More on Pogge: Links

An excellent discussion of the way that the “presumption of innocence” is used in internet discussions, by Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa here.

The admonition not to pass judgement about the allegations is simply the admonition to ignore them. “Don’t believe anything unless it’s been proven in a court of law.” But this is just a ludicrous epistemic standard. Do you care whether powerful men in academic philosophy are using their stature to coerce students into compromising sexual situations? Then you should be interested in credible testimony to the effect that this one has been. Don’t be tempted by the fallacious inference from it hasn’t been proven in court to you have no way to tell whether it’s true.

Eric Schliesser notices the strangeness of Pogge’s invocation of lie detector tests here.

I was baffled to read the quoted sentence in Thomas Pogge’s Response to the Allegations (see here) My gut reaction was, “if a mutually agreeable experts can be found, such an expert would be a fraudster.” It is widely known that Polygraph testing is a pseudo-science.

Philosophy Goes Pop on testimonial injustice in discussions of the case here.

This is not an isolated phenomenon. When Bill Cosby was accused of rape by 58 women, a surprising number of people leapt to his defense, delegitimizing the women’s claims altogether as hearsay. We are consistently taught to view women as liars, starting with the stereotype that women are gossips who believe whatever they are told. This stereotype pervades depictions of women who claim to have been assaulted or harassed. In fact, one police unit even called their sexual assault division the ‘Lying Bitches Unit.’ There is a tendency to believe that women are lying about sexual harassment and assault, and to find alternative explanations that exonerate the perpetrators.

Huffington Post here.

Pogge’s response, here.

Buzzfeed, discussing Pogge’s response, here.

If you’re looking for places with discussions of Pogge (including, sadly, a lot of scepticism about victims’ testimony) there are two posts up at Daily Nous, here  and here.

Here, we’d welcome discussion from those grappling with how to improve our profession.   Those who want to undermine victims’ credibility can head somewhere else.  We’ll be confining ourselves to useful discussion.

4 thoughts on “More on Pogge: Links

  1. One way for philosophy to move forward:

    Here’s the link to the Daily Nous thread to which I respond here:
    http://dailynous.com/2016/05/20/thomas-pogge-yale-university-and-sexual-harassment/

    A reader begins with the following comment:

    ContingentSoCal • May 21, 2016 at 5:47 am
    “I think his work may be fine — but I imagine seeing it cited would be a serious harm to those victimized by him. There are enough smart people saying enough smart things to cite — some even in his secondary literature. I’ve worked on his material before. I won’t be citing him in written work again.”

    Arthur Greeves • May 21, 2016 at 7:41 am
    “I don’t understand this comment, at all. There is no serious harm to seeing your abuser’s name mentioned in print. Supposing there is some harm caused, moreover, the harm does not proceed from the author who cites the abuser; it is caused by the abuser. There is reason not to mention an abuser in a casual conversation with a victim, even if your mention has nothing to do with the abuse. However, there is no reason not to mention the abuser in a public work which one anticipates victims might read. Citing a person’s work is not an endorsement of their conduct.”

    My Response to Arthur’s assertion, “There is no serious harm to seeing your abuser’s name mentioned in print.”

    I am grateful that you shared your perspective. It caused me to wonder how I would react if I saw my rapist’s name in a citation. I wasn’t planning to respond, so I closed my laptop and turned to an assigned reading. On the first page, there is an asterisk by the author’s name, corresponding to a footnote which read:

    “*I would like to thank…especially ••known abuser’s name••, for helpful comments. A slightly different version of this essay will appear…and ••known abuser’s name••, eds…”

    Your comment above is false. If you will forgive my rough form as a a mere philosophy student, I offer justification for this assertion as follows:

    1. There is likely serious harm in seeing known abusers’ names mentioned in print because it causes survivors to be unable to perform their best work.
    2. A thing which causes a person to be unable to perform their best work is seriously harmful.
    3. Philosopher X and I are survivors of sexual misconduct and rape.
    4. The above cited abuser is not my abuser, but it is known that •••• is the abuser of “X” and others.
    5. I was seriously harmed when I saw •known abuser’s name• cited in an article because it triggered PTSD and rendered me unable to perform my best work. It’s been distracting to the point that I am taking time away from other work to write this.
    6. Rape and sexual misconduct survivors share varying degrees of similar after-effects, one of which may be PTSD.
    7. If philosopher “X” saw their abuser’s name mentioned in print, or the name of another known abuser, they would likely experience similar harm to mine, and be unable to perform their best work.
    8. Therefore, there is likely serious harm in seeing known abusers’ names mentioned in print.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that:

    1. Publishers control the content within their publications.
    2. It is wrong for publishers to knowingly cause harm.
    3. Survivors are likely to be harmed when they see their abuser’s name or a known abuser’s name mentioned in print, especially without warning, as happens when encountering citations.
    4. It is harmful for publishers to continue publishing works by known abusers and works which contain the names of known abusers.
    4. Publishers ought to cease publications which contain known abusers’ names.

    It might be true that internet publishing has reduced publishers’ power to deter possible abusers by adopting such actions. In response to this objection, I propose that the same standards be set for both publishers and authors. ContingentSoCal has made that decision. If I correctly understand David Wallace’s post, other authors are also setting these standards for themselves.

    A second possible objection is that certain criteria for “confirmation of abuse” must be met, and there is no consensus about what criteria “confirms abuse.” This problem is currently under debate in both academia and the courtroom. I suspect that is not likely to change. However, there are certain criteria that most would agree upon, even in cases where no legal action has been made. I contend that enough evidence exists for publishers and authors within our discipline to review and create criteria which, when fulfilled, would call for the name of the known abuser to be removed from any future publications. My scope here is limited to academia, as it holds the power to prevent future harms of this nature.

    A final objection might be that if authors and publishers remove abusers’ names from all publications, the result would be improper scholarship. There is no justification for omitting citations. A possible solution would be to use proper citation without the name of the abuser. Every other detail in the citation should remain. Thus, full academic integrity is retained while avoiding future harms caused by publications which contain abusers’ names.

    While I recognize that authors and publishers are not responsible for harms perpetrated by abusers whose works they may have cited or published in the past, they are responsible to avoid any future acts known to cause harm. Here, I suggest a way forward that protects the interests of survivors, publishers and authors, and maintains the highest standards of scholarship.

    Leaders in the discipline of philosophy and leaders in organizations which publish for the discipline converge to construct what are the necessary criteria for a “known abuser.” Fulfillment of the criteria then effectuates the following automatic responses:

    1. Publishers (including digital), impose a moratorium on the publication of the known abuser’s work.
    2. Publishers impose a moratorium on the publication of the name of the known abuser, in any form.
    3. Authors continued to properly cite sources, and simply omit the name of the known abuser in the citation.

    It is important that academia correct injustices, implicit or explicit, inflicted and/or perpetuated against survivors of sexual misconduct. I suspect that many possible abusers would refrain from all forms of sexual misconduct if publishers and authors, in solidarity with survivors, adopt the publication/citation standards suggested above. This undeniable validation and support for survivors is invaluable. The quality of survivors’ work will, undoubtedly, improve when their peers provide a web of support.

    With collective efforts, I expect the discipline of philosophy to transform a climate of fear, shame and cronyism into one of safety, freedom, explicit respect and equality. If the climate changes, under-represented minorities in philosophy might not leave. They might stay and contribute their much-needed perspectives.

    Under such improved conditions, all philosophers will likely produce better quality work. Those who have been spared sexual violation ought to do whatever is necessary to promote healing and restoration to survivor-philosophers.

    Don’t we want our discipline to create conditions under which every philosopher may flourish, produce their best possible work, and ultimately elevate the quality of the discipline as a whole?

  2. Another way to think about the publication issue is to recognize that the high-profile predators in our profession rely on their professional reputations to find their victims. When we deprive them of opportunities to promote that reputation, we help to undermine that source of access to victims. While I don’t have a worked out view of when such deprivation is permissible and when it isn’t, I do think it’s clearly permissible not to invite a known predator to contribute to a volume one is editing. And it’s clearly permissible to refuse to contribute to a volume that will include a contribution by someone one knows to be a predator. As editors of invited volumes, we may invite or not invite whomever we like. And as recipients of such invitations, we can accept or decline the invitations we like. This is a means for promoting change at the disposal of many senior faculty.

  3. @grace joy cebrero:

    “If I correctly understand David Wallace’s post…”

    I think you may not have: it was satire, intended to demonstrate the problems for scholarship induced by not citing sources on moral grounds.

  4. @david wallace:

    Thank you for clarifying. Indeed, I wasn’t sufficiently cynical! Ha!

    Though self-deprecating, it’s great evidence for my assertion that “Seeing a known abuser’s name in a citation is likely to harm survivors because it renders them unable to perform their best work.”

    What’s equally unacceptable to “not citing sources on moral grounds” is that no tolerable option exists if a source is a known abuser. “Proper Scholarship” requires that scholars choose between two bad options:

    (a) Cite the abuser’s name – maintain scholarship but perpetuate harm to survivors, or
    (b) Omit the abuser’s name – avoid harm to survivors but sacrifice scholarship (self-harm)

    An amended “Proper Scholarship” would eliminate this dilemma, remove many reasons for “not citing sources on moral grounds,” and improve scholarship as a whole. Better “Proper Scholarship” would allow for an otherwise complete citation to omit an author’s name if:

    (1) The author’s name cannot be determined by reasonable means, or
    (2) The author’s name is on “Philosophy’s No Print List.”*

    *As noted earlier, leaders in philosophy and publishing have sufficient information from which to create the criteria for “a known abuser” in a single conference call. “Philosophy’s No Print List” would contain names of all known abusers, securely distributed electronically to all publishers and philosophy departments – including filters to download and live updates. Easy!

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