Professor Feferman, an eminent figure in mathematical logic and the foundations and philosophy of mathematics, was emeritus in both the Math and Philosophy Departments at Stanford University, where he had taught since 1956. I will add links to memorial notices when they appear.
According to an affidavit written by [Martha] Nussbaum to support Lopez Aguilar’s 2014 pre-action filing against Yale, which was obtained by the News, Pogge was a candidate at the University of Chicago about a decade before he was hired at Yale. When there was a vacancy in the political science department around 2000, Iris Young — a senior professor in the department — thought Pogge would be a good appointment for the position.
But Larmore, who also taught at the University of Chicago at the time, told Nussbaum and Young about the Columbia incident involving Pogge, and Young dropped the idea of recruiting Pogge. In her affidavit, Nussbaum recalled that Larmore believed the matter was “quite serious” and likely part of “an ongoing pattern.”
Larmore said he remembers telling Nussbaum about the incident and opposing the idea of bringing Pogge to the University of Chicago, but he said he does not remember if the allegation was ever brought up before the political science department.
Scruton says chianti with Hegel. I say Bud Light with Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” It’d be apropos because as Rand is to philosophy, Bud Light is to wine — improperly categorized, and still pretty lousy when regarded within its proper category.
Philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers, now a Research Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, asked me to share this recent video (followed by a transcript of it). Comments are open at that site, and Dr. Sommers writes, "I will do my best to reply to questions and objections."
As longtime readers know, I'm skeptical that the underrepresentation of women in philosophy is due to the "argumentative" nature of the subject, lack of female authors in the canon or on syllabi, and the like. The evidence of stereotype threat based on gender is also very weak, though implicit and explicit bias is more real. What Dr. Sommers ignores, I fear, is the role of a previously permissive culture of sexual harassment, but that, fortunately, is changing (at last).
The APA Ombudsperson for Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, philosopher Ruth Chang (Rutgers), asked me to share the following statement:
As former students of Thomas Pogge, we suspect that there is one group of people who have been harmed in relation to the recent allegations against Pogge, who have not been much considered in the discussion surrounding them. It is not our intention here to take a stand on the truth or falsity of the allegations. Rather, regardless of their veracity, current and recent students of Pogge’s, male or female, may now feel that they cannot turn to him for mentoring, as any continued involvement with Pogge may taint them or call into question their accomplishments and abilities in the eyes of other members of the profession. Indeed this is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to keep our own identities anonymous. For those who are finishing their PhDs, or have not yet secured tenure track employment, that loss of mentoring is a great loss indeed. Though we both secured tenure track employment before the allegations were made public, we empathize with the situation of Pogge’s graduate students and post-grads who have not yet done so.
Accordingly, we are reaching out to current and recent students of Pogge’s to determine whether they are in need of alternate mentoring. If so, and the demand is great enough, we propose to develop a list of senior philosophers in related areas who would be willing to step in and provide such mentoring. Please note that while a letter of recommendation for use on the job market is a desirable and certainly possible outcome of a mentoring relationship of this type, being paired with a mentor would by no means guarantee such a letter. Rather, it would provide an opportunity to gain feedback on some papers or dissertation chapters and to receive general advice on professional issues. The exact extent of that mentoring would be up to the junior and the senior philosophers to determine on an individual basis.
The identity of anyone requesting mentoring would be kept confidential, and be known only by us (the two former graduate students of Pogge’s organizing the connection), and the eventual mentor. At this point, we are only asking for expressions of interest from current or past students of Pogge’s – both male and female – who have not secured permanent employment and who would like to be connected to an alternate mentor. Registering your interest now does not commit you to eventually being paired with a mentor – it only helps us to determine how many potential mentors to contact. You may decide at a later date whether you would actually like to be paired with a mentor. Please contact us by September 1, 2016 at email@example.com. Please help to spread the word to Pogge’s current and former students.
I think this is a sensible undertaking for the reasons given. But I'd like to emphasize that it's also clear that Professor Pogge has worked with and written letters for many students, including female students (and including female students "of color"), in which there have been no allegations of misconduct, quid pro quo endorsements, or anything of the kind. (I say it is "clear" because I've been told that by various students and others for whom Prof. Pogge has written.)
There's been lots of discussion over the years on the blog about journal practices, but usually in regards to the submissions and review process.
What I don't think has been discussed is in many ways a much more important issue: how are editors - that is, editors in chief, those who usually are the first to look at and do the initial screening of submitted papers - chosen by philosophy journals? Since these are among the most powerful people in the profession, that would be good know. I've asked around about this over the years and no one really knows. And the process by which these editors are chosen, and the rules (if any) that set out their duties, and regulate their official actions, are less than clear. For example, in most cases, there seem to be no declared procedural rules by which they are chosen, no term limits, and (implied) absolute discretion in fulfillment of their functions as editor. Indeed the people I have met who have served in that role have usually reported stepping down from the position, not by rule or any formal process, but simply because they'd grown tired of it and wanted to get back to their own writing.
I wonder if journals ought to have something like by-laws, whereby the procedures by which these appointments are made are written and public.
Thoughts from readers? (An earlier, related discussion is here.)
They are: Jonathan Dancy ("Research Professor" at Reading; also Professor at UT Austin); Miranda Fricker (Sheffield, but who is moving to CUNY); and (as a Corresponding Fellow), Judith Jarvis Thomson (emerita, MIT). In addition, the political theorist Michael Walzer (emeritus, IAS) was also elected a Corresponding Fellow.
UPDATE: Philosopher Rob Stainton (Western Ontario) writes: "Robyn Carston, a linguist but also a very influential figure in empirically oriented Philosophy of Language, was also just elected to the British Academy. She's been one of the key figures working on the Semantics-Pragmatics boundary since her pioneering work in the 80s."
MOVING TO FRONT FROM JULY 10--MORE DISCUSSION WELCOME
Philosopher Cheyney Ryan, Director of the Human Rights Programs for the Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict at Oxford University (who taught previously at the University of Oregon), writes:
The University of Oregon recently settled a case against it for almost $1 million brought by a young woman who had been assaulted by one of its basketball players. The basis of her suit was that the University knew or should have known that the player had been involved in a sexual assault incident at his previous university but still admitted him and did nothing to address the potential danger to others. Her suit cited other instances where universities have been held responsible for admitting students with histories of sexual assault/harassment. The new U of O president, a distinguished law professor, thought there was enough merit in the argument to settle the case immediately.
I should think that universities would evidence the same level of concern towards professors with such histories. Yet the impression up to now is that the Yale Philosophy Department was entirely too passive in this regard, in the Pogge matter. This impression is now confirmed by the remarks of Seyla Benhabib in the New York Times.
"Professor Benhabib, who served on Professor Pogge’s selection committee, said that she and other committee members had heard about the Columbia case but did not discuss it.
“I didn’t think it was my place to go searching into his history at Columbia,” she said. “Everybody slips once. That was our attitude.”
One can only hope she was misquoted. Otherwise, her remarks are absurd. "Everybody slips once"-- was this really the search committee's attitude about acts of harassing/assaulting female students?
If Pogge had been involved in an incident raising a weapons charge, would it then have been her place to go "searching" into his history? (How many "slip ups" would have been permissible in a gun violation?)
It's a matter for serious discussion how such histories should factor into a hiring decision. But progress in providing a safe environment for students will only be made when departments treat these matters as of more than casual importance.
I, too, was astonished by the "everybody slips once" comment attributed to Prof. Benhabib. What do readers think about the issues raised by Prof. Ryan?
Philosopher Robert Mark Simpson (Monash) has done a very illuminating review of two recent books of interest to moral philosophers. It's also a model of review writing, fair and informative, and written with style and insight.
Robin Wilson, a reporter at CHE who has covered academic philosophy quite a bit, kindly sent along a link to her latest article looking at the philosophy profession (the link should be free for about 24 hours, then behind a paywall again). Many of the changes described seem sensible, though a lot depends on the department and its members (it is possible to have parties with alcohol without stupid behavior, after all). The NYU "be nice" rules did make me laugh, not because they're terrible ideas but because a third or more of the faculty there were, historically, serial violators of them! I was astonished, however, by this other bit of the article:
[Philosopher Janice Dowell] initially refused to publish in the Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism, due out next year, because she had "a lot of independent evidence" that a male philosopher who had also been asked to contribute was harassing women in the field, she says. She told the editor, Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa, about her concerns, and he confirmed that the other philosopher’s work would not appear in the volume.
This calls to mind our discussion from the other day. I wonder, did Routledge know that the editor of a purportedly scholarly volume was also a vigilante acting as judge, jury and executioner? (Ichikawa doesn't have much judgment, to be sure, but I do wonder what the philosophy editor at Routledge thinks about this.) How many other philosophers working in this field were excluded as a sanction for their alleged misconduct? What do epistemologists think about this? Doesn't this kind of editorial decision-making pose a threat to the philosophical integrity of your field? The Routledge Handbook is now damaged goods, isn't it? I'm happy to say I've never heard of this kind of editorial behavior in any of the fields I'm most familiar with, so maybe this is just a pathology of epistemology only.
Let me offer a constructive suggestion. If you believe you have credible evidence about misconduct by an academic elsewhere, contact colleagues in that department or contact the Title IX office at that university. I've done the latter on one occasion (with, alas, mixed results, but this was because a crucial witness in the end was not willing to speak further with the Title IX enforcement officer).
Prior to news articles published last month by BuzzFeed and HuffPost, some professors had been working behind the scenes to share what they knew about Pogge’s behavior and to encourage other academics to shun him. Those sorts of individual efforts are continuing in light of the public allegations.
Sterba, for instance, said he’s no longer including Pogge’s work in exams for his graduate students.
“You don’t need him. He carries too much baggage — he doesn’t have to be cited anymore,” Sterba said. “He’s a negative image and we don’t need that. Maybe if he was Einstein we’d have to cite him, but he’s not.”
I fully understand not inviting Prof. Pogge to conferences, given the allegations that he uses them as dating opportunities (or worse), but not assigning his work when it is relevant to the topic? Really? That's educational malpractice, as far as I can see. But let's see what readers think.
...while a self-driving car kills its driver (maybe intentionally?) Joking aside, as I was discussing with Markus Gabriel recently at the Bonn Summer School on the "Hermeneutics of Suspicion," there is something very odd about sci-fi fantasies about domination by robots occupying philosophers when there is actual domination by states and ruling economic elites throughout the developed world. Imagine if equivalent intellectual energy were expended on the actual issues? (Earlier discussion.)
I was happy to be invited to contribute this to the inaugural issue of the Indian Journal of Legal Theory. The paradox is twofold: on the one hand, philosophy has no "results" it can report to the public that would guide its conduct; on the other hand, the public, including the supposedly "elite" sectors of the public, is quite clearly indifferent to the sorts of distinctions to which philosophers draw attention. The one thing philosophers do offer is "discursive hygiene," which, as lawyers show, sometimes matters to what public institutions do, though philosophers might learn from lawyers the importance of rhetoric (once upon a time, philosophers did know that!).
Courtesy of Clifford Sosis, as always. Prof. McNaughton, a Brit, is currently Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University; this part of his interview was quite amusing:
Most Americans I meet are delightful, and I love their positive attitude. I hugely enjoy the vast amount of classical music concerts in Tallahassee. And Jan and Feb can be nice. But the rest of the year it is a tropical hell-hole, crawling with alligators, poisonous spiders and snakes, disease-laden mosquitos, ticks, etc. One third of the US population believe either that Obama is the anti-Christ, or that he may be. Trump is hugely popular. The country is obsessed with guns; the crime rate is appalling, and the penal system barbaric. Plus, you don’t have any historical places to speak of and you have to travel vast distances to see nice landscape. The UK also has many faults (some of which have surfaced dramatically in the last week) but the countryside, climate, and culture make up for it. Plus, the things I dislike are at least familiar rather than alien. One thing I have learned in my years in USA is that, just because we share a language and a history, one should not assume we are culturally akin. I feel more at home in most parts of Western Europe than in the USA.
This does guarantee "post-doc" funding to those who finish the PhD program in 5 years.
The overall changes to graduate funding at Notre Dame that included as one component this post-doc program were *not* good for Philosophy PhD students. As far as I know, every active PhD supervisor in the Notre Dame department who took a stand on the overall package of changes opposed the changes. So did the current PhD students in philosophy.
There's nothing inaccurate in what was posted nor in the links to the Notre Dame information about the post-docs. But there weren't changes that were good for philosophy.
Politician Ron Johnson and columnist Christian Schneider have claimed that assault weapons don't need to be banned because they already are. They say this to deflect attention from the AR-15-style weapons used by the Orlando murderer, since his weapon was a semiautomatic, and since it shares the same kind of reloading mechanism used in many other kinds of rifles that are primarily used for sport — target or hunting — and does not deserve the pejorative "assault" adjective.
Weapons are tools of intent. Black-powder muzzle loaders are obviously weapons used with the intent to hunt, and to do so with particular skill, given opportunity. Bull-barrel blowback semiautomatic pistols are intended to hit targets accurately without reloading after every shot (I own one). Blowback and recoil-operated shotguns with tube magazines are intended to allow better chances to kill waterfowl in flight (as improved over older double-barrels).
And then there's a lightweight, gas-operated, rapid-fire semi-or-fully automatic that fires high-powered but small-bore cartridges, complete with high-capacity magazine and (usually) a field hand-grip/sight first designed by the U.S. government for the single-minded purpose of what is genially called "anti-personnel field combat." What would you call that?
If that murderer in Orlando had used a classic Gatling gun, it would not have been automatic or semiautomatic by contemporary parlance. It is a single-fire rapid-repeating mechanically driven weapon that, using the vocabulary of Johnson, et al, would not have been an "assault weapon."
Shame on them for using mere words to try and wash away obvious truths about what should be public policy.
All the best suggestions for improving the PGR have come, without exception, from those who contributed to it over the years. Almost all the other criticisms were on the spectrum from self-serving to silly. The PGR was a fabulous resource, unlike anything else in any field, that let prospective students in on the secret sociology of the hierarchy in the profession. I hope it can continue, but the “slave revolt” in philosophy exacerbated by the Internet is now a real obstacle.
Could you explain the term "slave revolt" for folks unfamiliar with Nietzsche?
By “slave revolt,” I’m alluding to Nietzsche’s idea that our Judeo-Christian morality arose from an inversion of previous values, an inversion that was self-interested, but in the interest of the “slaves,” literal and otherwise. I do think what’s happened in the last few years is that people who aren’t very good at philosophy and/or feel otherwise marginalized in the profession have taken to the Internet, and under various high-minded sounding moralized banners—equality, fairness, inclusiveness and so on—have launched an attack on the idea of philosophical excellence and smarts.
Now along comes the latest example, a presentation on "Prestige: The first and final hurdle for a more inclusive philosophy," though it might just as well have been called, "Excellence: The first and final hurdle for a more inclusive philosophy." The author, philosopher Helen De Cruz, has a PhD from the University of Gronignen, and is, I am guessing, concerned that those, like herself, from non-prestige departments are unfairly excluded from professional opportunities in philosophy. Now she herself is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University (not part of Oxford, but a separate institution in the same town), so she has done well, but might, of course, be doing better were if not for the supposed "prestige" bias.
Since I know nothing about her work, it may well be that Professor De Cruz is someone who has been a victim of pernicious "prestige" bias. Pernicious prestige bias is when someone thinks that because someone got a PhD from Fancy Pants University they must be competent (or, the reverse). That's bullshit and pernicious, of course, and the PGR upset that apple cart a long time ago. But what most cyber-complainers call "prestige bias" is that hiring departments prefer candidates from well-regarded departments. That's plainly true, but perhaps well-regarded departments are so-regarded because they are actually departments with very good faculty and very goods student? Prof. De Cruz never fairly considers that possibility. Non-pernicious prestige bias is simply a rational and time-saving heuristic for identifying candidates with excellent qualifications trained by excellent faculty, attributes that, in the PGR era, are well-tracked by what's now called "prestige." As Prof. De Cruz notes, "prestige" bias is a feature of academic hiring in all disciplines; the difference in philosophy is that it no longer simply tracks "brand name" universities, but now reflects where the strongest clusters of philosophers and students actually are. (In what other academic field does everyone know that two of the very best programs are at NYU and Rutgers? There is none.)
"Excellence" doesn't, in reality, exclude any demographic groups, except the mediocre.
[Hume] was...deeply and systematically concerned with issues and problems of religion -- especially as they concern the corruption of both philosophy and morality. These themes and issues inform much of what motivates and directs Hume's thought. They constitute, moreover, the strong, sturdy spine of Hume's thought and his intellectual achievement. The whole body of Hume's thought, like the Treatise itself, is to a considerable extent shaped, animated and directed by these core concerns and issues. Harris's study systematically obscures and distorts these features of Hume's fundamental motivation and thought and, as such, to use Harris's own language, does "harm" and poses a real "danger" to our understanding and appreciation of Hume's life, work, and achievement.
It's a bit astonishing that Cambridge University Press would publish something so misguided.
UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that Professor Harris wrote a complimentary but critical review of Paul Russell's book on Hume making the case for the centrality of religion, and critique of religion, to Hume's corpus. That review is not, alas, on-line, but can be found in Philosophical Books 50 (January 2009): 38-46. So this is clearly a fault line in Hume scholarship, though the Russell position seems to me the more compelling, but readers interested in this debate should consult Prof. Harri's review of Russell. (Recall also this earlier review notice.)
A couple of weeks back, I had the privilege of visiting Springfield, Missouri, for a public lecture on "Why Tolerate Religion?", and then meetings with students at the three colleges there: Missouri State University; Drury University; and Evangel University. (As a sidenote, it was the Templeton Foundation and the Institute for Humane Studies that made my visit possible, plus the excellent organizing of Prof. Brandon Schmidly from Evangel. And if you're in Springfield, make sure to go to Bruno's, great linguine & clams, and apparently everybody else enjoyed their pizzas, calzones etc. [thanks to Daniel Kaufman from MSU for taking us there!].)
ADDENDUM: The YDN piece suggests that five full professors in the Yale Department did not sign; they are clearly counting all those with courtesy appointments in philosophy (some of those did sign, as it happens, but several didn't--they may not even have known of it, I do not know). But of those whose tenure home is Philosophy, only two did not sign: Gendler (for legitimate reasons noted originally) and Karsten Harries (for reasons unknown).
Via Weinberg, I learn that the Chair in Philosophy of Religion at Rutgers, supported in part by a grant from the Templeton Foundation, is now official. Taking a somewhat longer view, this is an interesting development. William Alston, a philosopher of language and epistemologist who eventually became a leading figure in the "Analytic Christian Mafia" in philosophy (besides Alston, Alvin Plantinga, Robert Adams, Richard Swinburne, William Rowe, William Wainwright, George Mavrodes, and others were major players), taught at Rutgers in the early 1970s, though spent most of his career at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Syracuse University. When Rutgers catapulted to the top ranks of philosophy departments in the late 1980s it was with the appointments of resolutely naturalistic and non-religious philosophers like Jerry Fodor and Stephen Stich. The renaissance in Anglophone metaphysics in the 1990s and afterwards, which often went hand-in-hand with philosophy of religion, reached Rutgers in the 2000s when, at one time, John Hawthorne, Ted Sider, and Dean Zimmerman were all members of the faculty. Zimmerman remains, and has become the anchor for the strong philosophy of religion presence at Rutgers as well.
I agree with John Martin Fischer (UC Riverside) about the reasons why, even from a non-theistic perspective, philosophy of religion is of interest. Alston (as well as Platinga, Adams et al.) were apologists for religious belief, of course, so one may hope that this new Chair will honor Fischer's vision of the importance of the field, and that philosophers of religion who do not only do apologetics will be considered.
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)