The latest from IHE. The best hope is that the ratings will be such an obvious mess that they will make no difference. But realistically, almost anything the federal government puts its imprimatur on is going to have some kind of effect.
IHE has the latest details. The right-wing Volokh blog, whose selective interest in these issues is well-known, suggests this violates the professor's academic freedom. That seems to me dubious, except on a very capacious conception of academic freedom in which anything an academic says is part of that freedom, a conception which has no legal status. Professor McAdams's research profile does not suggest that his blogging critical of a colleague's teaching practices had anything to do with his scholarship, and so academic freedom is not at issue. On the other hand, he is clearly being punished for his speech, and while Marquette, as a private employer, is not bound by constitutional standards, it should honor a moral commitment to freedom of speech. As the IHE article notes, McAdams's suspension also does seem very suspect from the standpoint of AAUP guidelines. The strongest argument that could be made in favor of the university's action, at least on the facts that are public, is that by inciting a right-wing firestorm about the philosophy instructor's teaching, Professor McAdams interfered with university functions, though I'm not sure how persuasive I find that argument. (Consistent with the New Infantilism now running rampant in the blogosphere, some people suggested that because the philosophy instructor was a graduate student, though one running her own class, and McAdams a faculty member in a different department, he had some kind of special pedagogical or other obligation not to criticize her. That argument has no merit as a matter of law or AAUP norms.)
UPDATE: Over at IHE, there is a strong statement in the comments from longtime academic freedom commentator John K. Wilson (one of the few who was consistently on the right side of the Ward Churchill debacle):
I haven't studied the case enough to make a judgment on whether the TA was right or wrong (or both). But I know with certainty that Marquette is wrong to suspend a professor for talking about the case and expressing an opinion. McAdams is perfectly free to publicly criticize a TA's approach, and nothing about it constitutes harassment or some violation of privacy. The fact that the university can't even clarify exactly why they're suspending McAdams is particularly suspect. McAdams' blog should not be grounds for any kind of investigation; the fact that he was suspended without a hearing shows that this punishment is entirely illegitimate.
That last point is particularly important: suspension without even a hearing indicates that Marquette has just left the AAUP universe. What a disgrace.
ANOTHER: Justin Weinberg (South Carolina) offers a rather tendentious characterization of McAdams's offenses in the third update, and even if it were all true, it would not justify suspension without even a hearing. That McAdams is a right-wing creep is not grounds for his being sanctioned for his speech. Particularly odd is Weinberg's complaint that McAdams failed to show "any concern for Abbate’s welfare or future academic career." But McAdams has no obligation whatsoever to be concerned about this: Abbate is not his student, indeed, is not even in his department. The idea that this is a sanctionable offense on McAdams's part is, itself, a symptom of the New Infantilism, for which Weinberg's blog has become a leading cyber-cheerleader (though to his credit, he permits fairly wide-ranging discussion in the comments).
[W]e were intimidated by an explicit threat to dissolve the department by invoking Regent Policy 4H (the policy on program discontinuance). The idea was to fire everyone, and then hire back some of us. Those lucky enough to be rehired would be rostered (for administrative purposes) in other departments....[T]he threat to shut down the department — which came directly from the Dean's office — had its intended effect on many of my colleagues....
On Dec. 2, the Boulder Faculty Assembly was at long last permitted to discuss some of the pertinent issues. It passed a motion that includes this sentence: "The administration has taken precipitous punitive measures against faculty members without due regard for [the] rules." The group had previously deleted the claim that the administration had "created a sense of fear, insecurity, and distrust among faculty." It is unfortunate that these words were deleted, since they describe exactly what has been done to the philosophy department. Fear, insecurity, and distrust have been the entirely predictable result of administrative posturing and bullying.
The past couple of years have given me a taste of what it must be like to live in a police state. (Think here of malicious gossip taken as gospel, of email surveillance and anonymous reporting, of secret trials and equally secret verdicts.) Faculty members of impeccable character have been afraid to speak out because they fear retaliation against anyone who challenges the narrative being put forward by the administration.
Title IX issues have lately (and quite rightly) received a great deal of attention. But there is another pressing issue on this campus. The community as a whole is endangered when top administrators are permitted to act with reckless disregard for the reputations and careers of both faculty and graduate students.
The Medill senior suing Northwestern under Title IX filed a motion Thursday asking the judge who dismissed her lawsuit to reconsider or vacate his decision.
The new motion reveals multiple concerns about philosophy Prof. Peter Ludlow’s sexual conduct toward students that were brought to the University before the student accused him of sexual assault in 2012....
“The newly-discovered evidence clearly establishes that Northwestern was on actual notice of, and had a prior knowledge of, Ludlow’s past misconduct toward young female students and his predisposition to be involved with them in a sexual and questionably inappropriate manner, but failed to monitor or supervise him,” the Medill senior’s motion claims.
Philosopher Kathleen Wallace, who is Chair of the Department at Hofstra University, and who has called attention before to the unfortunate tendency of those studying outcomes by college major to lump philosophy with religion, writes:
Briefly, the issue for philosophers concerns how philosophy majors are often aggregated with religious studies majors by data collectors and researchers. This may have deleterious consequences for philosophy when student outcomes are reported in the media.
There is a time-sensitive action item during the public comment period for proposed revisions to the census bureau's American Community Survey (ACS). ACS is proposing to eliminate Question 12 which asks about the respondent's college major. Comment period closes: December 30, 2014.
I'm attaching a brief summary of the issue with the time sensitive action item, which I was wondering if you would be willing to post on Leiter Reports. (The summary is in the attached: Download Aggregating_Data_Summary_v3PDF.) I've written up a more detailed explanation of the data issues which I put up on my website,
I encourage philosphers to take time to submit comments to the ACS, since I think Prof. Wallace is quite right about the unfortunate impact this has on the results for philosophy.
UPDATE: Professor Wallace reports that she heard back from the ACS "as to whether they use aggregated or distinct coding for philosophy and religion on ACS question 12," and it turns out to be the former. Here's their answer:
It looks like the main questions are whether or not we break down "Philosophy and Religious Studies" (4801) into further subcategories and if so, what forms we make those data available. For ACS, we do not break down that category into further subcategories during any of our processing steps, therefore we would not have those data available. Any respondent who wrote "Philosophy", "Religious Studies", "Theology" etc. would all be coded to one category (4801).
Professor Wallace adds: "I had said in the summary that I wasn't sure whether ACS used broad or more finely grained codes from NCES CIP. I will update the more detailed report on my website.... So, it is *really* important that philosophers get in their comments -- that philosophy and religious studies (and theology!) should be processed and reported as distinct majors -- on the ACS question 12 during the public comment period."
ANOTHER IMPORTANT UPDATE: Here's where you go to comment on ACS Question 12: Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at email@example.com). More information here:
...from 34 department and program heads at the Urbana-Champaign campus (including Philosophy, History, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Sociology, among others) regarding the deleterious effects the Salaita firing has had on numerous departments: Download Open letter to Dr Killeen. An excerpt:
The recent words and actions of senior officials in connection with the decision to revoke an offer of a tenured position in American Indian Studies to Dr. Steven Salaita have done genuine damage to the university, and especially to the Urbana-Champaign campus, that remains largely unrecognized outside of the affected units. The program in American Indian Studies has itself obviously suffered the most as the result of the administration’s actions, but the harm to other units is also significant and ongoing. Representatives of the American Anthropological Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, the American Historical Association, the American Philosophical Association, the American Sociological Association, the American Studies Association, and the Modern Languages Association, among others, have issued strongly worded statements or letters critical of the university. More than 5,000 academics from across the country and around the world have expressed their disapproval by boycotting UIUC. More than three-dozen scheduled talks and multiple conferences across a variety of disciplines – including, for example, this year’s entire colloquium series in the Department of Philosophy – have already been canceled, and more continue to be canceled, as outside speakers have withdrawn in response to the university’s handling of Dr. Salaita’s case. The Department of English decided to postpone a program review originally scheduled for spring 2015 in anticipation of being unable to find qualified external examiners willing to come to campus. Tenure and promotion cases may be affected as faculty at peer institutions consider extending the boycott to recommendation letters.
Most troubling of all, the ability of many departments to successfully conduct faculty searches, especially at the senior level, has been seriously jeopardized. While the possible negative effects on even junior searches remain to be seen, the Department of History has already abandoned a previously authorized senior search in U.S. history this year in recognition of the bleak prospects of attracting suitable applicants in the current climate. An open rank search in Philosophy attracted 80% fewer applicants at the rank of associate or full professor than a senior search in the same area of specialization just last year. We have long been proud of the University of Illinois’ ability to maintain and extend its excellence through the recruitment of the very best scholars in the world. In many disciplines, however, we cannot hope to recruit excellent senior faculty to this campus, or to retain many of those already here, when they can no longer trust that this university will honor the principles of faculty decision-making, free speech, and freedom to conduct research.
...which is under AAUP investigation (and, I expect, likely censure) for its elimination of large numbers of faculty positions. (Earlier item.) If you sign the letter, use the location field to give your institutional affiliation.
Robert Townsend, Director of the Washington Office of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, kindly sent along this new data. He writes:
Instead of the usual calculations, I purchased numbers for the time students spend in the program that confers their degree, which more accurately reflects the focus of many recent reform efforts. The key findings are 1) that even by this more precise measure, the median time humanities PhDs spend in their programs is a year longer than any other field (6.9 years in 2012, as compared to 5.9 among all new PhDs), and 2) the difference between the fields seems to occur at the coursework/exam stage—not the dissertation stage, as many reformers have assumed. Sadly, we could not purchase numbers specifically for philosophy, but I hope you will find the broad trend for the humanities of interest.
...as he now threatens the University of Wisconsin (Madison) for cancelling classes during President Obama's visit to campus. How could such a malevolent neanderthal be elected in the formerly progressive state of Wisconsin?
(Thanks to David Lay Williams for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Larry Shapiro points out, correctly, that this is past michief from Representative Vos, not current.)
The Republican agenda for next year also includes several changes for the University of Wisconsin, according to Vos. He said that he wants to ensure that faculty spend more time teaching, and that research is geared toward helping the state's economy.
“Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever,” said Vos. “So we want to try to have priorities that are focused on growing our economy.”
Vos and Joint Finance Committee Chairman John Nygren were asked whether they were open to a budget request by the UW that would increase funding for the System by $95 million dollars. Nygren called that a “tough sell,” saying he didn't think the state should make up for funding the System lost as part of a mandatory tuition freeze.
A nice aspect of the briefly overboard smear campaign back in September was that I got tons of e-mails from friends, colleagues, students, former students and former colleagues offering sympathy, praise, words of appreciation, and so on. But one theme that came up a lot was the alleged similarities between the (partially successful) campaign to oust me from the PGR and what the University of Illinois did to Steven Salaita. At first, I didn't give this much thought, because of the two obvious differences: Salaita lost his livelihood, whereas the smear campaigners targetted only my editing the PGR, not my livelihood; and Salaita's "offensive" speech was on matters of public concern, whereas mine was not. But as more correspondents raised it, it did seem to me there were some moderately interesting similarities: first, the critics of both Salaita and of me were convinced of the utter rectitude of their objections to the "offensive" speech; and second, the critics were not content simply to criticize and denounce, they wanted to exact a tangible "punishment," or what they perceived to be such a punishment. The combination of sanctimonious rectitude and a desire to exact punishment for offensive speech makes a dangerous brew, far more dangerous in the Salaita case obviously.
A video of the event is here; Professor Siegel offers the following remarks about their discussion:
We were asked to discuss the roles of the sciences and the humanities in the study of the mind. Pinker went first. His own approach to studying to social phenomena (such as violence and gender roles) is evolutionary psychology. His intellectual hero is the sociobiologist E.O. Wilson. That comes through in his comments. But his main focus is on the respective roles of the sciences in general and the humanities. You could have guessed it in advance: Pinker chides 'the Humanities' for their 'anti-scientism' and for being insulated from the sciences (he makes an exception for philosophy, which he thinks - wrongly - is thoroughly and heavily informed by psychology), but he seems deaf to huge swathes of research in politics, literature, and social history which isn't and couldn't productively be informed by any 'science of the mind' of the sort he envisions.
My goal in my comments was to exhibit some of these areas of the Humanities. Our main disagreement is about what's continuous and what's discontinuous between the sciences and the humanities.
I find continuity in the modes of inquiry between the sciences and the humanities, because science is more than just confirming hypotheses. It includes the analysis of problems and to some extent (e.g. in certain types of case studies) detailed descriptions of experiences. The discontinuity is in the subject-matter. I identified three examples in my talk. One of them is about evidentialism and beliefs about social inequality. In another example I mention Chris Lebron's work on the long strand of American literature aimed at exposing the 'vast experiential gulf' between Americans. (I'm thankful to Chris for getting me to read Mat Johnson's novel *Pym*.)
Pinker thinks the sciences have superior methods, and that those methods can be applied widely in the humanities. So he thinks there ought to be continuity in the subject matter, and that to the extent that actual modes of inquiry are discontinuous, that's too bad for the humanities. (Philosophy is supposed to be a big hero here. He hasn't met the many non-naturalists that populate the field!)
I chose not to emphasize explicitly my biggest disagreement with Pinker's own political and psychological orientation. In a forum like this, that perspective is best met by exhibiting what it has to leave out. (It'd be different if we were charged with discussing sociobiology per se, in which case the perspective Pinker likes could be the main subject of discussion).
I also chose not to emphasize our biggest agreement, which is that philosophy - especially philosophy of mind, but also epistemology - is indeed often better when not conducted in complete intellectual isolation from the sciences. What would be the point of our spending all our time agreeing about that? It would have made the topic too narrow, and obscured the most important differences.
Final point: When you put together Pinker's own orientation as the intellectual heir to EO Wilson, with his interesting suggestions about reorganizing the university, it's easy to get the impression that he would in an imperialist manner impose sociobiology on the humanities. That is silly. He's serious about exploring other ways for the university to be organized, such as getting rid of disciplines altogether. He's not against fiction or philosophy. (He is after all the husband of the brilliant Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher and novelist). He says he didn't disagree with anything I said, though when push came to shove, he said we don't get any deep general or causal explanation of social phenomena or of the mind from the work in literature or history that I mentioned. He says causal generalizations can't be gotten from 'mere' descriptions. --But here's the part of his suggestion I think is very bad: he suggests selling the Humanities to the highest bidder. He points out in his talk that many donors would fund the Humanities more if there were greater connections to science. That is a poor reason to reorganize the university. You wouldn't select which novels should be taught by consulting the NYTimes best-seller list either.
IHE has the story. Mr. Maher's ability to speak freely, and reach a wide audience, would not in any way be hindered by not being honored as a commencement speaker at Berkeley. One can sympathize, though, with the Chancellor's attempt to put a stop to the endless "Generation Wuss" hair-trigger indignation and offense-taking about everything, without any sense of proportion or priorities. On the other hand, I expect the outcome would have been different had Mr. Maher's rude jokes been about, say, Zionist Jews rather than Muslims.
I'm a longtime reader of your Leiter Reports. I have noticed that of late you have been tracking a trend in our society wherein some hypocritical notion of civility is used as an excuse to suppress speech. I therefore thought you might be interested in this piece of news I happened across today: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637903-meeting-hat.html. In short, a city council meeting was cancelled and attendants (who refused to leave) were threatened with arrest because someone was wearing a hat that read "Fuck the Police" (it was deemed "offensive" and "disrespectful"). The most unsettling thing about this situation is that the Mayor of Santa Ana, the Mayor Pro Tem, and the Chief of Police all seem to have no idea that any constitutional rights were violated here--that is, these people who have the law in their hands have no inkling of even very basic constitutional law. On the other hand, this earlier article on this event (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637732-council-meeting.html) is a little more reassuring, since it shows that at least the people know their rights and are willing to subject themselves to intimidation and threats of arrest in order to stand up for the free speech rights of a complete stranger (and a "disrespectful" one at that). Let's hope they don't sign a kindness pledge.
There is a video of my introducing Salaita at University of Chicago the other night, and on the right-hand side you'll see links to videos of Salaita's talk at Northwestern, which I am told was essentially the same as the talk at U of C (I watched only a bit of it, and that seems right). That talk is in several parts, starting here. There's also a brief news video about the case from what I am told is a pro-Palestinian on-line news service.
(Thanks to John Dworkin and Jonah Rubin for the various links.)
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPT. 24--PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING
...with donations to support his legal case. I have donated and would urge others to do so. My understanding is that if legal fees are recouped, donated money will go to the Center for Constitutional Rights, a worthy organization that has been helping Salaita since this started.
This is a more informative piece than I've seen previously, and fits with much that we discussed earlier, including the possibility of defamation claims. One new possible claim is for tortious interference with contract, a claim that might also be brought against those donors who pressured the University to fire Salaita. (Readers my age or older may recall the most famous [or infamous] tortious intereference with contract case in modern times, Penzoil v. Texaco, won by legendary [and legendarily ferocious] Texas plaintiffs' lawyer Joe Jamail. [Just as an amusing sidenote, this video of Jamail taking a deposition often makes the rounds--Jamail is off camera on the right, you can only occasionally see his hands.)
I'm just returned from that event, and it appears they were taping it, so if it's on-line subsequently I will post a link. Prof. Salaita was, in person, exactly as he seemed at his Urbana-Champaign press conference: friendly, warm, and admirably composed and cheerful considering the terrible ordeal of persecution he has been through. The real person is a powerful counterweight to the campaign of demonization to which he has been subjected. It clearly helps that he has a strong sense of moral purpose. My introductory remarks to the event, for anyone who is interested, are below the fold (nothing surprising for those who have followed my Huffington Post columns):
Benj Hellie (Toronto) wrote to the researchers mentioned in Wednesday's story about fields in which women are under- and over-represented among doctoral recipients to inquire "where Philosophy falls in the ranking of the 'Gender Imbalance' paper." One of the researchers, Courtney Tannenbaum, wrote back and gave permission to share her response:
Thank you for your interest in the paper. I shared your inquiry with Andrew [Gillen] who led the analysis for the brief. He shared he following with me, which I hope answers your question:
The best CIP code for Philosophy is probably 38.01, which has the figures below:
This shows a bit of over-representation of men. Relative to other fields, it was 80 out of 135 fields when ranked from least to most male over-representation.
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)