Full text of the letter I received from Middlesex VC Michael Driscoll, in response to the letter signed by the full Sheffield Philosophy Department:

“Dear Sirs, I refer to your letter of 04 May 2010. Your concerns regarding the closure of the Philosophy programme are noted.”

The signature was not even a high quality digital one.

7 thoughts on “Middlesex

  1. “Dear Sirs”? Really? Was every signatory a man? :/
    Of course, I suppose you can’t expect much when the text of the letter itself is such an enlightening and thoughtful response.

  2. Stephanie,

    I thought it obvious that all the women had been knighted for their participation, and that the VP had to redact the rest of the letter for security concerns.

  3. Honestly, those subtle Brits. I’ve been trying to think of a polite version of the conversational implicature the response carries. “F**k you,” seems, however, to get it in a number of ways.

  4. The preservation of the KCL department notwithstanding, I can’t help but be skeptical at the ability of philosophers to successfully protest the closure of a philosophy department. Obviously, the members of any group will try to defend themselves, whether or not that group is actually worth having around. So why should anyone find that compelling?

  5. Erin:

    That fact in itself should not be compelling. It’s the reasons that they bring forward that should prove compelling. In MDX’s case, there are obvious and empirical reasons from economic and research standpoints, coupled with the unfairness of profiting for four years from a department that you’ve eliminated. That, and the administration’s publicly stated reasons are patently false. Those are the most compelling reasons in this case, in my mind.

    Follow-up reasons concerning the kind of research done in philosophy departments and the kind of education that they give undergrads is also, to my mind, compelling; the argument from history, however, is much less compelling (we don’t devote resources to astrology and phrenology, after all). Although, in fairness, the “university” designation should come attached to a list of certain essential disciplines.

    In the case of philosophy, at least, I don’t think that any other humanities department does comparable work in terms of research or undergrad prep, save history–and the ties between these two disciplines, especially at the undergraduate level, are pretty close. While some disciplines may (and should) have a hard time justifying their existence apart from others (litcrit, for example, could fit under a number of umbrellas, and often does–at least at the undergrad level), I don’t think that’s the case with philosophy.

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