May Open Thread IV


220 thoughts on “May Open Thread IV

  1. “completely demoralized by Tuvel’s article”
    “the deeply troubled discipline of philosophy”
    “an amazingly revolutionary gesture”
    “The controversy … has been exceptionally difficult”
    “especially deeply marginalized’
    “it is especially dangerous for Hypatia to stand behind an article…”
    “She focuses enormously on surgery…”

    1. “completely demoralized by ant activity on the metametameta blog”
      “the deeply troubled discipline of philosophy”
      “an amazingly revolutionary gesture”
      “The controversy … has been exceptionally difficult”
      “especially deeply marginalized’
      “it is especially dangerous for the blog to avoid discussing ants…”
      “They focus enormously on vertebrates…”

  2. So there was this one time that I saw some Camponotus ants in the eaves of my house – turns out they were moving their nest. This was cool enough, but then, I saw something amazing. Some of the workers were dropping pupae from the roof, down to the ground, and on the ground, other workers would pick them up and carry them on their way to the new nest. I have no idea how this fairly complex exchange came about, but… I do have an idea about how mind-blowing this is, which is a lot!

    1. “It seems like ant work is much more noble work, but is that just me?”

      Even fan of ant though I am, this goes a wee bit too far along the garden path. There are many, among many, noble activities for humans. “Philosophy” means “love of the true, the good, love of the beautiful.” What can be more noble than this? I do not say that nothing cannot be the SAME noble, just not MORE noble.

      Please if you want people here to talk more about ants, maybe do not berate them about THEIR discipline! I have written many ant things in your favor here, and on behalf of my canon The Daily Ant. But this is not to say that you can not be a little more moderated!

      1. Hi Antonymous! Thanks for stopping by – I decided to approve your comment, because I am not too big of a man to know when I need to check myself before I wreck myself. We must bring others into the colony, not drive them away! I will moderate myself (and others!!!) for our formicid future. 谢谢!

  3. Yep see, I lied (well not really, I gave a heads up!). One thing I don’t get is, if people have time to comment here, wouldn’t they rather be out in their nearby field or forest, collecting ants? Even cities like New York City and Chicago have dozens of ants. Go exploring! It’s really quite refreshing.

  4. So: Actualism or Possibilism, Lewis or Plantinga? Which is it? (And Benjamin, this is not a question about ants, it’s a question about metaphysics. Please do not troll serious philosophical questions)

      1. Um, omg… no amount of “philosophy phridays” makes you qualified to pontificate on the metaphysical issue I raised. You probably don’t even know what that issue is, which is fine. Just stop trolling serious discussion! What do you have against David Lewis and Alvin Plantinga anyway?

          1. Oh wowwwwww, you responded to someone’s metaphysical question with a pun. So impressive. Too bad for you, but a pun is not a philosophy.

    1. I’m thinking Actualism. Plantinga thinks that possible worlds are just abstract entities, like numbers, the color yellow, or personhood. But this isn’t plausible because these things are themselves part of possible worlds. And can an abstraction really have parts? I think not. I don’t think Plantinga has addressed this in print… but David Lewis’ view handles more puzzles anyway.

      1. Doesn’t Lewis himself effectively admit that abstracta have parts when discussing in OTPOW how the property of being an equilateral triangle and being an equiangular triangle are necessarily coextensive but distinct?

      2. Why wouldn’t you think abstracta have parts? The expression-type ‘snow’ is part of the expression-type ‘snow is white’, for instance. Or a domain set D is part of an interpretation (defined as a certain kind of n-tuple) of a logic.

        1. I don’t think the elements of a set are its parts (and definitely not an element of an ordered tuple). The relations don’t have the right logical properties. E.g., {1, 2} isn’t the same set as {1, {1, 2}}. So they can’t have the same parts. But what parts does one of them have that the other lacks?

    2. “Benjamin, this is … a question about metaphysics. Please do not troll serious philosophical questions”
      In saying both of these things, you thereby fail to say anything that bears on the question whether Benjamin is to troll this particular question.

    3. I’m inclined to think that that division isn’t very clear, and that the philosophy of modality will progress by getting over it instead of answering it.

  5. When does everyone think that the Templeton Foundation will finally start funding Confucian philosophy? Or is Confucianism not a religious world view per se?

    1. Honestly, who cares? We are so far past the point where these sort of everyday, “normal” concerns of life should still be on the forefront of anyone’s ‘s minds. Things are breaking apart and the world we see today isn’t what it was even just five years ago. The decay is accelerating.

      Start following Jesus Christ or else you’re going to die in darkness. Just look around what’s currently happening in the philosophy profession, and discern the times. Everything has been turned upside down, but the majority is still going keep adjusting for the absurdity rather than coming out of deception and fleeing the wrath that is to come. Don’t be one of the many who isn’t going to make it. Do what you need to do to find the truth and come clean when you still can.

      The crazy things we are witnessing in the philosophy profession should be a massive wake-up call to everyone that something’s seriously wrong with the world, and that it’s time to lay aside the childish concerns of worldly amusements and pursuits and get right with God.

      The ship is sinking, so get on the life raft.

        1. Stealthy, that won’t be necessary. There is a much simpler solution. Start here:

          1 Corinthians 2:14-15

        2. Stealthy, that won’t be necessary. There is a much simpler solution, though it falls to you to take it. Start here:

          1 Corinthians 2:14-15

    1. Poor thing, it’s bloody awful. But it’s looking more and more like she won’t be blacklisted at all, which is fantastic. In the long run it’s great publicity for her. Whether that outweighs the tremendous unpleasantness of this for her is another question, of course.

      1. Right.
        I wonder if it will induce her to try shifting subfields. Outside of feminist philosophy the Hypatia affair will be taken to be entirely to Tuvel’s credit.

    1. Yes, but, you ignore my main point, which I’ve said many times: The true saint leaves wisdom to the ants, takes cues from the fishes, and leaves willfulness to the sheep.

    2. Wow, both of you are clearly off the mark, with your pro-ant statements. Ants are not to be emulated, as I have said: The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.

      1. LOL as if – have you heard nothing I’ve said?

        There is nowhere Great Tao is not: Tao is in ants and crickets, weeds of the fields, tiles and stones, and even in excrement. Great Tao is boundless; there is nothing that is not Tao.

  6. An Open Letter to Oxford University Press

    As scholars who have long viewed Oxford University Press as a valuable resource for our communities, we write to request the retraction of a recent email, subject line “Hypatia, Philosopher of the Month.” Clicking on the link “Discover Hypatia, one of the classical world’s best known female philosophers” ( leads to a book written by someone livenamed, “Edward J. Watts.”*

    OUP enacts violence and perpetuates harm in numerous ways by publishing a book that, while it may not use phrases like “male genitalia,” is written by someone with male genitalia. The email’s continued availability in our inboxes and the book’s continued availability on your website causes further harm. The “overview” OUP provides indicates that the book “attempt[s] to illuminate that Hypatia’s murder was not the result of a mob that set out to kill her but an unfortunate (and probably accidental) encounter.” Not only does the bibliography – admittedly, we did not read the book, but while it is true that one can’t judge a book by its cover, one *can* judge a book (or an article) by its bibliography – fail to list frameworks recognized, accepted, or adopted by the conventions of the relevant subfield of cyber-mob academic vigilantism, but the book seeks to undermine the legitimacy of mobbing while ignoring the lived experience of those engaged in mobbing. Our concerns reach beyond mere scholarly disagreement; we can only conclude that there has been a failure in the review process, and one that painfully reflects a lack of engagement with mob privilege.

    Many published articles and books include some minor defects of scholarship; however, together the problems with this book are glaring. More importantly, these failures of scholarship do harm to the communities who might expect better from OUP. It is difficult to imagine that this email could have been endorsed by the server generating it. A message has been sent, to authors and readers alike, that non-mobbing scholars may engage in speculative discussion of these themes without broad and sustained engagement with those theorists whose lives are most directly affected (and sense of personal righteousness most enriched and advanced) by cyber-mob academic vigilantism.

    We urge that OUP immediately acknowledge the severity of these concerns and retract the email and the book.

    [*It is unclear if the author is any relation to David Watts, whom Ray Davies, author of the transphobic “Lola,” wants to be like ( It is also unclear whether The Jam, in covering “David Watts” want to be like David Watts or want to be like Ray Davies – largely because it is unclear whether the wanting-to-be-like relation is transitive.]

      1. Just because you’re anonymous, Mr 6.16, doesn’t mean you have to be really mean-spirited.

        (I found it somewhat amusing, Glaucon, if not up to the standard of some of your humorous verse.)

  7. So, for a long time I couldn’t bring myself to read Haslanger’s guest post at DN, because I just knew it would make me angry and depressed. Finally steeled myself and read it. The main thing that leaped out at me, given the real nature of what transpired:

    …there have been many contributions on both sides of the discussion that have made it clear that Prof. Tuvel is not to blame, individually, for the crisis…

    She should never be allowed to forget that she said this.

      1. People like Haslanger – the “focus on the big picture” crowd” – want to take the witch hunt that’s been directed at Tuvel and direct it instead at the profession writ large. fuck that

        1. Yes. They want to say that we should all be citing crap work by critical theorists in “studies” departments all the time to prove that we are not cishet male white oppressors. No thank you.

  8. Lest we forget, as Schliesser dissembles about his own prior conduct, namely his advocacy of bullying and blacklisting academics in 2014, a quote from the Real Feminist Philosophers blog,

    “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.”

    This is Schliesser’s own illiberal view: McCarthyism/Stalinism, the opposite of Mill’s liberal view.

    1. I couldn’t even follow his rationale for calling it Millian. Something about how we should discourage the use of state power against colleagues? But Mill is especially worried about social coercion…

      1. He’s a sloppy historian of philosophy but a good polemical blogger who knows how to stir the pot. A master of moral grandstanding.

  9. Oh man, Olberding is really a gold mine:

    “Some will now carefully parse Leiter’s post and suggest readings that minimize its effect. To engage with this adequately on my part thus requires that I act as if blog posts are textual artifacts to be carefully parsed for precise meaning.” (

    How *dare* you require that she act as if words have meaning?!

    1. Well, and also: one of FP’s constant themes is to demand ‘charity’ in ready what other people write. The distinction between reading charitably and ‘pars[ing]’ so as to ‘minimize’ the evil interpretation is subtle.

  10. Maybe this really is the beginning of the end for these fanatics who have inflicted so much damage on the philosophy profession during the last five or six years?

    1. Not if you mean they’re going to collapse. But yes (maybe? optimistically?) if you mean their influence will start to settle back down to what it was five or six years ago.

      1. No, they’re not going to collapse ideologically. But there’s a world of difference between, on the one hand, promoting dumb paranoid conspiracy theories in their seminar rooms which people can either take or leave; and, on the other hand, wrecking people’s lives with smear campaigns and witch hunts.

    1. Please compute the compression required of a powerful compressed spring, with k = 1000, to launch an object of 1 kg at escape velocity, from the surface of the Moon.

  11. I have a question that I’ve been a bit hesitant to ask, even here, but:
    I’ve just basically assumed that most philosophers of the kind one typically finds in American departments (post-analytic, or whatever we’re calling ourselves now) already recognized the obvious similarities between the Dolezal and (for example) the Jenner cases. However, I also assumed that most didn’t accept the left-ish theory of trangenderism that has taken hold in gender studies, feminism, academia and the media. Most such philosophers seem to me to have little general sympathy with subjectivism and social constructionism. I just assumed that most academic philosophers were just not interested enough in the topic to stir up the hornets nest and risk the Tuvel treatment, even in a minor way. So they were just keeping quiet. Acquaintances I’ve talked to about this seem to confirm this in that almost none of them think it’s very plausible that being a man or a woman is a matter of occupying social roles, nor of feeling a certain way, nor of representing oneself a certain way.
    I’m not trying to start an argument–this is just a kind of sociological question about contemporary philosophy (in the U.S.). Do people generally believe the theory that (e.g.) Jenner is literally a woman? Or do they not think/care about it? Or do they reject it but keep quiet? (Or do they reject it and say so, but I just don’t typically hear it?) Or what?

    1. I don’t know either way. But the risks of insulting or otherwise alienating a transperson is enough for me to use their preferred pronouns, etc. After all, there’s little cost in doing so, despite what many conservatives think. But if I slip up in pronoun use or the like, then I have absolutely no time for being criticized for it. And I don’t postively believe the dogma that one’s felt gender identity just is one’s gender identity. There’s just no compelling reason to dig in my heels. Regarding the Tuvel argument, if gender is “socially constructed”, then so too is race, so I think her argument goes through. I’m just skeptical about the first antecedent.

      1. But you really don’t have any sense of what the average American philosopher in the street thinks? (That’s cool…I’m just really curious.)

        Just to try to be clearer about what I’m asking here:
        So do you believe something more like: as a purely abstract, theoretical, philosophical conclusion, independent of any question about giving offense to anyone: I think that it’s clear that (for example) Caitlyn Jenner is a woman.
        (And, just to be clear: this is basically what womanhood has always been–it’s not a change in meaning of the term, nor any distortion of the concept–it’s just basically the obvious application of of the concept/term by…the unclouded mind or whatever.)

        Or is it more like:
        I’m just not very interested in or not taking a position on this as an abstract philosophical question (as traditionally conceived).
        I’m really only concerned not to give offense.

        I in no way mean to quibble, but this is central to getting an answer to my question.

        And thanks for the response!

        1. I am concerned not to give offense; I tentatively find the idea that Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, full stop, to be puzzling and initially implausible, though I haven’t thought about it much; I don’t want to wade into this in public because of the possible headaches.

          Also, does this seem right? The “socially constructed” status of concepts of race and gender by itself doesn’t determine what the criteria of inclusion are for those concepts. Thus race and gender could both be socially constructed but could supervene on biological facts in different ways, so that it’s coherent to think that CJ is a woman but Rachel Dolezal/Nkechi Amare Diallo is white.

          1. Yeah, that seems exactly right, ap, and I’d not thought of that point.
            (Though I also typically don’t think “socially constructed” makes much sense, so I don’t typically think in those terms.)

    2. They draw a distinction between biological sex and gender, so these can become mismatched, though there’s a lot of confusion about what gender supposedly consists in and what constrains it.

    3. but for what is worth, I don’t believe Jenner is a woman, I don’t particularly care about him, I reject “identifying as a woman” when your chromosomes tell another story.
      I keep quiet because I don’t have tenure yet.

    4. My view is a lot like 3:28’s. I sort of think that ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are natural kind terms just like ‘bull’ and ‘cow’ are natural kind terms. Just as ‘bull’ refers to an adult male of the species Bos taurus, I think ‘man’ refers to an adult male of the species Homo sapiens. I’ve never found compelling the idea that the artificial distinction between sex and gender somehow means that the categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are socially constructed. Nonetheless, I’m happy to call Caitlyn Jenner or whomever ‘her.’ The reason for this is that I do not accept the principle that someone ought to be treated like a woman only if they are a woman. Transgender people are, apparently, deeply and sincerely hurt by people identifying them as belonging to their birth gender. Since I don’t have any ill will toward transgender people I don’t want to cause them to be hurt in that way. Moreover, even if I didn’t care about hurting transgender people’s feelings, since this is not an issue I care much about, it wouldn’t be worth the ostracism to stake out a position on it outside the mainstream. Of course, the more that cases like that of Tuvel pop up, the more it makes me think that just caving to the PC party line is dangerous, even if it may not seem like it right now…

    5. My read on what the average American philosopher on the streets thinks…

      My impression is that average American philosophers agree that race and gender are social constructs. Everyone I have spoken to accepts the ordinary distinction between sex and gender. I am not sure what exactly the “left-ish theory of transgenderism” is. We’ve certainly had trans persons as students, and no philosophers I’ve interacted with have given me any reason to believe that they reject a student’s self-identified gender.

      My impression is that average philosophers recognize some obvious similarities b/t Jenner and Dolezal, but also recognize that the analogy b/t transgenderism and transracialism complex and not perfect.

      These impressions are informed by discussions with my colleagues at a public university in a very conservative state.

    6. When people start spouting nonsense, nonsense so ridiculous that no one could possibly be expected to beieve it, the intelligent realise the emperor has acquired some new tailors and for anyone to say ‘but that is nonsense’ is to invite the cheka to take you to the gulag. Tuvel’s mistake was to think that pointing out obvious logical relations between one piece of nonsense and another piece of nonsense would go un-noticed by the cheka because she’s a good party member. And of course, there are always some court philosophers who will dress the nonsense in its own finery.

  12. I’m learning a lot from Rachel McKinnon’s Twitter feed.

    Leave it to philosophers to be naive enough to think that if an article passes peer review then it can’t be retracted for poor quality… Philosophers, as a discpiline, are often to insulated from other fields that they don’t know how silly such a view is.

    Actually, my philosophical work puts me in contact with classicists and mathematical logicians, but apparently people in those fields are silly enough to hold this view too!

    I’m a bit disappointed that Rachel’s not giving me more guidance on how truly interdisciplinary, cutting-edge activist scholars are thinking about the Tuvel affair though. She was tweeting up a storm at first, keeping up with developments up until Hypatia issued its apology and it looked as though victory for the courageous activists was assured. She’s carried on with her consciousness-raising tweets since then, of course, but she’s made no comment whatever on some of the subsequent dismaying setbacks to the trans* activist cause, such as

    -The statement by Sally Scholtz, editor of Hypatia, rebuking the (otherwise anonymous) associate editors who wrote the apology in response to the open letter, and affirming that ‘it is utterly inappropriate for editors to repudiate an article they have accepted for publication (barring issues of plagiarism or falsification of data)’. (Presumably Scholtz subscribes to this silly view because she’s just another philosopher insulated from other fields.)

    -The subsequently-published interview with Caitlyn Jenner, in which it is reported she ‘point-blank refuses to retire references to “Bruce” or castigate others who use it.’ (The interviewer goes on,’This so-called “dead-naming” is a source of particular angst to many in the trans community, for whom use of their old names is associated with efforts to shame them. But, says Jenner, “I had a life for 65 years. OK?” Besides which, “I liked Bruce. He was a good person. He did a lot in his life. Oh, ‘he didn’t even exist’. Yes he did exist! He worked his butt off. He won the [Olympic] Games. He raised amazing kids. He did a lot of very, very good things and it’s not like I just want to throw that away.”’)

    -The revelation that Cressida Heyes, an associate editor at Hypatia who authored the apology in response to the open letter, is criticized by name in Tuvel’s article.

    Probably Rachel’s just too busy to address these issues right now, but I do hope she tweets about them soon. It’s getting hard for trans* activists and advocates for people of color and other oppressed minorities to stay on-message, if we can’t be sure what the message is!

    Lesser trans* allies also made a strong early showing, what with R Kukla’s May 1 comment on the Hypatia apology on Facebook, ‘This is a fantastic statement, thank you. Why hasn’t the editor signed onto it?’, and M Lance’s rigorously-argued rejection of the idea that ‘academic freedom’ includes some kind of right to ‘banter about’ in a ‘cavalier’ way any old ideas you like, but they’ve now mostly fallen strangely silent too.

    Come on, trans* activists! Time for the big counterattack against the forces of cis white reaction! How much longer must we wait?

  13. I think many of us have been too complacent about the fact that too many corners the humanities are just filled with rank bullshit.

  14. Public Service Announcement:

    There is an RSS feed for comments to this blog. That means you can put it into your RSS reader and get a stream of comments (newest first) without any need to poke around for new comments on this site. Using this tool also means you can access comments without accessing the site (and giving it hits or ad revenue). It also means it is super easy to ignore the spam.

  15. Great final substantive comment on the Prof Manners thread:

    “Prof Manners, I would not spend any more of your valuable time parsing the contents of your accusers’ communications. Whatever wrongs were committed originally, this has degenerated into a pretty disgusting ad hominem discourse.

    Hello everybody: can you take your blinkers off please? There is a big, bad world out there. Lots of bad things are going on. Do you really want to spend your time pursuing this particular issue, in this particular way? Is this really the best way you can think of, of improving the life of your community?”

    Where to begin?

    1. This is why I think the better terminology is ‘political correctness’. The relevant idea is that certain parts of the political spectrum are notorioius for creating, accepting, and enforcing orthodoxies–many of which are obviously false and/or radically implausible–politically correct, but not really correct. Some of the true believers actually believe the stuff, others engage in doublethink, others know it isn’t true, but are too afraid to admit it.
      It’s shameful that this happens at universities. It’s unconscionable that it happens in philosophy.

  16. “But that incident was also a high tide, for me, of the media backchannel — that second line of communication, the private counterpart to the public face of the internet that is social media. There’s the person you perform publicly, online, and the person you are privately. I’ve always gotten a healthy dose of that, this second face, since the very beginning, and this situation really brought people out of the woodwork. I got what you were actually arguing, they would say, and I think you’re right. Often this was packaged with the insistence that the person writing loved the recipients of the fellowship, which was a bit of a bummer but was understandable. I hadn’t said one insulting word about the three of them, but I understand the urge to stake out personal affection for the recipients while agreeing with my point. But that was a common attitude: I love their work, and I’m glad they won this position, and also you’re right that the Times is on some bullshit. But they couldn’t risk being seen to support me or my position publicly.

    My position was unpopular, but I was right then, and I’m right now. The situation made no sense. And while I appreciated that people were willing to reach out privately, the failure to speak up publicly can have high stakes. Increasingly I am concerned, in various worlds, with the distance between the public and private. Increasingly I wish that people were willing to say publicly what they now reserve only for all the backchannels out there.”

    For those with ears to hear!

  17. “As for the confident claims that Dolezal, or people like her, have no right to black identities because they didn’t have a lifetime of black experience, or because they are being appropriative of the experience and identity markers of an oppressed group, or because they want access to a community that their bodies preclude them from properly joining, or that their presence in black spaces threatens the integrity of those spaces for ‘real’ black people: well, I feel the pull of those arguments for sure, and I don’t want to dismiss them. But boy do they sound exactly analogous to ‘feminist’ arguments that were used to vilify and undercut the entire reality of trans women back in the not-too-long-ago day. I just don’t have the confidence that would allow me to proclaim immediately that this time the critique fits, that there is no real phenomenon here, no human need or way of being that requires understanding and a reconfiguration of my settled concepts. Can’t we learn from the past and proceed a little more slowly?” – Kukla 2015

  18. Seen the post on Leiter’s blog? It’s on. The fightback gains momentum.

    1. Who do you think Williamson is implicitly referring to with “mob law”, “injustice and cruelty to individuals”, “basic principles of fairness”, “duties of care to both students and employees”, “more concerned to protect their reputations” and “trying to cover up a problem or, if that fails, summary dismissal of alleged culprits”?

      1. What’s he referring to when he denounces “internet mobs in the discipline… (whether the mob is on the left or the right)”? I mean…the latter part…the latter latter part. Have there been right-wing internet mobs in philosophy? Did I just miss that part?

            1. Presumably that Williamson’s “left or right” qualification is meant to suggest neutrality on his part, even if the offenses in question have been largely one-sided.

              1. remember Williamson is a logic geek. “left or right” is perhaps what he allows himself to write when he cannot type a universal quantifier.

                1. Williamson is a *pseudo logic geek. I.e., talks a bunch about how much he values exactness and rigor but, in practice, is simply wrapping up his metaphysical gobbledygook in symbols and jargon. The fact that he has been successful in convincing ppl that he is a logic geek says far more about the current status of logic in academic phil dpts than it does about his actual logical geekiness. Sad.

        1. Probably. Williamson saw one of his colleagues get his life destroyed by false accusations distributed by a mob. That would explain Williamson’s comment.

  19. don’t waste your time right now with all this stuff about internet mobs unless it will have the immediate effect of stopping trump
    youtube olberman, today’s date, yesterday’s, the day before and a few more
    now’s the time to act

    1. Jesus. Olberman is the last person I turn to for unbiased reporting from the left. The guy is a caricature.

      1. It’s not a matter of right or left reporting, right or left anything. It’s not politics as usual, though some would like to hide their head in the sand and pretend that it is. What’s going on in the White House is not normal. It’s because of people with attitudes like you express that democracies get lost to authoritarian regimes.


      This is the drum you think we should be marching in step to? He’s asking foreign governments and their intelligence agencies (including the Russians!) to leak secrets in order to thwart the policies of a president he disagrees with. Isn’t that treason? And besides, wasn’t that supposed to be a bad thing when it was Trump’s claimed collusion with the Russians? It’s only bad when the other guys do it?

      But hysteria and hypocrisy are not new for Olbermann. Since the election, he’s become the left’s almost-mainstream Alex Jones.

      1. No time to follow your link at the moment but the “asking of foreign governments and their intelligence agencies” that you’re talking about has to do with the fact that the day after an executive order Trump signed was to go into effect that would limit the way 5 Eyes shares information.

          1. Here I copy and paste a comment from elsewhere, which could not be better said:

            Please understand, Keith is not being facetious or just spouting rhetoric. He’s also not being a contrarian, an exaggerator or an alarmist. The fate of the United States of America really does hang in the balance here. The warning signs are obvious and plain; the danger is clear and present. And real lives are at stake—millions, maybe billions of them.

            I know it’s like herding cats to get philosophy PhD and PhD hopefuls to pay attention. But you should. Many of you have high IQs. Your help is needed. Stop Trump. Olberman is right.

            1. Would you or the author care to explain Olbermann’s hypocrisy about colluding with the Russians to undermine American political institutions?

                1. There is no hypocrisy there or collusion. There is asking for evidence to be submitted now rather than later. Quite reasonably so. Soon it will be too late. Study history; understand that Trump and Sessions are consolidating power and will have at their fingertips the spy apparatus created by previous administrations to hold down the people of the United States. Don’t waste my time trolling me, or, if you are honest but ignorant, try to imagine that you might be living at a time in history when you have to step out of your petty political views and step forward to stop a great evil.

                  1. Got it. When it’s for your political cause, collusion with the Russians is acceptable. The rest is political rhetoric. You guys look absurd.

                    1. “my political cause” “you guys”? What kind of absurd tribalism infects these minds of the blogosphere. I don’t have a political cause. Being scared shitless by the fact that Trump and associates control the executive branch of the U.S. govt. is not a “political cause”. It’s an intuition. Watch Bertolucci, “The Conformist”.

                  2. So when the wikileaks dumps showed that the DNC, under two different chairwomen, was conspiring with major media organizations to secure Clinton the nomination, what did Olbermann say about the impact those leaks had on our political process? Why is one (supposed) Russian interference a ‘coup’ and the other ‘asking for evidence?’

                    I’ll take ‘political hypocrisy’ for 2000 Alex.

                    1. If you’re not trolling, I’m genuinely surprised that you think there’s any parallel.

                    2. Well now I am sure you are trolling. The parallel is so obvious that your expression of surprise is obviously in bad faith.

                    3. Does such a creature exist that both (1) has a grasp of what philosophy is and is like, and (2) thinks the they should be defending Trump or that it’s politics as usual and that there’s any sort of viable or reasonable position to defend?

                      I”m gobsmacked. You must be trolling. Or the world is much weirder than I can handle atm.

                    4. You do realize one can think Olbermann’s Russian antics are hypocritical without “defending Trump or [thinking] that it’s politics as usual”, right 11:54? This conversation comes off a bit fanatical.

  20. When I was fourteen, our class read D.H. Lawrence’s short story “Tickets, Please”. The teacher opened the discussion: “This story is about one of the deepest philosophical problems”. My ears pricked up. He continued: “the relations between men and women”. I was astounded. “What??” I thought, “How can you imagine for one moment that something contingent on an accident of terrestrial biology as trivial as sexual differentiation can be a deep philosophical problem? Have you any idea what a serious philosophical problem is like?” I didn’t have much idea myself, but my instinct was that it must be something utterly abstract, universal, and necessary.

    At fifteen, I started reading transcripts in The Listener magazine of BBC radio interviews between Bryan Magee and philosophers such as A.J. Ayer, Peter Strawson, Bernard Williams, and Karl Popper (it was an all-male cast). They were quite serious discussions, later published as a book Modern British Philosophy. I immediately felt at home with the way of talking and thinking (far more than with D.H. Lawrence’s), though I was sure it could be done better.

    1. Heretic! Feminist philosophy is first philosophy!

      Seriously, I wonder why they’re not going after Williamson. In the climate from a few months ago some might even have tried.

        1. No it seems that for attacking really big shots some made up allegation of sexual misconduct is needed. Crimes of opinion only work against lightweights. For now.


    Two philosophers, Venerea Glasperlenbusch and Norma Semenstain, meet by chance on a parkland path, early on a sunny May morning. The park is peaceful and deserted, with only diligent ants, a chorus of cicadas, and a buzzing blooming confusion of busy bees and delicate flowers off to the far left.

    Norma: Well hello there Ven. Isn’t it a lovely day? Tennessee is so beautiful, it more than makes up for all the racists, fascists, sexists and hillbillies who live here.

    Venerea : Yes it does. But what good fortune to meet you here! I’ve had an urgent message from FemThoughtControl HQ. Our leaders are concerned that the Hypatia narrative is spinning increasingly out of control. They want some ideas on how to seize the day; or is it take back the night? — I always get confused with these American idioms.

    Norma: I think one mistake was to let the open letter grow too large. We should never have let Dick Chopper become a signatory on the list.

    Venerea: Why not?

    Norma: Well, we’d assumed the signatory name was a speech-act of ambition or achievement.

    Venerea: Are you referring to the Rylean distinction between “try-it” words and “got-it” words?

    Norma: Yeah, whatever. But it turns out, according to Urban Dictionary, to mean something else entirely different. Bad moral luck, I guess.

    Venerea: Conceptual analyses do not begin and end with the dictionary.

    Norma: Yeah, I’ve heard that before somewhere. It seems to be a riff on JL Austin, but he is a dead white English male, so it can’t be of any use.

    Venerea: I believe that Austin did begin his conceptual analyses with the Oxford English Dictionary, but that he conceded ordinary language was not the last word. And a French woman philosopher has recently published on Austin, so there may still be something of value in him.

    Norma: You know I don’t like having to put foreign language articles through Google Translate. Anyway, we’re wandering away from the main point.

    Venerea: Yes, I’m sorry. But look, we really need to come up with some new tactics, Norm.

    Norma: (bristling) Are you dead-naming me?!?

    Venerea: (stammering in shock) N… n… nein nein! Goettin im Himmel, nein. It was just an affectionate hypocorism, like Gretchen for Margarete, or like Becky for Rebecca.

    Norma (calming down): Oh, I see. OK, go on.

    Venerea: Well, the public narrative has moved away from politics towards truth, and it is essential we move it back to politics again. We have to insist to all our fellow scholars that “du musst dein Leben aendern”, whether they want to or not.

    Norma: I wish you’d stop quoting foreign languages at me, what the hell does that mean.

    Venerea: Are you disrespecting me? You must know that one’s mother-tongue is a key part of one’s identity and creative powers, as with Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov, and Samuel Beckett. Anyway, the German phrase means “you must change your life”. It was written by one of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke.

    Norma: Maria, huh, well at least she’s a woman writer, unlike the other three you mentioned. But here’s an idea. What about planting a guest article in the Chronicle of Higher Education? That would reach out to the masses.

    Venerea: That is a great idea, I’ll let FemThoughtControl know right away. Thank you so much.

    N: Happy to help. What could possibly go wrong?

    They part and go on their separate ways though the park.

  22. A true lefty would abhor identity politics… I say no true scotsman and wonder why people on the ledft have worse apolohetics than young earth creationists.

  23. Can someone explain to me wtf is going on here? We’ve got talk of ants and sock-puppeting, and…I don’t know. What’s the ant meme about? Why are one or two users dominating the site? I confuse.

    1. This forum is set up for almost unrestricted anonymous communication (with the limits probably set by what content would make the underlying ISP take the site down). Almost any given person could find one or another message here objectionable.

      Some people generalize those objections to the forum itself, and because there is no obvious way of getting the site take down, or because of personal reservations about going that route, they use the following reasoning: Live by unrestricted communication and die by unrestricted communication. If individuals are going to use the forum for inappropriate content that makes some people’s lives unpleasant, I am going to spam the forum with lots of irrelevant content to make using it unpleasant.

      It’s basically a sub-DOS attack on the site, and more generally on un-moderated anonymous venues.

        1. Although it’s hard to imagine lower reputational stakes, for the record I think I’ve posted about 3 times around here in the past year. I was really, honest to goodness, just trying to answer the OP’s question.

        2. What in the holy fuck are you talking about, 3:53? What part of anon’s very nice explanation screams “fascist”/”Stalinist” to you? Are you some kind of nut?

          1. Pretty sure the irrational outburst was another example of dumping crud into the metametametablog in the ongoing attempt to wreck the place.

            It’s a fair tactic, I guess, but it doesn’t exactly cast its soldiers in a glorious light. I’m surprised Blanchard is willing to do it under his own name. Sure, he thinks shutting down the metametametablog is a good cause, but he looks like such an asshole. The people doing it anonymously seem more prudent.

            1. Ohhhh. Yeah, maybe. And indirect discourse is resistant to using indexicals in that way (‘I’ in particular), so even though the context ought to make it really obvious there’s some explanation of the dumb mistake.

      1. Quite right and apologies. I hereby redirect ‘Great to see we have an fascist thug on board. Stalin would have admired you, you piece of shit.’ to those who are, indeed, reasoning and behaving in the manner described by the person who was reporting rather than asserting that reasoning or doing that behaviour.

  24. Serious question. Do non-lunatics on the left really take Keith Olbermann seriously? I’m center-right, and he comes off like a madman gripped by delusions of grandeur.

    1. He doesn’t come off that way to me, but I can imagine how he might come off that way to people of certain backgrounds and ages. However, it doesn’t matter one way or the other what his style is. He’s factual, informed.

    2. My own political tendency is strongly socially left albeit very much in favor of limited federal gov (in the case of the USA, anyhow). Also very much “anti-globalization” but less in the spirit of Trump than in the spirit of those lefties who protested the WTO in Seattle all those years ago.

      Olbermann, like much of what the MSM has now become, is basically a cut-rate analog of conservative talking heads like Rush or Alex Jones. Clever enough to parlay his experience as a sports analyst into political analyst when the going was good. To me, his main problem isn’t so much that he’s a foolish blowhard — which he most certainly is — but more that he’s not even an entertaining foolish blowhard. At least AJ is a hilarious weirdo, and his charisma can make sense of his popularity. But Olbermann doesn’t even muster this very minimal improvement over his basic role of enriching himself through serving as an amplifier for the most unreflective leftist ideology and shallow polemics.

          1. I’m just saying what’s true. “Logic Geek” is not genuine. He isn’t someone who is BOTH against globalization in the sense of WTO protests in Seattle and believes Olbermann not to be extremely bright with access to good information.

            1. Actually I am in fact someone who is both of those things.

              Perhaps you are like many of my colleagues that are also deeply confused about the Obama voters that switched to Trump. Those flyover country morons can’t possibly be rational! Unthinkable!

              I advise you consider that, in light of the insane myopia of the mainstream left that has just given us Trump, the problem may be more a failure of imagination on your part than it is my place in the space of possible political positions.

              1. No. Not really. I know about the switch voters and understand them. … Here’s a test question for you: compare and contrast the problems with globalization and the problems with gentrification. Do you understand the most important differences between the two? What are they?

                1. I wonder if you’re aware of how enraging your condescending tone is. I’m comforted, though, that there seems to be a growing awareness in the US of the hollowness of academics who smugly claim to “know” and “understand” *about* some group of ppl without knowing or understanding any of them.

                  And you can go fuck yourself with your quiz. Instead of trying to cleverly upend my view, how about you directly spell out your point. I am uninterested in convincing you of my competence, coherence, or wit. I am slightly interested in hearing exactly why you find my combination of views so implausible. So either spell it out or shut the fuck up.

                  1. Hi again.

                    To see how you answer the quiz will help me write the answer to the question why it’s not possible (imho) for someone both to be a thorough going anti-globalist in the Seattle wto protest veing while at the same time not recognizing the enlightened role that Olbermann is playing in the current situation. Basically, if you think that the problems of gentrification and globalization (including freer movement of people across the world than before globalization via multi-nationals) are the same, particularly in the way they affect people’s communities and neighborhoods, then I will be slightly less sceptical about the claim that at least in your view you hold both the positions as I would be if you recognized the difference between the two. So it would help me explain further if you tried to say something about the quiz. Sorry… it’s just because there’s so much to say and I need to know how to focus it, so that’s why I asked you to take the quiz. I know I always make things harder than they have to be… Also sorry for sounding condescending. I guess it was a bit trollish, but sometimes what I have to do.

                    1. I’m pretty sure Trump doesn’t care about neighborhoods or communities being destroyed by the greed factor in capitalism.

                    2. “the enlightened role that Olbermann is playing in the current situation.”

                      Well I for one can no longer take you seriously. Olbermann is the Alex Jones of the left. If you think he’s enlightened, you’re the equivalent of a pizza-gater.

                    1. Except that Olbermann doesn’t make up weird conspiracy stories. The only thing in common is the passionate presentation.

  25. Every time the left loses it starts calling everyone Hitler and goes into a sulk. So why would anyone take the anti-trump morons seriously?

    1. Why would anyone here want to talk about this nonsense? Go jack off to Breitbart and leave this board to the philosophers.

  26. Here’s Olbermann 5 weeks after the election. Are we really supposed to take this seriously? Watch it all the way through. The man is a fanatic.

    1. Trump is going to get impeached soon. Some of what Olbermann has pointed out in his various youtubes will come into play as the strategy develops and the evidence is laid out. Even the most corrupt of the Republican establishment, McConnel and the like, cannot any longer ignore the danger.

  27. Very obvious use of the occultic blue/red symbolism on the background of the Olbermann set.

    They show you in plain sight, and enjoy knowing the fact that none of the viewers will ever understand…

  28. Leiter, quoting Arif Ahmed with approval, would have us believe that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job, that we somehow landed on the moon back in the 1960s even though NASA admits that we currently cannot do so, and that climate change is real even though anyone who isn’t blind has seen since the 1990s that planes have been dousing the skies with heavy metal aerosols.

    This is our world, a world where outright lies and myths are presented as truth, and truth is dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

    I sometimes wonder whether academics like Leiter and Ahmed are simply deceived by the system, or whether they’re knowingly misleading others.

        1. Trolling attempts, whether Blanchard’s ant obsession or with gibberish like the above, will be mocked. Get lost, troll.

          1. Sorry I touched a nerve.

            You can dismiss what I said as “gibberish,” but when you do, it only reinforces the point I initially made: when it comes taboo issues like 9/11 academics are quick to bury their heads in the sand, and there’s very little in the way of substantive argument, just empty rhetoric.

            If some wish to live in a fantasy world scripted by main stream corporate propaganda, that is their own choice. But it is another thing when such people then around and accuse those who see the lies as crazy.

            The bottom line is that jet fuel doesn’t pulverize steel into fine dust, and commercial airline contrails don’t turn a sunny day into a white fog.

            There is no way what your motivations are for saying what you did. If you’re sincerely deceived, then I can only urge you to look into things for yourself and see things for what they are. If you already know how things really are, and you’re simply trying to steer people away from it with the usual diversions and deflections, then shame on you.

              1. Left-wing conspiracy theory?

                I’m not even a leftist. In fact, I usually get accused of being a conservative.

                All I’m saying is that everyone should come out of their mental jail by disregarding what they see on the television and read in the magazines and newspapers. It’s all propaganda, a fabricated reality.

                Look up at the sky for a change and you’ll see what I mean. Time is short, so don’t waste it addicted to a virtual reality.

                  1. How is it trolling to ask you to pay attention to your own visible surroundings?

                    It is sad to see how far gone you are.

    1. Following the advice here has been endorsed by Rachel V McKinnon:

      Folks, Rachel V McKinnon is undergoing another round of harassment — complete with an organized, mob-style pressure campaign aimed at her employers, the College of Charleston — as a result of a video she posted concerning Mother’s day and issues raised by it for trans folks and within the framework of trans studies. The video is part of a series she has been producing exploring questions in trans studies for broad public consumption. The entire project is an exemplary case of public philosophy and is extremely valuable.

      Dr. McKinnon is, as many of you know, a significant voice in contemporary analytic philosophy and in the field of trans studies. Needless to say, she is well-positioned to address the issues at stake in her video, and they bear upon matters of public concern that she is perfectly entitled to address under prevailing standards of academic freedom.

      Her work and her statements are being mischaracterized in ways that are designed to raise red flags and subject her to forms of official scrutiny that are wholly unwarranted by them. This is an active attempt to use official mechanisms as vectors for harassment. It should be resisted.

      One thing that would be very helpful is for people to write to key figures at the College of Charleston expressing support for Dr. McKinnon and her public voice as a scholar and an advocate.

      Suggested recipients of such notes would be.

      Todd Grantham, Chair
      Department of Philosophy
      College of Charleston

      Jerold L. Hale, Dean
      School of Humanities and Social Sciences
      College of Charleston

      Brian R. McGee
      Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
      College of Charleston

      Glenn McConnell
      College of Charleston

      1. hmm.

        on the one hand, she is seriously doing a brave and valuable service in making herself available to scared, confused, and/or isolated trans kids. for this she deserves admiration and support.

        on the other hand, the whole thing still makes her annoy me all the more, given that (1) she probably wrote that statement herself and pretended it was an anonymous supporter, and (2) this would have been a good time for her to show a modicum of self-awareness about her own role in making the Tuvels of the world victims of online harassment and organized mob-style pressure campaigns.

        1. Obviously harassment is bad, when real….but certain parts of the political spectrum have a history of exaggerating and outright making up such things. When civil disagreement is classified as violence, god knows what angry disagreement might be called.

          Since I think that the theory of transgenderism being promulgated by RM and other activist-scholar types is false…and that they’re encouraging the development of a false and often harmful view in kids…and since they’ve fostered an atmosphere in which disagreeing with their theory is wrongly shouted down as bigotry…I have to say that I do understand ordinary people becoming angry and frustrated about it all. Which is in no way to try to excuse actual harassment.

          And I’ll just mention that trying to turn kids against their parents and break up families is a well-known tactic of cults and totalitarian regimes.

          So *maybe* RM is right about what transgenderism is, and *maybe* she’s helping out more kids than she’s harming, and *maybe* she actually being harassed for it… But I guess I’m not sure enough about the truth of that conjunction to agree with “brave and valuable,” or “deserves admiration and support.”

          1. “Since I think that the theory of transgenderism being promulgated by RM and other activist-scholar types is false…and that they’re encouraging the development of a false and often harmful view in kids”
            Naturally a lot turns on this. I admit I don’t know exactly what the theory of transgenderism RM promulgates is, but I do have multiple transgender friends who tell me they thought of themselves as at least inchoately transgender from when they were very young, and just didn’t feel comfortable in their own bodies until they transitioned. (It might help to add that while these people are lefties, they’re not nearly as out there as RM is; they happen to be very serious and “small-c” conservative people.) If I didn’t know these people, I wouldn’t be nearly as confident as I am that her message is basically good.

            “And I’ll just mention that trying to turn kids against their parents and break up families is a well-known tactic of cults and totalitarian regimes.”
            Fair enough. I interpreted her as trying to do something weaker than that–basically, to give kids somewhere to turn if they didn’t have anyone else–but I definitely agree that there can be a fine line here, especially if you weren’t as confident as I am about the other conjuncts.

            1. As for the first point, I don’t actually deny that some people might be happier taking certain medical treatments, representing themselves differently, and so on. In fact, I think it’s kinda weird that dressing and acting in certain ways are socially reserved to one sex. I’m for maximum freedom about all that stuff (even if I doubt that some of the decisions are wise).

              what I meant (and I admit I wasn’t clear and in fact was trying to be vague) was: to take a famous case: I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, largely because I think it’s a dire and obvious mistake to think that representation has that kind of power. The other thing I really object to is shutting down discussion and disagreement about the matter with false accusations that discussion and disagreement is bigoted (see: the recent Hypatia thing). (Mostly, though, I’m angry at philosophers and the wider culture for knuckling under to this bullying…it’s their fault, really. I think this has been a really embarrassing episode for philosophy, and for American culture, to be honest…) (Which is not to say that I don’t think it’s never *polite* to go along with the false beliefs of others. I pray at the table with the fam on Christmas…)

              I absolutely agree with what you say about kids. There are cases and cases. Some parents are so abusive (in whatever way) that we should help their kids leave them. OTOH, speaking from my own experience, kids are stupid, and susceptible to fads. I agree that children should have fair freedom with respect to how they dress and so forth. With respect to taking life-changing medical treatments…different story. And I certainly don’t think that parents who refuse to pretend that their daughter is a son can count as abusive. But, as you say, that throws us back to the other point, to a certain extent.

            2. Unfortunately (because it complicates matters) there are at least two relevant populations: those who have transgender feelings early on and retain them, and those who have those feelings early on and don’t.

            3. Physical sex is real, significant, and cannot be changed. That’s just a fact. Current trans ideology is based on utterly denying this. It’s possible to imagine ways to make room for trans people that don’t rely on denial of the physical facts, but this ain’t it.

      2. “a significant voice in contemporary analytic philosophy…..”

        No she is not.

        If the main claim is a claim of academic freedom, however, then why make this false claim? Academic freedom isn’t at all limited to those with a “significant voice” in the discipline.

  29. I am enjoying very much the comments on Leiter’s post on C. Mercer’s article on Decart & St Theresa. Shane Wilkins is my new idol.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s