Another Pogge story

From Delia Graff Fara, at Leiter.

I had a mildly unpleasant experience with Pogge when I was a senior undergraduate at Harvard and he was a visiting professor who stayed in my “house”, Harvard’s equivalent to residential colleges at Princeton and Yale. (I lived in Cabot House.)

In brief, I was having a meeting with Pogge during and after dinner in our dining hall to talk about Rawls and Rousseau, the subjects of my senior thesis.  He kept me talking for longer than I felt comfortable with.  It was night and the dining hall had long since emptied out.  I finally ended the meeting when he started rubbing my thigh, by just saying that it was late and that I needed to leave.


6 thoughts on “Another Pogge story

  1. “Mildly unpleasant” sounds like an understatement. What a creep this guy is. Shame on Yale for keeping this man employed in a capacity where he has easy access to young students.

  2. a bit off the topic of Pogge, but… Delia’s comment just got me thinking. Have *most* women in philosophy been sexually harassed at some point? (I’m a junior woman, and I have been, and virtually all women I know have been). Any data on this?

    Also: I’m horrified Delia was treated this way, but I applaud her for sharing her story. Thank you!

  3. Another thought on this (I’m Anon from above).

    It would appear that the Pogge issue has been an open secret in philosophy for some time. I’m going by the responses of Christia Mercer, Martha Nussbaum, and the recent report of Delia Graff Fara. And yet, I myself had no idea about his reputation, at least not until Jason Stanley began soliciting information a couple years ago.

    This re-raises, I would think, the question of how we can share information about known serial harassers. I don’t work in ethics, so it’s unlikely that I would have been tempted to attend a conference where Pogge was speaking or to invite him to something I was organizing, but I would like to have information like this for future purposes about other known harassers. I don’t want to invite someone to a conference and then have them harass an attendee. And frankly, I don’t want to attend a conference where there is a harasser and have to potentially face harassment myself.

    Does philosophy need a Sexual Harassment Reference List? An unofficial boycott? Yes, women tell each other stories, but only in a piecemeal way. I am worried about the potential for unfair blacklisting here, but why shouldn’t we have good information when it comes to deciding who to invite and who to associate with? I wish there was information circulated underground, in circles of women philosophers, perhaps with the request that the list *not* be published online to avoid accusations of defamation, etc.?

    Another issue is that some of the most vulnerable women might be undergrads and new grad students, and these women are *least* likely to have information about who harassers are. E.g., the grad student who was harassed by McGinn likely had no idea of his reputation, though I believe he did have something of a reputation in the discipline at large. I wish there was a network of women that prospective women grad students could hook into when making decisions about where to attend grad school. Specific information about known harassers could be extremely helpful.

  4. I was harassed by a faculty member my first very day in a philosophy MA program (nothing too severe, about the same level as what Delia experienced).

  5. Anonymous, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I hope that if you stayed in the philosophy profession, your subsequent experiences have been more positive. Thank you for sharing your experience. I think it’s important that other women realize there’s nothing “wrong” with them that makes them a target for harassment. The more women who share their stories, the less alienated other targets will feel.

    Please know that there are many (like myself) who are disgusted by the culture of silence around harassment and are trying to change it. But change is admittedly slow, far too slow.

  6. Here’s my Pogge story, although I guess many readers will have a different reaction to it from mine. About a decade ago I was …in a junior teaching role and I got to know a young southern European young woman, just a little. Her field was Political Philosophy. She was…in town for a conference where Pogge was speaking. I talked with her about intellectual matters enough to know that she was very weak academically. She went to hear Pogge talk and I was there when she went to talk with Pogge after his talk in the lecture room. She flirted with him outrageously. I am not criticizing her for this. She deployed every cliché of flirting, including a very exposed front, simpering, looking up into his eyes coyishly, etc. Perhaps he enjoyed the conversation. Anyway, as far as I know that was the end of it. Again, I do not criticize either party for this. I am not a puritan who will jump to complain about power imbalances in personal matters. (Are we to ban pop musicians and their fans from getting together?) However, I found out that soon after this she was invited to visit him at his fancy institution in the States (…) and spend time there doing research. This I found problematic because of the unfairness of those who were not able to benefit in this way, such as the many smart male philosophers, or the many smart female philosophers who were less attractive (to him) or who were not prepared to flirt in that way. I don’t care much what they got up to. They can have sex in a lift. Whatever. I do care about the unfairness of not distributing the good of a visiting position on grounds of merit.

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