August Open Thread

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375 thoughts on “August Open Thread

  1. From last thread, “Is it ever morally right to call out a debutante who’s benefited from nepotism?”

    It depends. Don’t punch down, ever. Punch up if you want, but only when you are sure you’re right about the facts. Complaining about nepotism with respect to a postdoc sounds like punching down to me and therefore sounds bad.

    1. Call someone out for what? Using professional connections to get a job? That’s how it works. Pretty much everyone who has ever got a job in philosophy will have asked their adviser for a recommendation. And people on the hiring committee are likely to place greater faith in recommendations from people they know and trust, and professionally respect. Given that this is how the system works and everyone knows it, calling people out seems pointless. What do you expect people on the job market to do? Not apply for positions if they know people on the hiring committee know and like their adviser?

      If you object to the way hiring works in philosophy, fine. But focussing on the people who are the most vulnerable in the whole process (people on the job market, or in temporary positions) is not the right way to go about it. And focussing on one person in particular who has done nothing that everyone else in that position doesn’t do is not the right way to go about it.

      1. Exactly. That kind of punching down (calling out young philosophers without permanent positions) is just ugly, and in my view, wrong.

      2. I’m pretty certain there’s a world of difference between fucking your way to the top and “asking your advisor for a recommendation”. I am happy to condemn the former and not the latter. Would you not agree, 7:01?

        1. Any and all anonymous accusations and condemnations without evidence are unconscionable, no matter how serious the charge. Just cut it out.

    2. Why do you assume the criticism is coming from “above”? Grad students without jobs are presumably “below” post-docs at highly prestigious places like Harvard and MIT. I imagine much of the criticism is coming from people who did substantially worse on the market than our friend in question (perhaps they did not have the foresight to work on such a trendy and politicized topic, or they were not connected enough); if so, why would this be considered punching down?

      IMO, the whole question about where exactly on the status hierarchy the critics are positioned is a distraction. The interesting issue is whether the criticisms have merit. I don’t know very much about this particular case. But I do have a strong sense that hiring in philosophy is getting more nepotistic, more politicized, more connection-based, and less reliant on external indicators of merit like peer reviewed publications.

      1. “But I do have a strong sense that hiring in philosophy is getting more nepotistic, more politicized, more connection-based, and less reliant on external indicators of merit like peer reviewed publications.”

        I share this sentiment. Indeed, I think the dearth of tenure-track positions (resulting from some mix of administrative malfeasance, political maleficence, and the genuine harm to university finances caused by the collapse of 08) is at the heart of all this. People are desperate to stay in the field and this desperation is being exploited in various ways. Ideologues are using job insecurity to silence critics and promote those whose views align with theirs. In a healthy market–one where the supply of new PhDs doesn’t significantly outstrip demand–we’d see more push back.

        I also have the sense that people who would not otherwise behave in nepotistic ways are driven to do so by the bad market. It’s only human to want to advance the interests of those you know and care about. If you can be confident that the market will take care of them, it’s easier to resist the urge to put your finger on scale somewhere. Moreover, once people have the sense that “everyone’s doing it,” the general professional norm that forbids nepotism will dissolve (if it hasn’t already).

    1. Good article, even radical feminists are fed up with this bullshit. And Daniel Kaufman once again rules the comment section.

    2. Wow. That contains a couple of important confusions, I’d say (as is almost inevitable with the phrase ‘socially constructed’ gets in the mix)–but also some really important points that could radically improve the quality of the public discussion of this stuff. E.g. that *lying on a spectrum* has nothing to do with *being whatever/however you think it is.* How this very important and obvious point never, ever gets made in the public discussion is absolutely beyond me. It’s like we’re trying to have this public discussion about a subject that philosophers could really help clear up, and even the most basic philosophical ground-clearing is never done. For example people will insist on the sex/gender distinction…and then go on botch it or completely ignore it or say something utterly crazy about it. This is a discussion philosophers really could contribute to…but doing the basic philosophical work that needs to be done would run afoul of the new PC orthodoxy…so nobody will touch it. Or so it seems to me. So good on Reilly-Cooper.

      I think it’s pretty clear that ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are sex terms not gender terms…but I’m not going to make a big deal out of that.

      1. Do you see any evidence in the new wave of philosophers doing public commentary that there is any special ability of philosophers to help ‘clear up’ logical and conceptual issues in public dialogue? It seems like instead commentary by philosophers has been marked by tortured bending and twisting of philosophical concepts to make them match with left-wing people are yelling about this week on Twitter. Hot takes with footnotes — like a longer and more boring version of social media wars.

  2. The punching up/punching down distinction is silly and counterproductive unless there is a clear understanding and agreement of what’s up and what’s down.

    If up and down have useful meanings here, that meaning isn’t reducible to position. Two examples:

    A has just graduated from a top program with stellar references and turned down a TT position at a respectable school in order to do a 3-year postdoc at NYU or Oxford and improve her chances of getting an even better TT position. B is tenured at a nowheresville school in a poor rural area with a paltry income, no chance of relocation, no pedigree, and no publication record because he has to teach 5-4 and serve on committees plus advise 200 students. Is A up, or down, from B?

    C is a low level manager at a company and earns $35K per year. D is the only child and heir of the president of that company and is worth millions, but is only 16 years old and works in the mail room this summer, under D. If C writes a scathing Facebook update about D, which way is she punching?

    1. Also, it’s not punching.
      Discussing such issues as cases studies in things wrong with the discipline isn’t an attack–or, at least, needn’t be. The posts here did display anger, as I recall, and, in retrospect, the point could have probably been made without using the person’s name… At any rate, one of the confusions/tactics of the PC left is to analogize rational discussion to violence. Some discussions can’t be conducted without harming or upsetting someone, but that doesn’t mean that they’re attacks. I think reasonable people would agree, though, that such harm should be minimized when possible.

      1. “Some discussions can’t be conducted without harming or upsetting someone, but that doesn’t mean that they’re attacks.”

        + a gazillion.

        People also need to think about the large-scale effects of the norms they’re advocating. Suppose we successfully prohibit “punching down”, i.e. criticism of, post-docs or early career people, even when they are rightly perceived to have obtained their positions unfairly. The obvious consequence will be that the problem will go undiscussed (and most likely unresolved).

        1. Right. As we keep seeing, members of the New Consensus are woefully ignorant of even the most basic argumentative fallacies or epistemic norms. Every rank amateur who has taken Philosophy 101 knows that responding to an argument by identifying its source and questioning whether it’s appropriate for the source to have advanced the argument is a ludicrously transparent ad hominem fallacy. But that same error is the basis of the ‘reasoning’ these people think they’re so clever and noble in deploying when they derail the conversation from the substance and decide the issue instead on whether the air is seem to be ‘punching’ up or down.

          1. It’s identity politics and is meant to be understood as both a moral and epistemological theory. A “marginalized/vunlerable” person is assigned more moral value than a “privileged” one. And a statement from a “marginalized/vulnerable” person is more credible, and a statement from a “privileged” person is less credible. The epistemic merit of a statement (how it meshes with other available evidence, etc.) is considered irrelevant, or nearly irrelevant – indeed, dismissable. What matters is identity status. Credibility is to be judged by “identity status”. In themselves, these bizarre moral and epistemological doctrines endlessly pumped out by SJWs ought to raise eyebrows. But they are also tied to empirical matters: but the empirical judgments are delusionally insane. For in the philosophy profession, highest credibility and value goes to RICH WHITE YOUNG WOMEN. So the single most privileged demographic in the world – rich white young women in North America, possibly the most privileged 0.01% of the world’s population – are given endless special treatment and protection over the remaining 99.99%.

            This is bizarre. Even more bizarrely, this relentless insistence on special privileges for the 0.01% – ultra-privileged rich white young women – is advocated by those who consider themselves somehow “liberal”. Not only does it ignore — it completely inverts — the ordinary left-wing principle of class solidarity. This is why, for five or six years, the philosophy profession has been riven with hysteria, moral panics, witch hunts and absurd fiascos. It is unhinged. Yet hardly a word of protest.

            1. Hardly a word of protest because the imperative to look after the interests of women, in practice particularly those of gentle birth, is both the imperative of academic and legal feminists and a traditional cultural imperative of chivalrous males. This has been endlessly useful in distracting self-described liberals, especially liberal men seeking a way to define themselves as chivalrous in an age that claims it has no use of chivalry, from the obvious and glaring needs of the truly disenfranchised.

    2. One would have thought that philosophers would know that the existence of difficult cases in which there is no clear fact of the matter about whether xRy or yRx does not mean that the R relation is useless or incoherent. You don’t need to have the total ordering in order to appeal to the relation.

      A has a normal sized head, but has 80,000 hairs on his head. B has a particularly small head, but has 50,000 hairs on his head. Which is more bald? See the distinction between bald and not bald is silly and counterproductive. If ‘bald’ has a useful meaning, then its meaning isn’t reducible to how many hairs someone has on their head. I’m calling for a ban on using the term until a total ordering is produced.

      1. Fine, 4:06. Let’s hear your improved version of the distinction.

        If you haven’t got one, then it seems that the reasonable thing to hold is either that
        a) the distinction is not very helpful;
        b) the distinction might be helpful but we’re not yet sure how to use it, so we should have very low confidence in applying it; or
        c) the distinction depends on inarticulable judgments that make it difficult to know whether one is really right or wrong, and so we should again be very cautious in applying it.

        So, until it can be made clear what exactly counts as being ‘up’ or ‘down’, or who can be trusted to reliably make those judgments and why, we shouldn’t rely on that distinction.

        Go ahead: answer the questions I posed in the post you’re responding to. Here they are again:

        A has just graduated from a top program with stellar references and turned down a TT position at a respectable school in order to do a 3-year postdoc at NYU or Oxford and improve her chances of getting an even better TT position. B is tenured at a nowheresville school in a poor rural area with a paltry income, no chance of relocation, no pedigree, and no publication record because he has to teach 5-4 and serve on committees plus advise 200 students. Is A up, or down, from B?

        C is a low level manager at a company and earns $35K per year. D is the only child and heir of the president of that company and is worth millions, but is only 16 years old and works in the mail room this summer, under D. If C writes a scathing Facebook update about D, which way is she punching?

        Also: does your baldness metaphor stand as a clever reductio against all this? Clearly not. Suppose someone proposed that something important should turn on whether one is bald or not: bald people are entitled to medical benefits that others aren’t, say. Only an idiot would propose that and then fail to provide any criteria for to whether someone is bald or not and then be dismissive about the need for such criteria. Whenever something important rests on a distinction, that distinction must be made clear.

        1. 4:03 here. My point was that our inability to adjudicate whether a concept applies to a hard case is not a strike against the usefulness or intelligibility of the concept. If intuitions about its application to clear cases are strong enough, then it would take a bull-headed second year graduate student to insist that a thoroughgoing conceptual analysis is required before the concept may be relied on in discourse.

          You’ve given two very nicely constructed difficult cases and, frankly, I’m not really sure about how to adjudicate. But, here are some clear cases:

          A is a distinguished professor at a leiteriffic program who is highly-regarded in the community in all respects. B is an admittedly dense second year graduate student in an unranked program who posts ridiculous comments on metameta…metablogs. Is A punching up, or down, from B?

          C is the CEO of a multinational corporation and is respected by people of all backgrounds for their commitment to making the world a better place in all respects. D is a mailroom employee who comes from an economically disadvantaged background and has struck their first lucky break with their current position. If D writes a Facebook post about C, which way is he punching?

          Regarding the options (a)-(c): if the only relevant considerations governing the conversational appropriateness of appeals to concepts were epistemic, then (obviously) we should be extremely cautious in all but the clear cases. But, I hope that I don’t have to explain that conversational appropriateness is not governed by wholly epistemic considerations. This is (obviously) consistent with thinking that in some hard cases it is not be appropriate to appeal to the distinction (because perhaps taking a risk on getting it wrong does not outweigh the benefit of using it), while in others it might be (because perhaps using it may be an efficient way to communicate and the risks of harm to anyone involved are low).

  3. After Charlie Hebdo massacre, philosophers, who had miraculously developed overnight expertise in the history of comics and sequential art, were busy punching down artists in New York Times editorials, the comments of Daily Nous and educational television on cable.

  4. What’s up with the preponderance of themed postdocs, especially those advertised for the humanities more generally? Who comes up with these themes, and why are they so silly and specific (e.g. Penn’s “Afterlives” postdoc)? They don’t just narrow the pool when it comes to applicants, they almost entirely cut out whole fields (like philosophy). Not that anyone on those committees cares about philosophy, but still.I have a hard time thinking of any work that would fit the “Afterlives” project that isn’t conducted in English, theology/religious studies, and maybe philosophy of religion.

    I know, I know, my definition of narrow is “whine whine they exclude me and the things I like.” But still. It just seems weird to advertise them as open to humanists in general if the topic, by its nature, isn’t really accessible to more than a few humanities fields.

    1. You are ignorant, unimaginative, or both. Since you are a philosopher, I’m betting on both. The Penn postdoc is there to connect people interested in a vaguely defined cultural phenomenon. It’s interesting-sounding and I can think of a number of projects in various subfields of philosophy (history of philosophy (esp. reception of earlier work in later periods), environmental philosophy, ethics (esp. transhumanism)) that fit the bill. Most philosophers, of course, would have no idea how to talk to other humanists because they’re too busy writing boring, technical work on problems that were invented by someone else in the literature 10 years ago (or by David Lewis). Those people can apply to the many, many unthemed post-docs out there, which dwarf the themed ones in number.

          1. Nah, I’m trying to put together a proposal on vampirism, as they suggested.

            Feel free to go back to the usual MRAing and whining about women, though.

            1. Feel free to go back to your willful ignorance of what’s going on here, 11:51. You never really left, actually.

              1. I doubt it. I didn’t say *you* were MRAing and blaming women, just that you should feel free to go back to engaging with that aspect of the comments here, since it seems closer to your cup of tea.

                  1. Strafkolonie, what are you contributing of value to this or any other conversation? You seem a good example of what happens when people learn continental philosophy rather than analytic: they learn to be snarky and toss around witticisms and literary references, but not to reason.

  5. Someone just posted the following editorial on Feminist Philosophers, approving of the editorial. The editorial concerns the following bit of Trump’s recent speech when he first hinted mildly, then more strongly, that a woman with a shrieking infant that was disrupting the speech should perhaps think about taking the baby elsewhere: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/full-transcript-donald-trump-crying-baby-mother-virginia-rally-a7169411.html:

    “In talking about Trump and the baby, people seem to be focusing on the idea of “who yells at a baby?” And it is kind of in line with our questions about his temperament to frame this as Trump yelling at a baby.

    “But he didn’t yell at a baby. He yelled at a woman who had a baby.

    “And more importantly, he didn’t just yell at her, he gaslighted her, telling her at first that it was OK that her baby was fussing, and then acting like she was nuts for taking him at his word and should have somehow divined magically that he actually wanted her to leave.

    “This was an example of three horrible things all wrapped up in one. First, Trump’s tendency toward doublespeak, saying one thing, meaning the exact opposite and acting like everyone else is bizarre and ignorant for taking his words at face value. Second, the aforementioned gaslighting, which is an always an abuse tactic, full out.

    “Third, and this is a little more nuanced, it’s a prime example of the insidious way in which parenting forces women, especially, out of public life. When babies aren’t welcome somewhere, when babies start crying, it is mothers who are expected to stay home, mothers who are expected to take the baby out, mothers whose lives are interrupted.

    “It’s not “Trump yells at a baby.”

    “It’s “Trump uses abusive tactics and reinforces marginalization of women with children by yelling at mother of young baby.”

    “Sometimes brevity is the enemy of an accurate picture of just how bad something is.”

    So, what have we learned? Well, feminist philosophers are now extending the term ‘gaslighting’ — that is, cruelly manipulating someone into thinking that she’s literally going insane in order to get control over her — to cover even such things as first hinting at something in a joking way and then mentioning it again more strongly.

    I’m not a fan of Trump, but anyone who could watch that clip and interpret Trump as deliberately attempting to make the woman believe she’s gone insane is… dare I say it… mentally ill. That, or in the grips of an utterly inane ideology that no intelligent person should or would accept. I think it’s the latter.

    On a side note: who doesn’t understand that shrieking babies are a nuisance, particularly when people have gathered to hear a speech? Who wouldn’t understand that a speaker will be thrown off by having a baby screaming? A baby’s scream co-evolved with our nervous system in order to be maximally distracting and irritating. Even the woman with the baby has responded to this nonsense by pointing out that she wasn’t, despite what the feminists are saying, thrown out of the rally. But whether she was thrown out is open to misunderstanding. Whether Trump was deviously trying to make her think she was crazy is not.

    Holy crap, these people are imbeciles. I always think I’ve seen the depth of it, and then they go deeper into idiocy somehow. There really is no bottom.

  6. Hey ressenti-bros –

    It’s almost time for the job market moan-fest! What new fictions will you invent this year to cover up your own deficiencies? Will it be the classic “bad wimmins stealing all our male jobs”? (You really should vote for Donald Trump on the same grounds, but consistency would be too much to ask.) Will it be the “no one cares about my seven top-tier publications” variant? Or perhaps you’ll bemoan the classism of philosophy for not letting you into an awesome graduate program. (I went to a state school, brah, and I’m doing just fine.) In any case, I look forward to your shrieks of un-righteous indignation!

    — STRAFKOLONIE —

    1. The most apt description of the metametaverse, avant la lettre:

      “The man of ressentiment is neither upright not naïve, nor honest and straight with himself. His soul squints; his mind loves dark corners, secret paths and back-doors, everything secretive appeals to him as being his world, his security, his comfort; he knows all about keeping quiet, not forgetting, waiting, temporarily humbling and abasing himself” (Nietzsche, GM 1.10).

      — STRAFKOLONIE —

        1. My guess is that it’s the tenure-failing, rage-prone, philosophically unserious lightweight Leigh Johnson. (Could be wrong, though: far too many of these kinds of people in our profession at the moment.)

          1. Haha, I’d much rather fail to get tenure (and succeed at landing another TT job) than be a dumb fuck adjunct barely making 20k that cries about his pitiful life on an anon message board.

            1. I suspect there are many of us in secure tenured or TT positions who nevertheless sympathize with 8:04. Our competent (and often outstanding) friends/students can’t manage to find decent work while the LJs of the world are rewarded for twittering incoherent claims about pop culture (and little else). Welcome to professional philosophy in the second decade of the 21st century.

            2. How many years before you fail tenure again, Leigh? I forget. You’ll think you’re lucky as hell to be a “dumb fuck adjunct barely making 20k” before long, trust me.

                1. Wrong again.(Not every person you interact with is a fast food worker paid to help keep your grotesquely bloated, you know.)

    2. Idiot,

      Absolutely no comment here has ever been of the form “I’m unemployed because a woman took my job.” Absolutely none.

      Yes, we all know that intellectually dishonest feminists pretend that’s what people here have been saying. But if you actually try reading, you’ll find that it’s a myth. The facts are right in front of you. Nobody has said that. If you don’t believe me, search for yourself.

      What has been discussed here instead? Well, some important moral issues facing the profession that will be of concern to any objective person who cares about justice. But you apparently don’t care about that. You’re akin to someone who would try to deflect criticism about overreaching drug laws by mischaracterizing the critics of those laws as just looking for a way to smoke pot. How asinine and despicable.

      1. Touchy and humorless – lo, the ressenti-bro himself.

        Objectivity? Justice? I see a lot of angry ranting about one’s social position. Tell me, do you think everyone who succeeds must have done so because of some irrelevant feature you happen to lack? Why doesn’t your anger at the injustice of it all not extend to the indisputably superior and often straight, white, male, and publication-less candidates produced by top departments? Why is it so frequently directed toward women? My suspicion: in the absence of gender bias, all you have left is your own inadequacies, and that is a terrible thing to confront.

        1. Talking of “publication-less candidates produced by top departments”, here’s the actual data. Objectivity, if you like:

          “The average publication rate for women hired was about 0.8.
          The median number of publications for a woman hired was 0.
          The average publication rate for men hired was about 1.5.
          The median number of publications for a man hired was 1.

          In particular, the column for “0 Publications” shows that a majority (54%) of women hired had no publications, as compared with 40% of men.

          For the Top 15 journals, 27% of men hired had at least one such publication, while only 11% of women hired had at least one. For these journals, the average publication rate for men hired was 0.42 publications, while for women hired it was only 0.14 publications.

          The statistical findings, at least as far as philosophy job hiring in 2012 and 2013 were concerned, indicate the existence of both prestige and gender bias in philosophy job hiring:
          – Against lower prestige male applicants.
          – For high prestige female applicants.
          As noted above, the correlation amongst those hired between being unpublished and gender is statistically significant.”

          http://genderandprestige.blogspot.com

          1. Let’s put gender to one side for the moment. (Or let’s not, in which case, I wonder whether you think grooming of male candidates to send their work out and the acculturated male disposition to arrogance might explain a good deal of the difference.)

            “Against lower prestige male applicants.” <– What does this mean? Bias against those who are less good candidates, all things considered? Using the word 'bias' in its ordinary application, how can this possibly constitute bias?

            Readers are anxiously awaiting answers, in der

            — STRAFKOLONIE —

    1. Quite recently. Why do you ask? Do you think it takes a pre-2008 PhD to keep oneself above the ooze and slime?

      — STRAFKOLONIE —

          1. How many people from your program graduated last year? How many of those people are currently in TT jobs? How many are doing VL and adjunct work? Finally, what do those numbers look like if you go back to 2012?

  7. Maybe in honor of Strafkolonie we should have a “philosophers getting jobs in top departments without any peer reviewed publications” thread. I wonder what the gender breakdown would look like, now that I mention it…

  8. Strafkolonie, “Let’s put gender to one side for the moment.”

    Nah, let’s look at the data for job hiring in 2012 and 2013:
    – The average publication rate for women hired was about 0.8.
    – The median number of publications for a woman hired was 0.
    – The average publication rate for men hired was about 1.5.
    – The median number of publications for a man hired was 1.
    – In particular, the column for “0 Publications” shows that a majority (54%) of women hired had no publications, as compared with 40% of men.

  9. Just gonna leave this here:

    http://blog.apaonline.org/2016/05/03/academic-placement-data-and-analysis-an-update-with-a-focus-on-gender/

    In terms of odd ratios, our findings (in Table 4 here) show the following:

    The odds of women obtaining a permanent academic placement within two years is 65% greater than men when all else is held constant.

    The odds of obtaining a permanent academic placement for the 2014 cohort compared to the 2012 cohort decreased by 33%.

    Similarly, the 2015 cohort has a 54% decrease in odds of obtaining a permanent academic placement. It should be noted, however, that at the time of this analysis the 2015 cohort has not yet had two years post-graduation to secure placement.

    And lastly, History and Traditions has 35% decreased odds of obtaining a permanent academic placement compared to Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Mind.

  10. So the argument goes:
    1. Campus rape is a discrimination issue not a criminal one
    2. Most discrimination cases are decided by preponderance not beyond reasonable doubt as in criminal cases
    3. No reason has been given for treating it differently from most
    4. Campus rape cases should be decided by preponderance.

    1 strikes me as as strange, first, because it can be both or only one. A criminal act of assault can be motivated by discrimination or not. So unclear why it should by default be classified that way.

    2 might be true, but bears too much normative weight. Does it go without saying that this norm is justified?

    3 is surely false, and any decent argument will consider possible opposing views. In this case, it’s obvious: the consequences of being found guilty are severe and the charge is easy to make, so the 49% preponderance chance you’re punishing an innocent person is too high for such serious consequences.

    They contrast campus racial discrimination cases. I don’t know but suspect the consequences are less severe. Either way, that just returns us to the problem of premise 2.

  11. Addendum: it’s also clearly invalid. It doesn’t morally follow from the absence of reasons for diverging from a legal norm we ought to follow the norm (I suppose it might follow in legal procedure). It only follows that we need to debate the reasons for the norm and departing from it before evaluating the case.

    1. Excellent points, Anon. If philosophers were serious about doing their part to further public discussion, they would be publicizing these errors in the places where they have the biggest voice and we wouldn’t be left hiding behind masks of anonymity here. *sigh*

      But remember: you are what they are merely paid to be, and it’s better to be a vicious-seeming virtuous person than a virtuous-seeming vicious person.

      1. Philosophers at the moment cannot contribute intelligently to public discussion because the ruling ideology in the profession – the one that carries all the institutional power, all the financial backing, and that permits no dissent – is SJW/Identity Politics/feminism. Anything deviating from this political extremism is subjected to conspiracist paranoia and to demonization and attack. There are ordinary epistemological and moral commitments, such as
        – assess claims on *evidence* and evidence *alone*, and not on the basis of identity politics criteria or social justice mantras (“believe the accuser”, “women never tell lies or make false accusations”);
        – all individuals of whatever background ought to be entitled to the *same* standards of concern, empathy or justice (instead of it being undermined by removing due process rights or the presumption of innocence); special moral preference ought not to be restricted to already highly privileged women, with men stereotyped as less than human (“toxic masculinity”, “creeps”, “rape culture”, etc.).

        In the philosophy profession, these epistemological and moral commitments have been abandoned, and replaced with paranoid, factually wrong, conspiracist absurdities from the parallel universe of social justice/identity politics. And these paranoid conspiracy theories (e.g, “rape culture”; the non-existent epidemic of “sexual harassment”, for which no evidence has ever been given; “implicit bias”, for which there is no scientific evidence) are not challenged. Social justice hysteria, moral panics and vindictive witch hunts are epistemologically and morally beyond the pale, and one would think a professional philosopher would oppose them. But social justice hysteria, moral panics and vindictive witch hunts have become the norm in professional philosophy in the last few years.

    1. Perhaps it has to come to a person to do public philosophy; a person has to be moved to do it. Some say that people in general don’t much any more have the idea of service or civic duty, whereas once upon a time across socio-economic classes those things would be considered a part of life. For a philosopher, someone who functions as a philosopher, and who also has this servic-y kind of presumption about how to be, public philosophy is a natural. It’s not something to be promoted as a special duty of philosophers. If anything should be promoted it is the general expectation of service to community across the board for everyone. Then everyone can do this in their own style, including philosophers, who can do it in a philosophical writer-y style, pronouncing some pronouncements and showing the way with argument.

      1. Just jumping in here about how cool this is. I really resonate with your idea that, sure, philosophers may have some public duties, but that is just because they are members of society. Let’s not go around thinking that the source of this duty is some free-floating, noble thing just arising out of philosophy itself!

        Also that’s a great point about how some people are just a natural. I wonder, do you think this is one of those nature-nurture debates? Either way, it’s clear that some people, for whatever reason be it nature or nutre, do gravitate more towards public philosophy and doing it. I think they should be commended certainly, but maybe other folks who prefer to remain in the shadows and work on their ideas should not be held up to scorn and ridicule either. It’s a broad church, this academy of ours, whatever its problems!

        1. Thanks very much, Anonymous 1:10. You’h got it exactly. So glad I am not alone in this world.

          About nature-nurture: I spose I used “naturally” sloppily, without much attention to its likely meaning to my audience. I only meant non-artificially, i.e. not in a stilted, clumsy, egoistic way. Being trained as a philosopher, plus having an inclination to civic duty or community service or however you want to think of it (probably more the former than the latter being on the right track) some will rise to the occasion. The inclination is probably some unknown combination of nature and nurture, like almost every other bit of our behaviour, I guess.

          1. But would Kant ever agree that duties could be something towards which we had “inclinations”? (An afterthought.)

          2. Great, thanks for that clarification. And no worries about thanks that you don’t feel alone! What can philosophy do if it can’t help us that way.. I agree that it’s an unknown combination. We can’t always reduce things to simple formulas the way we sometimes want to when doing philosophy. (I guess we’ve got a bit of science envy there maybe!)

            I just hope there are more and more of those “special someones”! If they run out then maybe we really will have to formulate more of a theoretical approach.

            Ooh, and thanks for the Kant point as your after thought. I know a great Kant scholar who I will ask about this tonight.

            1. Excellent! I would love it if you tell me what this Kant scholar says.

              I think public philosophy is hard in the same way growing up is hard.

              1. Wow, the Kant scholar was really insightful on this one. We had coffee and then went to dinner, and then the wine started flowing, and believe me, it was pretty good stuff. I was in there in the study of my apartment, and some of our friends were all ranged around, and the Kant scholar brought her fist down and said ‘No no no! You must go into the public arena and talk about philosophy! You must tell the truth. You must go out to the Agora. In Kant’s moral philosophy, he talks again and again about the inviolable nature of certain moral imperatives. This is part of the constitutive basis of our minds and our status as persons, as I read him. And philosophy can help us grasp the intelligible character of phenomena. Therefore, you must do public philosophy.’ And then the wine kept flowing. (I’m paraphrasing the words of the Kant scholar of course. It was much more eloquent than that.)

                It was a really great night, so thanks for asking about it.

    1. It’s not as though this is an uncommon story, either. Here’s another tragic example of the phenomenon (women feminists aggressively questioning the feminist credentials of other women), this one ending tragically. Nussbaum writes:

      “One day around 1975, while teaching at William and Mary, depressed for many reasons, Eunice [Belgum] killed herself. Shortly before, she had been denounced at a SWIP [Society for Women in Philosophy] meeting for co-teaching a course on the philosophy of sex roles with a male colleague. Her parents followed up on phone calls listed as having been made on the day of her death. They found that the calls were all to students in that course, apologizing for having corrupted their consciousness by teaching with a man.”

      1. You mean a woman was bullied to death by feminists for not conforming to their demands? Surely that could never happen, not in the philosophy profession. Surely philosophy’s feminists would respect others’ freedom and choices, wouldn’t they?

  12. Peter Ludlow has returned from exile and is commenting more across Facebook.

    Jason Stanley is worried that Christians are talking about Jews behind closed doors.

    Keep calm and carry on.

    1. Moron. Ludlow, once a playboy in Chicago and now a playboy in Mexico, never had an “exile”, and has emitted lunatic far left gibberish for years (e.g., Assange, conspiracy theories, etc.), daily, to his several thousand mates on Facebook.

      1. It’s not lunatic or gibberish, and not that far left (though maybe to you it is, if you’re a child and don’t know anything). It challenges the status quo, and some of it is informative.

        1. Ludlow was fired from his 190K a year job with no severance and had to sell his condo and his car to pay for legal fees. So far as anyone knows, he’s been unemployed for two years.

        2. DOES it challenge the status quo? I never looked at it that carefully but I always thought it was super-bougie techno-anarchism–the sort of thing you like if you work at Google but have a bunch of tattoos and go to Burning Man.

          1. Yeah, I know what you mean. Maybe you’re right that it doesn’t for the most part challenge the status quo, but I think his early support of Manning (and certain other whistleblowers) (but not every hacker he supports) is felt to be that way by gatekeepers. It’s the kind of thing most other people can’t get away with challenging because they either will be gas lighted to death or will trip and fall into a whirlpool of libertarians spinning clockwise endlessly. Maybe being able to avoid those fates indicates privilege and thus indicates the structural impossibility of genuinely challenging the status quo, I don’t know. I’m not a marxist so it doesn’t seem automatic to me.

  13. From Daily Nous (context http://dailynous.com/2016/08/08/what-philosophers-arent-talking-about-but-should/#comment-92124 ):

    Matt McAdam · August 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm
    Justin, could you explain what you mean by “philosophically interesting”?

    Upvotes: 3
    Report
    Reply

    Justin W. · August 9, 2016 at 5:22 pm
    Your mom is philosophically interesting.

    Upvotes: 15
    Reply
    Matt McAdam · August 9, 2016 at 5:33 pm
    You just won the internet.

    _______________

    What the fuck? What kind of way to talk to commenters is that for a website supposedly devoted to providing news to a body of professionals? And the victim is lapping it up like a little bitch! This makes Leiter, for all his bile, seem very decorous by comparison.

    Before I get called a pearl-clutcher: I’m not offended. I just think this is douchey, lame, unprofessional behavior.

    1. I noticed that one too, 5:10. It made me go through the thread above to see if Matt McAdam had said something really awful and deserving of that kind of response.

      I read less and less of Daily Snooze these days, but the change in Justin W.’s character has been marked. I’m probably seeing it even more because I haven’t been in on the day-by-day shift and it all seems fairly sudden. Previously, he made great efforts to be polite and friendly, except when someone said something he considered really beyond the pale, and then he would of course roll over on the person to delight and build up his fan base. Then, he started dismissing his interlocutors with rudeness when they had really hardly said anything. He started becoming more and more of a dochey, sophomoric smartass, but he kept his fans’ approval (he notices those upvotes) because they saw him as a crusader for righteousness in general and I guess assumed there was a reason for him to act that way, or whatever. And now it’s at this new point where he can just make these unprofessional comments and everyone feels the need to like him for it and upvote his pointless, smartass comments. He really seems to feel that he’s ‘arrived’ and can do whatever he wants now.

        1. Yes. The man is an ignorant buffoon with a chip on his shoulder. His defenders here seem unwilling to look critically at how he acts. The malapropism thing is another good example.

    1. I dunno. Sometimes people have had enough sex talk hurled at them constantly, and they might want to avoid topics related to sex, gender, and sexuality for that very reason. That’s a real thing ATM. I was one of those people when I was younger. I’m old now, and people hurl less sex talk at me, and when they do, I can see it as a reflection on them, not me. So I understand where you’re coming from too. But I still understand why someone might not want to have to deal with any of it at all. And you know, if we’re trying to help all students learn regardless of what their social identities might be, it’s probably good to not alienate kids just because we don’t know what it’s like to be them.

      1. One could as easily be triggered by talk of apple pie as by talk of chicken sexing. Why risk alienating those kids? Never mention apple pie. Don’t take the risk.

          1. OK. In lieu of any empirical evidence at all, could you at least provide us with at least a plausible explanation as to why someone would be ‘triggered’ by a description of chicken sexing?

            1. well- that description seemed physically painful for the chicken- so anyone who is squeamish at all might be triggered i guess. but more generally for non-chicken-oriented content, the reaction “triggered” is just a state of being really distracted and maybe a little bit paranoid.

              1. Well, ‘triggering’ doesn’t just mean being made squeamish: it refers to what happens to someone who has been through a terrible ordeal, and who currently has post-traumatic stress disorder, when he or she stumbles upon something that brings back a painful memory of the trauma consciously or unconsciously.

                This is what most politically correct people in education get completely wrong, and what drives psychologists who know about PTSD nuts. The fact is that what actually triggers people is very difficult to predict. If someone was eating apple pie just before being beaten up, or if someone was routinely molested as a child by a trusted adult who always fed the child apple pie after, then seeing or smelling apple pie or hearing the words ‘apple pie’ mentioned could easily be a trigger for that person. And, yes, if chicken sexing or something closely akin to chicken sexing was proximally related to a trauma someone underwent, then reading a description of chicken sexing could be triggering for that person. But you can’t figure out what will trigger people by a priori reasoning of the form ‘X makes many feel squeamish, and this person has gone through a trauma, so X will be more likely to trigger this person.’ That’s just not how it works.

                1. I get it. I mean, PTSD might be relatively common. People aren’t very nice to each other- children are especially vulnerable. There are likely many undiagnosed cases. If you’re is about to talk about something unpleasant, it seems fair to warn people first. I remember teaching a pre-made syllabus where THE FIRST TOPIC was suicide. That was a bit unnerving. I mean, the chances are low that nobody in a 30-person class has any PTSD-like symptoms related to the topic of suicide.

                  1. This looks like the kind of thinking that led to the creation of the Heterodox Academy. Here’s one of the popular essays that kicked it off

                    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

                    If someone can’t be in a pedagogical setting where an unforwarned ‘something’ might make her squeamish, then she is not ready for the college experience. She needs to get help, and higher education is not a place for coddling the hyper-sensitive scions of privilege. And let’s be clear, we are talking about chicken-sexing, apple pies, and suicide, all of which are, in one way or another, well-established features of the contemporary American landscape.

                    1. This thread has triggered the following thought in me: STRAFKOLONIE means penal colony and penal sounds like penile and penile…..

                      — STRAFKOLONIE —

    1. Then go somewhere else, 2:40. Start yourself a gossip blog if that’s what you’re into. The metablog was meant to be a place to comment on trends in the profession in ways that aren’t possible on other blogs. If you don’t like that, get lost.

    1. The only philosophy worth doing these days is philosophy of genitalia. Duh, have you been living under a rock the last few years?!

  14. The case against the existence of philosophy departments is depressingly formidable. I say “depressingly” because I love philosophy departments. Here are some of the considerations against them:

    Institutional Cost. In an era in which the budgets of many universities are shrinking, one may wonder whether the opportunity cost of funding a philosophy department is worth it. Perhaps better things can be done with the money.

    Fairness and Funding.Philosophers vary in their access to department funding, as well as in the personal funds they have available to train themselves enough to get a department to fund them (these probably go together for obvious reasons). Insofar as being in a philosophy department is beneficial (e.g., for substantive feedback that improves the one’s work, or for various kinds of networking), conferences may widen some unfair professional disparities.

    Fairness and Family. People’s differential familial responsibilities may make being/becoming a member of a philosophy department excessively burdensome or costly, with the result that the advantages of being a member of a philosophy department are skewed to those who easily offload these responsibilities.

    Environment. Flights and drives to philosophy departments, and to maintain one’s professional status enough to remain in one, harm the environment, a largely avoidable outcome were research and instruction conducted entirely via video (e.g., Skype).

    Time. Travel to one’s philosophy department, along with the back-and-forth required to maintain one’s professional status enough to remain in one, take time that could be put to better use.

    Accessibility. Not all philosophy departments take measures to be adequately accessible to people with disabilities, which may place extra burdens on disabled philosophy department members, or make it practically impossible for them to be/become philosophy department members.

      1. You haven’t seen anything yet: wait until I share with you the depressingly formidable case for eating the children of poor people.

    1. Annoying that T and F let the errors about Rutgers get through. Stubblefield is described as a member of the Rutgers Philosophy Department and as the Chair of the Rutgers Philosphy Department. In fact, she was only a member of the peripheral Rutgers NEWARK philosophy department, which has no connection to the famous Rutgers NEW BRUNSWICK department, at the main campus. Rutgers Newark and Rutgers New Brunswick are different universities with different and non overlapping philosophy faculty, different chairs, different policies, different deans, etc. Outside of specific contexts, ‘Rutgers’ clearly refers to Rutgers New Brunswick.

      This is akin to saying that someone moved to Oxford to become a professor of Philosophy there when in fact she had just moved to Oxford, Mississippi.

      1. Mostly true. They’re different campuses of the same university, with overlapping administration. There’s one president, vice president, board of governors, and promotion and review committee for the entire Rutgers campus (New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden). That’s important when you consider who is ultimately liable for the Stubblefield fiasco. But yes, she was not a member or a chair of the famous New Brunswick department, and yes each campus has separate faculties, deans, and graduate/undergraduate programs. I’m sure she had little or no contact with the faculty or students in New Brunswick.

        1. “the entire Rutgers campus (New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden)”

          There is no such thing. These were once three campuses of one university, but in recent years the terminology has shifted and they are referred to as three universities: Rutgers University New Brunswick, Rutgers University Newark, and Rutgers University Camden. But they are in no way all three the same campus.

          “That’s important when you consider who is ultimately liable for the Stubblefield fiasco”

          Why? Stubblefield was hired and reviewed solely by people at the Rutgers Newark. The members of the search committee were there, as were all her students, all her colleagues, and her dean. And nobody higher than the dean was involved in overseeing her. The president, vice president, board of governors, etc. were not involved in or aware of her dealings with the disabled man, nor was there any reason for them to be involved in those things.

          1. Rutgers is a single university with three campuses. That is how Rutgers University in fact presents itself. The fact that a single university has three campuses, with disjoint student and faculty bodies, does not imply it is not one university. This is because “university” and “campus” are different concepts. There’s no need for people to get upset over these facts or deny them.

            1. Nobody’s getting upset, 3:11. We’re just trying to correct the misconception you seem to have taken from the different arrangement at Rutgers in the past.

              Look at the Rutgers site itself: http://www.rutgers.edu/about/locations

              The the famous place where the big philosophers work is now called “Rutgers University – New Brunswick. ”

              The place of which Stubblefield’s department was a part is called “Rutgers University – Newark.”

              There is no plausible sense in which anyone from the president on down who works at the main university (Rutgers University — New Brunswick) is responsible for or should have known about what she was doing.

              1. The misconception is yours (you are not “we”). Rutgers is one university, with three different campuses. Rutgers presents itself as one university at its webpages.
                http://www.rutgers.edu/about
                Also it presents itself a one university on Twitter.
                https://twitter.com/RutgersU
                Rutgers is one single university covering all three campuses. I am correcting your misconception. This has nothing whatsoever to do with Stubblefield. It is how to count universities. There is one, and exactly one. With three campuses.

                1. Hi, all. There’s a sense in which both sides are right on the campus/university issue. But the person who wrote the Taylor and Francis article definitely flubbed it, and the editors (if there were any) fell down on the job.

                  We’ve been told by the Rutgers administration to start using the term ‘university’, not ‘campus’, to refer to Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Rutgers University-Newark, and Rutgers University-Camden. These universities also have campuses. Rutgers University New Brunswick has four campuses: College Avenue Campus, Cook/Douglass Campus, Busch Campus, and LIvingston Campus. (See Rutgers University Newark has two campuses of its own: the main Rutgers University-Newark Campus, and the Rutgers Health Sciences Campus at Newark. You can see the latter two campuses mentioned here: https://www.newark.rutgers.edu/about-us

                  Further down on the main Rutgers University-Newark page, you can see how Rutgers and others talk about these different regional universities: “Since 1997, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rutgers University-Newark the most diverse national university in the United States.” Note that well: the US News & World Report has ranked Rutgers University-Newark — which used to be referred to more often as a conglomerate campus but is now internally referred to as a university — as the most diverse national *university* in the US. Not that the various Rutgers universities as a whole are, but that Rutgers Newark is such a *university*.

                  At the same time, it’s true that this is a newer way of speaking about the satellite universities (what were once called the satellite campuses). In the old manner of speaking, it was normal to refer to Rutgers Newark as the Newark ‘campus’, and this still persists in some internal Rutgers webpages that have not been updated.

                  However, the Taylor and Francis article says things about Rutgers that are false or nonsensical on the old and also on the new way of categorizing the Rutgers University units. For instance, the T and F article says “A recent sexual assault case involving Marjorie Anna Stubblefield, a disability studies scholar who was the Chair of Philosophy at Rutgers University, has again drawn attention to the issue of facilitated communication.”

                  Regardless of whether one uses the old way of speaking about Rutgers-Newark as a campus or the new way of speaking about it as a university, this statement is false. On the new way of speaking about Rutgers Newark, it should have read “who was the Chair of Philosophy at Rutgers University-Newark.” On the old way of speaking about Rutgers Newark, it should have read “who was the Chair of Philosophy at the Newark campus of Rutgers University.”

                  The term ‘Rutgers University’ can either be used to refer, collectively, to all of Rutgers New Brunswick, Rutgers Newark, and Rutgers Camden (in which case it is false that Stubblefield “was THE Chair of Philosophy at Rutgers University,” since in that case there was no unique referent of that definite description), or else it can be used to refer to the oldest, most prominent, most famous and most salient Rutgers University: Rutgers University-New Brunswick (in which case it is false that Stubblefield was the Chair of Philosophy at Rutgers University, since she was not at that department at all).

                  Whether Rutgers Newark is a campus or a university, whoever wrote that T and F article definitely misunderstood Stubblefield’s connection with Rutgers University.

                    1. Not quite: Rutgers (meaning Rutgers New Brunswick, which is what ‘Rutgers’ simpliciter tends to refer to in similar contexts) has at least one nerd. And Rutgers – NEWARK (not ‘Rutgers’ simpliciter!) had at least one female rapist prior to her conviction. I don’t know if she was also a feminist.

                    2. Funny because I remember someone was hired to take over the cognitive science center and then had to be pulled when sex related allegations emerged. It wasn’t Stubblefield? I wonder who it could be then?

                  1. Wasn’t Anne Stubblefield set to take cover the Cognitive Science Center on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus before the news broke about the rape charge, forcing the Center to withdraw the offer?

                    1. Nope. You just made that one up. Nobody at Rutgers (the main Rutgers, not Newark) knew of Stubblefield at all before the revelation.

      2. The closer analogy is saying “Oxford” and meaning “Oxford Brookes”. The school in Mississippi is at least called the University of Mississippi.

  15. “You just made that one up. Nobody at Rutgers (the main Rutgers, not Newark) knew of Stubblefield at all before the revelation.”

    Anna Stubblefield’s name used to be listed on this webpage, for “Ethics and Value Theory” faculty for Philosophy at Rutgers, as one of the “associate members of the Graduate Faculty”. Her name has now been removed, of course. Whatever failings Rutgers philosophers might have as rapists, surely one can assume that philosophers at Rutgers are capable of reading who their colleagues are?

    http://www.philosophy.rutgers.edu/for-faculty/244-ethics-and-value-theory-faculty

    1. Exactly.
      If your name appears on a web page with someone else’s name, you should investigate that person thoroughly to see if she has a tendency to commit sex crimes. If you don’t, you are complicit and partly responsible. Shame!

    2. We’ve been through this before, 11:18, you obsessive loon.

      The Rutgers Philosophy website is put together by administrators and secretaries with some input from the departments. In order to attract students, etc., it lists as many people as it can. You can see for yourself how many people it lists from different departments and different schools. There’s no way on God’s green earth that you believe that all the people listed on that subpage, like the person described as “Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Co-Director, Rutgers-Camden School of Law Institute for Law and Philosophy” is a colleague of Alvin Goldman in any interesting sense. Certainly, such people are not members of the Rutgers Philosophy department. It’s not that Goldman isn’t capable of knowing who his colleagues are. It’s the fact that they aren’t members of his department and aren’t his colleagues. Odds are that he’s never even met or heard of most of them. They live and work in different cities, in different departments, under different chairs and even different deans.

      I know you’re obsessively trying to make a link between Stubblefield and the Rutgers (that is, Rutgers-New Brunswick) Philosophy department. But you’re just looking more and more like a lunatic. Time to put away the magnifying glass and fingerprint dust, bub.

      1. I had heard–I swear its true!–that Stubblefield used to co-teach the Ethics proseminar every fall with Jeff McMahan, and that the two of them were co-authoring a paper on disability and just war theory before the rape store broke.

        actually, I hadn’t heard that but the thin skin and paranoia of the Rutgers philosophy people/person here is amusing …

        1. Oh, I thought it was the Ruth Chang-Anna Stubblefield Professional Ethics Seminar? Wasn’t the joint paper about “Dropping due process culture and listening to the non-verbal victim”?

          1. Yes — and Ruth Chang and Anna Stubblefield communicated with each other and the students using facilitated communication, since they’ve probably never written any correspondence to each other or been in the same room with each other.

            1. Never in the same room? Are you kidding me? Stubblefield was for years all but an official member of the Rutgers New Brunswick philosophy department. She sat on dissertation committees, gave qualifying exams, chatted amiablly with the gang on the NJ Transit on the occasional day when any one of them actually had to show up to teach a class.
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              .
              ok, that’s made up. You RU people have amusingly thin skin.

              1. In other words, you didn’t have a clue what you were talking about before and now you’re bluffing in order to pretend that the joke isn’t on you and that you were trying to tease the Rutgers person all along.

                1. OR … Rutgers person/people was sooooo worried about their department’s reputation that they had to blather on this board about what everyone here already knew, just in case some poor shmo knew enough about professional philosophy to discover its dark presence on the web but not enough to know that Newark and New Brunswick are two different departments, with zero overlap.

                    1. Or … The person who wrote the article knew it but didn’t care, because his interest was actually with the question of facilitated communication and disability studies and not with protecting the reputation of a couple dozen philosophers in the New Brunswick department!

                      People, I know it’s really hard to be famous and teach in an otherwise middling public university. Your non-academic uncles and cousins don’t know that to be at Rutgers NEW BRUNSWICK philosophy is a better deal than to be at say, Penn or Columbia or wherever. They don’t get it that you’ve MADE IT to the top of the heap. They think you’re slugging it out in some mediocre state school, grading stacks of papers by slobs from Bayonne. Hell, even some of your non-philosopher academic friends don’t get it either. You’re among the best of the best, #2 in the nation!, you barely teach and get to live in a swank apartment in New York pulling in a quarter million+ a year. And the whole world thinks you’re teaching at something no better than Penn State! So, so hard.

      2. To be “a colleague of Alvin Goldman in any interesting sense”, does one have to co-author with him “Knowing in the Biblical Sense”?

  16. Despite my misgivings about Jason Stanley, I was impressed by the most recent NY Times article. Gotta give credit where it’s due!

  17. Chris Bertram is the biggest fool. How can such an ideologue even teach philosophy?

    “But I now feel myself out of community with my co-nationals who voted differently. Of course, I’m not utterly indifferent to their well-being — they have their human rights after all, even though they might dispute that — but I don’t feel any enthusiasm beyond pragmatic self-interest for putting them ahead of distant others.

    One reason for this is that I think of nearly all of them as racists and xenophobes.”

    Of course, outhe Chocagoan patient likes it. In hindsight, I find it funny how he tried to increase his son’s chances of getting into a good school by putting his name on a review article.

    1. “Of course, outhe Chocagoan patient likes it. In hindsight, I find it funny how he tried to increase his son’s chances of getting into a good school by putting his name on a review article.”

      It worked for Ludlow, didn’t it?

    2. I’ve been reading rants on the internet for a long time but I’ve never quite felt the hate radiating from my computer screen than with that post.

  18. If you feel the need to post a syllabus you’ve designed for advice on Facebook, then (i) you are signaling to everyone who knows how to do this that you’re incompetent lightweight and (ii) you should be immediately fired from your teaching position.

    And if you feel the need to post a syllabus on Facebook that you’ve filled with all sorts of gratuitous race/gender/culture borderline philosophy (which you’ve obviously neither read nor cared about until it became professionally advantageous), then jump off the nearest cliff. Please.

    That is all. Have a nice day!

      1. Oh, feel free to wear a parachute. (Wouldn’t want to upset 8:36 AM’s fragile sensibilities or complete lack of a sense of humour now, wouldn’t we?)

    1. What’s wrong with asking for advice on a syllabus? I am teaching a lot of new courses lately. Some of them are on areas outside my AOS. I know a lot of people who a. are much more knowledgeable than I am about those areas and b. have experience teaching courses in those areas, so they have a better idea than I am not just what the most important things to read on those topics are, but what particular papers work well for students, and for students at different levels. Are you saying that I shouldn’t ask people for advice, and if I do I’m incompetent and should be fired? Or just that I should email them all individually rather than asking on facebook? Both of those seem like very odd things to say.

      1. “What’s wrong with asking for advice on a syllabus?”

        I complain about people doing X by means of Y. You interpret me as complaining about people who do X. No further comment on this idiocy is required.

        “I am teaching a lot of new courses lately. Some of them are on areas outside my AOS.”

        Another philosophical lightweight turned adjunct job market failure. We seem to have a lot of these around here lately!

        “Are you saying that I shouldn’t ask people for advice, and if I do I’m incompetent and should be fired?”

        Again, NO, there isn’t anything wrong with asking people for syllabus advice. And even if I were saying that, I wouldn’t say that the asking for advice is why you’re incompetent and should be fired. (Disease vs. symptom and all of that.)

        “Or just that I should email them all individually rather than asking on facebook?”

        Facebook was launched in 2004, which (according to you) was also the year that (i) email was invented and (ii) people felt the need to ask their friends for syllabus advice. As we all remember, we were at a complete loss–for centuries!–until Mark Zuckerberg blessed us with his existence.

        1. That’s really uncalled for, 8:05.

          Still, I agree that in this case, there’s some evidence that the request for advice might be a sneaky way of showing off a politically correct syllabus.

          1. Even better: post your plea for help on Craigslist, or on a public announcement billboard. A larger audience! Maybe someone out there will help you teach about divine command theory.

            1. I think you may not understand how facebook works. The people who see my facebook posts are not just a random sampling of the public, but friends (and occasionally friends of friends). If I want to ask a lot of friends for advice at once, in an fairly unobtrusive way that they can easily ignore (so, without making people feel obligated to help me) then facebook is a pretty good way of doing it.

              Mind you, you also seem to think that the fact that people ask friends for advice about a syllabus is a sign that they are not competent to teach the course, which is pretty crazy.

        2. “I complain about people doing X by means of Y. You interpret me as complaining about people who do X.”

          Nope. As you would know if you read more than the first sentence. I *asked* you if your objection was to X in general, or in particular to doing X, by means of Y. And I pointed out that if there was nothing wrong with doing X, it seems like there is nothing wrong with doing X by means of facebook rather than by other common methods.

          “Another philosophical lightweight turned adjunct job market failure. We seem to have a lot of these around here lately!”

          Nope. I have a permanent job, thanks.

          “Again, NO, there isn’t anything wrong with asking people for syllabus advice. And even if I were saying that, I wouldn’t say that the asking for advice is why you’re incompetent and should be fired. (Disease vs. symptom and all of that.)”

          So there is nothing wrong with asking for advice – but if you do ask for advice, that is an indication that you are unqualified? In other words, there is something wrong with asking for advice, because you shouldn’t need to if you are, according to you, qualified?

          “Facebook was launched in 2004, which (according to you) was also the year that (i) email was invented and (ii) people felt the need to ask their friends for syllabus advice. As we all remember, we were at a complete loss–for centuries!–until Mark Zuckerberg blessed us with his existence.”

          I didn’t say or imply anything about when email was invented, anything about the year in which people started needing to ask their friends for syllabus, nor anything about being at a ‘complete loss’ until Facebook was invented.

    2. “And if you feel the need to post a syllabus on Facebook that you’ve filled with all sorts of gratuitous race/gender/culture borderline philosophy (which you’ve obviously neither read nor cared about until it became professionally advantageous), then jump off the nearest cliff. Please.”

      if you’re talking about who I think you’re talking about, YES. what a fucking tool.

    1. I assume Temkin, Chang etc. will be on the search committee, since Rutgers Newark and New Brunswick really are the same department after all.

            1. In any case, after their daughter Annie is done growing up in Bas van Fraassen’s house, where will her first appointment be?

  19. I think what the profession needs now is something truer to what the Laughing Philosopher blog was back during its brief stint, and what the original Metablog was through most but not all of its time: a place to talk about issues in the profession without all this gossip-mongering, speculation, and pointless attacks on particular people in the profession.

    I’m pretty busy now, but maybe I’ll set it up in a bit. The trouble now is that people can say “The Metametametablog is a cesspool” and some it is true because of idiots like the people above, and this in their minds translates to “there’s nothing serious to be said against the New Consensus.” And that’s a big mistake. We need intelligent discussion and critique, not this bullshit.

    1. “… to be said against the New Consensus.”

      Why should anyone care about “the New Consensus”, an empty phrase used by an obscure blogger, several years ago?

  20. Schwitzgebel claims (http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2016/08/how-to-diversify-philosophy-two.html) that philosophy has a diversity problem and that one way to remedy it is to learn about a “non-white” philosophical tradition, in order to discuss it alongside the “white western” philosophy that presently dominates historically oriented course reading lists.

    What I want to know is this: If I study enough of the Commentator will I have discharged my duty to the teeming masses of SJWs yearning to use contemporary racial categories to assess complex cultural and intellectual traditions in the most reductive way imaginable? Also, is the Christian philosophical tradition white? What about ancient undocumented workers?

    1. I saw this and was (again) struck by the utter lack of any reason to think there is a problem, or anything bad, about the larger-than-in-the-population-at-large representation of whites and males in philosophy.

      For some, I think it’s a kind of hardcore blank-slate-ism. That would be the most simple, internally consistent justification. Only there’s no evidence for it, and simple common sense, not to mention genetics, screams in favour of blank-slate-ism’s negation.

  21. I love it when the philosophy metablogs inch back to their favorite habit of promoting the idea that there are genetic differences in intelligence among races. Go for it boys!

    1. Perhaps you intend to single out the post below mine. Fine. But my post promotes nothing of the sort. People like Schwitzgebel think they’re using “diversity” as a euphemism for “non-white” but really they’re using it as a euphemism for “an arbitrarily collected set of cultural, ethnic, and racial groups/individuals that SJWs happen to care about this year.” I could teach a fun historically oriented intro course that focuses on Augustine, Averroes, and Spinoza. Students could learn about Plato, Aristotle, Scholasticism, and Descartes in discussion about the three central figures of the course. Yet, such a course would satisfy none of the diversity zealots…which is why I conclude that such people are fundamentally unserious.

      1. Yes, I was referring to the post underneath yours and to the lamentable tradition of race and genetics talk on this board. Your post was sensible, and your follow up even more so. The problem is not just SJWs, I’d say, but the lack of historical understanding and historical knowledge in analytic philosophy.

        1. There is no such “discussion”. Just grow up. IQ is significantly heritable. This is completely standard science. If you want to attack science, fine. That is a reflection of your own ignorance, which is lamentable.

          1. Please do us the favor then of explicating how “the larger-than-in-the-population-at-large representation of whites and males in philosophy” is explained by genetics, as argued above?

              1. Geez. That’s a powerful argument. You must be a philosopher or something! Anyhow, I assume 5:27 cares about this since 5:27 actually wrote a post saying 1) It makes total sense that whites and men are over-represented in philosophy 2) Because, “genetics.” All I want to know is what the argument and assumptions are. You might not care. But 5:27 does. And, if memory serves, so do a few others.

                1. Not an “argument”. It’s pure dismissal, because this kind of Schwitzgebel horseshit is pure horseshit. It should be dismissed for the horseshit it is. Women are vastly over-represented in the higher education, outnumbering men everywhere. Want to have a fucking tantrum about that? No intelligent person should care about this pretentious horse shit. It’s retarded.

                  1. Excuse me, are you a professional philosopher, a member of a discipline that prides itself on clarity and rigor? If so, that word salad should make you ashamed. So, take a deep breath and try to see if you can respond intelligibly to the following. You said that the over-representation of “whites and men” in philosophy relative to the general population could be explained by “common sense and genetics.” Please enlighten us as to why that is the case.

                    1. 5.27 here. That’s not what I was saying. What I was saying is that the most straightforward justification I can see for the idea that the larger-than-in-the-population-at-large representation of whites and males is a bad thing that should be worked against – blank-slate-ism – is discredited by both common sense and genetics.

  22. OK 5:27, could you please elaborate? Because it sure does seem like you’re saying that “blank slate-ism” with respect to race and the kind of intelligence that makes for good philosophers is “discredited by common sense and genetics.” And that sure seems like a claim that whites and men are genetically predisposed to have the kind of intelligence valued by philosophy. Or, contrary wise, that blacks and women are not. If that’s what you believe then say so. If it’s not what you believe then explain how your post doesn’t lead to that conclusion.

    1. Wait, surely you recognize the distinction between ruling out blank slate-ism as a basis for concluding we should expect to see fifty/fifty representation of men and women in philosophy, and the additional conclusion that innate differences in intelligence explains the representation we actually see. Surely no one thinks that the over-representation of women in fields like art history and social work is because we think they’re smarter than men. There’s really something about this topic that makes otherwise intelligent people say some unintelligent things.

      1. So, not intelligence then, but genetic predisposition for whatever suite of capacities suits one to philosophy? Whites and men are innately more suited to philosophy, women more innately suited to art history, and african americans to …. oh wait, there is no academic discipline in which african americans are overrepresented relative to the population … That’s the claim?

        1. 5:27 and 6:54’s insistence on phrasing things in the negative–merely objecting to implicit blank slatism without copping to what they understand to be on that slate–is certainly squirrelly.

        2. Who said anything about being innately suited to philosophy or art history? It’s as if the only options you can imagine are innate capacities that make one class better suited to a discipline over another, or perfect 50/50 representation. But if women choose to study art history over philosophy, that’s their prerogative. And we already have data that women, from the beginning of their undergraduate education, are in general not as interested in studying philosophy as men.

          It’s instructive that no one in these discussions ever makes the argument that the over-representation of women in art history and social work is because of bias against men. That, together with the failure to imagine anything but an ‘innate ability’ explanation of divergent representations, suggests that what’s really motivating people like 7:13 is a crusade to increase the opportunities for women in philosophy regardless of what the data shows. Just more identity politicking, I guess.

          1. Who said anything? 5:27 did. Can you read? You and 5:27 are twisting yourself into a pretzel to avoid saying what you actually think. So, then, answer me this, what does “genetics and common sense” have to do with the over-rrepresentation of “whites and men” in philosophy? Those are 5:27’s words, not mine or anyone else’s. Please just answer that question and leave the rest out.

            1. 5:27 most certainly did not say anything about anyone being innately suited to philosophy anonymous, and the denial of blank slate-ism does not entail anything about innate differences in aptitude. You’re not doing a very good job following the dialectic. But you are doing a good job illustrating the narrow-mindedness of the blank slatists.

              1. You’re doing a piss poor job of clearly stating let alone following a dialectic. And again, you’re refusing simply to phrase your argument. Even now, you’re refusing to be at clear about what you believe the relation between innateness and the race and gender breakdown of the disciplines to be. Please, what is the relation between innate, genetically specified endowment and the race and gender breakdown of the disciplines? Say it! Don’t just avoid answering a direct question.

                1. Le sigh. I invite you to reread my remarks at 8:05. And I’ll let the ether decide who’s doing the piss poor job of following the dialectic.

                2. I’m sorry you’re finding this hard to follow anonymous. I invite you to to reread my remarks at 8:05. And I’ll let the ether decide who’s doing the piss poor job of following the dialectic.

                    1. You’ve had it explained to you by no less than two people anonymous. There’s only so much that can be done.

                    2. 5.27 here. BTW the person posting with the name ‘5:27’ isn’t me. This is my third comment in this conversation.

                      OK, what I suspect is that men, for genetic reasons, are more interested in and have more aptitude for philosophy, on the whole. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think non-men should be encouraged in philosophy, if they are interested in it and show ability. About the race question, I don’t have as much experience and I feel less certain about it. But I do think it’s likely that, on the whole, people of some races are inherently – genetically – more likely to be interested in philosophy and to have aptitude for it. Again, that doesn’t mean I think we shouldn’t welcome people from races who are on the whole less into and good at philosophy. We should probably go out of our way to welcome and encourage them. But we shouldn’t just assume there is a terrible problem as long as they aren’t proportionally represented.

                    3. I don’t know why I said ‘non-men’. Trying too hard not to trip up and say something that sounds old-fashioned and unprogressive I guess. Should have said ‘women’.

  23. I asked you a direct question, more than once, and you refused to answer it. So, here it is, one more time. What is the relation as you see it between innateness and the racial and gender breakdown of philosophy verses other disciplines and with respect to society at large? Answer me this time.

      1. I didn’t ignore it. I just thought it was an evasive and squirrelly dodge, especially as you spent almost all your time attacking some straw man blank slater. Leave that out of it. Just step and tell us what you think. You have the cloak of anonymity here. Say what you actually think: what is the relationship between innateness and the number of women and african americans in philosophy. That was the very topic introduced by 5:27. I’m asking. Don’t dodge. Just answer.

        1. I don’t know what to tell you if you thought my answer was squirrelly. But I gave you my answer, and on my end, I’m not convinced you’re paying attention.

  24. And you should read that heterodox academy post. More things in heaven and earth, &etc. You really should try to expand your intellectual horizons.

    1. I’ve read it more than once. It’s been posted here several time. Of course, it doesn’t address race, just gender. So please enlighten us. What does innateness have to do with the number of women and blacks in philosophy relative to other disciplines or to society at large? What? Again, don’t hide your opinions. We’re all anonymous here. Just say it.

      1. Ah, but did you understand what you read? Tell me, what is the explanation for the observed distribution of the genders in philosophy advanced in that post?

        1. I’ll make it easy for you, 5:27: Do you think that there is something genetic that makes black people worse at philosophy than white people, yes or no?

          1. Sorry, you’re responding to something I’d written under the wrong name (I logged onto a different machine and entered the wrong pseudonym). It looks like 5:27 (the real one) is open to answering ‘yes’ here, at least if ‘worse at philosophy’ comes to something like ‘less aptitude in the kinds of thinking that have historically been selected for in philosophy.’

            I haven’t seen anything that leads me to think this is true, however. And it’s not implicated, even indirectly, by anything I’ve said. I hope that the range of positions are now in clearer view.

  25. Is anyone surprised, this late in the game, that people like anonymous are still feigning ignorance that there’s any explanation for the ‘problem’ with women in philosophy other than the one championed by the likes of Feminist Philosophers?

    1. So, 5:27, why do you think the proportion of women and blacks in philosophy is lower than in other disciplines or than in society at large? Answer. The. Question.

        1. I asked first, but anyway, just to show that I’m not dodging anything, the answer to your question is that according to the post, “on average, men have stronger interests in investigative and theoretical pursuits and women stronger preferences for social and artistic pursuits.” Tada! OK, so now your turnl answer my question, and the question that “notanonymous”/9:33 asked.

          1. The beautiful thing about the Socratic Method is that you now have the answer you were looking for, the fabled alternative to the narrow-minded reading you gave way back at 12:39:

            “that sure seems like a claim that whites and men are genetically predisposed to have the kind of intelligence valued by philosophy”

            Congratulations anonymous, I knew you could do it!

              1. The important thing is that, now that you’ve fessed up to understanding the alternative explanation, your “that sure seems like” remark only illustrates the paucity of your reconstruction of the dialectic.

                1. Saying something is the most important thing doesn’t make so, my friend. 5:27 introduced genetics, race and gender. I’ve done nothing other than ask for that to be clarified. You and he have both refused to do that.

                  1. For the purposes of my part in the conversation, which you’ll notice I’ve been focusing on since the beginning, it is the most important thing–consider it subjective importance if that makes you happy. The point is, you’ve conceded that your “that sure seems like” remark is mistaken.

                    1. I have not conceded that at all. In fact my “that sure seems like” sentence referred to 5:27’s post that “genetics” explained the over-representation of whites and men” in philosophy. It’s kind of amazing that your imagining that you’ve gotten a concession from me is so important. Sorry to take that away from you.

                    2. So here’s what 5:27 wrote:

                      “5.27 here. That’s not what I was saying. What I was saying is that the most straightforward justification I can see for the idea that the larger-than-in-the-population-at-large representation of whites and males is a bad thing that should be worked against – blank-slate-ism – is discredited by both common sense and genetics.”

                      Here’s what you write now:

                      “In fact my “that sure seems like” sentence referred to 5:27’s post that “genetics” explained the over-representation of whites and men” in philosophy. ”

                      And here’s what I wrote way at the beginning of our exchange:

                      “Wait, surely you recognize the distinction between ruling out blank slate-ism as a basis for concluding we should expect to see fifty/fifty representation of men and women in philosophy, and the additional conclusion that innate differences in intelligence explains the representation we actually see.”

                      It’s a shame that, after all of this, you still seem to be confusing rejecting the genetic explanation for the representation of women in philosophy that some people think we SHOULD see, and proposing a genetic explanation for the representation of women in philosophy we ACTUALLY see. I am again brought around to the conclusion that you just aren’t doing a very good job following the dialectic. But at this point you have, by your own admission, conceded that there is an alternative explanation for what we observe.

  26. “It’s instructive that no one in these discussions ever makes the argument that the over-representation of women in art history and social work is because of bias against men”

    It is not merely “art history” and “social work”. Reference to these make this debate look trite, which it isn’t. The over-representation of women occurs throughout the whole university spectrum; it occurs in essentially all institutions of higher education in the developed world (which have around 57-60% women). It is law, medicine, humanities, psychology, biological sciences & social sciences. The complaints about philosophy are therefore fucking delusional and out of touch with reality. Women are over-represented *everywhere* in the universities, across the spectrum, with few exceptions.

    Is this massive, systemic domination by women caused by bias against men?

    So it turns out that women tend not to be so interested in philosophy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, economics and computers. So what? Women still dominate everything else: law, medicine, biology, psychology, humanities and social science. The attitudes of professional SJW philosophers on these matters is dishonest and a disgrace to the profession.

    1. And african americans? 5:27 specifically said “whites and men” in his first post. So this discussion is not just about gender. There is of course not a single discipline in which blacks outnumber whites relative the proportion of the population. So …..

    2. Yep, but people like anonymous just refuse to consider this explanation, despite exposure to it over and over again. It gives the lie on their interest in a pursuing a political agenda over the truth.

      1. Claiming that someone you’re talking to on a log ‘just refuses to consider’ an explanation is stupid. You can have no idea what they’ve considered (and rejected) or not. All it does is point out the obvious fact that the person disagrees with you, and that because they disagree with you you’re trying to paint them as closed-minded in order to discredit them,rather than discuss the actual arguments. So it says more about you than the person you’re speaking to.

          1. Ummmm no. All you exhibited was a steady refusal to state clearly the explanation that you wanted them to consider. And that my friend is a failure in philosophy 101.

              1. You wouldn’t even answer a straightforward yes-or-no question about your position. You can disagree with anonymous all you like, but it’s abundantly clear to everyone else reading this that they are absolutely right.

                1. Indeed I did answer, but it was ignored. Thankfully, she’s come around to conceding she understands there’s an alternative explanation.

                  1. No you didn’t You were asked a straightforward yes or no question at 9:33 pm and you’ve ignored it. All you needed to do was say one word: yes, or no.

          2. You just flat out refuse to consider that they person you’re talking with has considered the alternative explanation and rejected it, don’t you 5:27? And you just flat out refiuse to consider that you haven’t ‘exhibiited’ anything.

            1. Here’s what she wrote:

              “that sure seems like a claim that whites and men are genetically predisposed to have the kind of intelligence valued by philosophy”

              No discussion of the alternative, though now she’s been drawn around to admitting she understands it’s there.

              1. Interesting that you assume that I’m a woman … But anyway, way back 5:27 brought up race, gender, and genetics. I didn’t. 5:27 did. All I did was ask for that comment to be clarified. What is the relationship between genetics and the racial and gender breakdown of philosophy? And then … I get accused of not following a dialectic. Neither 5:27 nor not 5:27 will answer my question. Disgraceful. And cowardly.

                1. Oh, I’m just using the feminine pronouns because I thought that was the convention. I’m happy to use others if you prefer.

                  Sorry, meant to put this here.

                2. I’ve now answered, see above. I was away from the discussion for about 14 hours, doing other things. Wasn’t being cowardly – as you say, we’re all anonymous here, so nothing to be afraid of.

              2. So for you ‘not discussing’ all the alternative explanation every time you mention one possible explanation for something is the same as ‘refusing to consider’ the alternative? I looks like you’re refusing to consider that the person you were speaking to may not be discussing the alternative not because they are ‘refusing’ to consider it but for some alternative reason.

                1. The point is, this remark:

                  “that sure seems like a claim that whites and men are genetically predisposed to have the kind of intelligence valued by philosophy”

                  misrepresents a position that anyone familiar with the post at the Heterodox Academy should be aware of. Now that anonymous has granted she’s familiar with that position, we can classify her remark as a misrepresentation even by her own lights.

                  1. Except that sentence didn’t refer to the heterodox article. It referred to the post at 5:27. And you’re the one calling people out on the dialectic? How pathetic.

                    1. Ah, but anonymous admitted that she’s read the Heterodox Academy post before, and she was able, with a little Socratic prodding, able to reproduce the position. So its omission, in favor of her ‘seems like’ alternative, is a failure on her part.

  27. Oh, I’m just using the feminine pronouns because I thought that was the convention. I’m happy to use others if you prefer.

  28. Women students, undergraduate and postgraduate, dominate higher education; they are over-represented everywhere, across all institutions, in all countries, and across almost all the disciplines – medicine, law, social sciences, humanities, psychology and biological sciences. SJWs should deal with the data. Women are systemically over-represented. If SJWs want to claim that the under-representation of men occurs because of anti-male bias, ok. If not, ok. But the truth remains the truth, irrespective of SJW propaganda.

  29. Not 5:27. No amount of “you’re not following the dialectic” is going to convince anyone that you’re actually following anything other than the paint that’s put you into a corner. Either answer the questions people have asked you or go home.

  30. And care to explain this:

    “that you’re actually following anything other than the paint that’s put you into a corner.”

    It doesn’t seem to make any sense. How does one follow the paint that puts one into a corner?

      1. No really, it looks like a mixed metaphor, but I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. Were you trying to say something that made sense?

  31. Think of it this way anonymous. Suppose we had data showing that, in general, over the course of their careers women tend to make less money than men. Furthermore, suppose this data was combined with a presupposition that all careers pay the same salaries, and these together used to conclude that women are systematically discriminated against in the workplace. Now, suppose our ersatz-5:27 writes:

    “The most straightforward justification I can see for the idea that the [greater lifetime earnings of men over women] is a bad thing that should be worked against – [namely, that all careers pay the same salaries] – is discredited by both common sense and [data on salary differences].”

    Further, suppose our ersatz-anonymous responds to ersatz-5:27 with the following:

    “That sure seems like a claim that [men] are [occupationally] predisposed to have the kind of intelligence valued by [careers that pay more money].”

    I hope you see how absurd that response looks. There is absolutely nothing about intelligence in anything ersatz-5:27 says.

    Now compare what ersatz-5:27 and ersatz-anonymous wrote with what 5:27 and anonymous wrote. Rejecting the genetic blank slate support for the expectation that there would be fifty/fifty representation in a field DOES NOT ENTAIL accepting that genetic differences in intelligence explain the representation we do see.

  32. So, leaving aside that unintelligible analogy, I’m just going to say that 5:27 himself has finally answered (up thread) by saying he believes that men and white people on average have more innate, genetic “aptitude” for philosophy. All that meandering and prevaricating blather from “not 5:27” about who has lost whatever dialectic was simply a waste of everyone’s time.

    1. Not at all. Our discussion showed, by Socratic elenchus, that there was a third position you were ignoring, and which, after being pressed on it, you admitted you were familiar with.

      1. That third position being that white men are by genetic disposition simply more “interested” in analytic philosophy sans any claim for “aptitude”? Okey doke. Two cheers for the dialectic.

    2. Except I didn’t specify any particular race in the comment you purport to be summarizing. I hope this isn’t too much of a nitpick! I just said I think ‘it’s likely that, on the whole, people of some races are inherently – genetically – more likely to be interested in philosophy and to have aptitude for it’.

      ‘White’ is a very broad category, and (I believe) different subgroups of white people have different racial characteristics. And I’m not saying that whites, or certain subgroups thereof, are the only stand-out race for philosophy. Also, there are different facets to philosophy. I wouldn’t be surprised if, say, certain Indian groups have the greatest aptitude for and tendency toward what you might call the profound metaphysical aspects of philosophy. And perhaps (other) Asian peoples and Arabic peoples are also particularly into and good at philosophy, perhaps certain facets in particular. These are just examples which seem plausible to me, and I claim no expertise. I just think that genes matter. I don’t think it’s a simple matter though – I suspect there are lots of importantly genetically different groups of humans, and lots of complex differences between them.

  33. Here’s another way of thinking about the third option. Just to be clear, the position is that non-aptitude-based but broadly biological facts about human beings are part of the explanation for why you see more men in philosophy, engineering, and physics and more women in art history, psychology, and social work. I’m just spitballing here, so feel free to pick it apart.

    It is possible that different professions tend to have different sorts of social networks the navigation of which it necessary for success in the profession. These social networks themselves might be in part shaped by the way the discipline works. If men and women tend to value different sorts of social relationships, and if there is reason to think this difference is rooted in our biology, then differences in the way professions are socially networked might explain at least some of the observed disparity in numbers of men and women in different disciplines. Correspondingly, given a particular distribution of social networks in different professions, biological differences in the preferences of men and women for certain sorts of social relations might explain at least some of that observed disparity.

    For instance, perhaps the day-to-day work of the physicist requires attitudes emphasizing detached focus on data collection and interpretation, and this in turn affects the way physicist conferences and social events are run, whereas day-to-day work in sociology breeds a greater degree of communal familiarity. Further, suppose that men tend to enjoy social gatherings where data and debate over its objective interpretation is emphasized, while women tend to prefer to talk about personal relations among individuals and groups of individuals. If that is right, then differences in the social networking of different professions might explain differences in the representations of the genders in those professions, mediated by biological considerations having to do with preferences for certain sorts of social relations rather than aptitude in the field per se.

    So that’s one way of thinking about how biology might mediate the representations of men and women in different disciplines without going by way of intelligence or aptitude.

  34. To absolutely anyone out there who thinks the proportional underrepresentation of women or nonwhite people in philosophy is evidence of a problem (unwelcomingness, hostility, harassment, overt or covert discrimination, etc.), I have one question that needs answering before we go any further.

    Is the extreme underrepresentation of men in disciplines like English, psychology, etc. also evidence of a problem?

    If not, explain.

    1. does the underrepresentation of men in these disciplines systematically discourage undergraduates from certain groups (e.g., men) from pursuing them? does it reduce the quality of the research done in these disciplines? if so, would increasing the number of men (via outreach, preferential hiring, etc.) help?

      I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure the answer to all three questions for English and psychology is “no.” (I’m also pretty sure the answer to the analogous questions for philosophy is “yes.” I kinda suspect you’d disagree, but I don’t care enough to argue the point.)

      1. I have no real idea what the answer to either question is. But I can’t see why you would think the answer in psychology or English is ‘no’ and the answer in philosophy is ‘yes’. Can you say why you think this?

        1. Consistently with how much I care, not really. (Maybe someone else cares more.) But here is a start:

          (a) Evidently, women tend to like being surrounded by men less than men tend to like being surrounded by women.

          (b) With the occasional conspicuous exception, white men seem to be more attracted than other people to traditional, if not intellectually conservative, philosophical positions and problems. I think philosophy as a discipline would be more illuminating, relevant, and fun if more people applied analytical techniques to issues predominantly discussed by, e.g., radical feminists and critical race theorists. Obviously this is a substantive intellectual point; if I didn’t accept it I would care a lot less about representation in the discipline.

          1. Well, in light of the fact that the guy who started this seems to have no idea what he’s talking about, I’m losing interest too. But anyway:
            (a) I have no view about this.
            (b) In my experience, the application of analytic techniques to critical race theory has come up with nothing valuable at all. I doubt the extra value to philosophy would come from new *topics*.

            But yeah, nice talking to you, I think we’ve both spent as much as we’re gonna spend on this.

  35. (I’m also pretty sure the answer to the analogous questions for philosophy is “yes.” I kinda suspect you’d disagree, but I don’t care enough to argue the point.)

    Okay, so AAOT is pretty sure about the answer, suspects that other people disagree, and doesn’t care enough to justify his or her position. When it comes time to DO SOMETHING, what are the odds AAOT also doesn’t care enough to act on what he or she believes, regardless of whether people disagree?

    1. “what are the odds AAOT also doesn’t care enough to act on what he or she believes, regardless of whether people disagree”
      in point of fact, excellent

  36. “Is the extreme underrepresentation of men in disciplines like English, psychology, etc. also evidence of a problem?”

    The underrepresentation of men occurs in institutions of higher education throughout the democracies – North America, Europe, Australasia, etc. (where women are roughly 60% of students) – and it is all the following disciplines: law, medicine, biological sciences, psychology, humanities, social sciences.

    Feminists need to explain why the underrepresentation of men in law is not evidence of a problem; and why the underrepresentation of men in medicine is not evidence of a problem; and why the underrepresentation of men in higher education in general is not evidence of a problem.

    1. You guys are really amusing. Just so you know: The Harvard psychology department has 17 men and 10 women. The Yale psychology department has 17 men and 11 women. Only an analytic philosopher would find those numbers to show an “extreme underrepresentation of men”

      1. Women are the majority of students in universities throughout the world. Around 60% of undergraduates and postgraduates are women. Women dominate law, medicine, biological science, humanities, social sciences.
        Are you denying the systemic underrepresentation of men?

  37. No one is talking about the aggregate number of students across the globe you bozo. This discussion has been about the gender (and racial) breakdown of the disciplines. Anyway, just to continue … Harvard English has 21 men and 16 women on its faculty. Yale English also has 21 men and 16 women. Again, only from hilariously skewed perspective of analytic philosophy are “Psychology and English” dominated by women.

    1. “No one is talking about the aggregate number of students across the globe you bozo.”

      I am.
      Male students are massively underrepresented throughout higher education, everywhere, and in most disciplines: law, medicine, biological sciences, humanities, social sciences. Deal with the facts.

      1. First of all, please show us the facts. Second of all, if you’re going to derail a conversation by switching its terms please make it clear you’re doing so. But now that you’ve derailed this …. One could make the argument that alleged overrepresentation of women among students and underrepresentation among faculty speaks to sexist hiring and professional practices. What happens to all the women? I’m guessing that’s not an argument you want to make.

        1. It is well-known that women are the vast majority of students in higher education, throughout the western world. This has been true for decades. It is well-known that women are the majority in medicine, law, biological sciences, humanities and social sciences. Male students are underrepresented throughout higher education, everywhere,

          “What happens to all the women? ”

          After graduation, they choose to get jobs in the real-world, where they are paid more than men are.

  38. New voice.

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/04/women-preferred-21-over-men-stem-faculty-positions

    “The only evidence of bias the authors discovered was in favor of women; faculty in all four disciplines preferred female applicants to male candidates, with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference….

    “Efforts to combat formerly widespread sexism in hiring appear to have succeeded,” Williams and Ceci write. “Our data suggest it is an auspicious time to be a talented woman launching a STEM tenure-track academic career, contrary to findings from earlier investigations alleging bias, none of which examined faculty hiring bias against female applicants in the disciplines in which women are underrepresented. Our research suggests that the mechanism resulting in women’s underrepresentation today may lie more on the supply side, in women’s decisions not to apply, than on the demand side, in anti-female bias in hiring.”…

    Real-world academic hiring data validate the findings, too. The paper notes recent national census-type studies showing that female Ph.D.s are disproportionately less likely to apply for tenure-track positions, yet when they do they are more likely to be hired, in some science fields approaching the two-to-one ratio revealed by Williams and Ceci.”

  39. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/where-feminism-went-wrong/article/2600279

    “The dilemma for contemporary feminists is that although American women have gradually overcome the formal legal and informal cultural barriers that previously prevented them from participating in certain occupations and professions, this achievement has not led to statistical parity between the sexes in all areas of social, economic, and political life,” wrote Christina Villegas.

    We see this applied most notably to issues involving the workplace. Because women aren’t 50 percent of CEOs or 50 percent of those in STEM jobs, there must be systemic discrimination, right? Well, not necessarily. Discrimination certainly exists in some places, but blaming that for every perceived inequality does no good and only alienates people.

    “The conviction that behavioral characteristics typically associated with females and males result entirely from arbitrary social and cultural norms and that true equality will manifest itself in statistical parity has had a dramatic influence on contemporary feminists’ understanding of rights and the role of government in protecting rights,” Villegas wrote. “Once gender parity became the criterion for equality, group achievement rather than equal protection of individual rights and opportunity became the goal.”

    This is in contrast to first-wave feminists, Villegas wrote, who referred to the Constitution in their bid for equal rights. They also approached their movement from a limited-government stance.

    But modern feminists request government assistance at every step of their quest to overturn perceived inequality. No longer are feminists devoted to equality — because men and women do have equal rights under the law (although Janet Bloomfield has pointed out five legal rights women have that men don’t). The focus now is on parity, and the refusal to accept that men and women might just be different enough on aggregate that they have different priorities in life.

    “A system focused on group achievement, in contrast, actually requires unequal, preferential treatment of some individuals over others based solely on their membership in a particular group or class,” Villegas wrote.

  40. Someone, some time ago wrote, “Is the extreme underrepresentation of men in disciplines like English, psychology, etc. also evidence of a problem?” And then that person was shown convincing anecdotal evidence that there is not such “extreme underrepresentation” and then … crickets ….

    1. The underrepresentaiton of men in higher education, everywhere – in medicine, law, biological sciences, humanities and social sciences – is a well-known fact. Women are roughly 57% of students (undergraduates and postgraduates) in higher education institutions throughout North America (to 43% men) and this has been so for several decades. Similar figures hold in Europe and everywhere else. They are larger majorities of women in some the aforementioned disciplines.

      To be clear. Are you denying this fact?

      1. Stop with that already … I’m neither denying nor confirming that fact. I will assert however that the (alleged) underrepresentation of men in higher education, understood in terms of numbers of students is a different topic from “the extreme underrepresentation of men in disciplines like English, psychology,” since the latter picks out the number of *faculty* in specific disciplines. That was the topic which you are trying to change. Follow. The. Dialectic. Pee brain.

        1. The significant gender gap in education is well-known. Women significantly outnumber men in higher education, throughout the developed world, *everywhere*, and in almost all disciplines. So, men are underrepresented throughout higher education.

          Where are all the men? Is this due to “bias”?

  41. So anonymous–I gave an argument yesterday in favor of the contention that human biology plays a role in explaining why we see unequal representation of the genders in different fields, and which does not turn on differences in aptitude or intelligence. And two reports upthread show that there is actually bias in *favor* of hiring women in some professions, but that women tend not to pursue academic jobs even when they get degrees suitable for academic employment. Together this undercuts the position that unequal representation of the genders in different fields is a problem that needs to be solved, correct?

  42. The comment below suggests they should start teaching critical thinking skills to philosophy students. 60% of the assistant professors in psychology in 2014 were women. Women outnumber men 3:1 in terms of new PhDs in psych. These numbers are comparable to the gender gap in philosophy which is supposedly a huge problem.

    “You guys are really amusing. Just so you know: The Harvard psychology department has 17 men and 10 women. The Yale psychology department has 17 men and 11 women. Only an analytic philosopher would find those numbers to show an “extreme underrepresentation of men”

  43. Annoying trend watch: papers that you referee that get rejected and then immediately accepted at the next place without any revisions. I know that sometimes there are referee reports worth ignoring, but there are also cases where authors are ignoring large chunks of the relevant literature where this literature contains important objections. Feel like it’s intellectually dishonest not to register that and hope that the next referees don’t notice. (In both recent cases, the work was partially empirical so I figure that they got lucky by getting referees equally ignorant of the relevant literature.)

    1. This greatly annoys me too, and happens often (to me and, from what I’ve heard, to others). But if it’s any consolation, word gets around that that’s what happened when people talk about the literature amongst themselves, and the author ends up looking stupid.

      Also, for what it’s worth, I’ve discovered an interesting pattern: without fail, they’ve ended up in far worse journals, while those that have taken my comments into account have ended up in journals that are at least as good. I wonder why that could be!

      1. I’m not sure if it’s a hasty generalization – 12:32 might just be saying that there is a person, who is a feminist, and this is what she sounds like. Arguably, ‘this is what an x sounds like’ is ambiguous – it might be making a general claim about what x’s usually sound like (like if you’re with your child, and you hear a cow mooing, and you say ‘that’s what a cow sounds like’). Or it might mean ‘there is an x such that x sounds like this.’ Of course, if all 12:32 meant was something like the second, it’s not clear why it’s worth pointing out. I’m pretty sure no-one is surprised by (or thinks it is worth arguing against) the claim that sometimes individuals who call themselves feminists say nutty things. The claim 12:32 is making only appears to be worth making if it’s a general claim. But if it is a general claim, then you’re right that it’s a hasty generalization. So 12:32 is either engaging in equivocation, or is making a hasty generalization.

        1. “I’m pretty sure no-one is surprised by (or thinks it is worth arguing against) the claim that sometimes individuals who call themselves feminists say nutty things.”

          No True Scotsman fallacy.
          This person is advocating and engaging in standard feminist beliefs and actions, such as: being hyper-offended by a harmless stimulus (hula girl doll); demanding the person remove the distressing, offending, source; threatening to publicly shame/humiliate the “offender”; and trying to get the “offender” fired.
          There is nothing ‘hasty” about noting an observable example of these phenomena.

          1. “This person is advocating and engaging in standard feminist beliefs and actions, such as: being hyper-offended by a harmless stimulus (hula girl doll); demanding the person remove the distressing, offending, source; threatening to publicly shame/humiliate the “offender”; and trying to get the “offender” fired.”

            Now you’re just begging the question.

            1. It’s hard to believe 6:10 is paying attention. Search youtube for some combination of sjw/feminist and compilation, triggered, and owned. This is worse than the zika virus.

              1. All that would show is that more than one feminist engages in that kind of behavior. That’s not enough to establish that the behavior is ‘standard’ for members of that group.

              2. Where’s your data, 7:22? How are you deciding who counts as a feminist, and who doesn’t, and how did you decide on your criteria? What percentage of feminists engage in this behavior? How frequently do they engage in such behavior?

                  1. It’s hard to believe 9:40 is paying attention. Search youtube for some combination of sjw/feminist and compilation, triggered, and owned. This is worse than the zika virus.

                  2. Where’s your data, 9:44? How are you deciding who counts as a mosquito, and who doesn’t, and how did you decide on your criteria? What percentage of mosquitoes engage in this behavior? How frequently do they engage in such behavior?

  44. Her name is Annaliese Nielsen. This is her twitter bio. We live in a satire.

    Masters in Women’s Studies at the University of Honolulu. Thesis on how the patriarchy shames women in today’s rape culture. CEO of porn site.

  45. Any update about the CDC Reeve allegations?

    “How about we start outing people who do this rather than protecting them? I see that the one that caused me (and lots of other people) the most personal trouble is nowhere outed on the internet, so here goes: C.D.C. Reeve, Plato scholar and philosopher of sex, is a widely-known creep, who creepily chose me as an undergraduate thesis student, and made my thesis meetings into awful torture sessions of one-sided flirting, as a result of which I fell into a deep depression, spending much time crying on the floor in the library, and thought I had no choice but to drop out of school. He clearly got pleasure out of seeing me feel trapped, nervous, confused. It was weirdly almost worse that he didn’t try to touch me, because if he had I could have made a formal complaint—but what could I do about constant sexual innuendo that me feel helpless and stupid, as if all my achievements in school were a sham, that the good grades I’d earned in his classes were nothing but pre-payment for this?

    In a great stroke of luck he left for a new job at UNC half-way through my (Spring-Fall) thesis-year, and with a new (strict but non-creepy) advisor I was able to write a thesis and graduate with honors. Now I am on my way to tenure at an R-1 school (in another field) and I am ready to say: fuck that creep. I spent years trying to forget it but what I need is to be angry because I need to remind myself that he was wrong about me.”

    1. This is not the best forum to discuss Reeve’s peccadilloes. Bring those to his department chair. Besides, I’m quite certain he’s been too careful over the years to ever really get caught.

  46. At Boulder, you either think feminists are ruining the world or you are adamantly against fun, or both, and that pretty much covers it.

  47. From above, “This person is advocating and engaging in standard feminist beliefs and actions, such as: being hyper-offended by a harmless stimulus (hula girl doll); demanding the person remove the distressing, offending, source; threatening to publicly shame/humiliate the “offender”; and trying to get the “offender” fired.”

    Pretty standard, I’d say. It reminds me of this blast from the past about Eric Schliesser calling for collective bullying and threats against the livelihoods of his colleagues,

    “Make no mistake. Schliesser is herein calling for the profession to bully philosophers into shutting up if they think that certain rights have been violated (including their own). If a student or colleague knowingly spreads malicious falsehoods about me and I take legal action against that individual in response, I am to be blacklisted. Schliesser, like so many of his kind, is a self-unaware bully and a self-righteous hypocrite. In order to promote one kind of speech, he advocates (via professional threats, no less) shutting down another kind.”

    http://realfeministphilosophers.blogspot.com/2014/11/schliesser-advocates-collective-bullying.html

  48. Curious about the following questions, some of which Justin Weinberg’s commenters have raised about the systemic anti-male bias in the higher education system …
    – Is the systemic underrepresentation of men in higher education, for several decades and throughout the developed world, a “bad thing”?
    – Is the systemic underrepresentation of men in law degrees a “bad thing”?
    – Is the systemic underrepresentation of men in medical degrees a “bad thing”?
    – Is the systemic underrepresentation of men in psychology and biological sciences a “bad thing”?
    – Is the systemic underrepresentation of men throughout the social sciences (except economics) and humanities (except philosophy) a “bad thing”?

    If not, why not? There is a small number of subjects where men are a majority – mathematics, physics, philosophy, chemistry, engineering, computer science & economics. Excepting these, women are majorities in all universities subjects – law, medicine, psychology, biological sciences, all others humanities and social sciences.

    Why should women, and women alone, receive special privileges, systematically, and all the time? Why should women, and women alone, receive all of the preferential treatment? Why should men endure all of the gender bias in the higher education system? Why is the education system completely dedicated to the interests of women, and women alone, and riddled with anti-male bias everywhere, including all job hiring?

    1. Out of curiosity: would it make you happy if men were treated preferentially (in hiring decisions, say) in those fields in which they are systematically underrepresented?

      By the way, I’d imagine that you’d make your point more effectively if you left out hyperbolic and obviously false claims like “the education system [is] completely dedicated to the interests of women, and women alone”.

      1. Its important not to run together being underrepresented at the undergraduate and graduate level and being underrepresented at the faculty level. It is true that women outnber men at the undergraduate level both overall and in particular in humanities. But men are not underrepresented at the faculty level. It is also true that men benefit from affirmative action at the undergraduate level. Men tend to get admitted with lower SAT scores than women.

      2. No. People should be treated equally, based on fair, gender-neutral rules.

        The statement you dispute is observably true. The higher education system exists for the collective benefit of the majority group: women. This is why all preferential treatment, all privileges, all extra help, all “safe spaces”, all social aspects of coddling, all aspects of preferential selection, etc., are given to the majority group: women and to women alone.

        1. Google ‘men affirmative action college’ and you’ll find lots of evidence that its not true. And to take a really straightforward example, legacy admission is a clear instance of preferential selection that is not given to ‘women alone’.

          3:56 gave you some good advice. Repeating those hyperbolic claims, without backing them up with evidence but instead just insisting they’re ‘observably’ true when there are clear cases which prove that they are not doesn’t help.

  49. This is why the identity politics campus left with their lunatic race/gender fantasy world (in the philosophy profession – Weinberg, Saul and co) are just as strongly opposed to and toxic to liberalism and democracy as the alt-right is, with its own identity politics.

    “The PC left and the alt-right exist symbiotically with one another: Working together to exacerbate tribal loyalties, to undermine the legitimacy of the state as a political unit, to question the idea that Western institutions can really treat groups of people with equal respect—in other words, to draw out and hijack the inherent weaknesses and contradictions in the Enlightenment liberal tradition. It’s unlikely that either movement has the cultural power or breadth of appeal to succeed on its own. But taken together, they make a fearsome foe.”

    http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/09/01/the-campus-left-and-the-alt-right-are-natural-allies/

    1. As the mindless extremism on both sides is inflamed by the use of keyboards, may I suggest “alt-right” and “ctrl-left,” 4:39?

  50. David Brooks in NYT discusses identity politics, concludes saying that this does “real violence to national life”.

    “Identity Politics Run Amok
    Once, politics was a debate between liberals and conservatives, between different views of government, different views on values and America’s role in the world. But this year, it seems, everything has been stripped down to the bone. Politics is dividing along crude identity lines — along race and class. Are you a native-born white or are you an outsider? Are you one of the people or one of the elites? … most important, identity politics is inherently the politics of division. … Identity politics, as practiced by Trump, but also by others on the left and the right, distracts from the reality that we are one nation. It corrodes the sense of solidarity. It breeds suspicion, cynicism and distrust. Human beings are too complicated to be defined by skin color, income or citizenship status. Those who try to reduce politics to these identities do real violence to national life.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/02/opinion/identity-politics-run-amok.html

    1. Most humans may be too complicated to be defined by income, but David Brooks’s income seems to pretty effectively explain all of his views.

  51. The Amsterdam Balloon signed the letter in support of the NU academic witch-hunted by admins with an identity politics pretext. I bet he regrets it now that the full story has come to light.

  52. Some people posted on FB an account by the associate chair who accused the victim, a radical leftist. Then she posted her reply on the original site. Don’t have time to google right now.

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