Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Seriously? Seriously?

In light of the 2 major scandals (McGinn and CU) philosophy has faced in the past year and another one developing (Ludlow), a group of commenters at Leiter has decided that the best conversation to be having right now is about the merits of feminist philosophy, how to define feminist philosophy, who falls where within the feminist philosophy sub-discipline, and the political beliefs of feminist philosophers.

If your first reaction to the suggestion that some departmental events outside business hours might place undue burdens on people with families (or just on people in general) and that CU should reconsider those practices is to ask me to explain to you the merits of feminist philosophy, I can say definitively that you are not a serious person. (If you disagree that holding departmental events outside business hours might place undue burdens on certain members of the profession, please give me reason to (a) think that they don't or (b) if they do, why the merits of such events override those burdens. Some people may have done that, but notice they didn't require having a discussion about feminist philosophy.)

In answering these questions, we need only engage in the practice of giving and asking for reasons, not adjudicate long-standing philosophical disputes (note also that to address questions about our behavior and institutional practices we needn't give a coherent, all-encompassing moral theory that will cover all cases; such a demand is a silencing tactic). As I've mentioned earlier, we should remember Hume's dictum.

In any case, these people are trolls and we've been roped into having a conversation that no one needs to have in order to ask if the recommendations by the site visit program can and should be generalized.

As Elanore Stump nicely puts it:
Some of the painful endemic problems regarding the status of women in philosophy can be seen in the very concerns some people have expressed about the Site Visitors Report on the Boulder Department. What kind of attitude is it that takes mandating minimal care for the dignity of one's colleagues and minimal public respect towards their work to be thought control? And what kind of attitude supposes that it is not possible to have good teaching or mentoring of one's students unless one can meet with them after hours and have one's inhibitions towards them loosened by alcohol? 
See also Kate Norlock's post here for a round-up of people who have nicely combated these trolls.

(Comments are closed, take it to Leiter's original post.)

-- Jaded, Ph.D.