problem. It is. My concern is that debatable and ultimately conservative notions about sex, gender, and power are becoming embedded in these procedures, without any public scrutiny or debate. But the climate on campuses is so accusatory and sanctimonious — so "chilling," in fact — that open conversations are practically impossible. It’s only when Title IX charges lead to lawsuits and the usual veil of secrecy is lifted that any of these assumptions become open for discussion — except that simply discussing one such lawsuit brought the sledgehammer of Title IX down on me, too....
What’s being lost, along with job security, is the liberty to publish ideas that might go against the grain or to take on risky subjects in the first place. With students increasingly regarded as customers and consumer satisfaction paramount, it’s imperative to avoid creating potential classroom friction with unpopular ideas if you’re on a renewable contract and wish to stay employed. Self-censorship naturally prevails. But even those with tenure fear getting caught up in some horrendous disciplinary process with ad hoc rules and outcomes; pretty much everyone now self-censors accordingly....
As of this writing, I have yet to hear the verdict on my case, though it’s well past the 60-day time frame. In the meantime, new Title IX complaints have been filed against the faculty-support person who accompanied me to the session with the investigators. As a member of the Faculty Senate, whose bylaws include the protection of academic freedom — and believing the process he’d witnessed was a clear violation of academic freedom — he’d spoken in general terms about the situation at a senate meeting. Shortly thereafter, as the attorneys investigating my case informed me by phone, retaliation complaints were filed against him for speaking publicly about the matter (even though the complaints against me had already been revealed in the graduate student’s article), and he could no longer act as my support person....
A week or so earlier, the investigators had phoned to let me know that a "mediated resolution" was possible in my case if I wished to pursue that option....The students were willing to drop their complaints in exchange for a public apology from me, the investigators said. I tried to stifle a laugh. I asked if that was all. No, they also wanted me to agree not to write about the case.
I understand that by writing these sentences, I’m risking more retaliation complaints, though I’m unclear what penalties may be in store (I suspect it’s buried somewhere in those links). But I refuse to believe that students get to dictate what professors can or can’t write about, or what we’re allowed to discuss at our Faculty Senate meetings. I don’t believe discussing Title IX cases should be verboten in the first place — the secrecy of the process invites McCarthyist abuses and overreach.
UPDATE: True to form, Justin Weinberg (South Carolina) actually comes to the defense of Northwestern's treatment of Laura Kipnis. By selectively quoting from the original Kipnis article, he obscures the fact that in the passages in question, Kipnis was clearly talking about the lawsuit by the undergraduate against Ludlow, not the graduate student. Kipnis's article says almost nothing about the allegations by the graduate student, and never names anyone, not even Ludlow. Nowhere in the article does Kipnis accuse the graduate student of lying. The only useful thing Weinberg manages to do is link to the Title IX "retaliation" provisions, which makes clear that for a "retaliation" claim to have merit, Kipnis would have to have "subjected the person [the complainant] to adverse action, treatment or conditions." If Kipnis's opinion piece about sexual paranoia on campus, in which the graduate student is not even named and barely referenced, constitutes adverse "treatment," then there is no right for any faculty member at any institution receiving federal funds to offer any opinions, however indirect, about any question surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct at the institution. Even in the Title VI context, I am aware of no decision finding that speech like that of Kipnis--who has no power over any graduate student in philosophy, or their professional situation or opportunities--could constitute "retaliation" (feel free to correct me in the comments with a citation to such a case). The quite plain answer to "what's going on" at Northwestern in this instance is that graduate students have misused Title IX, and the University, fearful as all universities are of running afoul of those currently policing Title IX, aided and abetted this abuse. Fortunately, some commenters have already called out Weinberg's misrepresentations.
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)