Best-known for his work on the history and philosophy of psychoanalysis, Professor Forrester served on the History and Philosophy of Science faculty at Cambridge University at the time of his death. There is an obituary from The Indepenenthere.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL. The University of Chicago Law School seeks a Law and Philosophy Fellow, appointed with the rank of Lecturer, for the academic year 2016-17. This is a twelve month appointment and is expected to begin July 1, 2016. A Ph.D. in philosophy by time of appointment is expected, though in unusual cases a Ph.D. in a related discipline, or a J.D. accompanied by strong training in philosophy, will be considered. Applications welcome from new or recent PhDs or tenure-stream faculty interested in spending a year at the Law School. The Fellow will co-teach the Law & Philosophy Workshop with Brian Leiter on "Current Issues in General Jurisprudence" (including, e.g., new views of the relationship between law and morality; the problem of theoretical disagreements about law; the metaphysics of artifacts and the significance of law's artefactual nature; and intersections between legal philosophy, metaethics, and philosophy of language). AOS: any parts of philosophy of law related to the workshop themes; AOC: open. The Workshop will meet about 15 times over the course of the academic year, about half the time to discuss papers by invited speakers, and the remainder of the time just with enrolled students to review invited papers, as well as other background literature. The Fellow will also be expected to contribute to the intellectual life of the Law School, as well as pursue his or her research. Salary $55K + benefits + superb research environment. To be considered a candidate for this position you must apply on-line through the University website at http://tinyurl.com/nwvotq4 by January 22, 2016. Resume, cover letter, writing sample, reference contact information and research statement should be submitted electronically on the web site at the time of application. Three confidential letters of recommendation should be mailed to Joe Pellettiere at The University of Chicago Law School, 1111 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637 with a postmark not later than January 22, 2016.
He returned unharmed, and his brief comments are worth quite a bit more than most of the punditry blather:
What do I think of the events? I will leave geo-political analysis to those who know more about the Middle East and Islam. My overwhelming feeling is one of world-weary sadness. Human beings are the only mammals who regularly kill large numbers of their own species, not for food or sex or territory, but simply out of anger or despair or boredom or religious ecstasy. The communicants of the great Abrahamic religions have been slaughtering people for centuries -- indeed, for millennia -- and when their enthusiasm for blood wanes, secular mass murderers step forward to fill the void. Perhaps it is because I will soon be eighty-two, but I am weighed down by the fragility and brevity of our insignificant moment of life. So many of our greatest works of art are either explorations of this blood lust or celebrations of it. "Make love, not war," we said in the Sixties.
Kate Manne (Cornell) and Jason Stanley (Yale) have a piece purportedly on recent events at Yale here. (Some if it invokes some of Jason's ideas about propaganda, discussed here. I won't rehash any of the criticisms made in that review, though it does seem to me this is another case of treating everything as a nail because you have a hammer.) I find it a disappointing and misleading intervention (and I've heard similar comments from other philosophers), and for the sake of the reputation of our discipline, I would urge philosophers to write letters to the editor; feel free to make any of the points, below.
The trouble comes early, when Manne and Stanley write:
More worryingly still, [the students] are held to be attacking freedom of speech rather than exercising it to call for institutional reform....
Rather obviously, they can be, and were, doing both. In spitting on speakers, petitioning for the removal of people from their jobs because of their speech, and heaping vulgar abuse in public on a faculty member in order to shut him down, they are trying to suppress and punish speech. Why pretend otherwise? At the same time, some students (maybe some of the same ones!) were speaking on behalf of institutional reforms. Perhaps someone, somewhere has called for shutting down that lawful speech; if so, they are mistaken too.
There was a funny, if over-the-top piece by a Harvard Law Student, denouncing the "fascist" techniques of some of the students at Yale. The word "fascist" is being abused here: the "fascist" response doesn't involve spitting or cursing, it involves breaking people's head open with bats. But put the hyperbole aside, the author correctly identifies the misconduct at issue (substitute "behavior incompatible with the functions of a university" for "fascist," and "speech compatible with the functions of a university" for "not fascist" and you'll get the point):
Fascist or Not Fascist?
Blocking people you disagree with on Facebook
Maybe a bad idea, but you’re not actively transgressing on another person’s right to speech.
Calling for people to be fired for expressing their beliefs
You are (1) calling for reprisals (2) for people expressing what they believe.
Organizing a protest against an editorial you disagree with
You are condemning a belief you disagree with, but not trying to punish the speaker for saying it.
Calling to defund a newspaper for publishing an editorial you disagree with
You are (1) calling for reprisals (2) for people expressing themselves.
Putting up fliers demeaning people that disagree with you
Using an ad hominem attack is silly and hurtful, but does not use positions of authority to punish free speech.
Spitting on people attending a meeting you disagree with
You are (1) committing a crime against someone (2) because they exercised their free speech.
Calling for a University to change its seal
You are not punishing anyone for their beliefs. Not fascist in the slightest!
Tearing down fliers that you disagree with
You are (1) committing a crime against someone’s property (2) because they exercised their free speech.
Condemning people for wearing offensive Halloween costumes on Facebook
You are expressing indignation at someone else’s choices, but not calling for them to be punished because of their expression.
Calling for students to be expelled for wearing offensive Halloween costumes
You are (1) calling for reprisals (2) for people expressing themselves (even if in a hurtful, offensive way).
Manne and Stanley simply obscure what is at issue, not once acknowledging that calling for people to be fired for their expression, or spitting on them, or heaping vulgar abuse on them to shut them up are not behaviors compatible with a functioning university environment--as little as racist abuse and racial discrimination are. But the key difference, of course, is that no one is rationalizing or justifying the latter, whereas lots of people--even philosophers!--are rationalizing the former.
Manne and Stanley repeatedly obliterate the pertinent distinctions throughout their essay, setting up their opponent as a strawman. For example:
Following Christakis’s email, protests erupted among students of color and their supporters. Their political activity has since been written off by many commentators as a silly tantrum thrown in response to a one-off email, rather than a reaction to chronic, structural racial injustice — such as the persistent paucity of black faculty members and administrators at Yale, the common experience of being the only black student in some classes, and being disproportionately likely to be stopped and asked for ID — or worse — by campus police officers, as students have movingly testified. An article in the National Review went so far as to call these students of color "defective people from defective families" — an eyebrow-raising choice of language.
Students responded to Christakis's odd e-mail (see the careful discussion of its actual content here) by calling for her to be fired. When her husband defended her, they called for him to be fired, leading to the now notorious mob scene. This is what is objectionable: that students respond to ordinary speech and a defense of free speech with calls for sanction and vulgar abuse by a mob intent on intimidating the speaker. (Manne and Stanley even manage to misrepresent the absurd National Review piece [a tantrum in its own right]: the "defective families" being criticized have nothing to do with race, rather the author is explicitly attacking "a certain strain of upper-middle-class American culture that cultivates an excess of self-importance that grows cancerous when it isn’t counteracted by a deep understanding that the world is full of things that are much more important than you are...That American striver culture has many invaluable aspects...but in the absence of transcendent values it turns everybody into a miniature Donald Trump.")
This whitewash of the objectionable behavior pervades the Manne & Stanley piece. Describing the reaction to the Associate Master's e-mail opposing the campus-wide e-mail about Halloween, they write: "the students then opposed her opposition--alleging that she ought not to have spoken as she did, given her position as associate master of Silliman College. And many pundits have, in turn, opposed their opposition--holding that the students ought not to be protesting thus..." But the alleged "symmetries" here are fabrications by Manne and Stanley: the students didn't simply criticize or "oppose" the Associate Master, they launched a petition to have her fired; when her husband came to her defense, they added him to the list of people who needed to be sanctioned for their speech. When the husband tried to talk with the students, he was shouted down and subjected to vulgar abuse. That is what sane people are objecting to: some students are behaving horribly and utterly differently than those they are criticizing.
It's true that sometimes "sounding reasonable can be a luxury," but not at a university: it's how the whole place works. And, contrary to Manne and Stanley, it's quite clear the student concerns, despite the absurd misconduct by some, have been met with a "receptive, even sympathetic audience" (contrary to Manne and Stanley's suggestion that the students could not presume such an audience). Witness not only the Master's forced apology, but now this interview with Yale's Dean of the College (who does, tactfully, note towards the end that today's students are less "resilient"). Ivy League students, including students of color, enjoy unprecedented attention and solicitude. (You'll notice there's not even been any talk of disciplinary action against any of the students engaged in the documented misconduct.) Manne and Stanley go so far as to write that the racism that exists at Yale "is not the sort of racism that is generally considered newsworthy...There are no black bodies on the pavement to focus on. The violence being done is subtler..." It's so subtle, in fact, that it's not clear how it constitutes "violence" at all. Racially tinged rudeness and insensitivity (e.g., so-called "microaggressions") is not the same as murder or beatings: why cheapen the coin of racist "violence" by abusing the language this way? Thank God there are no bodies on the pavement at Yale.
Yale students have legitimate grievances (e.g., the scandal of a college named for an apologist for chattel slavery!). And it's sometimes true that (as Manne and Stanley write) the "notion of freedom of speech is...co-opted by dominant social groups, distorted to serve their interests, and used to silence those who are oppressed and marginalized." But it is an irrelevant point when, in fact, some of the Yale students are trying to suppress the kind of free speech that is part of academic life, and through tactics--calls for firings, spitting, shouting down by a mob--that would spell its end.
It is true that "the protesting Yale undergraduates have become pawns in the culture wars," but it is false that it is a mere "myth" that some of them pose "threats to freedom of speech": they obviously do in the ways noted. Why can't Manne and Stanley acknowledge that? It's mystifying.
ADDENDUM: Several readers point out that Manne and Stanley also, falsely, state that "hate speech" is an exception to the constitutional protection for speech, along with 'fighting words" and slander. Although this mistake is perhaps telling, it's also largely irrelevant to what is so wrong-headed with the argument in this piece. The Constitution does not constrain Yale, and it's constraint on public universities is tempered by Pickering and progency, as we discussed in the context of the Salaita case.
UPDATE: For those interested in reactions to the preceding, see here.
Professor Sanders asked me to share the following:
In an email earlier today to faculty and staff of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson announced the approval of a negotiated settlement with Dr. Steven Salaita, whose offer of appointment as an Associate Professor of American Indian Studies had been revoked last year. Throughout the ensuing controversy, the Department of Philosophy at UIUC repeatedly proved itself a vocal opponent of the revocation of Dr. Salaita’s offer and a strong supporter of academic freedom and shared governance more generally.
Ours was the first unit on campus outside of American Indian Studies to approve a resolution of “no confidence” in the Chancellor, President, and Board of Trustees. Several members of our faculty were deeply involved in efforts in the Academic Senate and across campus to seek Dr. Salaita’s reinstatement and to publicly reaffirm the university’s commitments to core principles of academic freedom and shared governance.
While the university remains under AAUP censure as the result of the actions of its administration and Board of Trustees at the time, it is important to note that the key players in the decision to fire Dr. Salaita no longer occupy positions of power at UIUC. The former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chris Kennedy, no longer sits on the Board; former President Robert Easter retired; and former Chancellor Phyllis Wise and former Provost Ilesanmi Adesida resigned their respective positions following the revelation that they had used non-university email accounts for university business in an apparent attempt to evade Freedom of Information Act requests, including ones related to the Salaita case.
Now that Dr. Salaita himself has agreed to a financial settlement, the motivation for the academic boycott of UIUC that arose in response to his case would seem to be entirely gone. Though the pledge that so many of our colleagues in Philosophy signed stated in part: “We, the undersigned, will not visit the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus until Professor Salaiata is reinstated to the position offered him …,” the terms of Dr. Salaita’s settlement effectively preclude the possibility of reinstatement.
While we respect Dr. Salaita’s decision to settle rather than to continue to pursue the matter in the courts, despite the clear merits of his case, a financial settlement of the sort agreed to leaves many of the core issues regarding the university's commitment to principles of academic freedom and shared governance unresolved in a way that his reinstatement would not. The AAUP report on UIUC suggested that a retraction -- or at least clarification -- of certain comments made by Chancellor Wise and the Board of Trustees concerning "civility" in the infamous mass emails of August 22, 2014, will also be a necessary condition of ending censure. Now that the legal issues surrounding Dr. Saliata's firing seem to have been resolved, one hopes that such a retraction will soon follow.
In the meantime, it is my sincere hope that colleagues in Philosophy across the country and around the world will once again feel comfortable accepting invitations to come and speak on our campus. We’ve missed having you here.
It's interesting how much good publicity for philosophy is coming out of the nonsense du jour. (I do suspect it helps that a lot of the mass media discussion confuses the colloquial senses of "philosophy" with what most academics do!)
It may come as a shock that a candidate for President in last night's Republican debate, said something false, but as it happens Senator Rubio asserted falsely that welders make more than philosophers, but it isn't true. Average salaries for welders well into their careers are in $37,000-$39,000 range, far below the starting salary of assistant professors of philosophy at research universities ($65,000 and up) and at other colleges and universities (a wider range, but I've yet to see a salary for an assistant professor lower than $45,000 in recent years). Amusingly, even the popular media has called him out on this noting that even the average B.A. in philosophy earns more than welders. It's a shame, though, that this point had to be made at the expense of welders.
Feel free to links to more pertinent data.
In any case, with the facts clarified, it is good to know that at least one Republican candidate will now champion the cause of philosophers.
Philosopher Peter Slezak at the University of New South Wales recently shared with me an interesting scholarly "mystery" story, now happily resolved, and perhaps of interest to some scholars. Professor Slezak writes:
Hintikka’s (1962) analysis has been perhaps the most celebrated account of Descartes' Cogito but in subsequent articles (1996) he sought to modify it in significant ways that l have suggested (Slezak 2010) are incompatible with his original claims. Hintikka came to recognize the importance of the first-person, though saying “I do not see any reason to retract or even to qualify anything in my original paper” (Hintikka 1996, 7). These later remarks cannot be reconciled with his earlier views, though Hintikka now acknowledges “the interpreters who have emphasized the role of introspection and introspective awareness in Descartes have been up to something important” and “Descartes is not for nothing formulating his insight in first-person terms ... As soon as you try to reformulate the cogito in third-person terms, you will see its plausibility disappear” (Hintikka 1996, 13). Well, this insight is flatly in contradiction with his explicit analysis in his famous (1962) paper.
In an article a year before his death, “René pense, donc Cartesius existe.” Hintikka (2013) makes a footnote acknowledgement to the "anonymous" author of an unrecalled earlier article where the first-person logic of the Cogito had been articulated. He invites the author to identify himself to receive the credit.
En pensant à cet article et en l'écrivant, j'ai été encouragé … etc. … Je veux également adresser un remerciement à un inconnu. Je me souviens - malheureusement seulement vaguement - qu'il y a longtemps, un article a été soumis en vue d'une publication dans Synthese dont j'étais alors le directeur de publication. La thèse de cet article consistait dans une analogie entre les arguments de Descartes et de Gödel. Je n'avais alors pas été convaincu, et j'ai refusé l'article, dont je ne me rappelle plus l'auteur. J'espère qu'il ou elle prendra la parole et revendiquera pour son propre compte l'attribution de cette intuition intéressante.
"In thinking about this article and writing it, I have been encouraged ... etc. ... I want to equally address an anonymous gratitude. I only recall unfortunately vaguely, that long ago and article was submitted for publication in Synthese of which I was editor. The thesis of this article consisted in an analogy between the arguments of Descartes and Gödel. I hadn't been convinced and I rejected the article of which I don't remember the author. I hope that he or she will speak up and reclaim his/her proper credit for attribution of this interesting intuition."
Is there anything of ethical (or legal) interest in the VW scandal, from the perspective of a potential consumer?
I was ready to buy one of their cars (not diesel). My initial reaction to the revelations was that I would never buy a product from them again. Is there a principled ethical basis for this? The deception has been revealed and the company will pay billions in penalties, though that will not undue the damage that has been done to health and environment. Would giving them my money be a principled but meaningless token gesture? Would it be foolish because so many large corporations engage in deeply harmful practices? If people keep buying VW products would that be negative because it would mitigate the seriousness of their offense? Or would it be positive because, say, factory workers who were not complicit in the scheme might be less likely to be affected?
VW was founded by the Nazis and many Jews of my parents generation would not buy German products for many years. Boycotting them now seems almost petty in comparison.
I do not have to buy a car from VW but want to make a principled decision in any case. I would have no car if that were an option but it’s not.
Now, maybe there is some obvious principle involved that I don’t know, but others of your less-sophisticated readers might not either.
(Thanks to Jonathan Kramnick and David Sackris for the pointer.)
UPDATE: From a knowledgeable source (not a philosophy faculty member):
[The story] does not mention that a number of the faculty who are being fired have tenure (including -- I believe but am not certain -- a philosopher, and including some who have been at the school for decades).
The context for this story is troubling. The new president of the university started this past August. Today's announcement must have been in the works for weeks, at minimum; there's simply no way the president could come in and make a good faith effort at preserving faculty or departments before turning to the task of preparing to fire so many people. It's entirely plausible that he was brought in specifically to gut various departments. He claims the university is struggling financially and needs to cut costs. I'm not a member of the Rider chapter of the AAUP, but my understanding is that they disagree with that assessment. Although time is short, I'm sure the union will attempt to push back. I circulate this story in part because expressions of support from like-minded faculty at other institutions may help roll back these changes.
Comments are open for more information, details, ideas.
According to the Philosophy Metablog, philosopher Aidan McGlynn (Edinburgh) could not let the embarrassing reaction to a link to Les Green's piece on Greer earlier this week rest. Please note that what Dr. McGlynn referred to as a "problematic" and "offensive" article is this perfectly sensible and informed analysis of the sense in which gender is a social construct and its bearing on the question whether or not transgender women are women. The thought crime at issue was Justin Weinberg's linking to one small part of this essay by the Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Oxford University (who, as informed readers will know, has written quite a lot of important work about sexuality and gender). Here's McGlynn (in part):
I’m still disappointed with [Justin Weinberg]. The twitter post that created the fuss is still up, days after people pointed out how problematic it is, and Justin’s preferred tactic seems to be to ignore many of the people raising concerns (particularly Rachel)....First, some people don’t see anything wrong with linking to a problematic or offensive article so long as it’s made clear which bits one is cherry-picking. I don’t agree, and I don’t agree that it was clear in this instance....This discussion has nothing to do with ‘thought-policing’ (though in fairness, to my knowledge only one person has suggested otherwise). We’re not talking about Justin’s thoughts – we’re talking about what’s on the twitter feed associated with one of the places members of the profession need to go to for information and discussion concerning issues about the profession. Moreover, this is clearly how Justin took my remarks – he explicitly responded in terms of what he thought appropriate to take a stand on with the twitter feed associated with the Daily Nous [blog]. No one should expect Leiter to care about that distinction, of course....
It's fair to say I don't "care about" an irrelevant distinction, but put that aside. This finger-wagging produced a number of rude and sometimes quite apt rebukes at the Metablog, of which this one made me laugh:
The vocabulary is one of the main things I just can't stand: 'I'm still disappointed... deeply problematic...' Don't these people realize they sound like passive-aggressive schoolteachers, as reimagined by your worst nightmare? I actually prefer McKinnon's style to this, and that's really saying something.
And then there's the suggestion that it doesn't count as 'thought-policing' unless it involves the metaphysically impossible feat of actually policing people's thoughts. Does McGlynn seriously doubt that, if the relevant people could do that (whatever that would amount to), they would?
The vocab is hard to keep up with. Should we start a running glossary?
"Problematic": adj. (of arguments) false; (of pratices) must be banned; (of utterances) must be retracted and apologised for; (of tweets) must be deleted;
"Free speech": n. a problematic concept [see above]
"Censorship": n. the alleged suppression of problematic ideas, a largely mythical practice. [compare "silence"]
"Silence": v. (1) to ignore, not talk about. (2) to disagree with (3) to discuss a marginalized individual [see below] in terms they would prefer not to be discussed
"erase": v. synonym for silence
"identity": n. an (esp. marginalised) individual's conception of themself. NB all other definitions, such as those which have been explored by philosophers over the past two millennia, are problematic [see above]
"offense" - n. something nobody ever complained about [compare "harm"]
"harm" - the inevitable consequence of erasing [see above] an individuals identity [see above]
"listen" - (to a marginalised individual), agree with, show deference to,
"bully" - v. synonym for erase
"expert" - n. a marginalised person
"educate" - v. to inform a non-marginalised person of the correct opinion
"safe space" - one in which no identity is erased. Unsafe spaces are problematic [see above].
When I asked Dr. McGlynn via e-mail whether he had written the piece in question, he acknowledged doing so, but added, "I have been reflecting on this, and I have subsequently decided that I should not have written it. Therefore having initially edited it, I have taken down the entire post from my facebook page. Please accept my apologies." I am happy to accept his apology, though I don't feel he owes me one. I worry, alas, that the views expressed are consistent with the views he has expressed elsewhere, and are indicative of how some (hopefully small) portion of the profession thinks about these issues. Since this way of thinking is anathema to academic life, it's time for those who believe in freedom of thought and discourse to object, and object strenuously.
Meanwhile, Rachel McKinnon (Charleston) continues her twitter tirade against Justin Weinberg* (South Carolina), whom she apparently believed to be an "ally." (Her idea of an "ally" seems to be what everyone else would probably call "a spineless toady.") In any case, I will let Prof. McKinnon speak for herself:
UPDATE: Philosopher Alan White (Wisconsin) tells me that officially they only want submissions from those in the STEM fields. Prof. White submitted an entry anyway, but just in case, philosophers are welcome to post answers in the comments here, which are now open.
...for writing on the Internet, including Leslie Green, Charlie Huenemann, Clancy Martin, Colin McGinn, and David Papineau. (For the benefit of the lunatic contingent who thinks that because McGinn is a bad person, he shouldn't be eligible for anything let alone recognition for his writing, please see the comments of a grown-up (#7) on the subject of proportionality in punishment.)
Two million dollars for work at the intersection of philosophy of biology and metaphysics, a project to be led by Alan Love and William Wimsatt (both Minnesota; Wimsatt is also emeritus here at Chicago), C. Kenneth Waters (formerly Minnesota, now Calgary), and Marcel Weber (Geneva).
Interesting review by Ricki Bliss (Lehigh) in Philosophical Review of a recent collection; from the conclusion:
One thing that is clear from the material presented in this volume, however, is that as much as proponents of the notion of ground may disagree with one another over the details, there is no question that an orthodoxy—metaphysical foundationalism—has fast settled upon the research program: reality is hierarchically structured and contains a fundamental level populated by contingent existents. To question these commitments, it has been suggested (although not in this volume), is to ask illegitimate questions, to flout common sense, or to just be so absurd as to not warrant serious consideration. In a research program whose literature can, at places, appear pedantic, it is somewhat striking to observe just how poor so many of the arguments presented in defense of this view actually are.
Sex is cluster-concept, a bundle of attributes, some of which do not develop until puberty or later. And gender is another cluster-concept. Gender is constituted by norms and values that are conventionally considered appropriate for people of a given sex. Gender is a lot more vague than sex, and a lot more historically and geographically variable.
But gender has another interesting feature. It is path dependent. To be a woman is for the pertinent norms and values to apply a result of a certain life history. Being a woman is not only ‘socially constructed’, as they say, it is also constructed by the path from one’s past to one’s present. In our society, to be a woman is to have arrived there by a certain route: for instance, by having been given a girl’s name, by having been made to wear girl’s clothes, by having been excluded from boys’ activities, by having made certain adaptations to the onset of puberty, and by having been seen and evaluated in specific ways. That is why the social significance of being a penis-free person is different for those who never had a penis than it is for those who use to have one and then cut it off.
The whole piece is worth reading.
Ironically, in the last paragraph, Green writes,
Greer’s remarks are correct and are neither dangerous nor hateful. The number of critics of students who supposedly want to ‘no-platform’ speakers dwarfs the number of students who want to ‘no-platform‘ anyone. Maybe the transgender tsunami hit the press, not because of some seismic event in our universities, but because commentators want threats to freedom of speech and inquiry to come from a politically safe source.
The second sentence, alas, is unduly hopeful. Nearly 3,000 people signed the petition to cancel Greer's talk, and incidents like this are cropping up all over the U.K. and the U.S. In the U.K., there are certainly other more serious (government) threats to free speech, but that is neither here nor there: at least those threats are recognized, usually, as wrongful, while the "I'm offended" crowd thinks their authoritarian preoccupation with controlling thought and speech puts them on the moral high ground.
As if to make the point how wrong Green is in that last paragraph, note the reaction when one tweeter, Justin Weinberg (South Carolina), quoted only the bit from the last paragraph, ignoring the actual substance of Green's essay. He was denounced quickly and furiously by those purportedly rare "no-platform" folks. Aidan McGlynn (Edinburgh) demands clarification whether Weinberg is endorsing the actual content of the piece. Toby Meadows (Aberdeen) worries that Weinberg is making a "broad endorsement" of the whole piece. Weinberg then tries desperately to deny that he has committed a thought crime: "I was clear in response to Aidan what exactly in Green’s post I was endorsing." And then from Rachel McKinnon (Charleston) there's this: "You're endorsing a post that *agrees* with Greer's transphobic view of trans women. How do you not see that?" And also this:
@DailyNousEditor And yet you respond to others, not me. And you could *start* by apologizing and realizing your fuck up. I'm not optimistic
I'm not optimistic either, given that these people may be the future of the "profession." In any case, Green's nuanced discussion is worth reading.
UPDATE: It's good to see that Prof. McKinnon has learned from this episode that throwing a tantrum because someone committed a thought crime (or, in this case, a link crime!) and trying to bully them into submission on Twitter is not the right way to behave. Or maybe she didn't?
In my own fields, the pursuit of novelty has bad effects: one can be pretty sure that the next general theory of law will be more daft than the last one. And in moral and political philosophy writers continually ‘discover’ principles that no one in the history of humanity ever heard of.
The novelty-fetish has further knock-on effects. It isn’t enough for ideas to be new; others need to acknowledge that they are new, so small novelties get over-emphasised, and the errors of past writers exaggerated. No longer are others merely mistaken, misguided, or muddled—their claims must be ‘ridiculous’, ‘disgraceful’, or ‘ludicrous’. These epithets have various meanings, but they have a common use. They are all ways of pleading, ‘Don’t read him! Read me, me, ME!’
"...when posturing, preening wankers are regarded as if they are somehow its leaders"--Russell Blackford. So many candidates to choose among from philosophy cyberspace and social media! Maybe it's time for a new category: "posturing, preening wankers"?
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)