Goodbye [Updated May 29]

Update, May 29th:

For those who haven’t noticed, all the good stuff is now happening at the Philosophy Metablog. Have a visit!


[Update, April 5: after many requests, I have agreed to post the addresses here of any new blogs readers might wish to open that address the topic of alternative views on sex and gender issues in philosophy. Please send these addresses to me at]

At least one impostor has begun signing off on comments on other blogs using my name and that of my wife. These people are non-identical with either of us.

This is the latest in a series of developments over the past while that has led to my present decision to stop blogging or contributing to blogs. I have also come to doubt the appropriateness of any widely read blog as a forum for the discussion of genuinely controversial topics. If anonymity is not permitted, then those whose views are politically acceptable are greatly overrepresented in the discussion. If anonymity is allowed, then moderation becomes necessary to avoid violations of basic moral protocols, and that moderation becomes both time consuming and liable to abuse through bias. Anyone using my name hereafter to comment on blogs is non-identical with me.

I was at first pleasantly surprised by the positive response this blog received and have enjoyed interacting with most of the people who were drawn into our discussions. But recently, the project appeared on the radar of the wrong  Continue reading

Comments [Addendum March 27]

In light of some increasingly strange comments, I’m somewhat reluctantly changing my comments policy. All comments must now be approved before they appear. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I’m afraid I cannot approve any comments whose intention is simply to satirize or otherwise poke fun at people. Philosophers Anonymous and Philosatire do a good job covering that, if that’s the sort of forum you’re looking for. If a comment appears wilfully obscure, I’ll eliminate it.

Finally, at the risk of repeating what should be obvious to anyone who has spent some time here, I in no way endorse many of the views presented by our commentators. Anyone who knows me will know that I find some of the views aired by others here not only incorrect but even obviously and disturbingly incorrect. That will be no big surprise to those who have read through my exchanges in these threads. However, for reasons I clarified in my post on Feb. 6th, I try to follow Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s dictum “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” I feel confident that, given enough time, intelligence, information, rigor and patience, rational people will in the end be forced to agree that the earth is round, that we are the result of evolution, that climate change is real and largely human-caused, and that women are under absolutely no innate philosophical disadvantage in comparison with men. Yes, it still makes me somewhat uncomfortable to listen and respond to these alternative views; but as I made clear on Feb. 6th, I think it is worth doing.

P.S. While the commenter who has chosen the moniker ‘JS’ apparently shares my initials, he(?) is non-identical with me.

Addendum: Some readers have expressed unhappiness with my changing the comments policy. I certainly have my own regrets about that. But some of the cryptic comments coming in, which I have now deleted, seemed aimed at disclosing the identity of one of our commenters who chose a moniker rather than using his name. I don’t know whether or how this commenter knew anything about the other commenter’s identity, but I didn’t want to run the risk of permitting that.

While I champion free discussion on topics of public interest, I fail to see how that end is furthered by attempts to guess at or reveal the identities of those who have chosen to be anonymous and have, in a very real sense, trusted me to preserve their anonymity here. As for satire and mockery, I agree that they have their place in a free society. However, it has never been my intention to host that sort of discourse here.

A few people have suggested to me that there is a social need for a forum in which current developments can be discussed freely and anonymously, without censorship or moderation. I heartily agree that that such a forum should exist, but the fact is that I am too busy to run such a forum here. The constant need to check comments for ‘outings’ of other commenters is not a duty I can take on. I hope someone who has the time and inclination might take that hint from my readers and start up such a forum. I’m closing comments for the time being. I apologize again for this.

Speculation about me

I’m not fond of drawing attention to myself or discussing my life, as some have noted. But some recent speculation about my identity has prompted me to write a short account of who I am to protect the innocent from being associated with anything scandalous.

Though I’ve been passionate about philosophy since the 1970s, I have always approached it more as an enjoyable and important pastime than as a source of income. As a result, my name has never been featured prominently, which suits my desire for privacy well. Over the years, I have developed a number of good friendships with other devotees of philosophy, some of whom are better known than others. That is the extent of my being an ‘insider in the profession’, as one commenter put it elsewhere.

My concern for the direction of the profession stems from a conviction I have always had that the discipline must be a bastion of free and open debate, and that philosophy must serve society by introducing college students to the practice of rigorous thinking and impartial investigation even when it is uncomfortable to them to do so (no ‘sacred cows’, as the masthead of this blog reads). Owing to some recent developments in the profession, I have tended to dwell considerably in these little posts on disturbing (to me) aspects of these changes that I have not seen discussed anywhere else and that seem to me to threaten the desirable aspects of the discipline while failing (as I see it) to achieve the positive goals they are apparently meant to pursue, all the while putting philosophy departments under the increasing powers of administrators, as in the Colorado case. But it was never my intention for this blog to be as devoted to questions of sexual harassment and sexism as I have allowed it to become, and I look forward to broadening the scope of the blog soon.

I hope readers will forgive me for not saying more to satisfy those who wish to track down my personal details. I think recent developments have underscored the likely consequences of my doing so. I will therefore not respond to questions or comments in that direction. Thanks to all of you for your support of this little project of mine.

On Amy Ferrer, the APA, and the Colorado site visit

Amy Ferrer is not a philosopher (she has a BA in Women’s Studies and a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration and appears to have a history of advocacy on social issues rather than of academic work), but she has served as Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association since 2012.

On December 4th, 2012, shortly after taking on her leadership role at the APA, she had the following to say on Leiter Reports: “Improving the climate for women and LGBT people in philosophy also means addressing the very serious problem of sexual harassment. The APA board of officers has recently charged an ad hoc committee on sexual harassment to focus specifically on this issue, and we strongly encourage individual departments to investigate and address sexual harassment as it affects them. One excellent resource for departments will be the APA Committee on the Status of Women’s forthcoming site visit program Continue reading

How the site visit team was invited to Colorado: the scoop from Professor Tooley

Michael Tooley’s insider’s look at the site visit team’s stint at Colorado has provoked some good discussions, but it has also left some questions unanswered. Two in particular have appeared repeatedly in online comments:

1) ‘If the department didn’t have a rampant sexual harassment problem, then why was the site visit team sent or invited in?’

2) ‘If there was sexual harassment going on in the department, then anyone working there who didn’t work to resolve the situation before the site visit is guilty of enabling it… right?’

Professor Tooley has kindly answered these questions for me by supplying some background details, and he has permitted me to publish some of those details here. It seems that virtually all the department members were unaware of any problems in the department up to the point when the provost had a rather intense meeting with some department members on the subject. I note that this is the same provost who made headlines only a few months ago for Continue reading

Forum: Developments in the Ludlow case

Sorry for the delays in the breaking news on Professor Tooley, everyone. My computer’s been in the repair shop and I’ve had to devote my limited access to other activities. Tooley has now signed off on my wording of some background facts he disclosed to me, and I should have that post up in a few days’ time, at most.

In the meantime: what does everyone think of Ludlow’s Answers against his accuser and the student protests of his courses? The forum is open.