Defending Alison Jaggar

From Colorado alum Annaleigh Curtis:

I graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder Philosophy Department in 2013. While there, I served as a student representative on the Climate Committee and Philosophy Graduate Student Co-President during AY 2011-2012. College Professor of Distinction Alison Jaggar was my dissertation advisor. I am currently a second-year law student at Harvard Law School. The following observations and opinions are my own and do not represent the views of any of the above people or institutions. I offer them in the hope that they will add a voice to the conversation on an issue of great importance to the academic world, not just at CU or Northwestern or Miami, and not just for philosophy. I also offer them in defense of Prof. Jaggar’s actions, which I believe have been unfairly maligned in Prof. Barnett’s recent claim against CU.


First, all faculty have a University-mandated responsibility to protect students against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation through mandatory reporting. Doing so is a legal and moral obligation, not meddling or stirring the pot. Note further that the value in reporting and investigating claims of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation is not limited to cases in which policies have been violated. Even if a particular claim turns out to be unfounded, the obligation to report all potential claims still exists.


Second, this particular retaliation claim was settled over the summer to the tune of $825,000 for the victim. As with any legal settlement, one stipulation was that CU did not admit any fault. However, I think this is a strong indication that the claim was not completely out of left field. The University took it seriously, as they should have. Any notion that the claim was unserious, even if one thinks that it ultimately should not have succeeded, further discourages students and professors from reporting issues that are already chronically underreported.


Third, an earlier inquiry likewise found that the initial investigation and report by the Office of Discrimination and Harassment (which has recently been renamed the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance) was performed fairly and in line with CU’s legal obligations. In my opinion, this suggests that claims about blowing the whistle against that process were unfounded since it proceeded fairly and legally.


Fourth, Prof. Jaggar should be proud of her role in challenging what she believed were retaliatory actions. We should be calling on other professors to explain why they failed to do the same.

Annaleigh Curtis, PhD (University of Colorado, Boulder ’13), JD Candidate (Harvard Law School ’16)

Letter of Support from Greco, Howard, Kvanvig, Murphy, and Rea

An open letter of support has been published at Daily Nous, from five senior male philosophers, to victims of harassment in philosophy and their supporters. A quote:

As things currently stand, there are very substantial professional and personal risks associated with addressing sexual misconduct either informally or through formal university channels—including, as we have now seen, the risk of being sued for defamation. Moreover, these risks accrue not only to victims but to those who try to support them in seeking to have their grievances addressed. Unsurprisingly, many victims have felt as if they have no recourse, many who might otherwise have supported them have remained silent; and the culture of silence understandably contributes to the impression that there are really very few within our profession who are much concerned either about the prevalence of sexual misconduct within our discipline or about the risks associated with seeking to have it addressed.

We write, therefore, to say publicly that these developments are lamentable, to voice our support of rights to report concerns of misconduct, and to ask the philosophical community to join with us in supporting both the victims of sexual misconduct who have the courage to file a formal report, and the faculty who provide them with support.

Commenting is open at Daily Nous, and other philosophers are adding their public support for the contents of the letter in the comments thread.

Thin privilege in the workplace

Via xoJane, a recent study from Jennifer Bennett Shinall at Vanderbilt University suggests that heavier women earn less even when social factors like education are controlled for. More specifically, the results suggest both that heavier women are less likely to occupy certain financially lucrative roles and that they are less well paid when they do occupy those roles. Here’s the abstract:

This paper demonstrates that accounting for two key occupational characteristics eliminates the unexplained wage gap experienced by the heaviest women in the labor market. Obese women are less likely to work in jobs that emphasize personal interaction, but they are more likely to work in jobs that emphasize physical activity. Although jobs that emphasize personal interaction are higher paying, obese women who work in such jobs receive lower wages than non-obese women, and their wage penalty offsets the premium to working in a job emphasizing personal interaction. Together, these results suggest that taste-based discrimination may be driving occupational sorting among obese women and, as a result, is at least one source of the wage penalty experienced by obese women.