Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon TODAY (Oct. 8th, 1:30PM PST onward)

Today from 1:30PM PST onwards, there will be a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to improve the coverage of underrepresented philosophers and philosophy (see our earlier posts about the editathon here and here), in honor of Kevin Gorman, whose passionate work on behalf of women in philosophy we highlighted in an earlier post (see also here). The editathon will be in the San Diego Central Library as part of Wikiconference North America, but you may also join us remotely from wherever you are.  If you’d like to join remotely, please send me an email (  (If I don’t get back to you right away, that will probably be because I’m on my way to the event — I’ll definitely get back to you well before it begins!)

We will have Wikipedia-savvy folks on hand to help newbies learn how to edit, but if you are intimidated by the prospects of editing, you can also just email me stuff, e.g., in a Word doc, to hand off to the seasoned editors.  At this point we have a lot of the basic background information about a lot of folks.  Going forward we’ll probably most need external references, for example, discussions of people’s work, awards, or service which appear outside of their personal and faculty webpages, such as a book review that emphasizes the contributions they’ve made, or a short news article mentioning an honor.  If you’re not sure whether something is useful or relevant, please err on the side of sending it my way rather than withholding it!

See our earlier post for working lists of folks about whom we’ll try to write pages (see also here).  (Thanks again to everyone for your suggestions!  I’m sure there are still tons of names being left out, of course, so keep those suggestions coming.)

Sexual abuse in UK universities

makes the front page of the Guardian— again.

The majority of cases reported to the Guardian involve senior male academics, often professors, harassing and abusing younger female PhD students whose work they supervise. There are also accounts from undergraduates and female academics, while a small number of other allegations involve assault, male-on-male harassment and one allegation of sexual assault by a female lecturer.

Many of the accounts indicate that universities are failing in their duty of care to students and staff who are harassed. One female academic who made a complaint of sexual harassment against a more senior male colleague – against whom there had been previous complaints – said she was marched off the university premises and suspended for three months after he accused her of making a false allegation.

A Statement from Jason Stanley

I wanted to address the situation that has arisen from the series of articles in right-wing media outlets about me, and then me and Professor Kukla, that resulted from a private Facebook exchange being published and taken out of context, followed by a public thread that was a response to the fact that all of those messages were made public and taken out of context. I will begin by apologizing to Professor Richard Swinburne. I regret that he is involved at all, and I regret even bringing his name into the conversation in my public post.

The post of mine that was made public was not about Richard Swinburne. It was a comment, or a reply to a comment, on a private Facebook thread. The Facebook thread was about how the Swinburne episode reminded a gay colleague and friend of the harsh discrimination they had faced as a gay philosopher. I knew about what this person had experienced, and from whom. I saw that they were using Facebook to channel frustration about discrimination. So I used strong words, including expletives, to exhibit my support. But I simply was not talking about Richard Swinburne.

A screenshot of that comment, as well as other posts and comments from other philosophers, which were intended for specific audiences, were taken out of context and publicized on a blog. I faced a difficult situation, and the anger in my public post which followed was directed against those who made those comments public. I was both deeply frustrated at the violation of privacy, and worried that the others on that thread would face harsh recrimination, and felt that it was my responsibility, as a person with some power in the field, to take the heat. But I forgot that having my position at Yale makes anything I say part of the whole campus wars. For example, Rod Dreher was one of the main figures in November, 2015 who attacked our undergraduate students in very harsh terms. So that meant anything associated with me would be taken national.

For those who don’t know me, it may come as a surprise that the national discussion in right wing media has also been wounding to me, because I am sensitive to the difficulties many religious Christians face in academic settings. We live in a country, the vast majority of whose citizens are followers of one of the world’s great intellectual and moral systems, Christianity. And though the majority of philosophers in American are Christian or were raised as such, there is a significant difference between being in our intellectual community and being in America outside its walls.

I was almost always the only Jewish person in my classes growing up. In my high schools in tenth and eleventh grade, I was the first Jewish person to attend. I am very familiar with the isolation that is involved, even when there is no overt discrimination (though I grew up being asked if I had horns and such like, this was ignorance and not malice). It is woven into the tapestry of my existence what it is like to be in a minority faith among a majority. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go from a community in which one’s cultural traditions and many of its assumptions are just part of the ordinary tapestry of existence, to one in which that is considerably less so. I have tried in the departments I have been in to be very sensitive to this. And my own work, both academic and public, leaves theism in any form alone.

But this is not to say that the only issues here are the complete confusion caused by the publication of out of context private messages. I do have a dispute with those philosophers (Christian or otherwise) who irresponsibly espouse harmful theories about sexual minorities that are out of touch with the literature, current science, and the experiences of those minorities themselves. I also have another, distinct dispute with those who would violate the privacy of their friends by taking expressions of support and frustration — which were intentionally visible only to select audiences — out of context, publish them, and mislead the public as to their meaning. Anyone who thinks that is perfectly ordinary Christian behavior has a much lower opinion of Christians than I do. I also think both of these distinct disputes are ones we can have in public spaces in a respectful manner.

The last week has been very extreme for me. My family, which is the core of my existence, has been frightened. I can’t here explain everything that has happened, but it has been very ugly at times. But much worse than that is the legitimation of the very real discrimination that gay philosophers have to face on a daily basis from colleagues, from students, and from the media.

When gay philosophers try to speak up, even privately, about actual discrimination they face, they now know they risk a media storm against them. They see from my case that the student paper at their university may even add fuel to the fire.

So: do I regret that Swinburne has been sucked into this? I regret this very much. I apologize for bringing Swinburne in at all. I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment in even mentioning his name. But my central concern right now is entirely about our gay colleagues in academia who have been watching this episode in horror, rightly concerned that any complaints about discrimination they may raise, even in private spaces, will result in the kind of incredibly intense retribution that Rebecca Kukla and I have been singled out and subject to over the past week. And those concerns would be legitimate.

I need to end with the issue of anti-Semitism. On my public post, someone posted a disturbing comment about Swinburne’s death. I contemplated deleting it but then wanted to wait to see if anyone would ‘like’ it before addressing its horrors (no one did). It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the media discussion starting with the September 28th piece in The American Conservative, and then the Washington Times, is straightforwardly anti-Semitic. How did a non-story about the complexity of communication that results when screenshots from private conversations are made public, become a national story about two leftist Jewish professors and the dangers they pose?

At first, the story was solely about me. Then, the other Jewish philosopher who posted on that thread, Rebecca Kukla, was also targeted. What ensued was a terrible anti-Semitic narrative, channeling a virulent 20th century form of anti-Semitism, now present in Russia; that leftist Jews seek to use the issue of homosexuality to target the Christian faith. I hope we can, as a profession, have a respectful discussion about the two disputes I mentioned above. I responded to disrespect in kind, and I regret that this may have made it more difficult. We need to have these conversations, though, in a way that does not invite retribution against our gay colleagues, whose experiences of discrimination need to be highlighted, rather than forced ever more into the shadows. And we need to have it in a way that does not help bring in the stain of anti-Semitism.

Appear on the Global Philosopher!

The BBC is looking for people, anyone other than professional philosophers (philosophy students are fine), to take part in a giant debate….

The Global Philosopher

On 18 November 2016, BBC Radio 4 is hosting a debate about meritocracy. Sixty people from all over the world will be “dialling in” – using Skype-like technology – to a state-of-the-art facility at Harvard Business School to discuss this topic with Professor Michael Sandel (and with each other), while hundreds of other participants will be observing the debate and contributing to it via an online platform. Professor Sandel will spend about 90 minutes guiding the audience through the issues and confronting them with moral and ethical dilemmas along the way. If you’d like to take part, please register your interest via this web form and the production team will reply with further information.

It would be great to get some feminist philosophers involved!

Police brutality in France

The recent horrifying terrorist attacks in France have reportedly led – some might say, with gloomy predictability – to an increase in police brutality against Muslim and black people within its borders.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch separately produced reports detailing what they describe as ‘abusive and discriminatory raids’ against Muslim people in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Those targeted said the police burst into homes, restaurants, or mosques; broke people’s belongings; threw Qurans on the floor; terrified children; and placed restrictions on people’s movements so severely that they lost jobs and income, or suffered physically…
In one house raid, Human Rights Watch said, police broke four of a disabled man’s teeth before they realised he was not the person they were looking for…
In another case recorded by Amnesty, police forced open the door of an elderly man with heart problems, causing him to faint. He was later taken to hospital in an ambulance, while his daughters – one of whom is disabled – were handcuffed and screamed at by officers.

You can read more from Aljazeera here.

Residents of the Calais refugee camp, known as The Jungle, also suffer at the hands of the police. The violence has noticeably increased after the terrorist attacks, with what reports describe as ‘civil militias’ now involved too.

In Paris, a couple of months ago, Adama Traore, a young black man, died in police custody. The ‘official’ version of events has been variously that he had a heart attack, that he had a serious infection, that he was intoxicated, that he suffered from previous health problems. But an independent autopsy carried out on the instructions of his family show that he died from asphyxia. Blood test results show that he was not intoxicated at the time of his death. His family say he had no long-standing health conditions, and was beaten to death by the police. Sound familiar?

Then last week, Sorbonne professor Guillame Vadot was attacked by the police for filming their mistreatment of a young woman (not white, of course) in the train station he was passing through, who didn’t have a ticket. Police officers snatched his phone, pinned him to a wall, and threatened to kill and rape him. One of them groped him. Vadot is filing a report with the General Inspector of the National Police Force for ‘abuse of power, willful acts of violence, sexual assault, rape threats and injuries’. In so doing he wishes to draw attention primarily

to all those who are subjected to this kind of brutality within this context. [An attack such as his] is the result of the laws and regulations put in place in the past few months, which have given the police a sense of impunity… We cannot consider this to be normal, we are not going to get used to it.

Poland’s proposed abortion ban

Banner from Krakow Post

Photo from BBC website

Thousands of Polish women went on strike yesterday in protest at a proposed abortion ban. The Polish government is currently debating legislation that would ban abortion in all cases, making the woman and the doctor who performed the operation liable to criminal prosecution.

Poland – a largely Catholic country – already has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, only permitting abortions in cases where a court official determines that the mother has been raped, or where the mother’s health is in danger (which requires the opinion of two doctor’s), or where the foetus’s life is threatened.

This bill is a piece of citizen-sponsored legislation – legislation that is debated by government if sufficient people sign a petition – created by a conservative advocacy group Ordo Iuris.

Poland’s majority party Law and Justice has also put forward an alternative piece of abortion legislation to be debated alongside it, which would allow abortion in cases of rape, or where the mother’s life is in danger, but not in cases where the foetus’ life is under threat, which means it’s still stricter than Poland’s current abortion law.

You can read more here, and here.

Updates on Wikipedia Edit-a-thon for Underrepresented Philosophers

This Saturday (10/8) from 1:30PM PST onward, we’ll be hosting a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to improve the coverage of underrepresented philosophers and philosophy, in honor of Kevin Gorman.  (See our earlier post here.)  The editathon will be in the San Diego Central Library as part of Wikiconference North America, but you may also join us remotely from wherever you are, or send me ( content, references, or ideas in advance.  We will have Wikipedia-savvy folks on hand to help newbies learn how to edit, but if you are intimidated by the prospects of editing, you can also just email me stuff, e.g., in a Word doc, to hand off to the seasoned editors.  Below is a working list of folks about whom we’ll try to write pages (see also here).  (Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!  I’m sure there are still tons of names being left out, of course, so keep those suggestions coming.)  In the next day or two, I will also post a list of content pages that we’d like to improve or create.

This is a classic scenario in which a lot of people doing a little bit will go a long way.  So, for example, if you know of any awards that one of these people has won, or if you know of an article (perhaps an article you’ve written!) that references one of these people as being influential (e.g., by explaining how a person has made a significant contribution to a debate), please let me know.  Also feel free to post more suggestions, etc., here.

  • Kathryn Pine Addelson of Smith College
  • Sybol Cook Anderson
  • Susan Babbitt
  • Bat-Ami Bar on
  • Dorit Bar-on
  • Elizabeth Barnes
  • Margaret Batton
  • Elizabeth Lane Beardsleyof Temple U
  • Karen Bennett
  • Samantha Brennan
  • Rachael Briggs
  • Sarah Broadie
  • Sarah Buss
  • Helen Cartwright
  • Leigh Cauman of Columbia University
  • Tina Chanter
  • Gertrude Ezorsky
  • Elizabeth Flowers of U of Penn
  • Hide Ishiguro
  • Ann Jaap Jacobson
  • Agnieszka Jaworska
  • Karen Jones
  • Rebecca Kukla
  • Maggie Little
  • Kate Lindemann
  • Sabina Lovibond
  • Mary Beth Mader
  • Linda López McAlister of U of South Florida
  • Susan Sauve Meyer
  • Sarah Moss
  • Mary Beth Mader
  • Susan Sauve Meyer
  • Sarah Moss
  • Jennifer Nagel
  • Catarina Dutilh Noaves
  • Dorothea Olkowski
  • Phyllis Belle Parun
  • Diana Raffman
  • Deborah Satz
  • Susan Sherwin
  • Sharon Street
  • Connie Rosati
  • Carol Rovane
  • Nancy Tuana
  • Moira Gatens
  • Catriona Mackenzie
  • Jeanette Kennett
  • Rachael Briggs
  • Katherine Hawley
  • Janice Dowell
  • Rosemarie Tong
  • Jean Grimshaw
  • Janice Moulton
  • Leslie McCall
  • Rita Manning
  • Ellen Feder
  • Alison Watson
  • Nadine Puechguirbal
  • Mary Ann Weathers
  • Patricia Bell Scott
  • Cellestine Ware
  • Alma M. Garcia
  • Michelle Habell-Pallan
  • Ziba Mir Hosseynni
  • Oumayma Abu Bakr
  • Irene d’Almeida
  • Carole Boyce-Davies
  • Anne Adams
  • Talia Mae Bettcher
  • Esa Diaz-Leon
  • Kristie Dotson
  • Ishani Maitra
  • Helena de Preester
  • Mari Mikkola
  • Helen de Cruz
  • Margaret (Peggy) Battin
  • Leslie P. Francis
  • Catharine MacKinnon improve
  • Suzanne Pharr expand from stub
  • Jane English improve
  • Luce Irigaray improve
  • Manuel Vargas
  • Eduardo Mendieta
  • José Medina
  • Lucius Outlaw
  • Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò
  • Dwayne Tunstall
  • Neil Roberts
  • Tommy J. Curry
  • Robert E. Birt


Swinburne and Trump: from FB

The paragraphs below are revised versions of a Facebook post.  I was hoping to start a discussions, but failed to do so.  There are three things I think it may bring out.  First, the opposition to homosexuality in the RC Church is not an innocent implication of a venerable doctrine.  It is the product of a highly selective concentration on sex.  Secondly, people who think it is properly philosophical to label same-sex coupling as disordered, sick, etc, should ask if they are happy to say the same of the overweight.  Thirdly, it would be delicious to know what the average weight of the gay-shaming philosophers is.


Sex is only one of the areas in which natural law theorists think (or should think) about in terms of faculties, natural ends and well ordered desires. As I remember Elizabeth Anscombe pointing out years ago, consumption of food is another area. And here the spread of disordered desires is on open display throughout many countries.

Should we thank Trump for drawing our attention to the situation? Perhaps now we can all take some action.

Many people may protest that it is impossible to lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off. That should not mean we should continue to leave heavier than average people at the mercy of their disorder desires.

Foods with fake attractions (artificial sweeteners) are surely like sex toys. Do we really want children to see such things on shelves in stores we frequent?

The recent tendency of designers to add larger sizes is clearly making big people more comfortable.

It is time to stop the growing obesity in our populations.