APA Anti-Discrimination Petition

Following on from JJ’s post, please do consider signing this petition.

This petition requests that the American Philosophical Society enforce its own non-discrimination policy by ceasing to advertise jobs on behalf of colleges and universities that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, or at least indicating that the colleges and universities in question fail to comply with the non-discrimination policy.

5 thoughts on “APA Anti-Discrimination Petition

  1. If you kick those colleges out of the APA, you’re going to devastate the quality of Catholic universities. I dunno, maybe that’s the plan, but it seems like a mistake to me.

    I do think it’s a good idea to “flag” the universities, so that people know what the policies of a place are before they sign up for a job though.

  2. Carl, I think one has to consider what one would say if they were discriminating on the basis of race. Sure there’d be a downside to kicking them out, but they just couldn’t be members. Taking the rights of homosexuals to be as serious as those of blacks will mean we do things like this.

    In fact, I’m not sure that they’d exactly be “kicked out,” though they might be prevented from advertising jobs. But in this market, that’s not really too bad. I hope the APA does more than put an asterix against them. That’s a bit like saying, you can have all the rights and status you want an institution even though you discriminate, but you have to be public about it. Somehow that doesn’t seem like much of a penalty.

  3. i was wondering: are these pledges (? can’t remember what they were called) mandated by the philosophy departments, or by their universities/colleges? seems like, if it’s the latter, then it would be a shame to contribute to the deterioration of the philosophy departments. they could very well be the departments that would bring about change in the wider university. at the same time that i’m thinking this, of course, i’m asking myself ‘what then?’ obviously it’s good that the APA has such a policy, and clearly it doesn’t mean anything unless they actually enforce it. so you can’t just say ‘oh it’s not the fault of the department, so we should overlook it’. it seems a tricky issue to me. (absolutely they should at least flag the departments, tho! that seems totally clear. if for no other reason than that it would keep right-thinking people from wasting their time applying to these departments!)

  4. Carl –

    The petition lays out three options quite clearly: the APA should (1) `enforce its policy and prohibit institutions that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation from advertising in ‘Jobs for Philosophers’, (2) `clearly mark institutions with these policies as institutions that violate our anti-discrimination policy’, or (3) `publicly inform its members that it will not protect homosexual philosophers and remove its anti-discrimination policy’.

    I think you’re quite right when you project that refusing to run jobs from conservative* schools will devastate the quality of their departments. But I don’t think this is a compelling reason for the APA to choose not to go with (1). The APA is, effectively, a guild for philosophers; its primary aim is to promote the interests of its guildmembers as philosophers, even at the expense of the interests of their employers (eg, philosophy departments) and the non-philosophical interests of its guildmembers (eg, their religious views on homosexuality).

    As I see it, conservatives are entirely free to set up their own parallel professional organisation of conservative philosophers, if they feel that the mainstream organisation doesn’t sufficiently reflect their interests and values. This was, actually, the sort of thing that lead to the development of Fundamentalism and the founding of the first generation of `Bible colleges’ in the early twentieth century. There are already strong connections between Biola, Calvin College, and Notre Dame, with a regular exchange of grad students (feeding into Notre Dame) and faculty (smart, newly-minted Ph.D.s that head to Grand Rapids or LA).

    * Not all Catholic schools have discriminatory policies like this, and most of the ones listed in the text of the petition are Protestant. Indeed, in my limited experience, Catholic schools are generally the most liberal, in that they don’t require faculty to sign a statement of faith or sexual ethics code of any kind. Also, of course, one doesn’t have to be Christian to discriminate on religious grounds.

  5. I’m not sure that the departments will all suffer from not being able to advertise with the APA. I followed the link on Leiter’s blog to Wheaton College’s pledge, which seems to me quite shockingly restrictive. Then I went to the philosophy department to look at the faculty; the first three I looked at had all done their first degrees at Wheaton. One suspects some of these schools have job networks, including a former students one.

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