McGinn Case Doesn’t Turn on Free Inquiry or Speech

An excellent letter from Laurie Shrage.

Amongst many good points:

Colin McGinn is an established and important philosopher who has made numerous contributions to his field. So when we see someone like this forced out of the profession, we rightly question whether he deserved his fate. But the women students who are driven out of the profession, due to retaliation (or the reasonable fear of retaliation) for speaking up about sexual harassment, are invisible to us.

3 thoughts on “McGinn Case Doesn’t Turn on Free Inquiry or Speech

  1. He wasn’t forced out of his profession, he quit a job rather than go through with an investigation to see if he violated certain rules. Presumably he has plenty of money to live on with his pension, etc.. He can continue to be a “philosopher” since being a philosopher is a way of life, not a job. I expect he will be able to pick up a little spending money from books and lectures since he is now a notorious public figure in certain circles. He is plenty free to speak, and even to be an offensive arrogant jerk if he so chooses. Who wants to live in Florida anyway with the blazing heat, humidity and fire ants?

  2. Thanks to both Laurie and Jay @#1.

    I understand that any of us might rail on, however embarrassingly, after an ouster. But Dr. McGinn had an opportunity to fight the accusations against him, and he preferred to resign. He now has a gag order on the university, while he continues to protest his innocence.

    I never want to prejudge any case. But when the accused opts for resignation and a gag order on the accusers, I am suspicious. When the possible refutators are hugely less powerful, my skepticism meter goes to 10.

  3. ChrisTS, as you may know, many universities have resources for legal battles that even fairly financially fortunate faculty don’t have. For example, many administrations have a legal departnment full of lawyers; they can file appeal after appeal. You may well not be able to stay in the fight. If you are paying your lawyer $450 an hour (a common rate in Houston) you can spend years, great globs of money, and still lose. Even if you your lawyer is on contingency, you may be in for a three year battle. Hardly a good alternative.

    I have just spent 1.5 years learning that filing a federal complaint against the leadership in a department or university is NOT a process wise people would want normally to pursue unless they felt all the alternatives were worse.

    BTW, I am very grateful for the role the university’s chief counsel played. In that I was very fortunate.

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