We haven't had a poll in awhile, so here's a new one. 74 choices (you don't have to rank them all!), across all fields. Only those philosophers over 70 in 2017 or no longer living are included. I'll post the top 10 (maybe the top 20), I hope I've got all viable candidates for the top 10 or 20 among the choices. Have fun!
UPDATE: Some errors of omission called to my attention: Philip Kitcher, Ruth Millikan, Richard Rorty, Peter van Inwagen. I doubt, though, any of these eminent philosophers would have made the top ten or twenty, but I'm sorry to have left them off.
...and that, according to Jenny Saul (Sheffield), suggests that "[I]f you can avoid teaching/discussing [him], that may be the best strategy." This calls to mind that other remarkable endorsement of educational malpractice by James Sterba (Notre Dame), namely, that one should not teach Thomas Pogge because of his (unrelated) alleged misconduct. I am curious what readers make of proposals like this. Is there some merit in them I am missing? Or are they as outrageous as they seem from the standpoint of responsible teaching and research?
Back in early January, I announced an intention not to blog this summer. I heard from a lot of unhappy and/or concerned readers about this! This response from a philosopher elsewhere--whom I've never met (that I can recall), though I have admired her work for a long time, so it was especially nice to hear from her--is representative:
I just wanted to write a quick note, since I know (from your remarks this morning on your blog) that you are reassessing things. I wanted to say how valuable and positive your blog has been for me personally. It's the only one I've ever read (literally, the only one i have bookmarked and the only one i can remember actually logging onto, aside from a few physics things, for special reasons). I know you hear from lots of folks, but I'll miss it if you don't post regularly. There's lots of folks like me, I expect.
Others were unhappy at the prospect that the only audible "voices" in the philosophy blogosphere would be that of the New Infantilists, the politeness police, the thought police, etc. In any case, I've decided on a somewhat revised summer plan: I will plan on posting some material on Mondays and Fridays during the summer, perhaps more often when warranted. I may also invite some guest-bloggers to contribute. Summer advertising rates will be, accordingly, cut in half: top spots will be $350, 2nd from the top $300, and 3rd from the top $250 per month.
Thanks to all who wrote to me and to all who read!
A distinguished philosopher of religion and scholar of medieval philosophy, Professor Adams taught for more than two decades at UCLA, and then over the last 20+ years at Yale University, Oxford University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and most recently, Rutgers University at New Brunswick. I will add links to memorial notices as they appear.
(Thanks to Laurie Paul for the information about her passing.)
CHE story is here; the reporter wrote to me as follows:
I’m gathering reactions from both the Berkeley community and the philosophy community, and gauging the significance of these allegations for Berkeley, which has faced ongoing scrutiny for harassment by its professors since 2015, and for philosophy, a discipline that has seen cases like this many times before. I wonder what you think this news suggests both for Berkeley, where officials said they had reformed their approach to harassment in early 2016 (yet this behavior allegedly took place last summer), and for philosophy, which has struggled to deal with this issue, and now another one of its star scholars is facing serious allegations.
I know you’ve written pieces for CHE about this issue and talked with my colleague Robin a number of times, so I figured you’d be a good source. Would appreciate it if you could give me a quick call today, on either number below, or send an email.
Since I am travelling, I wrote back via e-mail as follows:
I have no comment about Berkeley and its practices, which I know little about.
I have heard rumors for more than 30 years that John Searle had sexual relationships with his students. I do not know any details about those rumors or about the present case. The whole point of a lawsuit is that the matter will hopefully be adjudicated fairly, and then we will know.
I have no doubt that academic philosophy has had a sexual harassment problem, I do not know whether it is worse than other fields. And I am increasingly worried that some of the most prominent cases may have been unfair to the accused. So we should proceed with caution here, until a court can shine a light on what transpired.
At the moment, there is only one of the prominent cases where I now have serious doubts, but I'll write more about that in due course. I hope that a court will get the chance to adjudicate the allegations against Searle.
Two more new episodes remain for season 1 of Hi-Phi Nation at this point, one on the philosophy of love, the other on truth/realism/anti-realism. The stories that bring you there will hopefully be surprising. Hi-Phi Nation is gaining enough of an audience that I think it is worth a gamble for me to do a second season next academic year even at a financial loss. I will be applying to the granting agencies, wealthy foundations, and public media companies, but as many of you know, these are low-probability options in the typical case, even lower probability in nonstandard cases. I'm remembering Ken Taylor's experiences at the NEH with Philosophy Talk.
For those of you in the profession, I invite the adventurous to take a dive and think about whether you want to produce or partly produce a segment, episode, or a piece of investigative work, that will make it to the second season of the show. Its a new style and a new medium, it might not be a line on your CV, but you will reach people. The work could be within your comfort zone or you can take the full plunge, with a mic and recorder doing embedded philosophizing. All you need to do is contact me, keep up with the Hi-Phi Nation blog/newsletter, the Twitter account, or Facebook page.
For others, if you think there is a value of this work to your students, philosophy clubs, or family or community outreach locally, let me know what kind of episodes I should produce that would bring value to the classes you teach, clubs you advise, discussion groups you lead, etc. When I have time, I will put together sample syllabi and reading lists that make it easy for you to teach with Hi-Phi Nation and other story-driven shows, where the content truly is complimentary rather than supplementary to lectures and readings. If you are a high school or community college teacher already using or committed to using some of the content in your classes, let me know how you're doing it so I can share it with others.
Thanks to Brian Leiter for giving me a platform this week to talk about this wild ride of a project. Thanks to all the subjects of the first season, and the upcoming subjects in the second, they're all listed on the website and you hear their voices in the episodes. The first season couldn't have happened without support from Mark Johnston, Sarah-Jane Leslie, Jennifer Nagel, Tom Kelly, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, and StoryLab at Duke including Carlos Rojas, Eileen Chow, and Clare Woods.
As I'm writing this, I'm sitting in a two-day conference about digital and public humanities at Duke, where the takeaway is that Deans and the humanities as a whole need a coherent way to vet, review, and evaluate risky and adventurous work that is digital and/or public reaching in order to start the process of making it count toward career advancement. Deans, funding agencies, and department review committees request outside letters, outside letters so far are only from experts who evaluate research expertise. As a result, committees can't count things outside of the model of "research expertise" toward tenure, promotion, and raises that don't speak as meaningfully to other scholarly ventures as they do to standard research (service? are you kidding me? You have service reviews?) I couldn't have done Hi-Phi Nation as a junior faculty, and I can't do it now if I still cared about becoming "Full," whatever satisfaction that's supposed to bring me. But some of you out there do care, and also care about outreach and risky non-standard projects, and the unfairness that younger people do it only out of a labor of love (shout out to my wonderful friends at Wi-Phi) rather than as part of their career, with the risk of it actually hurting their careers.
So while I have this platform, I guess I can put a call-out to senior people in the field who would be interested in doing such vetting for the benefit of the field, and maybe we should think about how to organize such a group through the APA. You can email me and I'll keep a list and see if anything can be done with it. If this already exists, excuse my ignorance.
Despite the fact that I did episodes on torture in war, the ethics of killing, comparative Christian and Muslim theology, and whether we should defund a group of orphans in PA, I wasn't prepared for how controversial talking about replication in the statistical sciences would be. It was naive on my part. The tone of arguments in the statistical sciences literature and blogs did not strike me as anything out of the ordinary in academia and, by the standards of philosophy, seemed entirely tame. I had assumed that behind the scenes, everyone was still friendly and the dispute was entirely about disagreements about the merits of certain statistical and experimental methods. Applied epistemology par excellence. Boy was I wrong. I've been sheltered in the last decade at my liberal arts school. Once I got to Duke, I learned that we're talking about a controversy over which some people feel their careers are being destroyed by bullies who are creating an anti-science climate that is threatening research funding (particularly under this presidential administration), while others believe that impervious careerists who have no concern for truth are just protecting themselves and their friends from embarrassment.
Once things were put to me this way, it was kind of like this: are you going to participate in the ongoing anti-science climate, or are you going to protect sub-par epistemological standards? How's that for framing a choice for someone? I didn't in the end kill the story like I was advised, but I did go the extra mile to try and be fair. The episodes are what they are, thousands of people have listened to them, and I haven't gotten flak since the release, as I went the extra mile to try and be fair. Even the chair of parapsychology research at Edinburgh reacted positively. There are a ton of philosophers much more expertly knowledgeable about these issues than I, maybe they can weigh in.
A film has a mood, a story has a mood. What is the mood of philosophy? What is the beauty in a particular argument, its grotesqueness, its tensions, and resolution, and what does that mood sound like?
This is an odd question, but for Hi-Phi Nation, I had to assume that these questions had answers, and I had to answer them. That's because a good sound-rich piece of audio production has music, sound-tracking, and sound design in general, and that's the show that I wanted to make for philosophy, which has a lot of other wonderful alternative forms of audio, like Philosophy Bites, Philosophy Talk, Elucidations, History of Philosophy without any Gaps, and so forth. Story-driven audio has an emotion and aesthetic component that you might not notice just like you might fail to notice sound design in film when you are completely engrossed in it, but when you watch a film without a soundtrack, its isn't a coherent experience. And when you're trying to do story-driven audio for philosophy, you're left with this odd, almost category-mistake of a question. But it isn't a category mistake, and it turns out there are good and bad answers to it, though I will spare you the bad answers in this post.
One note about soundtracking for podcasting; I had to rely on the corpus of open licensed music available for podcasts due to the outdated laws concerning copyright in this country, and my own limitations as a musician (I'm not going to compose and score the thing!). Given these constraints, at the end of a particular edit of an episode, I have to think long and hard about the mood of a piece of philosophy. These are two decisions I made from Episode 3 too illustrate, which features a discussion of revisionist just war theory with Jeff McMahan, Helen Frowe, Major Ian Fishback, and others.
This little clip from a piece by musician Jason Staczek is the most used piece in this season of Hi-Phi Nation. I just love it for philosophy. Its a perfect mix of wonder and puzzlement.
The following piece by the group Blue Dot Sessions, who create so much of the music that podcast producers are using these days because they're open-licensed, is one I put in the folder of "nicely moves the discussion along." There is a kind of tension I want to create in the presentation of certain philosophical views I think are deserving of tension and anticipation, rather than reflective contemplation. I love this piece for that purpose, and use it a lot in other episodes.
Scoring and soundtracking has been one of the most pleasing surprises in this project. I definitely do not want to farm it out in the future. If you're a philosopher, I'd be curious to know what the soundtrack you think is to your work.
The Humanities-writ large initiative at Duke University is responsible for allowing me to work full time this entire academic year to produce the first season of Hi-Phi Nation. I have done nothing but this project, and since it is most likely very different from the daily work flow of professional philosophy, I thought I would share the production process for those interested.
From start to finish, each episode oh Hi-Phi Nation takes about 3 months to complete. I record about 20 hours of raw tape for each 40 minute episode.
Step 1: Read philosophical and other academic work, contact philosophers. Wait for responses for availability.
Step 2: Seek out the subjects of the story; using methods learned in investigative reporting bootcamp; and then contact them.
Step 3: Write out a long list of questions for all subjects, philosophers, and academics.
Step 4: Travel to different location to interview subjects/philosophers, or hire a professional producer to do a tape-sync, or last resort, do a Skype call (quality of audio is everything).
Step 5: Transcribe all interviews with time-stamps every 2min.
Step 6: Take 200 pages of transcriptions/episode, highlight quotable lines. Cut and paste quotables into one document. Code each quotation by theme, topic, and arrange "Tom Cruise-Minority Report" style.
Step 7. Delete all "ums" "uhs" false starts, and gaps in audio clips.
Step 8. Write a script around the story, around the philosophy, and organize the audio around the script.
Step 10: Get wife to listen to draft, redo with her notes.
Step 11:. Sit and listen to 20-30 music tracks. Select tracks, mix, cut, and loop for scoring, soundtracking, and soundscaping. Insert into episode at strategic moments of wonder, reflection, curiosity, outrage, etc.
Step 12: Adjust EQs for each voice, adjust loudness meters and compression for whole episode.
Step 13. Go home, bathe toddler, sing her to sleep.
Step 14. Write the show notes for upload by midnight.
Step 15: Repeat x10 for Season 1.
What a mix looks like. This is the opening to Episode 4:
One thing that philosophy seems to struggle with is wider public influence and understanding. How do we get people before they get to college or independent of college to know about and appreciate philosophy?
Given that information, one might wonder how many Congressmen were or are associated with the Boy Scouts America (BSA). A BSA list for the 113th Congress provides the following totals: youth members (174), Eagle Scouts (28), and adult volunteers (57). According to Congressional Research Service report there were 432 men in the 113th Congress, which means 40% of men in Congress were in the BSA with 13% active as adults.
If you want to increase early knowledge of philosophy AND possibly have lawmakers with some passing familiarity, then get philosophy into Scouting, both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
When I started driving home to Poughkeepsie from Hershey, PA after a two-day trip for what ended up being Episode 1, I said to my assistant, "Am I taking the side of a bunch of corrupt millionaires against a group of poor orphans?" Sometimes the implications of your philosophical views end up surprising you.
Producing a program that is both story-driven and philosophy has been a lot like doing a Fitch-style proof in intro logic. You can work backwards from the conclusion, or forward from the premises. This season I often found the philosophy first, and sought out a story whose conflict is the philosophical issue I wanted to talk about. But in the episodes, I usually run the story first and philosophy second. This was the case with Episode 1, on the case of the Hershey fortune and the possibility of posthumous harm. I had for years puzzled over the question of how testation and the right to control posthumous wealth could be justified. I wanted to find that one legal or historical case that would bring out all of the philosophical questions behind this issue. I went through many different legal cases involving conditional bequests, charitable trusts, and dynasty trusts, and settled on the Hershey story.
Seeking stories after you know what philosophy you want to present is harder than coming to a story that just invites philosophy (Rachel Dolezal and racial ontology, or my Episode 4 story on Larycia Hawkins). Human stories are not neatly packaged like philosophical thought experiments. They have nuance and complexity precisely of the kind philosophers like to abstract away from to make arguments. I went into the episode wanting to find a story where the state's enforcement of dead-hand control led to a kind of absurdity that almost any impartial observer, no matter the political or philosophical leanings, would say, "well, okay, that's unjust." I thought I found it with the Hershey story, but in reality, the story kept getting more and more complicated, and it started departing from the nice neat little example I wanted to use to make the case for my philosophical thesis. The Board of Managers of the Hershey trust have essentially been trying to evade the laws requiring them to abide by Hershey's wishes, while the Orphan Army (the episode explains who they are) have been fighting the state to uphold the original Milton Hershey deed. I was trying to argue against the justifiability of perpetual posthumous control of wealth, placing me in alliance with the millionaires spending money on golf courses and against the orphans who just wanted to serve more orphans! That's my example of injustice? But, then, if you heard the episode, there was yet another turn to the story. How to manage the philosophy in the presence of an out of control story?
From this experience, I learned that what you lose in tidiness you gain elsewhere, as long as you're up to the challenge of confronting rather than asking your audience to abstract away from the complexity. Complexity in story can be valuable in making a listener desire to think longer and harder about the connection between the the turns of the story and the philosophy, and just desire to know how to resolve the philosophical issue. The intro books on documentary audio production look a lot like rules for intro-writing rules: make sure there is signposting. But just like in print, if there is too much signposting and hand-holding, your reader can lose the valuable experience of making the connections on their own, and wanting to work toward the conclusion. Maybe this can be more valuable in terms of outreach than the outright assertions of connections and clarity of sign-posting we're used to in analytic philosophy, at least if the form of outreach is bridging narrative storytelling with philosophy.
Analogy lovers (or anyone who's befuddled by techie-things but embarrassed to admit it) might be interested in this tech dictionary that uses analogies to explain tech terms and concepts. Here's a sample...
2-Factor Authentication: It's like being a spy. You need to prove your identity to a contact but they are paranoid and demand something in addition to the password to prove who you are.
API: It’s like a LEGO brick. An application without an API is like a LEGO brick without nodules (are they called nodules?) – it’s not much fun and you can’t build anything new with it.
Does Philosophy have a dictionary like this? If it does, then direct me to it!
Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure to talk with Chronicle of Higher Education reporter Robin Wilson on a couple of occasions about promoting philosophy and the role of faculty senates on campus. She has a nice three part series titled “Avoiding the Ax.” All are behind a pay wall, but they include: An interview with APA director Amy Ferrer, a discussion about avoiding elimination where my colleague and former department chair, Grodon Pettit, is interviewed, and three suggestions on supporting philosophy.
Some of these topics may seem familiar to regular readers of the Leiter Reports from some of my previous posts over the last two years. Here are just a few that readers who missed them might find instructive.
I am using Rod Girle’s Modal Logics and Philosophy (second edition) this semester. I find it to be a really nice introductory text for those students who want to study modal logic, but may not have much formal logic background, which isn’t uncommon in a small program.
The main issue with the second edition concerns the printing errors that slipped past the original editing process. For anyone who would like to have an errata page, I am asking you to join with me in crowdsourcing it. You can comment below, email me, or Professor Girle to help create an errata page. When completed, we will ask the publisher, McGill-Queen’s, to host it on their website.
Additionally, I recently contacted Professor Girle and he kindly gave me a workbook he uses with the text; it is extremely useful. If we can get the errata page completed and hosted, then perhaps Professor Girle could be encouraged to make the workbook available via the publisher’s site as well.
I released an episode today about norms of gender that begins with the story of the opening up of combat arms to women under Obama. I use the story to explore the view that militaristic cultures and their need for self-sacrificial protectors engaged in war help to explain certain norms of masculinity and femininity. The episode arose out of interesting conversations I had with Professor Graham Parsons about the positive reception to feminist philosophy in his courses at West Point, an institution that is around 80% male for students, and likely higher for faculty.
In the process of production for this episode, I had to make a decision about whether and how much I wanted to raise the issue of sexual assault in the military. There were competing considerations that made it difficult for me to be confident in whatever decision I ultimately made. For one, the issue has loomed large in the press for a long time. Reforms have been slow, and on the eve of the release, we had the Marine online photographs scandal. In light of this, how could I make an episode about gender issues in the military without a mention of the issue of sexual assault? The competing consideration is that many military women I talked to and read have expressed consternation that all that ever gets covered in the press about women in the military is related to sexual assault. Their other challenges, achievements, and the day-to-day experiences, namely the things that make up 95% of their lives, make up 5% of what people talk about when they talk about them at all. Moreover, because of the big public relations concerns of large institutions such as DOD, the Army, and USMA, the subjects of the episode had very real concerns about how they would be portrayed, even in a start-up podcast. The considerations pulled me in opposite directions, but ultimately I had to make a decision, one that others might have made differently.
This is a theme that will reoccur as I post this week. As philosophers, we aren't always in direct contact with people who stand to be affected by the philosophy that we produce. The same has not been true of producing Hi-Phi Nation. When subjects of the stories agree to talk to me, that does not mean they are necessarily agreeing that their experiences be premises in a philosophical argument, their lives examples in a thought experiment, or their story fodder for a take-down of some competing view. But these are central practices of philosophy, so how do you connect story to philosophy without them? In the kind of philosophy I'm doing for the public, I am trying to make connections back to the lives of people, but this raises some very tricky ethical concerns I hadn't anticipated.
In hindsight, it shouldn't be surprising to me that a Hi-Phi Nation episode on popular music would be the fastest growing and most popular. If my goal was to bring people to philosophy who otherwise didn't know or didn't care about it, why not follow in the footsteps of the philosophy and (insert pop culture phenomenon here)? But during the pre-production and post-production of the episode, I had the most doubts about this one in terms of its potential success in the mission, which is to weave philosophy with story successfully, rather than just pay lip service to each, and to do it without fluff.
Philosophy of music is one of those areas that just cries out for audio rather than print, so I had to do it even though I didn't know much about it. But what musical genre to pick, and what to say about it? The decision ended up being fortuitous rather than planned. Because of the budgetary constraints on a one-person operation, I had to limit myself to day trips by car, and it turned out two mashup scholars lived in the same town about 3 hours from Durham, NC, musicologist Christine Boone and philosopher Chris Bartel. I was surprised too, mashup scholars? This is what I love about academia.
Ultimately, the thought that mashups were the musical equivalent to the hot-dog stuffed-crust pizza was what drove the central aesthetic issue of the episode and it came to me late, in the week leading up to the release. But the idea that the genre emerged first as a form of musical vandalism, and then as a critique of the social divisions involved in popular music, came out of my discussions with the actual artists themselves, as well as from a long extended discussion I had with Christine Boone about the Beyonce-Andy Griffiths mashup. Christine was worried that our amusement comes at the expense of Beyonce, with the theme to the Andy Griffiths show representing all that is ideal about America, in its wholesomeness and whiteness, whereas I saw it the other way around, the most iconic, popular, and admired pop artist of this entire generation paired with all that is lame about the idealized America of the past.
In the pre-production stage, I tried to get various famous mashup artists for the show. This was my first time dealing with professional publicists and all that is awful about media. They don't train you for that in graduate school. Ultimately, DJ Earworm was gracious enough to agree to a Skype interview within days of contact, and he is a trained musicologist in addition to being a famous mashup artist. Steve Stein aka Steinski was a great interview also, and to be honest 80s hip-hop was music I was actually familiar with going in. I'm actually a little on the old side for mashups. We met in a NYC hotel room while I was preparing for, of all things, a Sanders Foundation meeting. (Talk about switching gears quickly!) While this episode may not be the most timeless of season one, as generations older and much younger will probably just not get it, I think it ended up satisfying the mission well; bringing philosophy to people who just didn't care about it in the first place.
Data gleaned from an interesting interactive chart at CHE (behind a paywall) shows that from the end of 2007 (just before the financial crisis) to the end of 2016, many universities with huge endowments did not get richer in inflation-adjusted dollars. Harvard, for example, went from an endowment of over forty billion to one less than thirty-five billion dollars (again, adjusted for inflation)--a loss of 14% over the ten-year period! Yale lost not quite a billion dollars on its endowment during this period, representing about a 3% decline.
Several schools were basically flat during this ten-year period, including my own (Chicago), despite running a capital campaign during this time. Stanford and Princeton posted modest gains, but the really big winners included the University of Texas and Texas A&M University Sytems, which increased their endowments by roughly a third to, respectively, over 24 billion dollars and over 10 billion dollars--but per student, given the huge size of these systems, the value is much less than at the rich private schools. Among the latter, the big winners were the University of Pennsylvania, which grew its endowment by 39% (!) during this time, to nearly 11 billion dollars, and Northwestern University, which increased its endowment 27%, to just under 10 billion dollars.
Last time around I wrote about elevator pitches (there are some really great comments on this post that you may find useful), and this time Barry Lam is sharing some really cool stuff he’s doing at Hi-Phi Nation (I’ll definitely be adding this to my bag of tricks). So, now seems like a good time to share a story about philosophy on a plane.
But first…like a lot of people I’ve been moping since the election. I can frequently be heard saying things like, “Oh my God! We need philosophy now more than ever!” Really what I mean is more people who aren’t philosophers need to know a little philosophy and be better critical thinkers. I’ve even said that philosophers may have a moral duty to push back against poor reasoning, to which my philosopher husband replied we’d first need to define moral duty (I rolled my eyes). Be that as it may, I still think “the people” need philosophy.
From my pitch post, it was clear that not all philosophers share my enthusiasm for spreading the good word. Luckily, people like Barry Lam, Stephen West, and countless others make sharing philosophy easy...
I recently took a transcontinental flight (in the middle seat). I usually refuse Kantian recognition to my seatmates, but on this particular flight I made an exception. The guy to my right moved furniture for a living--that he did physical labor was no surprise, judging from the size of his biceps. He spouted numbers at me: pounds lifted in a day, a week, a month. He was quite chatty. I learned of his new girlfriend who was driving an hour to pick him up, that he had an irreverent sense of humor, and that he sometimes liked to play online poker. With all that frenetic energy, I surmised he might benefit from a little Existential Philosophy (Schopenhauer is my homeboy).
I asked him if he liked listening to podcasts, to which he replied yes. I then asked him if he liked Philosophy, and while he wasn’t sure what I meant, he said…maybe. I pulled up Episode #79: Kierkegaard on Anxiety from Philosophize This! on my iPhone and handed it to him along with my headphones. It was just a hunch, albeit a good one. He listened to the podcast in full and even jotted down quotes.
Sure, it was just one podcast, and he was just one guy, but that’s how we do it! That’s how we make better thinkers--one podcast at a time. Well, that and a philosophy class. Seriously, though, talk to people (outside of the classroom and conferences) about philosophy, and meet them where they are--Existentialism seems like an easy place to start. I mean, who isn't endlessly fascinated by themselves?
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has some famous athletes who are expressing the belief that the Earth is flat, with Dr. Shaquille O’Neil being one of them.
Kyrie Irving who made the game winning shot for the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 7 of the NBA finals last year believes the Earth is flat. Kyrie Irving did attend Duke University for one year. You might think this is a great argument against the one-and-done rule for the NBA, but that doesn’t explain Shaq's beliefs.
Dr. Shaquille O’Neil, who has an Ed.D. from Barry University, recently defended Kyrie Irving and the belief that the Earth is flat by claiming the Earth is flat.
Luckily falsely believing the Earth is flat doesn’t have the same consequences that anti-vaxxers false beliefs have, but we should still be worried that famous, successful, public figures have such a basic false belief. Why? Because they vote!
This is illuminating. As Dworkin notes early on, the dialectically feeble anti-gay bigotry and other sectarian prejudices of his supervisor John Finnis should not be imputed to Gorsuch, and while the book does not license much in the way of predictions about he will decide cases, it is not a persuasive argument on its own merits.
Tomorrow will mark the release of the 8th episode out of 10 for Hi-Phi Nation, which is my attempt at bridging many different genres with philosophy; documentaries, journalism, narrative storytelling, and sound design. As a guest blogger this week, I'm going to talk about the backstory behind the making of some of these episodes, as well as the interesting challenges I faced as a trained academic philosopher trying to create something so different from what we're trained to create (essays not audio, arguments not narratives.)
Episodes 2 and 3 were the first pieces I produced a little over a year ago. When I first met Major Ian Fishback in Ann Arbor, I already recorded with Jeff McMahan, Helen Frowe, Michael Robillard, and many faculty at USMA at West Point on just war and revisionist just war theory, as well as Mike's work on moral exploitation. But because the show wasn't just going to be a highly-produced piece of audio philosophy, I needed a good story. You can't "turn stories into ideas" without story. I knew Ian's story from the archived media reports about his whistle-blowing in the Army, so I assumed that I was coming into a story about a man who opposed torture, and we were going to have a show about torture in war. But that made up less than a third of what we ended up talking about. Ian and I spoke on tape for over three hours. The real story behind his military career was almost a perfect snapshot of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, from the hopeful and almost easy days of the early push against Al Qaeda and the Taliban (remember the Northern Alliance?) to the chaos in the initial years in Iraq, all the way to the height of the surge and the limited successes and ultimate failure of the counterinsurgency campaign, leading to the rise of ISIS. If you haven't already listened, the bonus content for the episodes is just gold, I wish I could've included them. Ian's story and current philosophical reflections on his experiences did not disappoint. How could a philosopher who spent over a decade of his life in combat not have interesting things to say about the ethics and law of war? My conversations with Ian and the pieces that were finally released set the structure for how I approached the rest of the season.
Even though it was my first and certainly not the most polished piece, I knew from it that story-driven philosophy could be something special.
At my university a decade long enrollment decline has reached a crisis point, and for twenty months (and counting) Illinois has operated without a state budget. The university is now focusing on increasing both enrollment and non-state funding, but this effort has done little to quell faculty unrest from some administrative decisions—namely layoffs.
During this tumultuous time, I have been Faculty Senate Chair. One thing that has been made abundantly clear to me is that the vast majority of faculty do not know what’s happening on campus—I call them free-riders. Free-riding faculty take little responsibility for anything beyond their classes and research. They don’t understand that student recruitment and retention is part of the job—that, in fact, our survival depends upon it.
With little faculty input, the day to day running of the university is left to administrators (often career non-academic administrators). Faculty, however, should be proactive rather than reactive to administrative decisions with which they disagree. Naturally, it is difficult to impress this upon colleagues in boom times when growth is good, and we rarely think of lean times (lay-offs, downsizing, and budget cuts).
Exacerbating the problem is a faculty tendency to forget the ideal of shared governance. Faculty must help govern the university else we become subject to administrators who may not understand the value of philosophy as a major or as part of general education curriculum.
Don’t be a free-rider:
Understand your university’s curriculum and philosophy’s place in it.
Actively participate in faculty governance.
Know the external forces that impact the health of your college or university.
Promote a positive image of faculty in your community.
A new paper that might be of interest to some readers; the abstract:
What are the “obligations” of judges in democracies? An adequate answer requires us to be realistic both about democracies and about law. Realism about democracy demands that we recognize that electoral outcomes are largely, though not entirely, unrelated to concrete policy choices by elected representatives or to the policy preferences of voters, who typically follow their party based on “tribal” loyalties. The latter fact renders irrelevant the classic counter-majoritarian (or counter-democratic) worries about judicial review. Realism about law requires that we recognize that judges, especially on appellate courts, will inevitably have to render moral and political judgments in order to produce authoritative resolutions of disputes, one of the central functions of a legal system in any society. That means it is impossible to discuss the “obligations” of judges without regard to their actual moral and political views, as well as the moral and political ends we believe ought to be achieved.
Hennepin County prosecutors dropped all charges Thursday against a University of Minnesota professor accused of raping and stalking an ex-girlfriend.
Francesco Parisi, 54, had been in the Hennepin County jail for the past three weeks after prosecutors charged him with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and stalking....
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"Efforts to corroborate or verify a number of specific allegations against the defendant that were made to the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office were unsuccessful," Assistant County Attorney Justin Wesley wrote in a court filing. "Considering all of the evidence that we have now, the charges are no longer supported by probable cause and are hereby dismissed in the interests of justice...."
"If the prosecutor had taken a few minutes to look, just five minutes of due diligence, it could have prevented an enormous embarrassment to all parties involved and a gross abuse of the legal system," said one of Parisi's attorneys, John Braun.
Braun said Parisi intends to sue the woman and possibly the county attorney's office for defamation.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM APRIL 22, 2016--I HOPE WE WON'T SEE REPEATS OF THIS BAD BEHAVIOR THIS YEAR!
A prospective graduate student asked me to share her, shall we say, "unusual" experience during the recently concluded admissions cycle. Here's how it started (prior to April 15):
I am a prospective graduate student currently considering offers for the following academic year. It has come to my attention that, in an attempt to gage the interest of wait listed students, some institutions may be inadvertently violating the rules set out by the APA -- that students should have until April 15th to accept or reject financial offers. On your blog, you have encouraged prospective students to report these violations. I have sent a brief sketch of this situation to the APA, and I thought it could be helpful to discuss this in the philosophical community.
I experienced the following scenario this afternoon: I am wait listed at a highly ranked institution. The GDS called me and asked, "If I were to give you an offer right now, would you accept it?" I felt strongly that if I were to say yes, an offer would be given to me instantly, and I would be bound to accept it (on April 11th). However, this institution is not my first choice, and as a result I was put into the awkward position of rejecting what I perceived to be a conditional offer, the condition being my immediate acceptance. I would still like an offer from this institution, but I would also like the courtesy afforded to me by the APA, which is to have until the end of the 15th to decide. I am on other wait lists, and wish to see how that comes out before making a final decision. However, I worry that I may have lost out on an offer that would have been mine as a result of this exchange.
I think that this experience should perhaps encourage the APA to investigate this notion of a verbal offer—or the promise of one—conditioned on acceptance prior to April 15th. Does this seem to you as it does to me to be against the rules? Or do you think I'm reading too much into a DGS' attempt to gage interest in my likelihood of acceptance?
I think this kind of conditional offer violates the APA rules. It's one thing to ask a candidate about their level of interest, it's another to frame an inquiry as reported here. In the end, the student went elsewhere, but with yet another wrinkle:
Interestingly, before I declined, they placed me in yet another cart-before-the-horse situation. This program guarantees a semester of fellowship and I had been told so on multiple occasions. However, they provided me an offer without any, and when I asked about it I was told that they had sent out more offers than fellowships, and that they would give them to those who accepted the soonest while supplies last. Perhaps this is less worrying than the earlier issue, but it still seems fishy that they would require me to sign a contract of the offer *without* a fellowship listed in order to potentially obtain said fellowship. Again, it seems rather against the spirit, if not the letter, of the APA deadline to take away previously guaranteed fellowship to those who execute their right to wait until the end of the day on April 15th.
I sincerely hope this does not occur in the future to others. It makes this more difficult and stressful for all involved.
UPDATE: J.D. Trout, a distinguished philosopher of science at Loyola University, Chicago, writes:
When I was fresh out of graduate school and on the philosophy job market, I received a call from a dean at a small rural college where I had interviewed. After exchanging pleasantries, the dean explained that they wanted to make a hiring decision soon, that they had winnowed the list down to two candidates, and that I was their top choice. He then asked, “What would you say if I were to make you an offer?” implying that I would get the real offer if I said yes to the hypothetical one. I explained that I still didn’t know; he hadn’t made me an actual offer. I told him that I would think differently about the attractions of a job if I had an actual rather than an imaginary offer. At the time, I think I was mainly interested in letting the dean know that I recognized his question as a low-rent hustle; they didn’t want to waste time on a candidate’s offer that might not be accepted (potentially losing their other candidate in the process). The dean made an actual offer and told me I had four days to decide. I took another job.
The national security state that Obama inherited and broadened, and has now passed on to Trump, is so thoroughly protected by secrecy that on most occasions concealment will be an available alternative to lying. Components of the Obama legacy that Trump will draw on include the curtailment of the habeas corpus rights of prisoners in the War on Terror; the creation of a legal category of permanent detainees who are judged at once impossible to put on trial and too dangerous to release; the expanded use of the state secrets privilege to deny legal process to abused prisoners; the denial of legal standing to American citizens who contest warrantless searches and seizures; the allocation of billions of dollars by the Department of Homeland Security to supply state and local police with helicopters, heavy artillery, state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and armoured vehicles; precedent for the violent overthrow of a sovereign government without consultation and approval by Congress (as in Libya); precedent for the subsidy, training and provision of arms to foreign rebel forces to procure the overthrow of a sovereign government without consultation and approval by Congress (as in Syria); the prosecution of domestic whistleblowers as enemy agents under the Foreign Espionage Act of 1917; the use of executive authority to order the assassination of persons – including US citizens – who by secret process have been determined to pose an imminent threat to American interests at home or abroad; the executive approval given to a nuclear modernisation programme, at an estimated cost of $1 trillion, to streamline, adapt and miniaturise nuclear weapons for up to date practical use; the increased availability – when requested of the NSA by any of the other 16 US intelligence agencies – of private internet and phone data on foreign persons or US citizens under suspicion.....
How did America pass so quickly from Obama to Trump? The glib left-wing answer, that the country is deeply racist, is half-true but explains too much and too little. This racist country voted for Obama twice. A fairer explanation might go back to the financial collapse of 2008 when Americans had a general fear and were shocked by what the banks and financial firms had done to us. ‘In an atmosphere primed for a populist backlash’, as John Judis wrote, Obama ‘allowed the right to define the terms’. The revolt of 2008-9 was against the financial community and anyone in cahoots with them, but the new president declined to name a villain: when he invited 13 CEOs to the White House in April 2009, he began by saying he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks, and ended by reassuring them that they would all work together. No culprit would be named and no sacrifice called for. Trump emerged early as an impresario of the anger, a plutocrat leading the people’s revolt against plutocracy. The most credible explanation for the popular turn to the right – there are plenty of examples of people who voted twice for Obama but then for Trump – was offered by the Italian legal scholar Ugo Mattei. As he sees it, the resemblances between Trump and Berlusconi run deep, and in both cases the appeal derives from popular cynicism more than credulity. The voters have come to understand that the big banks, along with investment companies like Goldman Sachs and transnational corporations, are sovereignties as powerful as states and in some cases more powerful. By vesting a billionaire with extraordinary power, therefore, the voters are going straight to the relevant authority and cutting out the middle man – the politician....
This is not going to make him a popular fellow in the current environment, but it's good that he's articulating a different perspective that those who support such bans can now argue against. (My law school has such a ban, and it seems to me to have been salutary, but the dynamics in law schools were always different to begin with.)
A specialist in philosophy of religion, especially in the post-Kantian Continental traditions, she was Professor of Modern European Philosophy of Religion at Oxford at the time of her death. There is a brief memorial notice from Oxford here.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)