Our basic contention is that one grandstands when one makes a contribution to public moral discourse that aims to convince others that one is “morally respectable.” By this we mean that grandstanding is a use of moral talk that attempts to get others to make certain desired judgments about oneself, namely, that one is worthy of respect or admiration because one has some particular moral quality—for example, an impressive commitment to justice, a highly tuned moral sensibility, or unparalleled powers of empathy. To grandstand is to turn one's contribution to public discourse into a vanity project.
I will resist naming the professional philosophers who should read this, but you know who you are (or at least your colleagues know who you are)! The paper also incorporates a useful discussion of group polarization, which as we've noted before, is quite relevant to the phenomenon.
This 61-page document is not a work in political philosophy, in any sense of the term. Political philosophy is a sub-discipline of philosophy. This is not a work of philosophy, in any sense of the term. While characterizing the distinctive features of philosophy in the Western tradition has itself long been a lively topic among philosophers, it is in every guise marked by a mode of argument the point of which is the discovery of general and abstract truths. That mode of argument is manifested in standard forms of reasoning, for example, in establishing, with evidence, a number of premises the acceptance of which logically requires the acceptance of the truth of a conclusion those premises support.
Not long thereafter, Ciccariello-Maher's tweets were picked up by the Daily Caller, Breitbart and other conservative [sic] news sites....
Reached on Monday by The Inquirer, Ciccariello-Maher offered a reaction to the reaction.
"On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, 'white genocide,'" he said in an e-mail. 'For those who haven't bothered to do their research, 'white genocide' is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies (and most recently, against a tweet by State Farm Insurance). It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I'm glad to have mocked it."
Many readers and social media followers didn't get the humor, though - and his employer didn't either.
On Sunday night, Drexel issued an official statement saying: "While the University recognizes the right of its faculty to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate, Professor Ciccariello-Maher's comments are utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and do not in any way reflect the values of the University."
The university also said it "contacted Ciccariello-Maher today to arrange a meeting to discuss this matter in detail."
Ciccariello-Maher said Drexel's statemenet lacked "understanding either the content or the context of the tweets," and that "while Drexel has been nothing but supportive in the past, this statement is worrying."
"What is most unfortunate is that this statement amounts to caving to the truly reprehensible movements and organizations that I was critiquing," he said. "On the university level, moreover, this statement - despite a tepid defense of free speech -sends a chilling message and sets a frightening precedent. It exposes untenured and temporary faculty not only to internal disciplinary scrutiny, but equally importantly, it encourages harassment as an effective means to impact university policies."
He added that he has been the subject of "a coordinated smear campaign [that] was orchestrated to send mass tweets and emails to myself, my employer, and my colleagues," and that he has "received hundreds of death threats."
"This satirical tweet became fodder for online white supremacists to systematically harass me and my employer, Drexel University," Ciccariello-Maher said. "As my students will attest, my classroom is a free-for-all of ideas, in which anyone is welcome to their opinions, but expected to defend those opinions with argument. I teach regularly on the history of genocidal practices like colonialism and slavery -genocides carried out by the very same kind of violent racists who are smearing me today."
Drexel would do well to show that it does not render judgments about faculty based on reporting from the fascist fake news media like Breitbart and Daily Caller.
His correspondence with his brother. The difficult question for those who take Heidegger seriously as a philosopher is whether, and how, the vulgar Catholic prejudices of his upbringing that led him down the road of Nazism and anti-Semitism can be disentangled from his philosophical views: his hostility to philosophy, towards reason, towards modernity, and so on. As George Steiner and Walter Kaufmann, among others, have argued, it is not entirely obvious that they are wholly separable.
Here. Short version: African-Americans turned out in lower numbers than when Obama was running, and a number of less-educated whites who had previously voted for Obama switched to Trump.
Is it possible that but for James Comey's misconduct and hackers releasing e-mails revealing the corruption of the Democratic establishment, enough other demographics would have turned out to vote, thus offsetting the lower African-American turnout and the white voters who flipped to Trump? Yes, it is possible, but there is no evidence that supports thinking this to be true.
Did Putin want Trump to win? Presumably: Trump's expressed views are less hostile to Russia than Clinton's, and, in any case, it must be obvious to Putin that Trump is an unstable ignoramus who is easy to manipulate. Did Putin put hackers up to embarrassing the Democrats? It's not implausible, but we simply don't know, unless there is still someone in America who takes the pronouncements of American intelligence agencies on faith. Did the hackers embarrass the Democrats by publishing misinformation? No, they simply put the spotlight on how high-ranking Democratic officials were actually behaving. (Maybe the moral of the story is that Democratic officials shouldn't misbehave and show some respect for the democratic process?)
Is it hypocritical for the U.S. to complain about possible meddling in its electoral process? Obviously, but what else is new?
A key thesis of the alt-right, as some contributors here have discussed, is that race is a real feature of the human person (just as sex is a real feature of the human person) and that one’s race can, to a large extent influence (or perhaps outright determine), a people’s intelligence, personality types, temperament, and so forth. The truth of this thesis, the alt-righter might claim, can be grasped at the level of common sense by simply having interactions with persons of various races.
Quite innocently and without meaning to cause scandal, an observer may notice, for example, that the Japanese he has met tend to be deferent and non-confrontational, or that Sub-Saharan Africans he has met tend to be joyous and energetic, or that the Italians he has met may be expressive, loud and impatient, that the Swedes he has met tend to be smarter than the Pygmies he has met, and so forth. But there is also plenty ofempiricalevidence for this thesis. (Perhaps this is the claim that Shapiro finds “racist”; if so, then either he has a very trivial account of what racism (e.g., the claim that there are racial differences, something that is hardly objectionable and is as true as the claim that there are differences between the sexes) is or he is simply wrong.)
Next comes the following claim by the alt-righter: these biological facts about one’s race go on to influence, outright determine, or, more poetically, flavor the sort of civilization that a race will establish. Thus the high-IQ race that is characteristically deferent and non-confrontational race will establish a peculiar and unique sort of civilization and the low-IQ race that is characteristically brutish, violent and present-thinking will establish a peculiar and unique sort of civilization. The alt-righter might additionally—and very plausibly—claim that a low-IQ race that is characteristically brutish, violent, and present-thinking will not—and perhaps cannot—establish the sort of civilization that the high-IQ, deferent and non-confrontational race can establish (and vice versa).
Now, if there really are racial differences in intelligence, personality, temperament, and so forth—and there is overwhelming evidence that there are such differences between the races—and these differences contribute to (or give a flavor to, or determine, etc.) the sort of civilization that a race will create, then it is not implausible at all to suggest that Western civilization—by which we mean European civilization—can only be fully and genuinely carried on by people of European biological stock (just as, say, Jewish civilization can only be genuinely or fully carried on by people of Jewish stock). Other races that have some biological similarity to people of European stock may carry European civilization forward to some extent—we could say not genuinely (as do, for example, the Japanese, to some extent, in their appreciation of classical music). But the differences between the race groups will inevitably result in differences in the way that European civilization can be carried out, just as we would expect Europeans (that is, people of European biological stock) to be able to carry on with Japanese civilization in a limited manner but never genuinely.
This is quite amazing, on so many levels: the conflation of culture with race, the cherry-picking of discredited "evidence", the inability to distinguish causation from correlation, all in the service of the most ugly and dangerous Nazi myths about "European biological stock" (as distinct from "Jewish stock" and so on). This is sick, sick stuff--we thought it was defeated in 1945!--but here it is on a blog that purports to represent contemporary philosophers "on the right." These are not philosophers "on the right," these are NeoNazi morons.
The PGR is a very useful resource for prospective philosophy graduate students. But to the best of my knowledge no other graduate discipline has a similarly detailed, transparently and fairly assessed, regularly updated, and well regarded guide to the quality of its graduate programs. Or if there are any such guides, they are not easily accessible to prospective graduate students (whose first recourse is of course Google, where they will find only the USN&WR rankings and other such lists whose value and reliability students are in no position to discern).
It would be a great service to those of us who are thinking about non-philosophy PhD programs if there were a place to accumulate a list of any such guides. Would you please provide a comment space on Leiter Reports for your readers to post about similarly reputable and reliable rankings for other graduate fields with which they are familiar?
This question has come up before, and I am still not aware of such resources in other fields, and presumably for the reasons noted back in 2009: no good deed goes unpunished, especially when it involves providing prospective students actual information about program quality! The National Research Council used to provide such a resource every decade or so, but failed in its task the last time around. The "Qurky Silliness" rankings aren't of much use for philosophy, so presumably aren't of much use in other fields. So, readers, any ideas about resources? Any thoughts on the rather sloppy reputational surveys U.S. News conducts about various fields? Are they useful? Dated? Bizarre?
This long-gestating paper has finally appeared in the Sydney Law Review (it was the 2013 Julius Stone Address in Jurisprudence at Sydney), and can be downloaded here for those who are interested. This year's electoral catastrophe just underlines the crucial Millian point, namely, that well-being in America will remain in danger as long as Breitbart, Drudge, Fox and the other fact-free media are allowed to operate freely.
An informative piece a year after the right-wing nationalist takeover in Poland. There are two distinctive ingredients to developments there: first, a commitment to a real social welfare state (including, e.g., cash payments to families with children); and second, conservative Catholic social views. It's the latter that is responsible for a lot of the wickedness afoot in Poland, though the pattern is familiar. Until orthodox religiosity of whatever stripe dies out, humanity will be at risk, alas.
ADDENDUM: Or as RAWA put it: "Fundamentalism is the mortal enemy of all civilized humanity."
Here are some related questions for a thread on your blog:
(1) How much does having a strong publication record hurt one's chances for getting a job at less research-prestigious institutions? For instance, if a recent PhD has five publications in respected places will this count much against getting a TT job in "the middle of nowhere"? Will hiring committees be inclined to pass over such a candidate, thinking that he or she will just leave in a couple years due to the strong publication record? Or have hiring committees realized that the lack of philosophy jobs makes this strategy a mistake?
(2) Is there much resistance to hiring an associate prof for an assistant job, or a full prof for an associate job, or a full prof for an assistant job? Should there be? Given the horrible job market, an associate or full prof who needs to move from their current position may have few options other than taking an assistant job.
I'll offer a few thoughts/surmises, and then open it for comments from readers.
On #1, I suspect it is still the case that schools that are non-research-intensive will wonder about the commitment of a junior candidate whose publication record is too strong. I'm also not sure this is irrational, though it may be a question of degree. But publication in top-tier journals is the most important credential for professional advancement and opportunities, so a rookie who arrives with articles in top-tier journals is, indeed, probably likely to have and probably seek other positions. It's importnat to remember that at state schools in particular, there is never certainty that a line that becomes vacant will be authorized to be re-filled--and that may especially be true when it was just filled two years ago, and now the candidate hired has decamped. That might make a Dean skeptical about whether the department can do appropriate hiring, even if that is an unfair suspicion.
On #2, there is sometimes such resistance, but mostly I expect for budgetary reasons: if the Dean authorzies a junior position, and it is filled with someone who will likely seek early tenure given his/her record, that may present budgetary problems for the Dean. Similarly, a Dean may be skeptical that someone qualified for a tenured position will really accept an untenured tenure-track position, thinking the candidate will try to negotiate a higher rank from the start--something which, again, may not be feasible as a matter of the budget.
Part of the British blues explosion of the late 1960s, Savoy Brown enjoyed some modest success in both the UK and the US circa 1969-1972, before three members of the band (Dave Peverett, Roger Earl, and Tony Stevens) left and went on to greater fame and fortune in the mid-1970s with Foghat. This tune was re-recorded by Foghat, but this is the Savoy Brown version.
An even more basic norm under threat today is the idea of legitimate opposition. In a democracy, partisan rivals must fully accept one another’s right to exist, to compete and to govern. Democrats and Republicans may disagree intensely, but they must view one another as loyal Americans and accept that the other side will occasionally win elections and lead the country. Without such mutual acceptance, democracy is imperiled. Governments throughout history have used the claim that their opponents are disloyal or criminal or a threat to the nation’s way of life to justify acts of authoritarianism.
The idea of legitimate opposition has been entrenched in the United States since the early 19th century, disrupted only by the Civil War. That may now be changing, however, as right-wing extremists increasingly question the legitimacy of their liberal rivals. During the last decade, Ann Coulter wrote best-selling books describing liberals as traitors, and the “birther” movement questioned President Obama’s status as an American.
Such extremism, once confined to the political fringes, has now moved into the mainstream. In 2008, the Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin linked Barack Obama to terrorism. This year, the Republican Party nominated a birther as its presidential candidate. Mr. Trump’s campaign centered on the claim that Hillary Clinton was a criminal who should be in jail; and “Lock her up!” was chanted at the Republican National Convention. In other words, leading Republicans — including the president-elect — endorsed the view that the Democratic candidate was not a legitimate rival.
Philip Pettit (moral & political philosophy, philosophy of mind, philosophy of social science) and Victoria McGeer (philosophy of mind, moral psychology) have turned down part-time offers from Stanford University, which would have replaced their half-time posts at Princeton. (They will both continue to spend half the year at the Australian National University as well.)
You lose your job for it, at least if you're at the mercy of the maniacs there in the Graduate Students Association. The irony of costing a human being his livelihood over a joke about wanting to hire a "slave" to "boss" around is unbelievable. Kudos to philosophy professor Byron Williston for speaking out:
The sudden closure drew criticism from many of the café’s customers. Laurier ethics professor Byron Williston penned a scathing open letter to the graduate students association, accusing them of acting like “spoiled children.”
“I suppose it’s a sign of the times, especially on university campuses whose student bodies — undergraduate and graduate — seem to have been taken over by the terminally thin-skinned and self-righteous,” Williston wrote. “Perhaps you should direct your moral outrage at some of the many real problems in the world rather than behaving like petty bullies.”
Williston said the termination was a gross overreaction to a joke, even if it was in poor taste.
“I wrote the letter because I think the operator has been morally wronged. I think it’s important for somebody to speak out for him,” he said in an interview.
Several readers have pointed out this piece trying to debunk the idea that Trump is a white supremacist, a racist, an anti-gay bigot, etc. The author limits the evidence considered to events during the campaign, ignoring longer-term evidence of Trump's "casual racism" (as I originally called it), but if you read on, he doesn't really deny the causal racism. But I agree that Trump is not ideologically committed to white supremacy, let alone anti-semitism or anti-gay bigotry etc.: this is partly because, as Chomsky remarked, he has no discernible ideology at all, being too ignorant and shallow to have such commitments. Unfortunately, he has now surrounded himself with some ideologically (meaning, religiously) committed anti-gay bigots, and perhaps worse. But the author does make one very good point, that is worth quoting:
I don’t think people appreciate how weird this guy is. His weird way of speaking. His catchphrases like “haters and losers!” or “Sad!”. His tendency to avoid perfectly reasonable questions in favor of meandering tangents about Mar-a-Lago. The ability to bait him into saying basically anything just by telling him people who don’t like him think he shouldn’t.
If you insist that Trump would have to be racist to say or do whatever awful thing he just said or did, you are giving him too much credit. Trump is just randomly and bizarrely terrible. Sometimes his random and bizarre terribleness is about white people, and then we laugh it off. Sometimes it’s about minorities, and then we interpret it as racism.
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)