December Open Thread

I can’t be bothered to come up with rhymes. Have at it, people.

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232 thoughts on “December Open Thread

  1. I’ve noticed that many of the blogs are kind of moribund. Even Daily Nous seems to have fewer commenters, though there’s still some activity. Maybe after the last couple of years, we’ve hit the saturation point in the Philosophy blogosphere, and people are backing out.

  2. Are we really not going to talk about this?

    Appearance and Reality in The Philosophical Gourmet Report: Why the Discrepancy Matters to the Profession of Philosophy
    Brian Bruya

    Metaphilosophy, Vol. 46, Issue 4-5, October 2015

    This article is a data-driven critique of The Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR), the most institutionally influential publication in the field of Anglophone philosophy. The PGR is influential because it is perceived to be of high value. The article demonstrates that the actual value of the PGR, in its current form, is not nearly as high as it is assumed to be and that the PGR is, in fact, detrimental to the profession. The article lists and explains five objections to the methods and methodology of the report. Taken together, the objections demonstrate that the report is severely flawed, failing to provide the information it purports to and damaging the profession overall. Finally, the article explains how several modifications may improve the PGR so that it can more legitimately and equitably play the role it already plays.

    ******
    I have to say, although I am moderately supportive of the PGR, I thought this article made some good criticisms. My own thought though would be to improve it rather than abolish it.

    Whole article is here (paywalled):

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/meta.12161/abstract

    1. Bah, the PGR is one more symptom of the status-seeking institutional inertia of Western civilization. Let the bloat fester a little more and it will cure itself, or lance the boil and wrap it up for a while. Though I’m curious to see what Brogaard’s tenure will be like, and the reception she’ll receive, I doubt it will do much to shift the landmarks of power and prestige in the discipline, and I suspect that’s what the backlash is about.

      Christ, how little has changed since the revolt during Rorty’s presidency of the APA.

    2. I didn’t read the whole article, but the criticisms I read don’t seem very good to me.

      Here’s an example:

      Another way to assess the possibility of sample bias is to look at the sample itself with respect to the results. In a well-executed poll of this sort, one would expect that there would be no correlation between the number of evaluators hailing from a particular school and that school’s rank. We wouldn’t want, for instance, the school with the second-highest number of evaluators to rank second and the school with the seventh-highest number of evaluators to rank seventh, and so on. Any such correlation would immediately call into question the validity of the poll’s conclusions—and the stronger the correlation, the worse the poll would look.

      I don’t understand why the correlation is supposed to call into question the validity of the poll’s conclusions. The author doesn’t say.
      The author is apparently a bit skeptical about Leiter’s claim that evaluators don’t rate their own departments, but that’s true (my advisor showed me the questionnaire). Given that, what is supposed to be the problem with the correlation in question?

      1. One thing is that the correlation is HUGE. It wouldn’t be as troubling IF he weren’t using snowball sampling (which itself is completely crazy.) Since he built his sample by having respondents recommend other respondents, having more evaluators from X University will generally mean more evaluators recommended by people from X University. Since people recommend people they know, that means more evaluators who personally know people from X University.

        And the fact that almost 200 of the respondents come from Yale, UM, MIT, Rutgers, Harvard, Pitt, Cornell, and Princeton, jesus christ.

    1. Maybe there just aren’t any interesting topics to talk about at the moment. Or maybe people are tired of the same positions defended by fems, NC people, what have you.

    2. I left old versions of the MB after all the harassment of LLH and PL. Glad to see that’s not an issue here, but we could use a new conversation topic to get things rolling again.

      1. Leydon-Hardy is the woman who told Ludlow she was “so in love”, called him her “boyfriend”, and shared his bed; and then lied about it two years later?

  3. “And the fact that almost 200 of the respondents come from Yale, UM, MIT, Rutgers, Harvard, Pitt, Cornell, and Princeton, jesus christ.”

    This. C’mon people.

    1. I don’t see why that’s an objection to the PG.
      And I don’t understand why nobody will explain why it’s supposed to be an objection, either.

      1. Because no one asked… are we supposed to read your mind?

        I thought it would be obvious, but among the issues:

        People are asked to rank programs based on their impression of the quality of the faculty. People, in general, tend to think of people whose work they are more familiar with as more prominent in the field. If you are on the east coast, you will interact more with other east coasters at conferences and talks, so a disproportionately east coast pool of evaluators should be expected to result in bias towards east coast schools.

        People are obviously influenced by others in their department. Certain philosophers and questions are considered extremely important in some departments and peripheral in others. Every department also has shared experiences like prominent philosophers botching talks there, minor people doing a great job, colleges that came from a program and think highly of it… Since the impressions of people in the same department are not independent of each other, including a disproportionate number of evaluators from a single department is going to skew results.

  4. Little update on the Pilos, hope you don’t mind guys. Brien Leiter linked to us, and to celebrate we’ve done a special thanks post!! V. pleased to have the Pilos going from strength to strength – so much for the ‘sphere being moribud!

  5. “I don’t see why that’s an objection to the PG.
    And I don’t understand why nobody will explain why it’s supposed to be an objection, either.”

    I know, right? Also, the Bible is the inerrant word of God. It says so in the Bible right here. I don’t see why people have such a problem understanding that.

  6. Congratulations, Pilos Boy, this is the big time! Much deserved!

    I hope Leiter doesn’t mind the koala comparison. I have to admit, I like him much more now that you’ve pointed it out. So cute and I imagine him smelling like eucalyptus. All of our professional and philosophical disagreements are just forgotten.

  7. A couple of weeks ago South Park introduced the concept of a PC bro or a pussy crusher (‘PC’ stands for pussy crushing). A pussy crusher is a person who uses social justice as an opportunity to increase their own power.

    Who are the pussy crushers of philosophy? The obvious examples are Schliesser, Lance and Protevi, but there are so many more!

    1. These days the pussy crushers don’t even have to crush any more. They seem to have won and reduced everyone else to silence. At this rate people will start thinking that they’re known for their work in philosophy.

  8. This is a hopeful sign:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/12/gender_critical_trans_women_the_apostates_of_the_trans_rights_movement.html

    “At first, Highwater felt incensed by these radical feminists. But she also wanted to understand them, and so she began to engage with them online. She discovered ‘people who had a pretty good grasp of gender as an artificial social construct—the expectations of what females are supposed to be, the expectations of what males are supposed to be, and how much of that is socialized,” she says. “What I started to find is that the women I was talking to actually made so much more sense than the trans people I was talking to’.”

    Of course, it’s pretty flabbergasting that she was *surprised* to find that feminist women have a “pretty good grasp of gender.” What? How on earth would someone who was born as and lived an entire life as a woman have any knowledge or understanding of what being a woman means and how much of it consists of bullshit gender roles? Crazy world, huh?

  9. Reading McGinn’s detailed answer to the complaint against UM, him and Erwin, which Leiter has linked to, including the messages from Morrison,

    http://leiterreports.typepad.com/files/mcginn-answer-111815.pdf

    there was a consensual relationship, but Morrison later lied about it. And reading the Ludlow & Leydon-Hardy text messages shows there was a consensual relationship in which Leydon-Hardy pursued Ludlow into his bed, and then later lied about. So, both cases turn out to be witch hunts, based on no evidence or misrepresented evidence.

    1. That has to be the dumbest thing written here. Just because McGinn says so, it does not mean that it is the case. And Mrs Morrison has not yet shown the same ugly public persona as Mrs Leydon-Hardy, so to equate those two situations is just plain stupid.

      1. Morrison’s messages to McGinn are now a matter of public record. They indicate a fairly long, consensual relationship, with a lot of mutual engagement and flirtation (though the dumb sexual stuff is from McGinn). It ends when they fall out. But this is a matter of evidence. It is not “McGinn says so”, as you claim. It is based on the evidence of their communications. You may feel shocked to see the details revealed; but this is what always happens when political ideology trumps facts and evidence. It’s worth adding that both Morrison and Leydon-Hardy have been manipulated by others, who acted to pursue their own agenda. Both are, to a large extent blameless, and are being used.

  10. McGinn: “Also, you have still not written the paper you were supposed to for the independent study, which I also expected you to do over the summer; which means I gave you an A for a non-existent paper!”

    Seriously, wtf…

    1. Morrison to McGinn: “How have you been? I miss our conversations, and hope that we can have one very soon” (24 Dec 2011).

      Morrison to McGinn: “The thing I miss most about Miami during this break is our conversations, and meeting with you!”; and “I also look forward to going paddle boarding!” (27 Dec 2011)

      Seriously, wtf …

      1. Good advice for those who may attend the Eastern APA convention: when a woman says she hopes she can have a conversation with you soon, she probably wants to give you a blow job. Proceed on the assumption that she does.

        If it turns out she wanted to have a conversation, or that she did not want to talk to you at all but was just saying that to get you to go away, then wtf? Bitch.

    2. Entirely reasonable. When a student doesn’t turn in a paper to me, I always give her an A. And then she doesn’t turn it in over the summer, wtf?? What is wrong with students today? She should definitely give me a hand job.

  11. Morrison to McGinn: “We will have a nice sushi lunch Thursday, hopefully that will cheer you up. Maybe moneeka will visit.” (8 May 2012)

    Odd how Morrison would consider the presence of her foot to be so exciting when she invited McGinn to lunch. As she added, “Perhaps there will be some Moneeka tomorrow at our meeting”. Isn’t it strange for a student to be so sexually forward to McGinn? I wonder what he thought of Morrison’s sexual advances?

    1. What’s at stake is whether McGinn used his position of power to pressure MM to engage in sexual/romantic activity and conversation. If he was, it wouldn’t stop being harassment if she gave in to the pressure.

      The fact that she made comments like these itself tells us nothing about whether it was consensual or harassment. (They’re not “advances” if she wasn’t the initiator.) What matters is the context. And it sounds, even by his account, like he was consistently the initiator, consistently on a whole different level (she’s talking about her foot and he’s talking about his dick), and escalated immediately after hiring her as his RA. That looks a hell of a lot like quid pro quo harassment.

    2. That’s not what happened. They had lunch, he emailed her “Today was great—but I forgot to solicit Moneeka under the restaurant table. I guess Monica was just too distracting today.” THEN she said “Perhaps there will be some Moneeka tomorrow at our meeting.” This is after he has been relentlessly writing love letters to her foot. In her original complaint, she was clear that she sometimes acceded to the foot stuff because she didn’t know what to do.

  12. I’m interested in Morrison’s foot fetish comments. When she was pursuing McGinn, inviting him for lunch, dinner and “paddle boarding”, she calls her foot “moneeka”. Morrison’s comments do seem rather sexual. Did she intend that?

    1. The “Moneeka” thing seems sexual because of how McGinn talked about her foot and stroked it. But then, maybe she uses similar language herself. I hope the actual email/txt record gets published. While she’s suggesting lunch and sports, he’s suggesting hand jobs and talking about erections. I’m waiting to see the part where his advances are reciprocated in kind.

      1. The “maybe moneeka will visit” thing from Morrison, as she romantically pursues McGinn, seems sexual because it is sexual. Morrison is using a sexualized idea to flirt with McGinn.

  13. So far, we’ve heard Morrison’s side of the story and McGinn’s side of the story. Which one is true depends on details about context, timing, and tone in their correspondence, details that require a review of their full correspondence to verify or refute. Edited snippets alone as in the legal documents released so far do not suffice. Until the full correspondence is released, I will abstain from holding confident beliefs about what happened. Why more philosophers don’t adopt this kind of stance is something of a mystery to me. Both Morrison and McGinn claim to be victims (of sexual harassment or false accusation); so a “believe an alleged victim when in doubt” maxim is of no help here.

    And now a serious question. To those of you who do have confident beliefs about what happened, what do you think is wrong with the above reasoning? Why not wait until full correspondence is released before forming confident beliefs on the matter?

    1. Confident beliefs have been formed and widely distributed for more than two years, by philosophy’s great and good, with not a single naysayer. There is 103.7% consensus that McGinn is a man of unrecoverable, appalling and unspeakable evil, and has rightly been expunged from the “moral community”. Do you not understand this simple point? Are you not a philosopher? Surely not even a “visit” from “moneeka” can change this moral insight?

      1. Thanks for replying. My question was serious, and I was hoping for serious answers, not just the usual snark. Anyone else?

    2. We definitely don’t need to suspend judgment on whether McGinn behaved incredibly badly, since they agree on facts that constitute very bad behavior from him: He developed a relationship with a subordinate that involved things like holding and kissing her foot. Despite the fact that she explicitly said she did not want to sleep with him, he made comments to her while she was his subordinate that a normal person would interpret as pushing her to (for example, mentioning them having sex three times as a possible “compromise” while denying he was “necessarily” advocating it; when she said she was not going to “give in” to having a sexual relationship he responded by saying that he wasn’t sure he wanted her to—but did not dispute that it would be giving in!). He let his feelings toward her prevent him from treating her appropriately as a student and research assistant, and led him to do things like give her good marks for work she had not done. Again, they agree that he did all of these things. So we should be very confident that he behaved completely inappropriately and should have been sanctioned. Since this kind of behavior is incredibly damaging for all women in the department EVEN IF it was consensual, I think his resignation was appropriate regardless of who is telling the truth on the points where they disagree.

      But I also find his denials incredible. He claims he did not send her inappropriate emails after admitting he mentioned the possible “compromise” of having sex, talking about having erections caused by her, etc. Much of his evidence of her supposed receptiveness are responses like “lol,” “that’s nice,” and “i value our intellectual relationship” to sexual emails and texts. At best, many of his claims amount to “she IN FACT was receptive to this and knew I was not pressuring her, and I won’t mention the fact that a person in her position could reasonably believe otherwise.”

      I believe that McGinn may have genuinely thought that she was receptive, because all evidence suggests he is a socially inept narcissist. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t harassment.

      1. The email record, as it currently stands, shows McGinn using sexual banter (“erection”, “hand job”) while romantically pursuing Morrison. It also shows Morrison romantically pursuing McGinn, with invitations, telling him “I miss you”, discussing the “Monica-Colin union” and their relationship, and even sexualized comments about her own foot (“Maybe moneeka will visit”).

        To be clear, 4:10: are you trying to deny that Morrison romantically pursued McGinn? Because only someone who is ideologically delusional can now try and deny this.

      2. Making romantic comments to someone is not “romantically pursuing” them if you’re only doing it because they have power over you and are pushing you to. It’s like you people think that pressuring your subordinate into a sexual or romantic relationship stops being harassment if it works.

      3. How is anyone acting like there’s a chance McGinn wasn’t harassing her?

        Let’s review:
        He hires her as his RA on 12/12. The NEXT DAY he tells her “1 would love to see your painting and your messy hands. It sounds somewhat erotic (I have a wide definition of the erotic)…I hope you think of me as often as I think of you.” He has her give him her cell number so he can text her while she is home for break. 12/17—she has been his RA for FIVE DAYS—he is asking her to send him photos of herself. She repeatedly makes excuses for why she’s not responding to his emails, which sound unbelievably frequent and not related to any substantive work. On 12/19, he emails her “[Plaintiff], light of my…, fire of my… ”

        If you are sending your new RA emails channeling fucking Humbert Humbert SEVEN DAYS after hiring her, you are doing something wrong. The fact that she is giving excuses for avoiding you but is warm and yielding to your characterization of your relationship when she emails you DOES NOT HELP.

        On 12/27—she has been his RA for a whole 15 days now—he emails her “I think you owe me unlimited hand strokes and full body grips for abandoning me over Christmas,” she responds by saying she tells him “My apologies again. The holiday is over and family obligations have relaxed! … The thing I miss most about Miami during this break is our conversations, and meeting with you! … I also look forward to going paddle boarding!”

        This isn’t hard, people.

    3. I think that’s entirely reasonable, but I’ll go a step further. Even if I had access to the full, unedited correspondence, phone calls, etc, I think it could possibly still be hard to tell, depending on what they contained.

      One thing I’m wondering about is a bit more cut-and-dried: Morrison alleged that McGinn sent letters to various friends in the springtime before the CHE article came out. McGinn denies it. We know he got letters of support, but that doesn’t mean he sent letters asking for that support. The CHE article refers to the case as one being talked about in philosophy departments around the country. We hashed this all out on the other blog, so I don’t want to go there again. But whether or not he sent letters (or emails or phone calls) ought to be something that is black and white. I wonder which is it. (It’s only important, to my mind, because it bears on his decision to blog about the student)

      1. Yeah, this an interesting “cut-and-dried” factual issue: did McGinn actually send out those emails to various friends? This seems like a really bad thing to lie about in either direction, since you can be proven wrong. I wonder who’s lying in this case.

        This is sort of like the issue in one of PL’s documents, where he alleged that LLH had herself claimed in another document to have been in a consenting relationship with PL. Either LLH said those things in another document or she did not, and lying about it in either direction sounds like a terrible idea, since you can be proven wrong!

      2. McGinn is extremely unspecific about what part of the complaint’s claims about the letters he is denying. It was probably just Erwin that sent the letters, obviously with McGinn’s involvement. The Saarinen and Pinker responses were both addressed to Erwin (well, Pinker’s is addressed to “Ervin”).

      3. Both the letter thing here and the PL example should be simply factual, if everyone concerned is trying to be both honest and charitable. But there’s potential wiggle room in both cases, without it coming down to proveable lying.

        As 5:38am says, it might be Erwin who sent the emails. Or maybe McGinn called instead of writing. If the student got that wrong, I would call that lying, necessarily.

        In the PL case, I can think of one possible way that neither is proveably lying. Say in the student’s document, which we haven’t seen, she says that she slept with PL on numerous occasions before and after the alleged non-consensual sex time. He refers to that as her saying they had a consensual sex relationship. So if she says she never admitted to a sexual relationship she’s not “lying”, because she only claimed to have (literally) slept with him. And he’s not “lying” when he says she admitted to being in a sexual relationship, because that’s conventionally what it means to sleep with someone. Of course, I have no idea what her actual words were (much less what the truth of their relationship was) but that’s just one way that would explain what otherwise looks like a risky legal move on one side or the other.

      4. “As 5:38am says, it might be Erwin who sent the emails. Or maybe McGinn called instead of writing. If the student got that wrong, I would call that lying, necessarily.”

        What? Lying requires intentional deception, not just being wrong. If the letters were actually from Erwin or McGinn actually called she was presumably merely mistaken, because why on earth would she lie about that?

  14. And the prize for best chat up line ever goes to … Monica Morrison for: “maybe moneeka will visit” (referring to her foot)

  15. If you accept an “A” for a non-existent paper, are you complicit in that academic dishonesty? Clearly, the faculty member who does this is at fault. But is the student at fault as well? I would think so, and would advocate sanctions against both the professor and student.

    This much is clear: like the PL/LLH texts, the McGinn/Morrison correspondence doesn’t paint either party in a very flattering light. My opinion, on reading it all, is that McGinn is a horny old fool, and Morrison is a semi-willing participant in his games, ever eager to get some career help in return for flirtatious attention. She didn’t think he would go as far as he did, obviously, and was upset when he started talking about handjobs and intercourse, but she did explicitly encourage his advances along the way.

  16. This is a reply to 6:51am above, but for some reason, when I tried to reply in place, the reply doesn’t show up. My comment at 6:22 had a typo. I thought I’d typed “I wouldn’t call that lying, necessarily”. Sorry for the confusion.

    1. Duh, sorry, I should have realized that—you said “But there’s potential wiggle room in both cases, without it coming down to proveable lying.”

  17. Whineberg opens fire on Blighter by posting a link to the anti-PGR paper. Just after Leiter panned Whineberg’s department.

  18. 1/20, MM has been McGinn’s RA for about a month. He emails her “I feel happy today knowing you are mine You are mine [Plaintiff] is mine … You are mine, mine “. It is signed “I
    remain your humble servant (and proud owner!), Colin- of Sherwood.”

    OH MY FUCKING GOD.

    1. Bonus: the next day he emails her “[Plaintiff), There’s a new law in Colinica: [Plaintiff) must communicate with Colin at least one [sic.) a day! Even if it’s just to say, ‘Can you feel my virtual grip-at-a-distance?’ Otherwise Colin feels like he’s falling. And anyway he misses his [Plaintiff], and his [Plaintiffs foot)… -yours (I am), Colin”

      Before this he trots out an email she later wrote saying “So here is my quick `can you feel my virtual grip-at-a-distance email’ to say hello” as evidence she was reciprocating. He literally told her to say exactly that. And insisted she communicate with him daily.

      1. Ownership of graduate students is a well-established disciplinary norm. What’s important is to treat yours nicely. Take them on walks, allow them to play with other graduate students, and don’t make them lick your balls too often. It has emerged from the email that McGinn satisfied these norms. Case closed.

        So, he wanted to know whether she felt his virtual grip-at-a-distance. Don’t we all???

  19. What this more detailed evidence of email/text message communications shows is that Monica Morrison reciprocated and encouraged Colin McGinn’s banter and flirting; and Morrison indeed flirted back with McGinn, inviting him to lunches and dinners, even with occasional sexualized comments (“maybe moneeka will visit” on one of her invitations to him in May 2012, referring to her foot), and adding at one point she enjoyed his poetry, as it was “arboreal pornography”.

    This detailed email/text message evidence therefore shows that Morrison’s much later account, in the recent complaint, is an inaccurate account of the facts about their consensual relationship, based on misrepresentation and distortion of the evidence.

    1. Even if what you post were as self-evident as you keep insisting it is, posting it over and over again without any prompting would still make you seem like an obsessive weirdo.

  20. Interesting interview with Camille Paglia:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/spiked-review/article/feminist-trouble#.Vm1m8r9ScUM

    “I am continually shocked and dismayed by the nearly Victorian notions promulgated by today’s feminists about the fragility of women and their naïve helplessness in asserting control over their own dating lives…

    The problem with too much current feminism, in my opinion, is that even when it strikes progressive poses, it emanates from an entitled, upper-middle-class point of view. It demands the intrusion and protection of paternalistic authority figures to project a hypothetical utopia that will be magically free from offence and hurt. Its rampant policing of thought and speech is completely reactionary, a gross betrayal of the radical principles of 1960s counterculture, which was inaugurated in the US by the incendiary Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley…

    …the tough, no-crap attitude of the rebellious women of my 1960s generation, who were directly inspired by the sexual revolution, created by the brand-new Pill. We took all kinds of risks – I certainly did, with some scary escapes in dark side streets of Paris and Vienna. We wanted the same freedoms as men, and we took charge of our own destinies. We viewed life as a continual experiment, an urgent pressing into the unknown. If we got knocked down, we got up again, nursed our bruises and learned from our mistakes. Today, in contrast, too many young feminists want their safety, security and happiness guaranteed in advance by all-seeing, all-enveloping bureaucracies. It’s a sad, limited and childish view of life that I find as claustrophobic as a hospital ward.”

  21. hi. i’m a woman in philosophy who was the target of persistent sexual harassment from a teacher when she was a teenager. until you’ve experienced it, it’s sometimes hard to understand what it’s like to be subject to harassment, why people are so upset by it, why people do x or y in response to it, why women sometimes encourage it, etc. i can’t speak for anyone else, but i’ll answer any (reasonable) questions left in reply, if anybody is interested.

    1. Could you shed some light on why someone might respond in a way that seems flirtatious? I know it’s pretty common but it’s hard to wrap your head around from the outside. Thanks for doing this.

      1. Yeah I can tell you what it looked like from my perspective. One of the important things to remember is that when you’re at the beginning of a sexual harassment situation, you don’t know that it’s going to wind up reaching the point where it’s (pervasive) sexual harassment. You don’t know what’s coming in the future. So when it first starts, you’re sort of confused what’s happening. You think that maybe it’s a funny joke, or maybe it’s just some innocent banter that is indicating how close you are becoming with the person, or maybe you are deep down a little bit flattered. When it’s coming from someone that you really admire and respect for intellectual reasons, it’s really easy to “trick” yourself into thinking that the message was meant as just innocent or banter between friends or maybe a little flirty, yeah, but in the way that sometimes friends are flirty with each other. You also want to be seen as “cool,” “funny,” and “friends” with your advisor / mentor / teacher as well. You want to be seen as an adult and one of their colleagues. After all, when you’re a student on the cusp of adulthood (or on the cusp of joining the profession), and you’re not _exactly_ sure what the professional norms are, so you let the other person set the tone. So you kind of go along with the flirty, funny vibe, even though maybe you’re confused or not entirely comfortable.

        What happens is that the other person keeps escalating, and it’s starting to sound creepier and less funny and less like you’re just friends. But you think back to what you’ve said and you’re like, “Oh God. But I said x, y, and z when this first started. But because I said x, y, and z, no one is going to take me seriously when I claim harassment.” So instead of reporting it or breaking it off immediately, you feel like the best thing to do is carry on as it is, hope it doesn’t get worse, and hope that you still get something out of the relationship, like mentorship. This can keep snowballing until you feel like you’re trapped in this secret, awful thing, and you can’t tell anybody what’s happening, and you just have to go along with it as best you can. But the more you go along with it, the more you realize that no one is going to believe you if you do try to claim sexual harassment. So it becomes a vicious cycle.

        I guess you can blame the girl / woman for not trying to stop the cycle faster. But it’s all fine to talk about principles, ideals, and morality in the abstract. When it’s actually you in the situation, you’re just trying to live your life as best you can, and by trying to make the least amount of trouble possible, you can wind up in a horrible situation like the one I’ve described.

        I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that a lot of serial harassers understand the cycle I’ve described. That’s why they start small and escalate to larger things. They try to get the other person to feel comfortable with the smaller, easier to overlook stuff, so they can work the victim up to the point when she feels like she’s in some way already ‘consented’ to the big stuff or is trapped by the situation and has to keep going along with the big stuff.

        Does that help?

      2. Also–and I don’t think the feminists would like me saying this, but I think it’s true–a lot of young women are really, really confused about how they’re supposed to feel about powerful older men. Because of what happened when I was younger, I have never really been tempted to think erotically about any of my mentors. But at some point, most of my female friends in graduate school have wanted to have “that talk” with me. The talk where we “joke” about the attractiveness of various male faculty or talk about erotic connections that we “think” we have with them.

        I don’t like being party to these semi-serious conversations, because I know that in real life, dating your mentor is almost always disastrous and harmful for the less powerful party. In some cases, it’s abusive or worse. I don’t think these women are actually very serious about their erotic fantasies about their mentors. I don’t think they even really sexually desire them. But there’s a persistent trope in popular culture–a persistent, ugly, sexist trope–that women should be in love with their genius intellectual mentors. It’s there, and it comes out in “jokey” conversations like that. When that trope is activated–when suddenly a powerful older man that you admire bestows erotic attention on you–you feel confused about how to act. The script is all “there” in the culture. You become the willing ingenue who becomes consumed by the brilliance of her mentor. You get tempted to play out that role. After all, it’s so glamorous in the movies.

        So I think sometimes what happens, what happened in my case a little bit, is that you _think_ you’re supposed to behave the way it works in all of those fantasies in the movies, that you hear about in history, in books, etc. But you realize that in reality, you don’t like it at all. The guy is creepy, old, and objectifying you. But again, as soon as you start down the road of tolerating the actions even a little bit, it gets really really hard to break it off. Because you know that anything you did to “encourage” the behavior will be seen as an indictment of you and a vindication of him.

        Let me repeat that I don’t think that the women are to blame in this situation, or that women are stupid or lack agency. I do think that there are powerful cultural tropes that confuse young women without a lot of romantic experience, and I think that older men purposefully take advantage of them. Those tropes exist in popular culture for a reason, and it’s because the tropes are flattering to powerful old men and because the tropes actively present as romantic and sexy something that is against the best interests of 99.99% of young women.

      3. Thanks for doing this, I think it’s so important (which is why I thought I should do the same thing below re: staying with your rapist). I just wanted to say that a lot of what you said is familiar to me… being confused and unsure if something was ok but not wanting to show that I didn’t know what was going on, and I don’t know, too much wanting men to like me. I guess it makes less sense in my case because they were peers and not authority figures, but this desire for men to like me and instinct to be agreeable to them is just really strongly enculturated in me.

        I’m really sorry this happened to you. I hope you’re doing well.

      4. As yet another woman here, I’d like to also respond to the question of why responses might appear flirtatious. I don’t know how much this matches others’ experience:

        When I was a young teenager, just starting to look for work out in the world, my mom sat me down for a “talk”, the just of which was this: Everywhere you work, you can count on some more senior man flirting with you. Most will only be flirting, but some might want to push it further. If you want to ever keep a job, you have to figure out how to not give into it without hurting his feelings or embarrassing him. If you are too friendly, it can hurt your reputation with others who you need to please, or depending on the nature of the job, get you fired by his wife. If you brush him off too obviously, it’ll irk him and get you fired.

        Now, I was appalled by this and told my Mom that can’t be the way things really were and that her experience was no longer the way things were. Her response was maybe, maybe not, but ignore it at my own peril.

        As things turned out, she was wrong. That didn’t happen at every job. It only ever happened to me twice.

        But if other women got that message, or just arrived at that conclusion on their own, that can contribute to the confusion in knowing how to balance the friendly vs firm thing to keep their jobs. It’s the embedding of the flirting into the job thing that is the real problem. I would think a man in the same position would have the same problem. But I’m pretty sure my brothers didn’t get that “talk”

    2. Also wanted to say thank you for sharing this. A good indication of what the metablog can be, particularly given that some of your reflections might not be deemed ideologically correct by the DN folks

  22. Someone sent out an all-department email asking which colleagues read the PMMB, since IP addresses (?? don’t know how they’d know that) showed that at least someone from the university visited the site. It’s a mad mad mad mad world where even reading an uncensored blog upsets people. Using Tor isn’t paranoid, it’s a rational response to this kind of witchhunting.

    1. Maybe this states the obvious, but this is a shameful way to treat students and colleagues, no less so than the “dispelling” episode a few years back.

    2. (1) Was the person sending out this email in a position of authority — e.g., the Chair, Associate Chair, etc.? (2) Why would anyone — in a position of authority or not — presume that any reader of the PMMB would come forward? (Not that you have an answer to (2).) I am tempted to say that it is a restriction on my academic freedom to try to bully me not to read anything that is legal to read.

  23. inspired by anon7: I’m a woman in philosophy who was raped and continued to sleep with the person that raped me. I can also answer questions about that—general questions or specifics only about what happened to me, I’m not going to speculate about what happened to other people.

    1. Really sorry to hear that, mate. all the best. ❤

      Thanks for what you said upthread. It seems that discussions of sexual harassment in Philosophy are heavily dominated by legal questions. "Well…does it LEGALLY count as sexual harassment?" And people seem that they have an easier time identifying with the alleged perpetrator, because a lot of their questions have to do with whether the guy could have known that the behavior was unwanted or whether the guy was an innocent victim of a scheming, sexual young woman.

      For me, I think it's hard to talk openly about my experiences because of the shame associated with being a victim of sexual harassment but also because people don't seem to know what to say beyond "sexual harassment=bad." Sexual harassment is bad, and the young woman is the victim, period, and it's like the conversation just stops there. I feel like it doesn't give people an insight into what it's like actually being victimized by this stuff. My hope is that maybe if I talk about what it was like for me, people will gain some understanding of why the problem is so pernicious and so destructive. Sometimes I actually think talking about who to blame is less important than talking about why it happens and what's so bad about it.

      But yeah, here is a thing that upsets me. Girls are constantly fed messages that they should be sweet, that they should placate men's egos, and that the most important thing in the world is men's attentions. But then, we're blamed when we don't immediately curb stop a guy because he crosses a line somewhere. Well, duh. We've been told all our lives that we're supposed to be the accommodating ones, and that we're so lucky this guy has been bestowing his attentions on us.

      Since developing a less-than-completely-distant relationship with some of my male advisors, I have recurring nightmares that they're going to try something. One of the things that's really helped me is that I've pre-decided where I'm going to draw the line. So I have thought out exactly what things would cause me to push the "non-negotiable, you have been dropped from my committee, bye" button. As paranoid as it is, I sometimes wonder if we should tell incoming female graduate students that they need to decide ahead of time what the line is for them. Because once you're in the middle of a situation, it gets really confusing really quickly.

      1. I feel you so much on this and really want to give this the thoughtful reply it deserves. I’m swamped right now but will get back soon.

  24. I’ve heard different assertions about the Ludlow/Leydon-Hardy correspondence and want to see for myself. Where are the online copies of these records? Do I need to poke around in court proceedings or can someone please post a link

    1. Just guessing, but I think posting the link to the correspondence may be what killed the earlier versions of this site, as they were not on public record.

    2. They weren’t from court proceedings. Screenshots from Ludlow’s phone were just dumped (presumably Ludlow retaliating against the woman he allegedly raped).

      In general, though, I think it’s a bad mistake to think their texts could prove he didn’t rape her. I’ve been raped by two people I was otherwise having consensual sex with—once when I was WAY too drunk (my friend left me on his couch because she didn’t think I could walk the 2 blocks back to our dorm with her) and once when I was asleep. Neither involved an experience that was itself traumatic, since I was incoherent the first time and asleep the other time, and in the mornings I woke up in beds I was used to waking up in. Both times I felt really uncomfortable about what had happened but also really confused. Both of them did things that made me doubt myself: My friend had told the first guy I was too drunk and he shouldn’t touch me, and he was texting her that I came on really strongly to him before I was even out of his bed. The second guy had asked me if he could wake me up to have sex again. Definitely not if he could have sex with me while I was asleep, but it made me not know what to think. I didn’t want to make a big deal about nothing, and there’s no way you can say “hey, I didn’t consent to having sex with you then” without it being a big deal.

      So I was just kind of like “well, that was weird,” and moved on. I didn’t spend that long thinking about it, and I definitely wouldn’t have said it was rape. I continued being friends with the first guy, and I kept sleeping with the second. If anything, from my texts with #2 you’d think I was a little obsessed with him. When someone’s treated you like you’re not a person and like you don’t deserve to control your own body and you’re not admitting it to yourself, of course you just want them to show that they *do* think of you as a person, and that can come out as wanting them to keep talking to you and wanting them to like you.

      1. device6 says: “In general, though, I think it’s a bad mistake to think their texts could prove he didn’t rape her.”

        That sounds exactly right, and I don’t think the texts are interesting because they prove that rape didn’t happen. I think they prove that a consensual relationship was in place. This shows that feminist philosophers who claimed otherwise in blog comments and editorials were lying. Or, if not lying, saying things that they knew to be false. Or, if not that, bullshitting, just not giving a damn about what the facts were. This is the conclusion I came to from reading the texts.

      2. Are you talking about Pogin’s HuffPo piece? She was making a point about Kipnis being inconsistent about her standards of evidence and avoided saying whether or not the student had actually dated Ludlow. That seems fine to me.

        In general, though, I think we should all be very uncomfortable with invading a traumatic part of one person’s private life to see if a different person was dishonest. It’s hard for me to see how that would be OK.

      3. Holdup, why “presumably Ludlow retaliating against the woman he allegedly raped”? Couldn’t it have been by Leydon-Hardy herself or an ally, to exonerate her claim that there was no consensual romantic relationship? That’s not an implausible reading of the texts: he was a creep who wanted to be with her, she wanted to keep him in the friend zone, so there was no “consensual romantic relationship”.

      4. “it was from Ludlow’s phone”

        The one’s I saw were just text and could have been from either party. Were there also screenshots clearly from Ludlow? I may have missed them in the shuffle from mmb to mmmb.

  25. I was, inadvertently, a harasser. It was over 25 years ago. I was in my early thirties and single. Susan was a pretty undergrad who taken a couple of my classes. In her senior year she did an independent study course with me. After it was done, we met for a final coffee. I nudged the conversation towards relationships, and in a general way towards student-teacher relationships — trying to figure out her attitude towards them. I saw that she looked embarrassed to be discussing this, and I pulled back and dropped the subject. We parted company and had no further contact.

    Here’s the thing. I sorta knew at the time that this was a fuck-up. The experience stayed with me as something I did which was regrettable and embarrassing and harmful. But I never full appreciated just how very bad it was until the last couple of years, with all the discussion about sexual harassment on campus. Putting aside my own behavior, here’s a thought. Many men who engage in various levels of harassment simply do not get that what they are doing is bad. I didn’t get it. I hadn’t set out to harass this young woman, but I was attracted to her and wanted to nudge the conversation in a direction to see if I stood a chance. (I didn’t.) The idea that this was harassment was the further thing from my mind — until I saw her clear discomfort, at which point it was too late to undo what I had done.

    I know of many unproblematic teacher-student relationships, and I’m not always against them. But I do think that, if you’re interested in a student, you have to be fully aware of how freaky this kind of attention might be to a 21-year-old or even a 25-year-old.

    1. It’s hard to take this seriously. Indicating romantic interest isn’t harassment, even if it causes embarrassment. Whether there are institutional rules prohibiting relationships like this is one thing. But what you describe is part and parcel of adult single life.

      1. …..sigh.

        It’s not the “indicating romantic interest” part that’s the problem. It’s the “in the context of a teacher/student relationship or what was recently a teacher/student relationship” part that’s the problem.

        You have to think about it from that young woman’s perspective. After that happened, she probably went home and wondered if the professor only agreed to supervise the independent study because he wanted to get in her past. She maybe had to wonder whether the guy would retaliate now that she turned him down or if he would no longer be as supportive of her or if he would try to broach the topic again if she met with him for academic reasons. Maybe she felt that she had lost him as a reference.

        As the original poster said, please try to think about it from the perspective of many young female students who are subject to this kind of attention. If you’re a man and you just literally can’t wrap your head around what all the crazy feminists are going on about, please try to find some patient women who have thought a lot about it and ad experienced it and ask them what it felt like.

      2. Thanks anon7, I’m glad you’re posting here. Let me ask, what do you think of Camille Paglia’s article? Some of what you write seems to fall within the sights of her critique. Consider this from above:

        “Girls are constantly fed messages that they should be sweet, that they should placate men’s egos, and that the most important thing in the world is men’s attentions. But then, we’re blamed when we don’t immediately curb stop a guy because he crosses a line somewhere. Well, duh. We’ve been told all our lives that we’re supposed to be the accommodating ones, and that we’re so lucky this guy has been bestowing his attentions on us.

        Since developing a less-than-completely-distant relationship with some of my male advisors, I have recurring nightmares that they’re going to try something. One of the things that’s really helped me is that I’ve pre-decided where I’m going to draw the line. So I have thought out exactly what things would cause me to push the “non-negotiable, you have been dropped from my committee, bye” button. As paranoid as it is, I sometimes wonder if we should tell incoming female graduate students that they need to decide ahead of time what the line is for them. Because once you’re in the middle of a situation, it gets really confusing really quickly.”

        Where’s female agency in any of this?

    2. There are two questions here: was this harassment?, and was this morally acceptable?

      It’s pretty clear that it wasn’t harassment, since that requires a repeated pattern of behavior. And for whatever it’s worth, it doesn’t sound morally inappropriate to me, as long as you were receptive to the student’s embarrassment (which it sounds like you were).

      1. This is to 4:29. For some reason it’s not letting me nest the comment below 4:29.

        Um. I’m not sure I understand what you’re asking about agency. I mean, I don’t like the “new feminist” line that women are just helpless victim who must be protected at all costs through bureaucratic and legalistic mechanisms. But when we’re just trying to figure out why all of this stuff is happening so often, when we’re trying to figure out why women put themselves in bad situations or why some men don’t understand why women don’t like when they do X, or why women flirt back, then I think we do need to look at the large cultural matrix that we all live in.

        It seems obvious to me that girls and young women are told that they should “want” certain things that are against their best interests. I think it’s really lazy to look at those girls and women, who have been told all their lives that they should want to a husband AT ALL COSTS to themselves or feel flattered and in love with powerful men who deign to mentor them, and say “Well, they deserve what they got because they wanted it” or “Well, talking about why this is bad takes away women’s agency, because the women want it.” I think it’s just plainly obvious that the girls and women often want things against their best interest, things that are ACTIVELY GOING TO HARM THEM, because of what they’ve seen in media, because of what they’ve been told, and because they don’t know any better.

        I mean, is there anywhere else other than gender/sex where everyone gets so worked up about agency? When someone says, “You’ve been told all your academic life that you should want a TT job at NYU, but honestly that’s not necessarily in your best interest, maybe you should think about leaving academia,” we don’t hem and haw about the way we’re taking away that person’s agency. Their desires have been informed by the tropes, culture, etc. of their place of employment. Obviously we shouldn’t cast academics as helpless victims of a system, either. But I think it’s fine to ask ourselves why we want certain things. And in case where I’m pretty sure people want things that are really bad for them and really go against their best interests, and in cases where I’m pretty sure that those people only want those things because of harmful tropes in their environment, yeah, I want to think about how we can remove those tropes.

      2. Or maybe you’re asking why I would sooner take a scorched earth policy (drop an advisor, cut them out of my academic life) than attempt to reason with the harasser?

        That’s a complicated discussion. Actually I did have a situation where I sat down and had a conversation with an advisor who I felt had crossed the line repeatedly and made me uncomfortable, but I had a strong reason to believe that he was genuinely just being an idiot and that he would cut it out once I asked him to stop making those kinds of jokes. Which he did.

        In cases where you’ve got a serial creep, there’s nothing you can really do except get away from them as fast as possible or open formal preceedings. I tried to go thru a formal system when I was younger, it is something I could never recommend to anyone else. It’s awful and will fuck you up forever and you’ll lose a ton of friends and have tons of people pouring over the details of one of the worst experiences of your life. For example, you also get anonymous creeps all over the internet joking around about the fact that your alleged harasser and you engaged in some foot fetish thing and openly mocking one of the most humiliating experiences of your life. Yeah, the best thing you can do is just walk away.

      3. 4:21, I mean, whatever we want to call what happened, I think the point the original poster was trying to draw out was that “You can’t unring a bell.” He felt that making a romantic pass at a student was ringing a bell he couldn’t unring, and therefore he regretted it and felt that he had caused harm. I tried to draw out some reasons why I think making a romantic pass at a student is in fact very much like ringing a bell and will leave the student in a very bad position asking herself a lot of terrible questions.

      4. anon7 writes:

        “4:21, I mean, whatever we want to call what happened, I think the point the original poster was trying to draw out was that “You can’t unring a bell.” He felt that making a romantic pass at a student was ringing a bell he couldn’t unring, and therefore he regretted it and felt that he had caused harm. I tried to draw out some reasons why I think making a romantic pass at a student is in fact very much like ringing a bell and will leave the student in a very bad position asking herself a lot of terrible questions.”

        I agree with everything until you get here: leave the student in a very bad position asking herself a lot of terrible questions. Sure, it rings a bell that can’t be unrung. And in general I think faculty should avoid dating people who have been, are, or are likely to be under one’s direct supervision. But I’ve known too many couples who met in a faculty/student environment to endorse the moral language you’re using.

      5. I think there are more useful questions to ask than whether it was harassment and/or morally acceptable. Speaking as someone who had a completely consensual relationship with a prof at one point, I see it like this:

        If you (the prof) want to see if an academic relationship can transition into a romantic one, it’s a good idea to take into account that, no matter how much the student might also be interested in that, there is a definite possiblity that the student will at least question whether past academic help and praise was unbiased by your romantic feelings. So, since you actually like this person, take that into account when choosing the time and place to bring up the possibility of shifting the relationship. The guy above made the opening at a coffee to wrap up a mentoring project. It’s not surprising that that situation could cause the student to question the authenticity of the mentoring. Another time and place, removed from the context of the mentoring, could have a different effect.

        I’d just also add, the doubt could (and maybe should) go the other way, too. If a student starts feeling romantic in the context of a mentoring situation, it’s quite possible that the student’s regard/admiration/whatever of the prof’s ideas are also colored by her romantic feelings. It’s normal for people to see the people they care for as smarter, wiser, funnier,etc than they objectively are. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just means that if you have two separate kinds of relationship with the same person, it’s really important to be aware of that and not let one screw up the other.

  26. Hi Anon7–thanks for the response. FYI, you won’t be able to nest posts beyond a certain depth, so you’ll have to hit ‘reply’ on the deepest post you can to keep a thread going.

    You say you can imagine cases where you’re pretty sure some women ‘only want those things because of harmful tropes in their environment’. What is the harmful trope exactly? That women are attracted to older men with power? At any rate, the claim that (some?) women only want these things because of the environment seems to deny the agency women have over the decisions they make. Earlier you wrote:

    “So when it first starts, you’re sort of confused what’s happening. You think that maybe it’s a funny joke, or maybe it’s just some innocent banter that is indicating how close you are becoming with the person, or maybe you are deep down a little bit flattered. When it’s coming from someone that you really admire and respect for intellectual reasons, it’s really easy to “trick” yourself into thinking that the message was meant as just innocent or banter between friends or maybe a little flirty, yeah, but in the way that sometimes friends are flirty with each other. You also want to be seen as “cool,” “funny,” and “friends” with your advisor / mentor / teacher as well. You want to be seen as an adult and one of their colleagues. After all, when you’re a student on the cusp of adulthood (or on the cusp of joining the profession), and you’re not _exactly_ sure what the professional norms are, so you let the other person set the tone. So you kind of go along with the flirty, funny vibe, even though maybe you’re confused or not entirely comfortable.”

    Your comment reminded me of Paglia:

    “I am continually shocked and dismayed by the nearly Victorian notions promulgated by today’s feminists about the fragility of women and their naïve helplessness in asserting control over their own dating lives…”

    I wondered what you thought of her take.

    1. I’m going to address the bit of Paglia, first. I can see maybe where I haven’t been clear.

      I don’t think women are incapable of asserting control over their dating lives at all. I think that in many sexual harassment cases, women are trying to make the best choices possible given the limited amount of information they have. When you don’t have a lot of information (e.g., you are unable to recognize that a few off-color comments about your hair or legs are indicative of the fact that this guy is going to turn into a full fledged harasser soon), sometimes women feel that the best decision they can make is to tolerate it.

      It’s not that women are INCAPABLE of saying “no” or asserting control. It’s that in some cases, women are consciously making the decision that the best of all of their shit options is (for whatever reason) not to say no. So what we should ask ourselves is: why do women think that their best option is to tolerate a sexual harassment situation?

      I have some ideas and a couple other people in the thread have discussed it, but I can go into more details about why I think that women think their best option is sometimes to tolerate bad behavior. For what it’s worth I believe we need to attack the problem from two angles simultaneously. I think we need to convince more women that their best option really IS to say no or ditch the guy, and I think we need to change structural features of society so that it can TRULY be the case that women’s best option is to directly say no.

      As to the harmful tropes and agency, I have a lot of thoughts about this. I am in the middle of some tedious work, so I’m going to come back and answer when I have time to take another break.

      I hope my comments have been helpful, even if you disagree with me.

      1. Thanks anon7, that’s really helpful. I suspect we’re more in agreement than not, but I do think Paglia (and others of her stripe) are picking up on something.

    2. Wanting a sexual relationship with a professor is often like wanting a spoonful of white powder in your tea that turns out to be cyanide. I’m not sure why this strikes you as a denial of women’s agency—aren’t occasional mistaken desires the inevitable result of navigating the world with partial information? All that’s special in this case is the source of the misinformation.

    3. but yeah while I don’t see any denial of agency in anon7 saying that women want something that is actually very bad for them only because of tropes suggesting otherwise, I’m willing to make that claim: because of our culture, women often lack agency in sexual contexts.

      I honestly don’t really see how anyone could deny that. When so many women will say “no, no, no” to their rapists but freeze up instead of fighting back, even though fighting back is likely to work—that’s women lacking agency. When so many women will stay silent because they’re uncomfortable saying no—that’s women lacking agency. When so many women will cuddle with the person that just raped them for the rest of the night because they’re uncomfortable getting up and leaving—that’s women lacking agency.

      Paglia likes to suggest that saying women lack agency is somehow inherently antifeminist, but it’s just a way of avoid the issue. I’m not saying that women are intrinsically fragile birds who can’t act for themselves. I’m saying our culture imposes norms on women that often prevent them from acting for themselves, and we need to fix that. Denying the problem doesn’t help.

      1. There’s lots going on here, and no doubt this is personal to many people. I don’t want to deal with any of the particular cases that have come up recently, but I do think it’s important to distinguish the many sensible things that device6 and anon7 have said about the dangers (in whatever sense) of faculty-student dating from anything we might think about the general state of the profession, or what has happened in any particular case.

        That said, I want to respond to a remark concerning Paglia’s article. device6 writes:

        “Paglia likes to suggest that saying women lack agency is somehow inherently antifeminist, but it’s just a way of avoid the issue. I’m not saying that women are intrinsically fragile birds who can’t act for themselves. I’m saying our culture imposes norms on women that often prevent them from acting for themselves, and we need to fix that. Denying the problem doesn’t help.”

        I take it Paglia knows what you’re saying, but that she disagrees with your diagnosis, in part because she thinks that this diagnosis treats women like fragile birds regardless of what we tell ourselves. For people like Paglia, complaints about an oppressive culture imposing norms on women that prevent them from exercising their agency, as in the examples you gave, come from a place of myopic privilege that betrays a lack of empowerment that feminism used to offer women. She writes:

        “I am continually shocked and dismayed by the nearly Victorian notions promulgated by today’s feminists about the fragility of women and their naïve helplessness in asserting control over their own dating lives. Female undergraduates incapable of negotiating the oafish pleasures and perils of campus fraternity parties are hardly prepared to win leadership positions in business or government in the future.”

        She rejects your view of the problem, and of what the problem calls for. To her, this attitude is one of a child looking for special treatment where what is needed is the resolve and self-determination of an adult. So when you say you can’t imagine anyone denying that women lack agency in the cases you listed above, please be aware that there are people out there who disagree with you on some of the fundamentals. And again, I don’t mean for any of this to be directed at the situation of anyone in particular, whether here or in the news. I’m hoping we can talk about the principles.

      2. I can’t tell what you take to be Paglia’s view:
        1. Our culture does not impose norms on women that prevent them from exercising their agency.
        2. Our culture imposes norms on women that prevent them from exercising their agency. This is a problem, and it should be addressed by telling women they need to use their agency, not by defending them when they don’t.
        3. Women sometimes fail to exercise their agency, but that’s not the fault of our culture, and it should be addressed by telling women they need to use their agency, not by defending them when they don’t.
        4. ??

  27. On the ringing the bell stuff:

    I’m not saying you can never ask a student out. I think I agree with you. I just think that you better be really cautious about it, because once you asked, you can’t take it back. Here’s a situation where it’s probably an okay thing to do. There’s a 27 year old grad student, you’re maybe, I don’t know 35 and a professor. You’ve worked with the grad student for a billion years, and the grad student is confident that the professor’s academic interest was always genuine; the grad student can be very confident the professor won’t retaliate if she turns him down; the grad student has a wide network of support in the field; the student and professor have had a genuine friendship for a while….then, sure. That’s not the case I’m talking about. What I have in mind is a professor suddenly hinting to a 21 year old undergrad that he wants to get in her pants. Maybe not a good idea.

    To the little point: if you’re hinting at the fact that modern ‘tumblr-style’ feminism has lost its fucking and has become completely divorced from reality, then yes I agree. When you’ve got a bunch of over-privileged 17 year old little shits who think they’ve figured out why rape and sexual harassment happen, they do stupid shitty things. They come up with these ridiculous, idiotic arguments because they don’t understand the phenomenon at all. That kind of nonsense plagues analytic feminist philosophy, and is one of the reasons I don’t do it.

  28. anon7’s points are not new to me, but I massively appreciate her making them here. Her comments are an excellent illustration of why an MMB is needed. In any of the moderated philosophy fora a more extreme version of this general line would be the only one allowed to prevail, and would invariably be expressed in a highly vituperative and therefore alienating way, especially in response to such misgivings about it as might be permitted by the censor. It’s virtually guaranteed in such fora that no-one ever changes their mind about anything.

    (Having said that, some of the earlier comments, particularly from the repetitive trollbot (‘[A]re you trying to deny that Morrison romantically pursued McGinn? Because only someone who is ideologically delusional can now try and deny this’) were actually deserving of vituperative dismissal, so props to anon7 for self-control.)

  29. I agree with 6:17.

    I also appreciate anon7’s posts–even though I disagree with some of the points and don’t think we should assume one anon’s personal experience applies completely to the McGinn and Morrison case.

    And I also appreciate anon7’s self control in the face of the repetitive trollbot.

    And I also think that this thoughtful exchange could not have happened on other phil blogs, so it does show that mmmb is valuable. To be sure, there’s some repugnant shit posted, but I think the good outweighs it.

    One critical issue I’d like to raise, anon7, is that while I agree we cannot affirm agency in the abstract in a way that ignores the cultural matrix in which women are brought up and thanks to which their agency is often restricted to very bad choices, I think adding that complexity also complicates the charge of harassment understood as a moral charge.

    After all, if women find themselves in circumstances in which the best option is arguably to tolerate bad behavior, this would suggest that in such circumstances the offender may not have the necessary information to recognize their behavior as bad. If you successfully “tolerate” harassment, doesn’t that make it harder for the harrasser to know they crossed the line?

    I think we can still meaningfully say that did cross the line and that it’s still harrassment, but the issue is one of moral responsibility: are they fully responsible for it, if the context and the other’s pragmatic response make it hard to tell whether and to what degree an offense has been committed?

    I think that’s part of the reason on this blog people are obsessing over the texts and emails. It’s not just–as repetitive trollbot believes–some think there was a reciprocal romantic relationship. More importantly, it’s hard to tell whether there was, which means for the parties involved it may have been hard to tell, too.

    1. Hey, thanks. Also I don’t mean to suggest that I can speak to what happened with McGinn. I wasn’t there. I just know what happened to me. Hope I didn’t do too much to suggest otherwise.

      I appreciate the worries that the other party doesn’t know that harassment has occurred. I have heard some well-meaning men say contemporary feminism has turned them super paranoid, because they feel like they can’t trust their own judgments about when the woman is feeling okay / consenting / thinks the situation is appropriate.

      I have a bunch of disjointed thoughts about it.

      First, there are real predators out there. I don’t know whether McGinn was one of them. But predators exist, and they are really good at “pretending” they just didn’t “hear the no.” I’ve seen a study get kicked around the blogosphere that basically confirmed that serial sexual predators understood implied ‘nos’ but choose to ‘pretend’ that they don’t. So when a lot of women / feminists freak out as soon as men start asking “Well how am I SUPPOSED to know she meant no?” I think they have in mind these predators, these guys who actually did understand that the woman was not doing so great with the situation but ‘pretended’ they didn’t.

      Second, I think a lot of this mess has to do with over-arching…I really hate the phrase ‘systems of oppression,’ because it sounds too conspiracy-theory-ish…but yes, ‘systems of oppression.’ And when it comes to things like dating, being appropriate, keeping the teacher/student situation professional etc., I get the feeling that almost ALL of the burden falls on women. (Seriously: do you know any male philosophy students who turned down a grad school offer or didn’t apply to a grad program because of they were worried that a faculty member there was going to try to get in their pants? Probably not.) So women get a large percentage of the unfairness of the situation. So what I see some feminist philosophers doing, I think, is saying that they think that men should try to shoulder some of the burden of unfairness. So I’m okay saying that sometimes, male professors are going to be in some unfair situations, at least until we clean up what’s going on in society with gender roles and gender violence. That doesn’t mean we fire or sanction every man who every makes any student female bad. I’m not saying that AT ALL. But I am okay saying that maybe male professors should be extra-cautious or should just come to see engaging with female students as very risky behavior. Yes, it’s unfair in the abstract. But it’s the best solution UNTIL things stop being less fair for EVERYONE.

      There’s also this issue of moral luck. If you know that it’s hard for you to tell whether the woman is into it, because she’s your subordinate or whatever, and you keep going…I don’t know, I think you’re kind of rolling the moral dice there. I understand that a lot of guys don’t understand that in some situations, it’s going to be hard for them to tell if the woman is into it. But what I see some feminists doing is…they’re saying, hey, you should be really worried about the extent to which you can tell if a woman is into your dirty talk in some situations. Like where she’s your student. So maybe you just shouldn’t do it, unless you’re really certain that you have the kind of relationship with the woman/girl where you’re confident that she WILL tell you if she doesn’t like it.

      I don’t know. I don’t really have good answers to it or have anything really thought out to say. But those are the thoughts off the top of my head.

      1. I just want to add that I think there’s normally a significant misdirection in “could he have known this was unwanted?” discussions: People just look at whether *the interaction itself* provided the kind of evidence that would be sufficient to tell a random dude that a random girl wasn’t interested. But before an interaction between a student and professor ever starts, the professor has every reason to think that the student is likely to be uncomfortable explicitly rejecting them and won’t make their disinterest and discomfort obvious. Given that, what counts as sufficient evidence *in the interaction* is really pretty minimal.

        Everyone is aware that people are really concerned about harassment. If, despite that, you decide to hit on your students without bothering to think about how they might have trouble rejecting you beforehand, you’re at best being completely reckless with your students’ well being—and of course you can be blamed for that.

      2. “do you know any male philosophy students who turned down a grad school offer or didn’t apply to a grad program because of they were worried that a faculty member there was going to try to get in their pants?”

        do you know any male philosophy students who got a grad school offer or applied to a grad program because of they were counting on a faculty member there trying to get in their pants?

  30. *romantically engaging with students. Please don’t stop talking to your female grad students!! If you are already worried abut this issue, you are probably NOT a problem person!

  31. Flipside, I don’t know of any male or female students who went to a program specifically because they were hoping a faculty member would seduce them. I’m genuinely curious: do you know female student for whom this is true? Do you think there is a phenomenon of women doing this, the way there seems to be a generalizable phenomenon of female students avoiding certain programs?

    1. No, not specifically. But there is a well known phenomenon of people using latent sexual tension to advance their careers. And because of patriarchy women do it more often than men.

      1. hey,

        I’ve been thinking about what you said a lot and decided that I wanted to address it. I obviously don’t have access to any kind of social science data on the matter, but since I’ve already covered this blog in my disjointed ramblings, I figured I would share some thoughts about this issue as well.

        #1: This is anecdotal but worth mentioning. I do in fact know of cases where women consistently pursued older men. In neither case were their motivations “I want to advance my career.” In both cases, the women had suffered sexual abuse in their lives and consequently had gotten to adulthood with an incredibly warped view of sex. They basically thought that the only thing men wanted was sex, and they slept around not because they wanted to or because they wanted to exploit latent sexual tension, but because they literally thought they didn’t have any other options. So, the thought process was something like: I want to be good at philosophy; the only options for mentors I have are male; a man would only be interested in me if I slept with him; therefore I’m going to try to sleep with my mentor, so I can get better at philosophy. Their worldview is really warped, but given the high rates of sexual abuse in girlhood (1 in 3 women) and given that a well-known side effect of childhood sex abuse is compulsive promiscuity, esp. compulsive promiscuity around people who have a lot of power over you, I always wonder how much the phenomenon of “women sleeping with their boss” is attributable more to sexual trauma than to a cold, calculated decision to use their vixen wiles to get ahead.

        #2: All women pay the cost when one woman sleeps with her boss to get ahead. We ALL get looked at askance because some women do this. So I’m not convinced that “ability to seduce boss” counts as an overall plus for womankind. Yeah it maybe helps one or two individual women in the profession, but at the expense of making men look skeptically at ALL women.

        #3: There is also a well-known trope of being suspicious of women who “slept to the top.” I hear lots and lots of complaining about female spousal hires. I kind of sympathize, to the extent that it doesn’t feel fair that someone can get a TT job because they’re sleeping with a philosopher who is vastly better than them, ESPECIALLY given the horrendous job market. However, some of most egregious cases of a spousal hire I know about are a cases where the man was the spousal hire. But no one ever doubts the male spousal hire or complains about him or affords him less respect. In fact, I don’t even know how many people know that these guys ARE spousal hires Again, women pay a big price because of people’s suspicious that we “sleep out way to the top,” but men never get the same side-eye, even when there are cases of them literally doing the same thing.

        #4: It’s really risky. Quid pro quo is risky. It can blow up in your face really fast, if the dominant party suddenly loses interest in you or is displeased by you. Yes, now because of new sexual harassment rules, the woman has more options. But bringing a lawsuit against the guy for quid pro quo is basically the nuclear option and seriously endangers your future in the profession.

        What do you think about any of that?

      2. #2: All women pay the cost when one woman sleeps with her boss to get ahead. We ALL get looked at askance because some women do this. So I’m not convinced that “ability to seduce boss” counts as an overall plus for womankind. Yeah it maybe helps one or two individual women in the profession, but at the expense of making men look skeptically at ALL women.

        Huh.
        So, you must also think that men are at a disadvantage because even though only one or two individual men in the profession sexually harass women, as a result women look skeptically at ALL men.

        #3: But no one ever doubts the male spousal hire or complains about him or affords him less respect.

        You can’t be serious. I think *every* male spousal hire is afforded less respect. At least, I can’t think of even one exception. I know of one husband-hire who left the profession because of it.

        The other stuff sounds equally speculative, but I have to admit I know almost nothing about it.

      3. To the first: I mean, sure, to some extent? But what they’re looking suspiciously on is men’s moral compass, not the quality of their philosophy or that they deserved their post. The field is also still dominated by men, esp. at the top. It’s hard for me to imagine that many situations where a man’s philosophy gets poo pooed or he otherwise loses PROFESSIONAL respect just because he’s a guy, and the guy might be a harasser. I mean, there are plenty of people who respect the philosophy even of the known harassers. Whereas we’ve had gobs of threads on various metametas all about how women can just take the vagina elevator right all the way to the top of the field and their philosophy is worse because of it.

        Maybe what you say about male spousal hires is right. Clearly we move in different circles or have different philosophers in mind.

      4. Although we have had gobs of threads about the vagina elevator, keep in mind that we have no idea how many distinct human beings have been involved in these threads. My hunch (but it’s only a hunch) is that the number is very small. Concomitantly, I doubt there is much disadvantage imposed on women by any general expectation that some women are sleeping their way to the top.

      5. “And because of patriarchy women do it more often than men.”

        Why is it that we must blame it on men when women are doing something bad?

  32. With few trollish exceptions, there are some great conversations in this thread. I’m really happy this blog exists, and thankful to whomever has been running these things. See you all on the other side of the winter break…

    1. These texts support the opionin above that Ludlow “was a creep who wanted to be with her, she wanted to keep him in the friend zone, so there was no “consensual romantic relationship”. No wonder he wants to keep people from reading these.

    1. Yawn. That site is the very opposite of genius. Its criticisms of its chosen authors are perfectly legitimate because they’re painfully obvious and a million people have made these tired, obvious points a million times before. This is first year philosophy undergrad level shit.

      It also has a ridiculous implied concept of “continental philosophy.” It says, for example, that Irigaray is a “definitive work.” But none of the best people in the field today give a shit about Irigaray. It seems to have the same definition of “continental” that the extreme wing party liners have: that continental is poststructuralist French crap.

      Get over it. Stop worrying and whining about others and do your own work well. The good stuff will stand the test of time, the bad stuff and the people wasting time thinking about it it won’t.

      1. If they’re painfully obvious, why haven’t they led to a move away from the continental? Why does continental philosophy stil exist if, as you say “The good stuff will stand the test of time, the bad stuff and the people wasting time thinking about it it won’t”? And if there are truly, as you seem to imply, some people who are the “best people in the field today”, then why do continental philosophers, when I talk to them, seem to deny any such hierarchy, to be adherents of some kind of vicious relativism? The truth is, you continental charlatan, that I haven’t heard a single negative comment from continental philosophers about Irigaray. That’s because in continental philosophy, there seems to be a reluctance to criticize other continentals, even if criticism is warranted. Continentals merely explain each other’s work, never criticize. (Never mind the “explanation” of course doesn’t really explain: you can’t explain bullshit.)

        Also, when you say “Get over it. Stop worrying and whining about others and do your own work well”, you actually mean: let us continental philosophers get away with complete nonsense while you focus on your work and ignore us, no? That’s unfair, the analytic has to work hard and be competitive to get any philosophy published while the continentals get away with drivel in obscure politicized circles. And it doesn’t work anyway, because continental philosophy has flourished and continues to flourish in many places ever since you charlatans found out you could get away with it. What is needed is not for me to ignore you and stop “whining”, no, what is needed is to expose and eradicate from academia the bullshit that is continental “philosophy”.

      2. “If they’re painfully obvious, why haven’t they led to a move away from the continental? Why does continental philosophy stil exist”

        I can’t believe you’re sincerely asking that. You’re asking why does bullshit continues to exist when it’s painfully obvious that it’s bullshit? The answer is both too obvious for words (bullshit: it’s what humans do) and too complicated to expect a reply (read some psychology, some anthropology, some history of religion and politics, and the latest news on the republican campaign).

        The good stuff will stand the test of time, but bullshit will never go away. Compare the arts. There’s a lot of bullshit literature, art, and music that has been highly praised for 50-100 years. Most of it will be forgotten in 100 more, some of it will still be around, but there will always be a steady supply of more overrated crap. But the best stuff will tend to be remembered.

        “why do continental philosophers, when I talk to them, seem to deny any such hierarchy, to be adherents of some kind of vicious relativism? The truth is, you continental charlatan, that I haven’t heard a single negative comment from continental philosophers about Irigaray.”

        Neat. You define “continentals” as people who are bullshit relativists who like Irigaray, then use anecdotal data about instances of your question-beggingly-defined class as evidence for you definition. Well done. I think you missed your true vocation as one of the bullshit continentals you abhor.

        You clearly don’t know that many continental philosophers, i.e., know what the fuck you’re talking about. To oversimplify vastly, there are four kinds:

        1. History of philosophy continentals. These people are mainly interested in the historical canon of the roots of continental–lots of Kant and Hegel and the 19th century, a little phenomenology and existentialism into the early 20th. They’re also often interested in the entire history of philosophy from ancient to early modern, and often uninterested in the late 20th century stuff that you have in mind (Derrida, Irigaray, and such). Many will have some knowledge of the later stuff, but in a “you kids with your crazy ipods” kind of way.

        Their style is rooted in heavy reading and training in the historical canon. It’s usually clear and straightforward, but heavier on history than argument and problems. One often wonders “why this is philosophy?” but not “what the fuck are they talking about?”

        I’d guess they are the majority of the field, say 60%.

        2. Analytic continentals. These are people trained in historically analytic departments who have similar interests as group 1, but unlike the ordinary language, historical style of group 1, they have a style influenced more by contemporary analytic philosophy. That means it’s generally quite clear, but often incorporates the weird stylistic ticks and jargon of contemporary philosophy–e.g., CEA (converting everything to acronyms) and hard-soft/thick-thin definitionism (dividing all points of view into sets of overly rigid, strangely phallicly-named positions precision-engineered to within an inch of their lives). They’re a refreshing change from group 1 because they focus on the philosophical issues and don’t get lost in story telling.

        They’re a minority in the field, maybe 10%, but growing.

        3. What Leiter calls Party Line Continentals, but I like to call Conga-Party Line continentals. These seem to be what you define as continentals. Funny coincidence, so do they! So, you have their definitions, as well as your reasoning skills, in common with them.

        These are a reactionary clique who define themselves entirely against analytic philosophy who they in their paranoia believe are their oppressors. (There’s some historical basis for this, but they take it to crazy town.) So, you also have your sense of paranoia (the continentals! they’re taking our jobs!) in common with them, too. I say convert already.

        Anyway. This group is usually trained by group 1, but are focused almost entirely on late 20th century philosophy in the phenomenological tradition. They mainly care only about the poststructuralist French folks, allowing some earlier German stuff in only if it’s in the phenomenology tradition (Husserl, Heidegger) or can be reinterpreted as proto-phenomenology (Nietzsche). They do talk about the historical canon, but only read backward and reinterpreted in light of poststructuralism, making them pretty bad historians (e.g., Derrida on Plato and Aristotle, Deleuze on Spinoza).

        Its worth noting that, as self-styled artsy avant-gardists, they have a hipsters attitude toward the latest cutting edge trends. So many of these would have disdain for your Irigaray reading, which is so 20th century.

        They’re loud and claim to be the only real continentals, so they give an impression of being more numerous than they are. In reality, they’re a minority too, and their ranks are in pretty fast decline. I’d guess 30%.

        They’ve continued as long as they have in part because criticism has produced in them a siege mentality, where they’ve become really isolated and doctrinaire, with their own departments and societies and conferences that don’t really get much outside contact. But they’ve also continued because they see themselves as cool, artsy, rebels, and it’s a small pond where it’s easier to feel like a big fish. So who wouldn’t want to be a bigwig cool artsy rebel, man? To be honest, thanks in part to the bullshit, it is a sexier world than the rest of philosophy, which often feels a bit like an amateur astronomy club or a computer programmers conventions.

        Really, though, I think the fastest growing and future majority of continental philosophers defy any of these categories while mixing all three.

        They come from departments that aren’t recently hard continental or hard analytic, they’re trained in both traditions, their interests include narrow contemporary topics not just history, and they’re knowledgeable about but also critical and selective about more recent continental philosophy. Like Leiter, for example, they might give Foucault or Deleuze a pass and absolutely abhor Derrida.

      3. “no, what is needed is to expose and eradicate from academia the bullshit that is continental “philosophy”.”

        lol u mad bro

      4. “dividing all points of view into sets of overly rigid, strangely phallicly-named positions precision-engineered to within an inch of their lives”

        Sigh… I thought the clowns who used ‘phallic’ as a term of abuse for ideas they didn’t like were gone.

    1. Good idea mate, from a fellow analytic. Pull out the torches and pitchforks, you and I have got to get those damned continentals out of philosophy. They’re taking all the jobs away from us hard working analytic philosophers! Grrr, I’m so angry!

      1. To be fair there’s a good percentage of so-called ‘Continental philosophers’ who are intellectual light weights and should have majored in English but were too snobbish for that.

    1. “Someone sent out an all-department email asking which colleagues read the PMMB, since IP addresses (?? don’t know how they’d know that) showed that at least someone from the university visited the site.” Three hypotheses:

      (1) Someone at this department has some way of figuring out IP addresses that have visited the PMMB. Seems extremely unlikely.

      (2) Someone used one of the computers in the institution’s or department’s computer lab to read the PMMB; subsequently, an anti-PMMB philosophy prof or student used the same computer, somehow saw this in the browser history and reported to the department chair. Seems more likely than (1). This would have nothing to do with using Tor, which is probably not installed on the computers in the department computer labs.

      (3) The quoted material is false. You judge for yourself the likelihood of this relative to (1) or (2).

      1. Number (1) is actually likely if those IP addresses were on campus.

        Don’t come here from a campus computer, and use Tor Browser or another solution that will conceal your identity.

  33. As an Asian, I’d just like to say, this is a real load of stupid fucking bullshit:

    “Campus Dining Service Appropriates Asian Dishes, Students Say”
    http://oberlinreview.org/9055/news/cds-appropriates-asian-dishes-students-say/

    “Gross said she is planning on setting up a meeting in upcoming weeks to discuss these issues.’It’s important to us that students feel comfortable when they are here,’ Gross said.”

    Note that the student complaining about Banh Mi apparently doesn’t know it’s a fucking French-Vietnamese mashup.

    1. If I was Wallace, I would tell Leiter to shut the fuck up. Wallace’s criticism seems valid, but the way that slimy Chicago cunt conducts himself is just pathetic. I would have a problem delivering ammunition for this idiot. Whatever the merits of Bruya piece, and there appear to be none, there is quite a lot things wrong with the methodology of the PGR. The people over at the choiceandinference-blog have summed them up nicely. And what happened? Leiter had his usual hissy-fit, trolling the comments, as far as I know even with sock-puppets. But he got found out and everyone had a laugh.

      Leiter is such a insecure hypocrite, always wants to hang with the in-crowd (see Stanley, who has been a SJW for a long time now), but only when he feels he has the backing of the internet he musters up the courage to go after those big-shots.

    1. I haven’t read that Leiter article, but it sounds about right.

      One of the most surprising things about first reading Marx is discovering not only that he isn’t trying to *justify* a normative theory but he doesn’t even *have* one. He’s utterly non-moralistic. Das Kapital is entirely descriptive and predictive.

      Marx doesn’t even use “exploitation” as a moral pejorative! It’s just cause and effect: if capital requires extracting more value from workers, and will require doing so to a greater degree, causing increasing impoverishment, then they necessarily will turn against it.

      No “ought” about it. Indeed, there’s no “ought not,” either. The ruling class isn’t “wrong” to exploit, the very structure of capitalism requires it, otherwise their businesses will fail. And choosing against class interest on an individual level for moral reasons is not an option. Any human being will, placed in the same material economic position, act in exactly the same way.

      So, no, endorsing Marxism is not incompatible with being a member of the ruling class or, as in Leiter’s case, the haute petite bourgeoisie. It’s not religion or contemporary leftism. There’s no original sin attached to your birth, nor do you have to do any penance or pay any tax for good fortune. And it’s not something to be endorsed for sacrificial, dutiful reasons, but as a recognition of necessity and of everyone’s long term interest.

      What would be incompatible with Leiter’s position is what Marx and Engels called “utopian socialism”–which is what a lot of people, on both the left and right today, mistake for marxism. It’s just the secular version of Christianity–i.e., contemporary leftism–shaming people for their good fortune and hoping that by asking them to voluntarily sacrifice (rather than creating economic conditions that necessitate just distribution) everything will magically get better.

    2. On a slightly related note, you can learn about how Brian Leiter grew up on the mean streets of NYC playing b-ball with his many black friends here:

      http://www.whatisitliketobeaphilosopher.com/#/brian-leiter/

      I kid, it’s actually a pretty interesting interview, and I must admit Leiter’s back story is humbler and more human/relatable than I would have expected.

      (At least until he hits Princeton and suddenly the entire world is laid at his feet like a succulent, already-shelled oyster. I find his educational experience so alienating. As he casually mentions again and again, every random person he knew–down to his undergrad TA–is now employed at a top school. What bizarro alternate planet did he go to school on?)

      1. Great interview. And it includes this rare early photo of Leiter, taken in Park West Village–where he was born and raised. Taken on the playground whereupon he is reputed to have spent most of his days, frequently chilling out and maximizing his relaxation, in a “cool” fashion:

  34. Man, 5:47, people have been trying to dismiss Marx for 150 years, but you make it look so easy! So, that’s settled. What world historical question would you like to finally resolve next in the space of a tweet?

    Sure, it might be characterized as social science–including economics, which should be considered that. But it does critically examine foundational concepts and assumptions of the social sciences, so it’s philosophy, too. For example, Das Kapital is often more about working through the contradictory implications of classical economic theory than about presenting a distinct alternative theory–so more of a philosophical critique of economics than a work of economics.

    As for the armchair part. Well, sure. But all theoretical work, especially philosophical, is armchair to some degree or another. (Ironically, accusations of something being armchair are *always* made from the armchair. Usually an armchair that doesn’t have any books on the arm, because the critic hasn’t read the target.)

    Armchair to a problematic degree? Perhaps, but even if so, that doesn’t make his entire life’s work invalid, dismissable, or unuseful. I’d call some of Marx’s work “commonsense psychology” rather than science, but useful in the way that commonsense psychology can be.

    For example, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that economic value isn’t magically increased ex nihilo by the market–the commodity’s increased value comes at an equal cost somewhere (and to someone) else. That just takes commonsense, or put differently, the application of logic to everyday experience. Likewise, it doesn’t take empirical science to recognize that the bigger the gap gets between the economic top and bottom, the more resentful the bottom will get.

    But hey, I understand not wanting to dirty your hands with reflection tainted by uncertainty. Just keep waiting for the hard sciences to tell you what to think about politics. Pay no attention to the pitchforks outside your lab window.

    1. Marx is the ultimate in zombie ideas. The economics has been obsolete since 1870, yet the Humanities and some social sciences never quite got the message.

      “For example, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that economic value isn’t magically increased ex nihilo by the market–the commodity’s increased value comes at an equal cost somewhere (and to someone) else”.

      The idea that added value must come at ‘an equal cost somewhere else’ is nonsense. Marx never gives much of an argument for it and no sound argument for it exists. This type of zero-sum fallacy lead to the LTV which, once again, has been known since 1870 to be a failed solution of a non-existent problem.

    1. Argument is capitalism leads to both huge productive power and immiseration for almost everyone; people don’t like immiseration, esp despite the huge productive power; so if they realize that if they revolt they can harness the productive power to their benefit, they will revolt.

    1. Can anyone confirm whether these are (A)) legitimate/accurate and (B) being given takedown notices or whatever from Ludlow’s attorney?

      1. Janice Dowell has confirmed (A) in a public Google Plus post she later removed. I don’t know if she’s genuinely dumb or if she bears a secret grudge against her ‘friend’ LLH, but anyway she did it.

  35. “The idea that added value must come at ‘an equal cost somewhere else’ is nonsense. Marx never gives much of an argument for it and no sound argument for it exists.”

    My possibly mistaken impression was that the point is that there’s no opposing explanation or argument, that the unargued assumption in classical economics is that the market magically adds value. So, if the options are: 1) exchange mysteriously creates extra value at no cost, 2) some mysterious part of the labor process other than labor, or 3) labor unmysteriously creates extra value at the cost of additional labor (even if not equal), then we’re stuck with 3 for lack of a viable option besides: magic!

    If that’s right, we don’t need his version of LTV (labor theory of value), since we don’t need to claim all value is reducible to labor or that surplus value is reducible to labor. We only need to say that labor is the primary explanation of surplus value, and that suplus value is impossible without some–if not a value equal amount–of exploitation.

    But of course, at the end of the day, we don’t need much of the details of Marx’s theory at all to recognize the obviousness of the general theory:
    1. Capitalism, as a method for creating capital–i.e., surplus value–tends towards the generation of ever greater amounts of wealth and ever more efficient means of production in order to generate more commodities at less expense.
    2. Capital, as value above cost, can best be increased in ever greater amounts by lowering costs of labor as much as possible, incentivizing and maybe necessitating the lowering of labor costs, wages, and job security, so that people can be hired and fired according to demand at the least possible cost.
    3. Capital, as the increase of surplus value through the lowering of cost is incentivized to produce in ever greater amounts to be lower prices, leading to overproduction–to enormous amounts of wasted goods, closed factories, and layoffs.
    4. Capital consequently increases inequality between those who own the means of production and for those who work for wages, while making the jobs of wage earners more insecure and less profitable.

    Are any of these implausible, much less highly controversial views? Are any of them refuted by rejecting Marx’s specific claims in the labor theory of value?

    Every major new source has been telling us for a decade that real wages have been in decline since the 80s, that the inequality gap is moving toward gilded age levels, and that the old lifelong good retirement jobs that grew the middle class are gone, replaced by hire and fire service industries with low wages and terrible benefits. It’s obvious that working class people are increasingly frustrated about it–not just Marx’s urban proletariat but also the white working poor (many of whom are channeling their frustration into fandom of wretched people like Trump).

    But once again, please don’t dirty your pretty hands with the uncertainties of politics. Keep ignoring the flames until you can test them in the lab.

  36. The thing that really jumps at you from the Leiter interview is how an elite undergrad education makes all the difference. By all means let’s worry about diversity, but once anyone gets into an elite undergrad program then they are no longer marginalised for the purposes of pursuing an academic career.

  37. All the dimwits making bold claims about “capitalism” should first define what they mean when they talk about “capitalism”. Stop being so continentally sloppy.

  38. Ooh, you called them dimwits. That’ll show ’em.

    You did notice that you’re on a blog, right? By casual blog post standards, I’d think “Capitalism, as a method for creating capital–i.e., surplus value… as value above cost” counts as a definition. Of course, it may not meet the very high standards of rigor this particular blog is famous for.

    We get it. You don’t like Marx. Fine. Then don’t pay attention to it. Be positive, tell us all about Hayek instead. Or Rand if you’re nasty.

    Speaking of dimwits, are you the same guy who was complaining about continentalists stealing our jobs earlier?

  39. Almost 10% of all the ads posted to PhilJobs since Aug 1 are explicitly looking for feminist philosophers. Why is it acceptable to discriminate in favor of a particular ideology?

  40. I’d agree that 10% is unreasonably high. I have an AOS in Marxist philosophy, and I’d think it absurd for 10% of jobs requiring one. Unlike the bronuts, I think a lot (if not all) of feminist philosophy is both legitimate and important, but it’s still a very specialized field, and those numbers mean that a lot of other specialized but important fields are going to lose ground.

    I also suspect the reasons for that high percentage are pretty shallow: namely, feminism courses are increasingly popular given the trendiness of an impoverished version of political leftism that over-emphasizes not only identity but priveleged-white-friendly identities, like gender and sexuality. So 10% is too high if it’s about increasing enrollments and not about a well-rounded philosophical education (indeed, by giving all specialized, marginal philosophy to one area, it excludes other marginal areas, making it less well rounded under the pretense of diversity.)

    Having said that, calling it “discrimination” for employers to advertise for feminist philosophy, even if their reasons are shallow, is utterly ridiculous.

    1. There’s also the nasty assumption that the best way to get a woman on faculty is with a feminist philosophy position. I’m pretty sure that’s part of what’s going in on the case of a new position at my institution. Am female, am not a feminist philosopher, do not want to do feminist philosophy, am tired of feminist philosophy being shoved down my throat, as if I’m supposed to magically like it by virtue of my chromosomes.

      1. Serious question from a non-feminist female grad student: How is feminist philosophy being shoved down your throat? Are you being asked to teach it, just dealing with assumptions made about your preferences, or something somewhere in between?

        As a student, I’ve mostly stayed away from the issue. I don’t know how long that can last, but I also don’t know how long I’ll stay in philosophy.

      2. No, no one is asking me teach it and, I think once I was clear about it, people backed off trying to get me interested in it. It’s mostly the bizarre background assumption that the only way women are going to be interested in “techy” areas is by shoving more feminism onto the syllabus.

      3. Thanks for the reply. I think I’m actually leaving philosophy, for at least a couple of years, to retrain in another discipline. I feel a mixture of sadness and relief.

      4. A lot of it is financial. With philosophy’s terrible job market, the debt I already have feels like a noose around my neck. Part of it is that I have a humanities background and even just my philosophical interests have led me to where I’d benefit greatly from more training in math and science.

  41. Is there any tenured philosopher who argues in print against some tenets of feminism? I mean we have almost any view argued for in philosophy, for any -ism we have people arguing the anti-ism or that the whole area of discourse lies outside of our cognitive/ epistemic abilities.

    No matter how disgusting the position, we have people arguing for it. Will we have the same when it comes to feminism?

    1. Nobody defends racism either, afaik. Not sure that’s a problem. Anyhow there arguments agains specific aspects of feminist phil, e.g. standpoint epistemology and such like.

      1. There are plenty of people out there arguing against feminism and the core spirit and orthodoxies associated with feminism. A lot of the most strident voices aren’t in analytic philosopher, though. But I can think of plenty of cases in literature and history, however, two disciplines supposedly much more liberal than feminist philosophy.

        I’m sure part of the reason we don’t have more analytic philosophers arguing against feminism is because the type of people who really disdain it, who support traditional gender roles, or otherwise come out swinging against core tenets of analytic feminist philosophy are also the kinds of people who wouldn’t want to get their hands dirty with such “non-serious” philosophy.

        When it comes to specific issues related to feminist philosophy, if you go over to applied ethics, there are plenty of people there arguing for positions on specific issues, like abortion, consent, and prostitution, that a lot of the feminist orthodoxy would really, really hate.

        The “no one argues against feminism” is a boring, annoying strawman that I’m tired of seeing. Just because no one labels herself a “male-ist philosopher” or “anti feminist philosopher” or whatever doesn’t mean feminist philosophy doesn’t have opponents. And the fact that many of feminist philosophy’s biggest detractors don’t want to get their hands dirty by engaging in print with it isn’t the fault of feminism.

        And I’m saying this as someone who has a lot of axes to grind when it comes to analytic fem phil.

        Now maybe it is true that in the current climate, you can face a lot of opprobrium as a philosopher who comes out against feminism. But to be entirely fair, feminist philosophers do get shit on quite a bit by the opposing side as well. In all, I think once we get into hot button topics like sex and feminism, there is a certain segment of philosophy that loses its head completely.

  42. Arguing against feminism is not the same as arguing for sexism.

    To answer the original question Iddo Landau and David Benatar are the two people who came to mind when I read your comment.

    1. There’s also Michael Levin (he is to race as Benatar is to gender, at least when it comes to defending politically incorrect views in print).

      1. I see which session it is, but how do you know that’s what he’s going to say?
        I might go. I’ll be at the convention. I can’t decide if that session will be entertaining or excruciating.

      2. You should go. Justice Whineberg moderating IRL, a Yale name chair and SJW extraordinaire crying about anonymous grad students calling him out on his hypocrisy, an audience full of nodding, ballooning wannabes. Maybe even the Balloon himself, who might even try out his latest attention-seeking faux-indignation strategy. What’s not to like?

      3. So Stanley is finally allowed to become a PC Bro. I wonder what the hazing will be like.

        Eric Schliesser: Say something stupid.

        Jason Stanley: Like what?

        ES: Like say that philosophy is stupid because it’s not interesting to women and minorities.

        JS: I already said that one on Facebook..

        ES: All right then apologize for shtupping a philosophy undergrad. Oh and don’t pretend that marrying her made it all right.

        JS: But Eric, we were both undergrads.

        ES: Stop mansplaining like you’re some kind of autist!

      4. Jason Stanley: You still haven’t told me what to say that’s stupid.

        Eric Schliesser: Say that you’re not white.

        JS: Already said that one too.

        ES: Blame Charlie Hebdo for ‘punching down’.

        JS: (Yawn) You simply can’t fathom how stupid I’ve already been, can you?

  43. Hi. I’m December 17, 2015 at 6:30 am, and I wanted to reply to a few remarks. (I was the guy who called himself an inadvertent harasser.)

    (1) December 17, 2015 at 4:21 pm writes, “It’s pretty clear that it wasn’t harassment, since that requires a repeated pattern of behavior.” Sexual harassment does not require repeated behavior. If I put my hand on a student’s ass during a job interview to be my research assistant and then tell her that she will get the job if and only if she fucks me, then that is sexual harassment. Even if I only do it once. See, for example, http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Sexual+Harassment. My point here is merely to indicated that repeated behavior is not a necessary condition for sexual harassment, not to argue that the behavior I engaged in was sexual harassment. (The falsity of XXXX’s premise does not entail, of course, the falsity of XXXX’s conclusion.)

    (2) December 17, 2015 at 4:21 pm also writes, “And for whatever it’s worth, it doesn’t sound morally inappropriate to me, as long as you were receptive to the student’s embarrassment (which it sounds like you were).” This is in line with what December 17, 2015 at 1:09 pm writes, “It’s hard to take this seriously. Indicating romantic interest isn’t harassment, even if it causes embarrassment. Whether there are institutional rules prohibiting relationships like this is one thing. But what you describe is part and parcel of adult single life.”

    This is trickier. First, I want to say that there are many circumstances in which it’s OK for a faculty member to date a student. But I do think that the rules are different. This doesn’t just apply to faculty-student relationships: it applies to, say, a relationship between a senior editor at such-and-such a newspaper and a 21-year old intern — even if the intern does not directly report to the editor. I can think of lots of cases where, while sometimes relationships are OK, the rules are different. I’m not saying I know exactly where to draw the line, but let me give some examples. Between peers in a non-professional setting, it’s OK to say, “I find you attractive, and would like to take you out for dinner.” But it’s obviously not OK to say that to a student during office hours. What about after the class is over? Well, if you are meeting for one last coffee after doing an individual studies class, then it’s still a professional setting. Or, if you meet all your students for a beer after the grades have been submitted, it’s still a (semi-)professional setting. It’s not part and parcel of adult single life to hit on people, even very lightly, in a professional or even semi-professional setting. Similarly, it is not part and parcel of adult single life if I go out for drinks at the APA and proceed to hit on someone my department just interviewed for a job. Not even the day after the APA concluded, and not even if I am on leave and am not involved in the hiring decision.

    Once I was in a circumstance where there was an obvious buzz between me and a grad student in my department. We were both attached at the time, and it never went beyond a lot of flirting, slightly suggestive talk, pretty intimate late night drinks, etc. (Our partners were in different cities.) But, and this is important, I always let her make the first move at taking the flirtationship to the next level. She made the first saucy joke. She invited me out for the first drink. Etc. Eventually, the thing fizzled out, though we remain friends. In this circumstance, if we had been unattached and she had hit on me, I think it would have been OK for me to get involved (I was not involved with her doctoral work). But I think it would have been iffier for me to be the one moving things forward. Maybe it’s a borderline case.

    Behavior that is normally “part and parcel of adult single life” can be (morally) inappropriate in certain circumstances. Obvious case: in a professional setting the rules are different. In a borderline semi-professional setting, the rules are still different. I am not saying that you can’t date a student, or even a job applicant at your department. But the rules are different. You can’t make the first move. You can’t hint that you want to get into your former student’s pants, while having a coffee on campus one week after class ends. If your student asks you out, while having a coffee on campus one week after class ends, then I think it’s perfectly OK to say yes.

  44. Well the new APA blog is off to a mind-numbing start. If your dissertation summary is more than 1-2 paragraphs, it’s too long, but you can’t be too verbose when it comes to educating candidates about the existence of “AOS” and “AOC.” Also, did you know these are only Wood’s opinions that others may or may not share? Don’t worry — he will explain all this and more!

  45. I am triggered! Southern Illinois is hiring in Feminist/Womanist Philosophy, but not in Wombanist, Womyist, or Wimminist Philosophy. In 2016? Really? I can’t even!

    End the unjust discrimination against those us who identify as womban, womyn, and/or wimmin!

  46. So I’m guessing Feminist Philosophers aren’t going to discuss the hundred+ sexual assaults in cologne or the victim blaming by the city’s mayor? Hm…

    1. That’s because the victim-blaming mayor is a pro-Islamic-immigration female politician. She can do no wrong in the regressive liberals’ minds. Pussy + Islam = Justice!

  47. Top spots for May still available! Book yours now before they’re gone!

    OK guys, let’s take up this challenge. The top spots for May must be Metablog ads.

  48. So the article says:

    ““Freud was full of horseshit!” the therapist Albert Ellis, arguably the progenitor of CBT, liked to say. It’s hard to deny he had a point. One big part of the problem for psychoanalysis has been the evidence that its founder was something of a charlatan, prone to distorting his findings, or worse. (In one especially eye-popping case, which only came to light in the 1990s, Freud told a patient, the American psychiatrist Horace Frink, that his misery stemmed from an inability to recognise that he was homosexual – and hinted that the solution lay in making a large financial contribution to Freud’s work.)”

    And what does BL conclude?

    “quotes too many Freud-hating charlatans”

    No Brian, it was Freud who was the biggest charlatan…

    1. Isn’t it pbvious that Brian has long been a patient treated with psychoanalysis? That is the only reason I can imagine why some people are so far up Freud’s thankfully now rotten ass.

      Any person that defends Freud/psychoanalysis or works in such a framework has lost all his credibility. The fact that UCL offers phds in this non-subject does not speak well of this university.

  49. I’m going to take a wild guess: you guys are relying on the received wisdom and don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. ThaI’m going to take a wild guess: you guys are relying on the received wisdom and don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. That is, you don’t have any substantial direct knowledge of Freud’s work, theories, or methods, nor do you have any substantial knowledge of the specific criticisms and debates surrounding that work, particularly the serious, non-dismissive critical discussions of it.

    I’m going to take another wild guess: one of you is the nitwit who claimed earlier that Marx had been refuted wholesale by the rejection of the labor theory of value. t is, you don’t have any substantial direct knowledge of Freud’s work, theories, or methods, nor do you have any substantial knowledge of the specific criticisms and debates surrounding that work, particularly the serious, non-dismissive critical discussions of it.

    I’m going to take another wild guess: one of you is the nitwit who claimed earlier that Marx had been refuted wholesale by the rejection of the labor theory of value.

    1. Freud has been dicredited, his theory is based on wild guesses and hunches, not on the scientific method or anything resembling an experiment. He forged some of his data and was a manipulating asshole. Freud is to psychology what homeopathy is to evidence-based medicine. Get over it,

    2. I’m going to respond to your wild guess with a certainty. You don’t know who you’re talking to and what an ass you sound like.

      1. Lots of New Yorkers here who cannot accept that there weekly therapy sessions are bunk.

        By the way, can we change the format, it is hard to see who responds to whom sometime.

  50. “Another wonderful session sponsored by the APA Committee on Public Philosophy today, chaired by Justin Weinberg. Margaret Crouch reminded us that anonymity is a problem but not the only problem in cyber behavior and talked about the ways we haven’t quite figured out when to treat cyber cases the same as IRL cases and when to treat them differently. Karen Frost-Arnold also diagnosed a range of communicative disorders and made suggestions for dealing with them; I thought she offered a lot of hope. Then Jason Stanley talked about the elemental misogyny plaguing philosophy and specifically documented the ways that hate comments directed against him have been feminizing and misogynist. Harder to hope there…ugly stuff and reminders of how horrible philosophers can be to each other. (He was very clear that he was talking about his own case because it is his to talk about and other people’s cyberstalking, harassment, etc aren’t fuel for him to use. He was clear that it wasn’t about his case being worst or egregious–that was nicely done– though the comments he read were horrid.) I am deeply grateful to our speakers and all who attended. If you were there, feel free to add comments here.”

    1. It’s funny, isn’t it. The reason people like Stanley get internet abuse and people on the other side don’t is because… no-one on the other side is non-anonymous. Because they are rationally scared of the actual, non-verbal harm that Stanley’s side would inflict on them if they put their name to their opinions.

  51. So Stanley now pretends that “hate comments directed against him have been feminizing and misogynist”. I was expecting this. Just like he isn’t white, he’s also not a man anymore. How else could comments directed against him be misogynistic?

    Stanley the non-white woman! At least he’s getting the attention he craves. If we really hated him as he thinks, we’d stop paying attention and he’d shrivel up like a leaf on a sidewalk.

    1. He should transition already. He’d get even more invitations to spout his nonsense, and even he wouldn’t be half as annoying as RM.

  52. When does Stanley’s latest piece appear in the NYT, where he defends Muslims and their repressive culture, arguing that rape and sexual molestation are just as normal in Western society and that their behaviour towards women is normal as it is the only outlet of a feeling of supremacy that Western society has left them with?

    I mean as a non-white Jewish non-woman, married to black woman, he has all the credentials.

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