How to discuss Searle, etc.


COMMENTS ON THIS POST ARE NOW CLOSED.  I can’t keep up with the moderating.

UPDATE: I want to make it really clear that I’m genuinely uncertain about what to do in these cases.  I’m calling for discussion because I think the issues are hard.  I would not be at all surprised if the discussion here changes my mind, and I’d welcome that.  I put some initial thoughts up to get the ball rolling, but I really do think it’s far from obvious what to do.


I’d like to open up a (carefully moderated, as usual) discussion about strategies people are taking for discussing men like Searle, with high-profile allegations of misbehaviour against them.  I’ve had two discussions of this issue just in the last couple days, and I’m wondering what others think.  Here’s what came out of the discussions I had:

  1. If you can avoid teaching/discussing them, that may be the best strategy.
  2. You should mention the allegations, making clear that you think the behaviour is unacceptable, but also flag up efforts to improve things in the field.
  3. For conference papers (and sometimes in teaching), additional issues are raised by the fact that you may well have victims of these particular people in the audience.  This means that it’s important to have a well-publicised abstract that can serve as a content warning for people who want to avoid mention of them/prepare themselves.

What else do people suggest?