The announcement is here. I had refereed the APA's proposal for a different press, which I gather took a pass. Here is roughly what I said (quoting in part from the proposal submitted):
I am skeptical whether the APA is well-positioned to produce the high quality journal it envisions, the one that combines “diversity” with “quality.” The APA’s “pluralistic consitutencies” (as the proposal
calls them) are potentially a source of significant difficulty for this
project, not an asset. The worry is that the APA is supposed to represent everyone in the philosophy profession, regardless of the quality of their work or approach. When the proposal describes Continental Philosophy Review, for example, as a “top field" journal,” it is quite clear that it is pandering to interest groups within the APA, not philosophical standards of excellence. (Some good work occasionally appears in CPR, but the idea that the best work in Continental philosophy appears there is ludicrous and indefensible; the use of this example suggests the process has already been ‘captured’ in part by those with other agendas.)
We have seen this pattern repeatedly within the APA. The Eastern Division represents the extreme of this phenomenon, with the result that many philosophers no longer participate there because for the sake of alleged “inclusiveness” and “diversity”—meaning neither racial nor ethnic diversity, nor even philosophical diversity, but simply pandering to organized interest groups—the program is no longer very good. As I understand it, The Journal of Philosophy stopped publishing papers from the Eastern because of this problem many years ago. The Central and Pacific have avoided the fate of the Eastern, which gives some reason for hope if they take the lead on the JAPA project. But surely the prospect of an APA-approved journal will bring out “special interest” lobbying in its worst forms. I see no reason to be optimistic that the contemplated journal will not simply be captured by certain groups looking to leverage their position in the field by capturing editorial control of portions of the journal, without regard to quality.
The link, above, indicates the initial committee charged with setting up the editorial structure. It, fortunately, includes a number of highly capable and sensible philosophers. (It also fails to include, alas, any well-known scholars working in the Continental traditions of post-Kantian philosophy.) I certainly hope my worries prove unfounded, but we will see.
UPDATE: A senior philosopher elsewhere writes:
Unfortunately, I predict that [this new journal] will do more to divide the profession than to unite it and will cause more not less alienation from the APA than people seem to hope. Either it will really be a high quality journal with demanding editorial standards. In which case, it will devolve into an in house version of, say, Phil Rev. I don't see how rejecting almost all of what is submitted to it will serve to help bring the profession together -- any more or less than Phil Rev already does. Or it will take many more comers and will be a thing of moderate to low quality, a sort of ghetto of work that isn't publishable elsewhere. In which case, it will damage the reputation of the APA as whole -- in just the way the reputation of the Eastern Division has been damaged.
So it seems like a big mistake to me. I do think the APA is doing many other things right these days. But this isn't really one of them.
But mainly, I wanted to say that you are not alone in your worries about this journal.
In the last 12 hours, the blog has gotten an extraordinary amount of traffic due to the McGinn case, and social media has been awash with debate. I offer a few, further observations of my own:
1. Sexual harassment, from the mild to the severe, is widespread in academic philosophy. That a famous philosopher, Colin McGinn, has had to resign from his academic position because of allegations of misconduct of a sexual nature is seen as a major vindication for all those who have been harassed, abused, and mistreated but never seen a remedy. It will, hopefully, put others engaged in misconduct on notice.
2. The public allegations against McGinn are far less severe than allegations that I and many others are familiar with against other well-known philosophers. There is a dam waiting to break here, and it should break.
3. Tenure is an important academic institution, under widespread assault in our neoliberal world. Although in the reactionary United States, tenure is an anomaly, reserved for university professors and certain unionized professionals, in most affluent democracies, tenure is the norm: it does not mean lifetime employment, it means termination only for "good" or "adequate" cause. Tenured employment imposes upon employers procedural obligations to establish such cause before forcing those with tenure out of their job.
4. Due process protections in employment apply even to those who turn out to be miscreants. Here I tend to wear my lawyer's hat: an employee can not receive due process in a situation where the arbiter of his fate has already decided on the outcome. That observation may have no relevance to the McGinn case.
5. Sending e-mails with sexual content to students is, in my view and under the law (as I understand it), a disciplinary offense: suspension without pay, psychological evaluation, restrictions on one's interactions with students are all warranted and well-established remedies. I can imagine circumstances in which such e-mails would constitute a termination offense.
6. The termination of tenured faculty is, and ought to be warranted, when faculty engage in quid pro sexual harassment, commit criminal sexual offenses, or repeatedly engage in conduct that creates a hostile environment for students or colleagues on the basis of their sex. Right now, all indications are that far too few tenured faculty are terminated for such offenses.
7. It has been disturbing to me that some of those jumping on the "get McGinn" bandwagon in the last 24 hours are, themselves, rumored to be guilty of sexual harassment or misconduct. The rumors may have no merit, but that is precisely why due process is important, even for wrongdoers. It has also been disturbing to me that some of those jumping on the "get McGinn" bandwagon in the last 24 hours have so little understanding of or simple contempt for due process and tenure.
8. The student who brought the complaint against McGinn did the right thing; given all the facts in the public record, her complaint was clearly warranted and some disciplinary remedy against McGinn was clearly warranted.
...where the current protests in Turkey began. A philosopher in Turkey writes: "It is quite crazy here. Disturbances now in at least 67 provinces. I was in [the Park] until 6am yesterday - watching potesters build serious barricades.
Anyway - I thought you might be interested to know that there will now be philosophy talks in Gezi park in Istanbul - which is now a police free zone occupied by protesters.
The first talk will be by Jesse Prinz tomorrow."
...at the end of this calendar year. The story is behind the CHE paywall, but here are the core facts as reported by CHE (and which are consistent with what I've heard from various sources). The female graduate student,
had previously taken a course with Mr. McGinn in the fall of 2011, and began serving as his research assistant soon after.
The student, who asked to remain anonymous because she is planning to pursue a career in philosophy, said in an e-mail that she began to feel uncomfortable around Mr. McGinn at the start of the spring semester a year ago. Her discomfort hit a high point in April, she wrote, "when he began sending me extremely inappropriate and uncomfortable messages, which continued until the beginning of the summer."
The student declined to share the messages with The Chronicle. However, her long-term boyfriend...described some of the correspondence, including several passages that he said were sexually explicit. [The boyfriend], along with two professors with whom the student has worked, described one message in which they said Mr. McGinn wrote that he had been thinking about the student while masturbating.
Advocates of Mr. McGinn, however, say that the correspondence may have been misinterpreted when taken out of context.
Edward Erwin, a supporter of Mr. McGinn who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, said Mr. McGinn was working on a book about human evolution and the hand. Part of the reason Mr. McGinn was sending messages that could be interpreted as sexually explicit, Mr. Erwin said, was probably because of communication about that research.
"There was some sexual talk, banter, puns, and jokes made between the two," Mr. Erwin said. "The written records, I believe, show that this was an entirely consensual relationship," he said. And that relationship, he added, was not sexual.
As I understand it, there was no sexual relationship and no allegation of quid pro quo sexual harassment. McGinn, acting under advice of legal counsel, decided to take sabbatical and then resign rather than have the university adjudicate the matter. A few observations:
1. A lawyer elsewhere who handles sexual harassment allegations for a major research university remarked to me recently that "after Penn State" (referring to the assistant football coach whose serial sexual abuse of children was largely ignored by the university for years) "everything is different." If this signals a more agggressive posture against the very serious cases of sexual harassment that are rampant in academic philosophy, then that will be a welcome development. Sexual predators take note! You know who you are!
2. As the article quotes me as noting, what is surprising in this case is that the allegations are not nearly as serious as cases that have, so far, gone unpunished at many other schools. And termination of employment is, of course, the most serious punishment possible for sexual misconduct, and termination seems disproportional to the actual allegations in this case (with the caveat that we only have before us the allegations that have made it into the public realm, not the full factual record). (Sending e-mails with sexual content to a student are certainly grounds for disciplinary and remedial action.)
3. A senior philosopher elsewhere wrote to me suggesting that what happened to McGinn seemed to be a serious violation of due process. I am uncertain, and without more information, it is hard to know. I do know that McGinn had legal representation and opted to sign an agreement with the university. However, there are also allegations that the University President, Donna Shalala, was determined to have McGinn fired after seeing the e-mails which, if true, would raise reasonable doubts in anyone's mind about the fairness of university procedures for evaluating the case. The University would do well to make clear in the public record that it understands the due process rights that attach to tenure, even in cases of wrongdoing by tenured faculty.
UPDATE: I have heard from a number of different sources claiming that there are, indeed, more allegations than those that appear in the CHE piece, which is often the case in matters like this. Several correspondents also defended the care with which the University has handled this matter. As I noted in #2, I was responding only to what is public at this point. If and when more information becomes public, I will post again about this matter.
In (I believe) 1974 Peter Geach came to the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University, where I was a young lecturer at the time. After his talk, there was a reception at the home of the Chair of the Department. During the reception Geach expressed the desire to sing a song that he had composed in German about Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, the debate over definite descriptions, and other matters philosophical. I recorded the song on a cassette tape, which became part of my collection, and it accompanied me on my wanderings. It disappeared in our house here for many years until my wife came upon it unexpectedly in a drawer, this past weekend. Some additional rummaging turned up an old tape deck with stereo speakers, long unused.
Unfortunately the tape had split, but several days of analogue engineering and a transplant to a blank cassette (amazingly, still available at Mapplin, right here on the Strand) managed to restore it.
The sound quality is not great, but Geach's lyrics are clear, and he is in fine voice. Enjoy.
UPDATE: Professor Lappin writes with more information:
"Mark [Textor] points out that Geach's song is apparently based on a poem by Heine. He has translated the song, sustaining the analogy with the poem. I include his translation of Geach, a published translation of the Heine poem, and the German original of the poem (all generously provided by Mark), below. Many thanks to him for his insights and his translation.
"This would seem to open up new lines of research in Geach scholarship. Anyone interested in pursuing them (or changing their thesis topic accordingly) should contact Mark. I am merely the sound engineer here."
Professors Jeff Jordan and Alan Hajek write with the following information:
Abbas Khosravi Farsani was until this January, a graduate student in Philosophy, at the University of Isfahan, Iran. While nearing completion of his PhD dissertation regarding Mackie’s error theory of ethics, Mr. Farsani’s graduate studies were interrupted as he was arrested for political reasons. He was immediately expelled from his university, his educational scholarship was revoked, and he was forbidden from seeking a teaching position at all Iranian universities. Subsequently he had to flee Iran, and is now in Turkey, as a political asylum seeker in a difficult situation.
In 2006 Mr. Farsani’s completed an M.A. dissertation entitled “The Epistemological and Moral Value of ‘Pascal’s Wager’ in Islamic Resources and Christian Theology: A Critical Survey”.
Mr. Farsani is seeking a graduate position in which he may finish his PhD. His philosophical interests are ethics, philosophy of religion, epistemology, and political philosophy. His language competencies are Persian, English, and Arabic, with some knowledge of German, Latin and Greek.
More information about Mr. Farsani's case can be found at these links:
The winner is Nathaniel Sharadin (North Carolina) for his project "Understanding Reasons." I can't recall the last time only one philosophy graduate student received a Newcombe. Past lists of winners can be found here (and follow the links).
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)