Pages

Pages

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Note on "The Archive"

This is just to let readers know that I continue to update the Archive of The Meltdown daily.  I'm trying to catch everything substantive that shows up in re the recent events surrounding Leiter, the PGR and the September Statement-- and I'm aiming to avoid redundancy as much as possible-- but there has been a lot of material and I cannot, alas, read the whole Internet every day. I am sure I've missed some things.  If you see glaring omissions, please leave links to them in the comments section below the original Archive post (or below this post), or you can email them to me at leigh.johnson@cbu.edu.

Predictably, and thankfully, it appears that the focus of many posts are moving away from the particular case of Brian Leiter or the PGR toward more general considerations of professional civility or the merits/demerits of rankings, respectively. To that end, I want to make note of a new page established by Richard Heck that aims to collect "Discussions of Philosophy Rankings"and to encourage readers to notify Heck when you write/read something that would be appropriate for inclusion at that page.  I will, of course, continue to add the same to my ongoing Archive here.

Until the number of relevant posts diminishes past the point of being worth tracking, I will continue to update the Archive on this blog daily, though probably only once daily (in the evening) going forward.

Thanks for your patience and assistance.  You can follow this blog on Facebook here or on Twitter here for more regular alerts.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Professional Philosophy Triage

Justice tempered by Mercy
Because I'm maintaining an Archive of (what I've called) The Meltdown here on this blog, I think I've read most, if not all, of what professional philosophers have said publicly in the last several days' scrum regarding  Brian Leiter's objectionable behaviors (or "civility" more generally) as well as the merits and demerits of the PGR (or "rankings" more generally). What professional philosophers are witnessing now must look, to non-philosophers, like something straight out of a Jonathan Franzen novel, replete with all of the deep, intra-familial dysfunction that tends to play itself out in brutish arguments over allegedly "shared" values via impossible-to-decipher shibboleths, subtext-laden misdirection, condensing, cathecting and projecting.  In my view, it would be flatly obtuse at this point, if not also egregiously unreflective and irresponsible, to not concede that something is very, very wrong here.  Professional philosophy has continued to run an infirm engine at full throttle, unattended and obviously overheating, for a long time now.  An incredible amount of cultural pressure has been building up, unabated, and now it appears we have have blown a gasket.  The blistering steam we see being released, from various fissures and clefts that have appeared where there were once (at least in principle) corrigible vulnerabilities, is manifesting in a number of predictable ways:  frustration, indignation, resentment, exasperation, vexation and, of course, anger.

It's time to triage.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Archive of The Meltdown [Now Closed]

If the current results of Brian Leiter's poll (which asks whether or not he should continue producing the Philosophical Gourmet Report) are any indication-- it's 1709 to 1118 in favor of "No" votes as I write this-- and if Leiter intends to take those poll results as some sort of mandate, then Philosophy may very well be witnessing the end of the PGR as we know it.

That's a pretty big deal all by itself... but it's happening coincidentally with what appears to be a bigger deal, i.e., the public unravelling of Leiter himself, one of the "biggest" (in terms of exposure, if not also influence) personalities in professional Philosophy.  Over the last 48 hours, Leiter has been publicly exposed as (and widely chastised for) being at best intemperate and uncivil, at worst bullying and threatening.  Things happen quickly and non-centrally in cyberspace, so I've decided to try to collect a running archive of the articles, letters, posts, petitions and the like related to  this incident, which may be a significant turning point in the professional life of academic Philosophy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Normalizing Civility, Policing Critique, Enforcing Silence and Misunderstanding Collegiality

How we ought to understand the terms "civility" and "collegiality" and to what extent they can be enforced as professional norms are dominating discussions in academic journalism and the academic blogosphere right now.  (So much so, in fact, that it's practically impossible for me to select among the literally hundreds of recent articles/posts and provide for you links to the most representative here.)  Of course, the efficient cause of civility/collegiality debates' meteoric rise to prominence is the controversy surrounding Dr. Steven Salaita's firing (or de-hiring, depending on your read of the situation) by the University of Illinois only a month ago, but there are a host of longstanding, deeply contentious and previously seething-just-below-the-surface agendas that have been given just enough air now by the Salaita case to fan their smoldering duff into a blazing fire.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Witch-Hunting in the Digital Age

Much to my own embarrassment, I've neglected to post here on the Steven Salaita controversy thus far, an affair with far-reaching implications not only for how we determine what constitutes both the civic and academic limits to the "right to free speech," but also for a number of hiring-and-firing practices that are customary within the Academy but verboten (if not also illegal) under almost any other employment conditions.

The facts of the Salaita case are, minimally, as follows:  Steven Salaita, tenured Professor of English at Virginia Tech University, was offered a position at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (henceforth, UIUC), which he accepted.  As is customary in academia, Salaita's new position came "with tenure" (after already having been thoroughly vetted for and awarded tenure at Virginia Tech) and, as is also customary in academia, Salaita resigned his position at Virginia Tech at the end of the last school year in advance of taking up his position at UIUC in the fall.  In the interim, however, and as a consequence of a number of tweets that Dr. Salaita posted over the summer in response to the increasingly violent Israeli-Gaza conflict, UIUC withdrew its offer of employment to Dr. Salaita (who is Palestinian and whose tweets were critical of Israeli state policy).  only two weeks before the he was to take up his new position at UIUC  According to UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise's official statement, the offer was rescinded because Dr. Salaita's tweets constituted a violation of UIUC principles, i.e., Salaita's tweets "demean[ed] and abuse[ed]" those whose views disagreed with his and, consequently, that they also constituted sufficient evidence that Salaita would be unable to discharge his duty to "allow new concepts and differing points of view to be discussed inside and outside of the classroom in a scholarly, civil and productive manner."

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Ferguson Lesson: Another Way To "Take Up Arms"

As someone who has spent the better part of her career researching, analyzing and teaching not only about the structure and nature of oppressive power regimes, but also better and worse ways to resist or transform such regimes, I've nevertheless been unable to settle in my own mind, to my own satisfaction, my position with regard to the moral or political value of revolutionary violence.  I can say that my core moral intuitions (for whatever those are worth) definitely incline me toward favoring nonviolence as a principled ethical commitment... though, over the years, I have found those intuitive inclinations fading in both intensity and persuasiveness.  As a philosopher, a citizen and a moral agent, I continue to be deeply unsettled by my own ambivalence on this matter.