Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September Enabler

206 comments:

  1. A piece debunking the heavily massaged statistics used by 'feminists' to introduce censorship and grab whatever spoils they can in UK universities:

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/09/why-is-the-government-taking-the-nuss-lad-culture-survey-seriously/

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    1. All I can say is that Matt Damon is speaking for us all when he talk about diversity. It is fine to consider it in casting NOT in directing. I thought he sounded like a genius and that this was directly supportive of the idea here: have diverse classrooms, do NOT hire for diversity.

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    2. Yes: that is a mildly amusing comparison.

      No: Matt Damon does not speak for all of us on this or on any other matter. Only Donald Trump can do that.

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    3. Team No Diversity! Team No Diversity!*

      *in hiring. Fine with it otherwise.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. New Consensus karma.

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    2. pretty little girls campSeptember 15, 2015 at 9:47 PM

      Wait, ambiguous.
      Most successful philosopher who fucks students, or philosopher who most successfully fucks students?

      (Possible reading but far less plausible in this context: philosopher who fucks most successful students.)

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    3. One and the same.

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    4. You're missing so many other possible disambiguations.

      Perhaps 12:55 PM is talking about the most successful student who is also a fucker.

      Or perhaps 12:55 PM is talking about said women succeeding the aforementioned student fucker (or is it the student who is also a fucker?) in his success at student fucking (or is it his success at being a student while also being a fucker?).

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    5. Please stop. These kinds of rumors actually make it more awkward and stressful to be a female student. Also, 1:47, your camp sounds creepy and potentially against the law. :/

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    6. pretty little girls campSeptember 16, 2015 at 2:46 PM

      I don't think I can get those readings, 2:07.

      FemaleStudent: take it up with Noam Chomsky. My pseudonym is his example of this kind of syntactic ambiguity.

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    7. Really? Damn. That's what I get for not knowing Chompsky. But there's a similar ambiguity in a Jethro Tull song.

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    8. Why do I keep getting the feeling that this blog is infested by people who don't care about philosophy? (There are plenty who do, mind you, but I think there some troll-like creatures as well.)

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    9. Agree, 10:52. Lots of people here who seem to care about politics, especially "cultural politics".

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    10. It's possible to care about philosophical problems and also be really frustrated with various aspects of the culture of academic philosophy.

      But I agree that there is a difference between caring about philosophical problems and caring about [usually worrying and complaining about] the culture of academic philosophy. Compare the following two types of lives:

      Existence-A: S only cares about philosophical problems and those parts of S's life that have nothing to do with the culture of academic philosophy.

      Existence-B: S cares more about the culture of academic philosophy than philosophical problems.

      I think Existence-A is a much more pleasant existence than Existence-B. But I think that people can fall into lives like Existence-B even if they'd much rather lead lives like Existence-A.

      If your life is like A now, was there ever a time when it was like B? And if so, how did you get out of B into A?

      It's a genuine question. I like to think there was a time when I had an A life. Whether or not that's true, it's now a lot closer to B than I'd like, so I'm genuinely asking for some useful advice if you have some.

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    11. I've always been in Camp A so I can't exactly answer the question, but, anyway here's a list of things that have helped me remain there:

      (1) Luck (I have never been a member of an exceptionally dysfunctional department and I have never had to adjunct).

      (2) Thick Skin (I tend not to attribute my failings to others or to a conspiracy and when people aren't nice to me I largely ignore them).

      (3) A sense of humor (as much as I dislike the new consensus, I laugh at them--PENMA, anyone?--more often than I curse them).

      (4) Little need for external validation (impressing people and getting professional gold stars is not very important to me)

      (5) Having a life outside academia (this goes hand and hand with (4) above...I have been active in both a music subculture and a sporting subculture since since my youth...as a result I have friends who aren't philosophers, regular activities that don't involve spending time with philosophers, etc. I can't stress how important this has been to helping me survive grad school and the job market with out getting burned out on philosophy. The music subculture also introduced me to PC political types at such a young age that by the time I entered academia I knew how to deal with them.)

      All of this is a long-winded way of saying...just do you!, 1:31. You don't need to save philosophy from philosophers. Just work on the problems you care about, make room for other parts of life, and tell the rest to fuck off. Perhaps it's easier said than done, but I did mention the role luck in all this, didn't I?

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    12. Take it from this old fart: Lysias' #4 and #5 are sound nuggets of advice. Disregard them at your own risk, young philosophers!

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    13. Yeah- the part about not needing to save philosophy from philosophers was especially helpful. Thanks!

      The thick skin part is useful too. Except one thing I've learned is that sometimes philosophers are genuinely douchey, petty, and lack confidence in their own convictions. And as a result, they can gang up on each other. It looks like finally, everything is cool now, but I have been on the receiving end of that stuff- and when you're far away from your family and friends, that's really hard.

      I dunno. I'm probably recovering from camp B at this point... But I think it's a place people fall and it's not always only their own fault.

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    14. I looked up the 'pretty little girls' camp' example because it creeped me out too, but I didn't say so earlier.......it was originally from Quine not Chomsky. What the hell?

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    15. pretty little girls campSeptember 18, 2015 at 7:44 PM

      Hey, that's right. Thanks for the correction! That was lazy of me.

      (But why "What the hell?"?)

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    16. "What the hell?" = trying to figure out why Quine came up with such an atypical example. All interpretations of 'pretty little girls' camp' are creepy. To me, anyway.

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    17. Huh. Not to me.
      Would anything involving little girls be creepy?

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    18. Angry little girls aren't as creepy as pretty little girls.... Well, "angry little girls club," isn't as creepy as "pretty little girls club." But why not just go with, "big grey puppy litter"? It's got the same syntactic ambiguity, but makes everyone happy for non creepy reasons.

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    19. First, it's ungrammatical. Second, shut the fuck up.

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    20. pretty little girls campSeptember 19, 2015 at 7:19 PM

      No, Female, it doesn't have all the same readings. Sorry. (Maybe you missed some?)

      Anyway, not one of the readings of "pretty little girls camp" strikes me as creepy. In fact, it seems a little weird that you find them creepy.

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    21. Okay, "big grey dogs litter." Happy now? HAPPY NOW!?

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    22. How is that ambiguous? You're the one who's unhappy with a perfectly perspicuous example because - I mean - God fucking knows why. Every conversation you ever have with someone about something like this, about whether some thought experiment offends you or is "creepy" or whatever, you are literally wasting their time. Think about that: Our time on Earth is limited, and you are sucking theirs away when you talk about something so stupid. Like a fucking vampire.

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    23. (1) a litter of grey dogs, which has more puppies than average.
      (2) a normal sized litter of big grey dogs.
      (3) a litter that belongs to grey dogs. (Maybe both parents were grey dogs? But I guess a sentence that expresses (3) would have punctuation that indicates that the big grey dogs possess the litter.....)

      Whatever, "pretty little girls" is creepy for obvious reasons. Wouldn't want to waste your time spelling them out.

      In other news, can't we all just get along? Have a nice day, 4:25.

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    24. pretty little girls campSeptember 20, 2015 at 1:02 AM

      No, it's still missing an ambiguity. In the original, the camp could be what's pretty or the girls could be; and also for 'little', it could be the girls or the camp. But in yours there's no difference for 'grey'. (I'm also not exactly confident that "puppies litter" is really English -- wouldn't it be "puppy litter"?)
      Anyway, it is not obvious to me why "pretty little girls" is creepy, but I'm also not particularly interested so don't bother explaining unless you feel like it.

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    25. Same Female, Yet AgainSeptember 20, 2015 at 1:30 AM

      Okay, cool. Thanks PLGC. I guess I'd rather go with "noisy big dog litter" then because the villain in an SVU episode might be thinking about girls who are pretty and little in a way they wouldn't think about dogs who are big and noisy. You'll probably want to respond by saying something about animal abusers having abusive thoughts about big noisy dogs to show that we can't ever get around being offensive. Maybe. Whatever. I guess I'd say, fine you're right. Let's go with, "tiny little atomic particles." Maybe it doesn't get the force of the ambiguity. So let's go with, "noisy new musician band." Whatever, I guess I just think that if you can get around alienating examples (more ambiguity, but I meant "examples that are alienating"), you should.

      It's not that big of a deal. I'm not going to suggest we ban Quine, Chompsky, or the literature which engages with this example, except all of your papers PLGC, because now I hate you. That was a joke. I don't hate you. You're cool.

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    26. "Noisy new musician band" is nothing like "pretty little girls camp". You are literally bad at this. Please get better before you waste any more of our, and your, time.

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    27. When you say someone's assertion of or use of a phrase is "creepy", you a trying to claim something about their mental states, lying behind their assertion of, or use of, the phrase. However, really you are only describing your own emotional response. The sentence or phrase is not usually intrinsically "creepy", unless you have a truly bizarre concept of such adjectives. That is not how language works. A phrase could be used as a joke, or innocently, and for a thousand and one different reasons. As the cliche goes, context is everything when it comes to speech acts. So, to justify your point, you need to explain how to get from the phrase to the mental state. But it's extremely difficult to get to the mental state - it's merely an assumption, and you filled in the context with your own assumptions.

      This is a common error. Contrary to Wittgenstein, you do not possess X-ray vision into the private contents of other people's minds. You only have a range of cues, along with your own background default assumptions and stereotypes - all of them defeasible in the light of future evidence.

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    28. SFYA please STFU.

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    29. Yeah, 5:52. I think it's okay to say I'm talking about my own emotional response. People's emotional responses are the things to care about when considering between two otherwise equivalent examples.

      And no X-Ray mind-reading is required here. All we need is some believable testimony I think. Whatever. Like I said. I'm not that worried. And NTTR, you can take that to YouTube or Tumblr, or one of the gazillion other places on the Internet where strangers (from various middle schools or jeuvenile hall or wherever) insult each other with variations on the "stfu" theme.

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    30. Well, a racist has a negative emotional response to a black person. Does that make it ok, or right?

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    31. Ewe, a gross girl that's gross.September 20, 2015 at 3:25 AM

      No. Being racist is unequivocally bad. But we can care about emotional reactions without giving all of them equal weight or some of them any weight at all. I guess the ones we should care about would be the ones that are a symptom of some sort of oppression. I know putting things in terms of oppression isn't always a popular way to go around here. But that seems like the right thing to say because people who care about the content of examples care about oppression. I don't know how to make someone care about emotional responses in the first place though.

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    32. A black person causes a negative emotional response in a white person. The white person has been "harmed", and so the black person's action is wrong. Right?

      And "oppression" is when, for example, a woman is decapitated for being a witch or publicly stoned to death for being unchaste.

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    33. Yeah, I get the parody of reasoning there. But it's not too controversial to say that there are ways to figure out when an emotional response is a harm and when it isn't. I dunno. Just putting things out there for consideration.

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    34. To be honest, it seems to be extremely controversial ... and talk of oppression doesn't help. There is class oppression, yes; and there is some racial oppression. There is virtually no gender oppression in the advanced democracies (and what there is, in hiring, seems to be anti-male), which is why we hear about it all the time. Maybe people just want to obsess about sex all the time, instead of talking about serious political matters - freedom, equality, poverty, racism, human rights and tyranny.

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    35. There are all three of those sorts of oppression. And of course there is gender oppression. It just might be concentrated in areas not highly represented in academic philosophy. That is, gender oppression is probably a lot more common outside of the rich white lady sphere. I dunno. It will take a while to sort out, but we need to keep trying.

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    36. Then the rich white ladies should drop the histrionics over their creepy feelings about, for instance, a little girls camp as an example. They look like idiots.

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    37. You forgot to add the doxx/legal/death threat, 1:21 AM.

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    38. FO we are all insulted by the idiocy of SFYA, but sure call me out for getting tired of her mindlessness.

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  3. Question: how many full professors have an h-index of 5?

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  4. I was reading the thread about psychology when I saw that someone (http://philosophymetametablog.blogspot.com/2015/09/september-slumber.html?showComment=1442171541311#c6805084005278776313) attributed a mistake to me about the way in which I analyzed CDJ's data on Daily Nous.

    Here is the comment in question: "I'm not 11:41. Here's an example of a faulty understanding of statistical reasoning. Philippe Lemoine, who is on the side of the angels in the discussion of the CDJ data and anti-male gender bias in hiring, said during the recent DN comments, that he had analysed the significance using a t-test. However, a (two-sample) t-test should only be used to test the significance between two normally distributed populations. And, in this case, the publication distributions of male and female candidates are not normally distributed. It seems to be a Poisson process."

    My understanding of statistics may be faulty, but I don't think the way in which I used Student's t-test to analyze CDJ's data shows that. Student's t-test is based on a theorem which says that T = Z/(sqrt(Q/v)), where Z follows a normal distribution with a mean of 0 and a variance of 1 and Q follows a chi-squared distribution with v degrees of freedom, follows Student's t-distribution.

    Let z = ([X] - m)/(s/sqrt(n)) and q = (n - 1)[s]^2/s^2, where [X] is the sample mean, m is the population mean, [s] is the sample variance, s the population variance and n the size of the sample. In that case, from the theorem I mentioned above, it follows that t = z/(sqrt(q/v)) follows a Student's t-distribution provided that (1) z is normally distributed with mean 0 and variance 1 and that (2) q follows a chi-squared distribution with v degrees of freedom.

    Both (1) and (2) can be shown to be exactly true if X follows a normal distribution, but they are often approximately true *even when that isn't the case*. Indeed, the central limit theorem guarantees that, as long as n is large enough, (1) will be true to a very good approximation. Things are a not so clear with (2), but it can be nevertheless be shown that, as long as n is large enough, Student's t-test is reliable even when X does *not* follow a normal distribution.

    So, as long as the sample is large enough, one is justified in using Student's t-test to test hypotheses about the mean of the population from which it was drawn. You can show by essentially the same argument that one is justified in using Student's t-test in order to test hypotheses about the difference between the means of 2 populations from which 2 independent samples were drawn. It is simply *not* true that Student's t-test can only be used with samples that are drawn from a population which is normally distributed.

    So I don't think it was a mistake to use Student's t-test on CDJ's data in order to test hypotheses about the difference between the mean number of publications for men and that for women. Indeed, the samples were more than large enough to guarantee the reliability of the test I used, even though there is little doubt that the number of publications — be it for men or for women — is *not* normally distributed.

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    1. Thanks - I made that comment, having thought about whether t-test is justified here, and concluded it wasn't, because the samples are so far off normally distributed. But your reasoning in the three paragraphs sounds right - you've convinced me. So I withdraw it. And kudos to you for being brave enough to discuss these data, and their significance for the relevant debates.

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    2. This exchange has definitely convinced me of the truth of what you were saying, 3:56, that insufficient expertise in statistical reasoning causes philosophers to talk out of their asses sometimes...

      just kidding. I enjoyed it and will reread this later when I have more mental energy.

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    3. Using the data from CDJ 2012/2013 spreadsheet, the means are 1.45 (males) and 0.81 (females). A 2-tailed paired t-test gives p = 0.014. The t-test for the data with more than 5 pubs removed gives p = 0.018.

      The publication outperformance by males over females amongst hired candidates is statistically significant; this remains so even if one removes the subsample of highest performers.

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  5. I don't want to name names and I don't want others to either (please). But does anyone else get a little suspicious when a person publishes an article in a journal that's either run out of their department or out of their PhD-granting department not long after they've graduated? I can't help but roll my eyes, even though I recognize that the papers may nevertheless be very good.

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    1. At my graduate department, it was an open secret that if you had a good paper, you could send it to one of the journals run out of the department where it would receive a very favorable reception. The editor and editorial assistants would see to that. Though no one would ever put it this explicitly, going through the process was seen as an unofficial part of our job-placement operation. Many of my cohort took advantage and with good success, but it has never sat well with me. Gives me the same queasy feeling as when a colleague says "hey, so-and-so is a woman on the market this year, so we've got to offer her an interview". Basically, otherwise excellent work suffers from a cloud of suspicion when its "enhanced" through professional networks and identity politics.

      I know the line about identity politics will turn off some readers here who would otherwise cheer at my anti-nepotism rant, but that's what I think. Thank buddha for anonymous posting so I can air the thought without fear of blowback.

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    2. I get the sense that a lot of publishing is like that. But I haven't even tried to publish yet... So what do I know?

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    3. I think that's right, 8:13. Once you've been around for a few years, you'll know every editor and eligible referee in your field. And they'll know you. Hopefully you'll all be friends. Once you've built up that good will, your chances of publication increase dramatically. You still have to write good papers. But in those borderline cases, you get the benefit of the doubt, and that can make all the difference in the world. That's my experience, at least.

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    4. Yeah.... I don't know how I feel about that though, 8:17. I've already been given opportunities just because people liked me for some reason. Maybe I shouldn't complain, but it felt kinda empty. It certainly wasn't motivating. I just hate politics- whether they're working for me or against me.

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    5. Maybe politics are unavoidable. I don't know. There's probably a philosophical literature on this. But I haven't checked it out yet. Brb.

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    6. Yeah, very suspicious. I've had friends who worked with someone who edits a few very top end journals say that they could publish work in these journals that wasn't getting acceptances elsewhere. It's sort of obvious and shocking if you work in my area.

      I've also seen his former graduate students try to defend the record and it's really embarrassing. It's particularly embarrassing when these people publish about 40% of their journal articles in outlets run by former advisors and former alums of the same advisor.

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    7. If you're talking about the journals I think you are, 10:57, 7:45, and 7:19, I think that has changed or is in the process of changing. People notice this shit and talk about it. The appearance of nepotism is thought to have harmed the job prospects for one or more candidates, to the point that the editor will no longer be pulling strings for his or her former students.

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    8. I hope that's right, 11:13, but I just saw a recent sign of it just a few weeks ago. Perhaps the best way to change is for the editor to release some control (e.g., pass the work of former students to another editor to handle or edit fewer journals). Maybe we should spread the nepotism around a little.

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    9. If professional power were less concentrated (across departments, journals, editors etc.), I would be much less concerned. In the actual world, though, there are major centres of power where all of those factors converge, with predictable results. Therefore, "Hear! Hear!" for spreading the nepotism around a little.

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  6. Our profession is rife with student-shtuppers. What do we do about it? Naming and shaming isn't likely to work, and I don't blame the PMMB mods for deleting posts with specific names and allegations. But I thirst for justice here! I know of more than a few (senior, famous, successful) serial student-shtuppers who got away with it without any professional damage at all, basically, by marrying the last student they were shtupping. As if marrying a former student makes it all OK.

    It's really gross, and even more gross to see these people parading for diversity.

    So, ideas about bringing some justice to the world? Must we resort to internet mobs and vigilantism (a la the Thought Catalog woman)? Or are there other ways of getting justice?

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    1. I'm dying for names here, especially if they're philosophers in my area.

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    2. I understand and share your curiosity, 7:50, but we should really resist it. Internet mob justice is wrong. We can do better than the noetikas and Philodarias of this world.

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    3. One senior philosopher in one of my fields is extraordinarily well-regarded. Not just as a philosopher, but as a saint of sorts. He's thought of as kind, pious, and wise, like everyone's fucking favorite uncle. The consensus is wrong, though, and I know this up close and personal. He's more like the creepy uncle who gets tipsy at Thanksgiving and gropes the children. An experienced sexual harasser. A heartless, manipulative bastard who carefully grooms his victims. Every time he gets affectionately mentioned, praised, or cited -- and this happens rather often by those who know him -- my stomach churns a little. But I dare not say a word about him by name, since I don't want to get sued or have him spread damaging rumors (something he's threatened to do).

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    4. 8:03 here again. I should add: I feel your thirst for justice, 7:23, and I, too, would like to see other avenues of finding justice for this kind of shit. Right now, though, it seems that silence (and not vigilantism) is the best policy for victims, and that is a very very sad state of affairs. I should also add that the cases I have in mind (sexual harassment and assault) may be importantly different from the cases you're thinking of (professors having consensual sexual relations with students).

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    5. Yeah, but to make a habit of dating people who look up to you and need your approval is kinda cheap. I'm not thinking of any particular individuals here, so this isn't a passive aggressive dig. It's more of a general remark about annoying but all too common human behaviors.

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    6. I could point to one and that could be essential to this discussion, but I guess the person I have in mind would not like it.

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    7. I wouldn't like it either. And I'm definitely not that person.

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    8. Yeah these cases are really different. Nothing necessarily wrong with shtupping students with their consent, but grooming and assault is another thing entirely.

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    9. 8:03, if he got creepy with you and you want to tell people, then go ahead and tell people. You don't have to keep other people's mistakes a secret if it hurts you to do that. But if you just heard something, then that's not enough to go on. If something happened to a friend of yours, then it's that person's story to tell, not yours.

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    10. Chiming in here to agree with 10:33. A tough call, but you're right. I know a philosopher who has done some pretty terrible sexual things (possibly illegal) to at least two friends who were his graduate students, but I believe that blowing the whistle is a call for them to make, not me.

      8:03, if you're a victim, I suggest you get in touch with an APA representative to see what your reporting options are. You don't have to stew in silence.

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    11. If he threatened to spread rumors about you to keep you quiet, that's really very bad. But if the abuse is serial, other people will speak up, or at least ought to.

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    12. Philosophers who fuck students don't make me angry, they just make me sad for them. How pathetic is it that you have to go after someone twenty years younger just to get some? Let's have a moment of silence for sad sad student-schtupping philosophers who have ruined their lives and reputations all for some strange.

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    13. The APA is one way to go. And I know people like to say you're doing a service to the profession by making official reports like this. In my experience with uncomfortable creepiness, I find I feel better if I tell some people what happened sometimes. I never experienced anything quite as extreme as, say the McGinn case- and certainly nothing like the Ludlow case or even the Thought Catalog case, and making something official with the APA wouldn't help me, and it wouldn't be appropriate or worth it. I'm just saying this to say that when a person in a position of authority gets creepy with you, you should feel free to deal with it however you see fit. Maybe that involves the APA, maybe it doesn't. It's up to you, not wills of yet more authority figures.

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    14. 11:24, I don't think most men "have to" go after someone twenty years younger. It is much more likely to "have to" go after someone one's own age. Let's be realistic about the contours of male desire.

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    15. Yeah, but older people are much harder to impress. So there's that.

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    16. Even more reason not to go after them.

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    17. Yeah- that's what 11:24 was pitying I think. Personally, I'm a huge fan of partnering with someone your own age because I think there's something really valuable about partnerships between equals. But not everyone agrees.

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    18. Age doesn't render a partnership unequal. Graduate students are adults. If anything, their youth, energy, learning speed, and so on give them the advantage over the older partner. Of course, one participant being the other's professor does, or at least often could, render a partnership unequal. But this is not really in virtue of age.

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    19. Yeah. That's probably right. I guess age is an indicator that a partnership is more or less likely to be equal.

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    20. We can do better than the noetikas and Philodarias of this world.

      Nice. We already know that Philodaria is Kathryn Pogin. Who is noetika? Lauren Leydon-Hardy? Or Pogin's new pseudonym?

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    21. "Personally, I'm a huge fan of partnering with someone your own age because I think there's something really valuable about partnerships between equals."

      Among the things my ex fiance said when chucking me out was that I'd be a real catch for a 19 year old. I honestly think she meant it. She made at least three times what I did, I had no investments or retirement account, and an unstable job situation. I had spent years locked away in libraries studying esoteric subjects in the bubble of graduate student life. I didn't meet many women my age who saw me as an equal. Our experiences after college had been too different and there were all sorts of things about me that made it difficult for her to include me in her social circle. I have a better job now and have spent some years dealing with the kind of shit that helps you relate to actual working adults, but I can see why the first few years after grad school none of the women my age were remotely interested in any mid- to long-term relationship. I was the mildly eccentric guy you'd sleep with between serious relationships with real adults who had stable jobs and economic security. If I ranked my relationships from healthiest to least healthy since finishing graduate school, I'd have to say that the healthiest ones were the ones where I dated younger. (Granted, when I was in my late 20s early 30s, I wasn't sleeping with 19 year olds, but I think age doesn't quite have the significance some people take it to. I agree that there are good reasons for not sleeping with your students, but I don't think age is the crucial factor here.)

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    22. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/09/have-age-gaps-in-romance-become-more-feasible-more-desirable.html

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    23. Yeah..... My partner didn't go to college. But one of several things we do have in common is that we've been on this planet for roughly the same amount of time give or take a year or two.

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    24. 10:33, experienced sexual harassers are often great at not leaving behind evidence, and "he say she say" cases usually cause more problems than they are worth

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    25. I'm with 7:41. I decided to transfer graduate programs because I didn't want to deal with the fallout of filing a complaint against a well-known, senior serial student schtupper. I would blow the whistle but I'm afraid that no one else will speak up and then I'll look like an idiot.

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    26. These claims, 7:41 and 7:55, are of course fabrications, as you both know.

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    27. Wait, testimony is evidence -- highly defeasible evidence but still evidence.

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    28. I don't understand, 7:57. Which claims are fabrications? Are you saying that 7:55 did not transfer graduate programs? Or that experienced harassers aren't good at leaving no evidence? How would you even know the former? And why would you doubt the latter? I would think that experienced harassers (like experienced criminals of any kind) would have developed skill at getting away with what they do. Otherwise they wouldn't be so experienced!

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    29. There are no "experienced harassers". This is an inflammatory fabrication.

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    30. Well, 8:26.

      Once when I was a very junior faculty member, a senior well established faculty member grabbed me and kissed me when I returned a book. I said "there must be some mistake, I did not mean to send out any signals". I didn't tell anyone, just avoided him.

      About a decade later, I heard from someone in his department that he had harassed an undergrad with a very harmful outcome for the undergrad. His department got rid of him. I am not quite sure how, but they so arranged things that he ceased teaching there. This happened about 10 or 15 years ago.

      There certainly are "experienced harassers".

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    31. You were kissed? Well, good for you. This has nothing to do with "signals" - please learn what reality is like. Men sometimes kiss women they fancy, and this is normal. Sometimes women do the same. The rest of the story is made-up in the same way.

      Delete
    32. If you are saying that some women, routinely chasing men, are "experienced harassers", then that is not what the word means. Some people are more, and some people are less, sexually forward. That is all. No, there aren't "experienced harassers". It is a fabrication. Of course, there are "experienced feminist propagandists".

      Delete
    33. I was a frequent target of student-schtupping in grad school: two professors in two different departments, as well as an assistant dean.

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    34. Well, good for you. Someone wants to date you. You dislike reality? Grow up.

      Delete
    35. You're aware that female students do precisely the same, 2:49. But you wish to slut-shame them. Why? How do you think females feel when they've been slut-shamed by people like you?

      Delete
    36. I intentionally stated my comment as I did so that I could enjoy one of life's little pleasures: getting a hearty laugh out of dumbasses who make assumptions based on nothing. And oh boy, I wasn't let down.

      I'm a man. They succeeded in their student-schtupping efforts. And believe me, I'm not complaining at all.

      Delete
    37. You're endorsing sluttism, 2:49.

      Delete
    38. You're damn right I am.

      Delete
    39. Holy shit.
      This whole thread is just moaning, "LOSER".
      Men sometimes kiss women they fancy... Yes, good strategy, dude! Lady's man!

      Prove you're not a robot. Select every comment with a fucking douche bag.

      Delete
    40. Females kiss men they fancy; according to 2:49, sometimes do a teeny bit more. Is that a "strategy"? Of course it isn't. You talk like some kind of paranoid 15 year old loon. Just grow the fuck up.

      Delete
    41. Yeah, that's the ticket. It wasn't a strategy. You just kinda felt the urge, so you went ahead and kissed her! You are so spontaneous!
      And if she reacted badly, her problem, not yours. Def.

      Delete
  7. "It's really gross,"

    Disgust is the wrong basis for morally condemning someone, and certainly for inciting a mob to condemn them. If a legal wrong has been committed (vide 807's comment, which is recognized by her as potentially distinct from yours), then seek a legal redress of grievances. But do not let your knee-jerk disgust of the sexual proclivities of others lead you to incite mob justice.

    It is sad that we need to have this conversation in the 21st century among the educated elite.

    Signed, grad student who has never shtupped a faculty member.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who are you talking to?

      Delete
    2. Here's another random thought: Stand by Me is a very good movie about white boys. I had a hard time watching only boys do all the cool things because nothing quite makes me angrier than that. But I made myself keep watching it. And it was pretty good. Goodnight. Congrats on not doing it with faculty I guess. :/

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    3. Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!!!11!1!

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    4. Oh yeah. Good point, 9:07.

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    5. Rightbackatcha 9:02.

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    6. The best thing to do with thatkid is let her be. She's a whirlwind of non sequitur and stream of consciousness. But she's one of the better metabros (metasisters?).

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    7. Lol. True. Thanks. Later bros.

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  8. Don't Have Sex With Robots, Say Ethicists

    The ethicists in question are "Kathleen Richardson of De Montfort University and Erik Billing from University of Skövde" (trained, respectively, in anthropology and computing science). Their analysis strikes me as pretty shallow and philosophically uninformed. So I wonder what philosophically-trained ethicists would say about this -- perhaps this is a ripe opportunity for Daily Nous to do another of their much-loved philosophy panels!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sex-negative feminists always seem to think that extra sexual outlets will make men treat them worse - pornography, prostitutes, now sex robots - but at the same time, they seem convinced that sexual attention from men hurts them. How can these viewpoints be reconciled?

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    2. Sex-negativity could aptly explain both attitudes, no? If sex is, basically, bad (or at any rate, not so good), then sexual outlets of any kind are bad (or at any rate, not so good). So disapprobation of sexual outlets -- flirting, sexual advances IRL, sex robots, prostitutes -- would be a natural consequence.

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    3. Prostitution and sex robots have this in common: they introduce transparent market mechanisms with respect to -- and thus put a price on -- sexual pleasure. Or better, a monetary price. There has always been a price on sexual pleasure (for example: "You can't have it, unless you are in an opposite-sex marriage and perform all the duties that accompany the post" -- a very high price). But sex robots and prostitutes put a price to sex in the form of one simple number -- a dollar amount.

      So here's your critical thinking question of the morning: who stands to gain, and who stands to lose, from sexual pleasure having a transparent price attached? Who stands to gain, and who stands to lose from keeping that price hidden and wrapped up in moral language?

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    4. Masturbation is free, bro.

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    5. Not according to sex-negative moral systems. Standard Catholic ethics teaches, for example, that one price of masturbation is violating the natural law. It's prices governed by markets that prostitution brings into the equation.

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    6. Sex-negative feminists should do more research.

      "You would expect rape to skyrocket. There are more guys watching more porn more often. But, in fact, rape has gone down in America. Also, in Japan in the mid-’90s, they loosened their obscenity laws. Now rape is down there too. It certainly seems to be case that more access to porn is associated with less rape. Rather than making people want to go out and rape, it satisfies the urge."

      http://healthland.time.com/2011/05/19/mind-reading-the-researchers-who-analyzed-all-the-porn-on-the-internet/

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  9. I was treated poorly by the bloggers at NewAPPS back in the day. So it is not without a little schadenfreude that I observed this morning just how dead the blog is. Irregular posting. A few posts have one or two comments, but most have zero. Good riddance. Ironically, this might be the one and only time where the Balloon and I agree on something...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was never treated badly at NewApps, and I still enjoy their current moribundity.

      Delete
    2. But were you treated badly by those who are still posting there? Some of the ones well-known for disrespectful behavior have moved on and are still getting some attention.

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    3. Where are they getting attention? It would be useful to know so that I can avoid them.

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  10. Fires burning, people with no insurance losing their homes and all their possessions, lives lost, refugee children and adults turned away at borders, millions displaced by war.

    Extreme disconnect with what my fellow philosophers are talking about here and on the other blogs.

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    Replies
    1. Meanwhile you keep voting in favor of the military surveillance state of overcrowded prisons fed by racism, you know, that state that continues putting climate change issues on the back burner (so to speak). Like there's anything left to talk about or do other than change that situation.

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    2. Is this a poem?

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    3. Correction:

      Sort of.

      Yours,
      10:10

      And p.s. Don't fool yourself and think that much actual philosophy is done in the philosophy blogosphere. Some is done, but mostly it's not. In the case where philosophy is done, I do think that's conducive towards positive change in the world.

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  11. "Consider the Nietzschean Trolley Problem (apologies for anachronism): a runaway trolley is hurtling down the tracks towards Beethoven, before he has even written the Eroica symphony; by throwing a switch, you can divert the trolley so that it runs down five (or fifty) ordinary people, non-entities (say university professors of law or philosophy) of various stripes (“herd animals” in Nietzschean lingo), and Beethoven is saved. For the anti-egalitarian, this problem is not a problem: one should of course save a human genius at the expense of many mediocrities. To reason that way is, of course, to repudiate moral egalitarianism. Belief in an egalitarian God would thwart that line of reasoning; but absent that belief, what would?" (Leiter)

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  12. http://www.vox.com/2015/9/8/9261531/professor-quitting-job

    Thoughts?

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    Replies
    1. His pride in critical legal theory is telling. Notice point #1 (traditional teaching can't compete with the internet) seems to be in tension with #2 (online education doesn't work). Besides not being well thought out (see also the suggestion to abolish tenure), the piece doesn't really say much we haven't heard before. At best he hints at some personal trials, but not in an interesting or informative way (what "donors" are important to the career of a history professor?). He seems to lack self-awareness (I tend agree that if evals are too good you probably aren't doing your job & pandering to pop culture is fluff). In short, I hated it.

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    2. 6:03: Agreed! Nothing in the essay provides an adequate explanation for why he's quitting. His faith in academe was shattered by a kid watching a television show in his class? Really? My guess is that the guy either received an attractive private sector job offer or is going through a life crisis of some kind. This essay reads like an attempt to provide a rationalization for a choice made for reasons left unrevealed.

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  13. Leiter reports that Oxford's Ofra Magidor has been elected the new Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy. Just eight years on from DPhil. What work I've read seems ok but not that outstanding. What am I missing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please answer the question constructively, 7:44.

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    2. Gender and prestige.

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    3. Can you suggest a better candidate for comparison's sake?

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    4. Magidor has an h-index of 5, around associate professor level. She was promoted to Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, ahead of more highly qualified candidates, by a selection committee headed by feminist Rae Langton.

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    5. Her most cited paper, co-authored with Hawthorne, has 19 citations. Something just about appropriate for tenure at a minor R1. All hail the feminist power of the New Consensus.

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    6. Why are you so focused on a citation index, arguably even a stupid one? For starters, the best philosophy maybe isn't cited at all, for a fundamental lack of applicability or because it takes one to know one and there aren't that many really excellent philosophers and they certainly aren't all working on the same topic concurrently or within a few years after one another. Also, good publications are about more than topic, argumentation, and thesis: they are about magnificent style, language, and organization. They are about choosing the exact right words and sentences, and leaving out the ornaments a confused mind would include. Elegance, if you so like.

      Let's also not forget other dimensions such as the quality of your lectures, the way you write your textbooks/educational material, your character in dealing with students, attention to detail, and excellence in overall oral and written communication (e.g. by clarity, conciseness, sensitivity to the audience, and other factors).

      This leads to the following concluding analogy: an excellent philosophy professor is like the genius cook running a 3-star restaurant: it's about the whole experience, not just (but still, particularly) the food.

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    7. Rae Langton's abstracts for this year's Locke Lectures were nearly unintelligible.

      In the days shortly after they were released, I can remember numerous people saying, 'Did you read the Langton abstracts? What was she even trying to say?'. I kid you not, they read like a small child or some ESL student had written them. It was embarrassing.

      Also, Oxford hiring practices are, from what I have been able to gather in my time here anyway, often an absolute shit show.

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    8. The runner up candidate was Hannes Leitgeb.

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    9. I don't believe that. Leitgeb has a Carnapian outlook. Putting someone like this on a chair for metaphysics would be ridiculous, especially if the other bigshot is Williamson. Leitgeb is great, no doubt, but he does not fit the profile. Also, Munich does everything for Leitgeb and his mathematical philosophy: They have two Humboldt-Professorships which come with huge endowments and freedoms, Austria is close and his children have access to German language schools. I would believe you if you said Chalmers, Sider or Schaffer, but Leitgeb? That's like electing Dennett as successor of Leftow!

      Delete
    10. That is speculation, 8:55. I am not 7:40. But I can confirm what 7:40 said.

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    11. 8:55 here! Where did I speculate?

      Delete
    12. Reading is not your strong suit, is it?

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    13. This wouldn't be so surprising, 9:26 PM, if this person is anything like the journal referees I keep getting.

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    14. Interesting comparison with another Waynflete chair. Ben Green, he of the Green-Tao Theorem (look it up!), who got the Waynflete Pure Maths chair a couple of years ago. Those in the know say indisputably world-class star, Oxford really fortunate to get him, a great catch, etc. etc. Rather getting the impression that people perhaps don't think that Oxford philosophers have done quite so well.

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    15. I wonder if mathematicians are willing to settle for a lot less money and more teaching than philosophers are. Interesting.

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    16. Sorry, to be clearer: Oxford philosophy had one of the world's foremost metaphysicians in its Waynflete chair, but he left for greener pastures. (I presume it was money and light teaching, and not just climate!)

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    17. LA has nice weather.

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    18. Uh, yeah.
      That's why I wrote, "... and not just climate!"

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    19. Big nasty redhead at my side.

      Delete
    20. And LA is the best place to go if you need to get some good old-fashioned student-schtupping done.

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    21. 10:37, would you knock it the fuck off?

      Delete
  14. Assuming that you are not joking, why would a philosopher who does not work in metaphysics head the committee in this case? And who were the other allegedly better suited candidates?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Josh Parsons was one. H-index 12:

      https://scholar.google.nl/citations?user=-aB06TQAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao

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    2. He's a 2001 PhD, Magidor is a 2007 PhD, but still.

      Delete
    3. Supposing that the only qualifications are working in M&E and having a British (preferably Oxbridge) degree, why not Herman Cappelen? H-index of 19.

      But seriously, this speculation is worthless unless we know that Magidor was the committee's first choice. Otherwise, it's possible that the committee offered the job to your favourite philosopher and they declined. As one of the most prestigious jobs in philosophy, the position isn't *especially* well paying. Oxford couldn't (or wouldn't afford to) match Sider's salary, for example. Hawthorne left for much higher pay.

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    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    6. You might want to look at his Monadic Truth, there you can read about it.

      Delete
  15. http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/sep/17/asian-child-sex-victims-suffer-more-than-white-children-court-rules

    And that is the reason multiculturalism has failed. We now explicitly accept that there are different societies within society and that each society has now its own state-sanctioned rules and laws.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. I wonder whether the judge's reasoning applies to the Rotterham rapists. Here's a genuine rape culture, and one abetted by British authorities who did not want to act for fear of being perceived as racist. But if it's all just part of their culture, then by this judge's reasoning...


      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/16/opinion/multiculturalism-and-rape-in-rotherham.html

      According to the official report published in August, there were an estimated 1,400 victims. And they were, in the main, poor and vulnerable white girls, while the great majority of perpetrators were men, mainly young men, from the town’s Pakistani community.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11057622/Rotherham-child-sexual-exploitation-Victims-raped-beaten-and-doused-in-petrol-if-they-threatened-to-tell.html

      In Rotherham the "majority" of known perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage, the report says, which led to police and council workers "tiptoeing" around the problem.

      In the council and the police there was a perception among staff that they should "downplay the ethnic dimensions of child sexual exploitation".

      Frontline staff became confused as to what they were supposed to say and do and what would be interpreted as "racist".

      Prof Jay adds: "From a political perspective, the approach of avoiding public discussion of the issues was ill judged."


      "Ill judged". Thank you so much Professor Jay. Have you considered writing for Feminist Philosophers? I hear they worry about rape culture.

      Not that this received much attention from the usual suspects. Hard to compete with the drama of Mattress Girl, I suppose. But then again, it's been pretty clear for a while that rape culture is a problem plaguing white women of privilege more than anyone else.

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    2. Shame on the judge for this, the emotional damage of child sex abuse does not depend on race. Punitive sentences should correct for the harm itself, not for the cultural response to those harms.

      Delete
    3. unrelated but here is a case of an absurd possibility where teenagers can be tried as adults for taking nude selfies of their minor selves. "it's for their own protection."

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/teens-nude-photos-penalties_55f07586e4b002d5c077a2ea

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    4. Claims of "emotional damage" are really empirical claims and have to investigated as such. It may be true in the case mentioned. However, in this case, the reasoning given by the judge was outrageous and illiberal - for the crucial causal factor in the emotional damage involved an abusive and misogynistic practice by the community involved - i.e., forced/arranged marriage.

      Regarding the more general point about differentiation of emotional damage: the scientific evidence supports the conclusion that the stress response of females to abuse and serious/sustained violence is higher than the stress response of males is. This is why, even despite good evidence for gender symmetry in IPV (i.e., males and female perpetrate about the same rate), rates of, for example, PTSD diagnosis in females is higher than it is in males.

      There is therefore evidence that women are more vulnerable to damage from conflict than men are. This is hardly a shocking discovery, as it accords with common sense. But it's worth adding that this is a biological sex difference, and not a cultural one.

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  16. I just realized that something I wrote above was a bit unclear/misleading: "Things are a not so clear with (2), but it can be nevertheless be shown that, as long as n is large enough, Student's t-test is reliable even when X does *not* follow a normal distribution."

    This suggests that, as long as n is large enough, (2) is approximately true and Student's t-test is therefore reliable. Actually, there are distributions for which (2) isn't approximately true even when n is large, which is what I meant when I said that things were more complicated with (2).

    My point is that, despite this problem, Student's t-test is known to be reliable — as long as n is large enough — for most distributions, even when they are not normal. Hopefully that's a little bit more clear/less misleading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right - the reason is that what is required for legitimacy of t-test is not normality of the background distribution, but normality of means of samples drawn from the distribution, and this is fine when sample sizes are not too small. A commenter on stackexchange explained it a few years ago:

      "Consider a large population from which you could take many different samples of a particular size. (In a particular study, you generally collect just one of these samples.) The t-test assumes that the means of the different samples are normally distributed; it does not assume that the population is normally distributed. By the central limit theorem, means of samples from a population with finite variance approach a normal distribution regardless of the distribution of the population. Rules of thumb say that the sample means are basically normally distributed as long as the sample size is at least 20 or 30. For a t-test to be valid on a sample of smaller size, the population distribution would have to be approximately normal. The t-test is invalid for small samples from non-normal distributions, but it is valid for large samples from non-normal distributions."

      Delete
    2. And, from the earlier comment, based on CDJ 2012/2013 data, the t-test for the difference of male/female publication means amongst those hired gives p = 0.014 (and p = 0.018 with top publishers cropped) - i.e., statistically significant evidence of anti-male gender bias in philosophy job hiring.

      Delete
    3. Actually, it's a little bit more complicated than what this guy on stackexchange explains, since in theory the central limit theorem alone doesn't guarantee the reliability of the test. I explained the theory behind Student's t-test in more details above.

      Delete
  17. Suppose that a philosopher did, by his or her own admission, "sleep around, all the way to the top", explicitly exchanging sexual favors for career advancement.

    How should one regard or speak of him or her? Is it impermissible to relate known facts about how he or she got to where she is? Is this a case where something might be true and known but impermissible to assert? Is noting that someone got a conference invitation in exchange for a sexual favor slut-shaming? Or are there positive duties to assert the known facts and to refrain from praising the philosopher?

    Let's keep this discussion purely abstract (no names, please).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course we should denounce this, or else the 'feminists' will have their cake and eat it. Yes I'm assuming it's mostly women who do this, simply because those are the prevalent dynamics.

      Delete
    2. Should one denounce particular philosophers, by name, who are known to have benefited from these kinds of exchanges? Only in private? In public? In a departmental hiring meeting?

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    3. No. It would be wrong to do any of this - despite any temptation, given the known hypocrisies. Unlike the FP/DN crowd, PMMB commenters should be above this, and respect the autonomy and privacy of others in their private lives. When the lecture or seminar is over, the rest is private, and is not a matter for 'feminist' abuse and intrusion. The fact that 'feminists' have behaved appallingly, distributing lies and false allegations intended to make people suffer, in recent years is no reason to emulate their misconduct.

      Of course people should be free to sleep around, if they wish to; and do so without threat of some kind of moralistic retribution.

      Delete
    4. Your reasons for saying it would be wrong to report sex-for-career-advancement, 7:55, involve autonomy and privacy. I agree that sex is a private matter. But it can become a public matter (at least in part), and exchanging sex for career advancement seems like a great example of a situation where it becomes (at least in part) a public matter. Many professional games are zero sum, so when so-and-so gets ahead by using sex, someone else is not able to do so. This "external" effect makes the exchange public, or at least subject to legitimate public scrutiny.

      Of course, if the charge really is just "lies" and "false allegations", then the above argument wouldn't apply. But on the assumption that someone is *known* to have exchanged sex for advancement, the above argument has some force.

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    5. 7:04 here. 7:55, I think you may misunderstand my question.

      The question I'm wondering about is not whether it is permissible to spread "lies" and "false allegations" about the sexual conduct of philosophers. It is, rather, whether it is permissible to spread known truths about philosophers who trade sexual favors for career advancement. You correctly denounce lies and unsupported rumors. But what about known truths? Is it permissible to share those?

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    6. First, such allegations are highly inflammatory, and you would need to establish the "truth" of any such inflammatory allegation. The (female) victim of the allegation will of course deny it, insisting that the allegation is false. Second, this is a matter for a divorce court, and not career damaging gossip. Third, all relationships between humans involve an exchange of resources; denouncing this is moralistic, even if there is a desire to get back at 'feminist' hypocrites. The privacy and autonomy of private individuals should be respected. Fourth, the equally absurd and inflammatory "harasser" stories - never supported by detailed objective evidence and with the recipient of the abuse never given a right to reply - need to stop. No evidence to support these wild allegations has ever been given - the reason being that the stories would look very different if the accused is permitted a right to reply. Fifth, suggesting some kind of public retaliation against female beneficiaries of private relationships amongst adults is wrong.

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    7. If you really do know that someone has exchanged sex acts for professional goods, it's fine to share that knowledge. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when you fuck your way into professional goods. That kind of fuckery creates a bad environment for everyone, and it deserves to be called out and denounced, no matter the person's gender.

      Such facts are difficult to know, though. Like 8:24 says, it's not as though people admit to this sort of stuff very often. I very much doubt that people who think they know this kind of stuff actually know it, and so I very much doubt that they are in a position to share in private, much less in public.

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    8. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy when you fuck your way into professional goods. That kind of fuckery creates a bad environment for everyone, and it deserves to be called out and denounced,

      The idea of denouncing other human beings for their private sex lives is an idea promoted by Jennifer Saul, Eric Schliesser, Elizabeth Barnes and others. It is immoral. It does not differ from gay-bashing, or trans-bashing, or bashing sex-workers; or, more generally, bashing people for their own choices.

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    9. I can't speak for others, 9:54 -- and they may indeed have a puritanical impulse to denounce "other human beings for their private sex lives" -- but the thing I object to in quid pro quo arrangements is precisely the quid pro quo arrangement. It doesn't matter what's being exchanged (sex, money, gardening tips, favors); one shouldn't exchange things for career boosts. Those boosts should only come to those who merit them on professional bases like publications, excellent talks, good teaching, and good departmental citizenship.

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    10. Oh come off it you puritanical assholes. There's nothing wrong with trading a handjob for a job interview or whatever. They don't call it the oldest profession in the world without reason, and all the hand-wringing you can muster won't change it.

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    11. trading a handjob for a job interview or whatever

      This is an absurd example. You don't think this really happens, do you?

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    12. Calling "handjobs for interviews" absurd doesn't really address the ethical issues. What if there were arrangements like that, would they be OK to blow the whistle on?

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    13. 11:14, the philosophy profession really should keep its nose out of people's private lives. No other profession has to deal with this abuse, started by FP, NewAPPS and co, several years ago; it has turned the profession into a toxic cesspool and a laughing stock for outsiders.

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    14. "11:14, the philosophy profession really should keep its nose out of people's private lives"

      It is consistent with this that philosophers should care about the ethics of quid pro quo arrangements in our profession. Those arrangements, after all, would not be purely private, but would instead involve publicly visible goods like jobs and conference invites. So the "omg, what about PRIVACY?!" objection only goes so far, and doesn't really object the issue that's being raised here.

      I have seen very little evidence that these kinds of arrangements happen in philosophy. Not none, mind you, just very little. So all this feels highly hypothetical to me.

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    15. There is no such thing as a "quid pro quo arrangement", outside the fantasy world of certain philosophers. It is like belief in the Loch Ness Monster.

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    16. OP is asking about the obligations or permissions one has in a certain kind of situation. Claiming of that kind of situation that it does not actually obtain doesn't answer OP's question.

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    17. How would you deal with the Loch Ness Monster preventing you eating your breakfast?

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    18. If you said more about that situation, 1:21, it might make sense. And from there, we could do some philosophy and figure out the obligations and permissions one in it would have (for example: is the Loch Ness Monster endangered? what is its role in the local ecology? what do I stand to lose if it eats my breakfast? what would the monster gain, should it eat the breakfast? do monsters count in a utilitarian calculus?)

      All that to say, there's nothing wrong with hypothetical situations, and we use them all the time to do serious ethics. This is a basic tool of philosophy, and making fun of a basic tool of philosophy on a philosophy blog isn't going to take you very far.

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    19. 1:26, would it be right to say that your "thought experiment" about a philosopher in a quid pro quo sexual arrangement generalizes fairly easily to any other academic, and perhaps to other non-academic relationships? If so, maybe we can defuse this issue by making the language of the hypothetical a bit more general - or even specifically a non-philosopher (e.g. "Let's say an academic - without loss of generality, a molecular biologist - ...").

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    20. I think that is the "purely abstract" situation OP is talking about, yes.

      I don't really understand why someone would try to dodge the question OP raised (an interesting one, I thought) by talking about whether the "purely abstract" situation is actual.

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    21. In some circles, 1:35, it is believed that the content of thought experiments is very important. This can be for a few reasons: they might alienate certain listeners; they might help propagate certain "memes" under the guise of seemingly innocent abstraction; they might be a way of derailing conversations about the "facts on the ground"; etc. I am not one of those people but I don't believe their views are per se ridiculous - certainly not when you compare them with other views they tend to hold.

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    22. Quite. It's called framing, and is well-known. The best response to someone doing this is to mock them and set fire to their ball.

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    23. Thanks, 1:38. I wondered if that was happening. I think I just expect better of philosophers when it comes to simple abstraction.

      But for those who resist abstraction, couldn't we simply move to a slightly different case? Consider the molecular biologist who is known to have regularly traded sexual favors for career benefits. Would it be OK to blow the whistle on that biologist?

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    24. How is it "known"?

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    25. Testimony, of course!

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  18. http://dailynous.com/2015/09/12/the-absence-of-chinese-philosophy-in-the-u-s/#comments

    some nice back and forth in the disussion

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  19. AAUP on trigger warnings: http://www.aaup.org/report/trigger-warnings

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