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John Protevi
Baton Rouge LA
I'm a philosopher, though I work in a French department.
Recent Activity
Preamble: this is a tit-for-tat post. Leiter overstepped his bounds in allowing anonymous metabro speculation about Leigh Johnson to appear on a thread devoted to "professional issues." (He's so desperate at losing his central position in the philosophy blogosphere that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog Myspace Tshirt Generator Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
UPDATE by Justin Weinberg: The copy of the letter of intent to pursue termination proceedings for McAdams, from Richard Holz, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette, which McAdams linked to, was altered to omit some... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
This is why ‪#‎slatepitch‬ is a thing (for facile and lazy contrarianism). It ignores the MU admin claim (p 14 of the Holz letter) that the 2008 and 2011 incidents show that McAdams has established a pattern of provoking harassment... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
Tweeting about someone he's blocked on Twitter and claiming that the description of someone else's thought was aimed at me: what would you expect from him? It does indicate his obsession with me. Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
From the website: The Philosophy in an Inclusive Key Summer Institute ... is designed to encourage undergraduate students from under-represented groups to consider future study in the field of philosophy. PIKSI will emphasize the on-going project of greater inclusiveness... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
Here are some thoughts as to how the Stanley and Krakauer 2013 article (see here for my notes on the article) intersects my work, and the new directions it gives me in rethinking things. --- In Ch 5 of Political... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
Jason Stanley and John Krakauer, "Motor skill depends on knowledge of facts," Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7 (Article 503), 29 August 2013. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00503 MY TAKE-AWAY POINTS The authors affirm that skill requires both acuity and knowledge. Via philosophical analysis,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
You can overdo the Fordism to neoliberalism shift (I know I have forced some things into that rubric!), but this seems a good example. 1) Fordism = "everyone must take PE to graduate from college" 2) Neoliberalism = "new courses... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
Matt makes an empirical claim as to the typicality of his intuition that Leiter does not violate a disciplinary collegiality obligation with his threat of a lawsuit. I disagree that his intuition is widely shared; I make a contrary empirical claim that Leiter's threats here are very widely seen as non-collegial. Given this situation of conflicting empirical claims I suggest a poll that would provide evidence for which of us is right.
Hi David, an observation will have to do for now, as I need to go to school to do some admin work this afternoon in my role as chair of the department. :) But w/r/t our discussion here, it's perfectly possible, and indeed perhaps likely, that we are both talking past each other AND have deep political differences!
Thanks, Gordon, I like this: "what Foucault achieves is an understanding of neoliberal theory as evidencing a shift in biopower away from older, public health models (social security, sanitation projects, etc.), to more nuanced efforts to mold individuals directly." And this especially shows up in the area of health self-management itself, from direct-to-consumer advertising ("ask your doctor if this drug is right for you" -- thus enlisting you into diagnosis and prescription) to all sorts of institutional "wellness programs" to just plain old gym advertising stressing health benefits and lots more. Invest some dollars and hours in the gym and reap the health benefits...
Cathy Kemp's comment is very good about evolving norms. I would add that it seems to me that there is already a perfectly natural, i.e., widespread, usage of "colleague" and "collegial" that goes well beyond either those at one's own institution or those one have met to include not only other philosophers but also other academics, whether we have met them or not For instance, within philosophy, I don't work at Marquette nor have I ever met Cheryl Abbate in person, but I certainly felt it natural to call her my colleague and I certainly felt a collegial obligation to support her. Further, within academia, I don't work at Illinois or Virginia Tech nor have I ever met Steven Salaita in person, but I certainly felt it natural to call him my colleague and I certainly felt a collegial obligation to support him. So, for those who don't feel that collegial obligation, I encourage you to develop it and having developed it, to act on it. You might need support directly sometime, should you be attacked, and, human beings being such as we are, some people might be more willing to help you if they know that you feel them to be colleagues and that you have displayed collegial solidarity before to others. But even if you don't ever need direct support, feeling collegial obligation and acting on it will have indirect benefits to you, as the display of our solidarity to other philosophers and to other academics may help reduce the chances of you or your institutional colleagues being attacked. Finally, it's a lot less lonely to feel you have colleagues beyond those at your school, or even, those at your school whom you have met. C'mon in, the water's fine!
There is such a process, David, as I suspect you know. ;) But part of the discussion here rests on the claim that Leiter's actions in threatening suit are uncollegial, and that discussion need not wait the results of the trial (that indeed may never come). What is collegial is more restrictive than what is legal; it is within Leiter’s legal rights to have his lawyer write letters threatening suit over a matter such as his exchanges with Jenkins, but it is certainly open to me to say that is wrong of him to do so in any sense of collegiality that values reasoned discourse and avoids legal bluster. This Twitter exchange gets to the heart of things: Brian Leiter writes here that "Law is the only civilized form of dispute resolution, isn't it? What else there? Happy New Year!" To which David Koepsell replies: "arbitration.... mediation.... open debate.... discussion.... the list is lengthy. #mostpeopledontsue" By the way, Koepsell has the JD and PhD, both from SUNY Buffalo:
A friendly point of clarification for Bill at 29. John McCumber is most definitely a professional philosopher, even though his primary institutional appointment at UCLA is in the Department of Germanic Languages. "After receiving my Ph.D. in Philosophy and Greek from the University of Toronto, I taught at Northwestern University, The Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, and the University of Michigan--Dearborn. I have authored six books, including Poetic Interaction: Language, Freedom Reason (Chicago, 1989); The Company of Words: Hegel, Language, and Systematic Philosophy (Northwestern, 1993) Metaphysics and Oppression: Heidegger's Challenge to Western Philosophy (Indiana, 1999, winner of a Choice book award); Time in the Ditch: American Philosophy and the McCarthy Era (Northwestern, 2000); and Reshaping Reason: Toward a New Philosophy (Indiana, 2005; also winner of a Choice book award). I have also written over 70 articles and reviews. In 1994-96 I held the Koldyke Distinguished Teaching Professorship at Northwestern University." Similarly, I am a professional philosopher, even though my primary appointment at LSU is in the Department of French Studies. (I have had a courtesy appointment in Philosophy for the last three years, but I did not suddenly become a professional philosopher at that point; I had been one all along.) There are other such instances of someone being a professional philosopher despite not having a primary appointment in a philosophy department. The most prominent of them is Judith Butler, but I'm sure readers can come up with other examples.
One of the highlights of the APA Eastern for me was when, upon being presented with the first Joyce Mitchell Cook Award by the Committee on the Status of Black Philosophers for her book, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2015 at John Protevi's Blog
WHAT I THINK HAPPENED IN THE CLASSROOM (based on study of the relevant and available documents and accounts). [Slight updates for clarification, in brackets, 21 January 2015; I also recommend people read this blog post by Cheryl Abbate detailing the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2014 at John Protevi's Blog
Ben Alpers has opened a discussion of the PGR in terms of intellectual history (see also this post at Daily Nous). This comment from Cathy Kemp about the PGR's origins deserves a signal boost as a good contribution. Originally from... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2014 at John Protevi's Blog
Pallas, I wrote this with regard to the McAdams / Marquette case, but I think it contains a balancing of conflicting rights in that case that might be a model for what you want in other cases. ---- These remarks attempt to consider three factors: 1) the conventional rights of academic freedom of McAdams; 2) the legal rights under Title VII and IX of students and employees of Marquette to be free of hostile work and educational environments; and 3) Marquette’s legal obligations under Title VII and IX to provide such environments. Given an assumption that university administrations act mostly in terms of risk management — but that their risks are multiple and sometime orthogonal to each other — I wonder what role their estimation of their risk of reprimand relative to their legal obligations under Title VII and IX is playing in their actions. McAdams has an (academic freedom) right to be cantankerous, but he doesn’t have the (legal) right to harass, and MU is obligated to ensure that he doesn't harass with impunity. That’s the crunch point. Now, should defenders of academic freedom be worried about the wording and case law and OCR guidance around Title VII and IX? Yes, absolutely. (We should be horrified at the Garcetti lineage of cases too!) But I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water and junk my legal protections against workplace harassment either. McAdams being clever enough to play the edges doesn’t mean I should have to put up with a stalker. Will MU’s case pass academic critical muster against McAdams, balancing academic freedom qua (conventional) rights of professors and the (legal) Title VII and IX rights of students and colleagues? We’ll see. As for the purely legal side of things, as MU is private there are no First Amendment implications and so McAdams will have to fight his fight purely as a contract law matter; as much as he can claim academic freedom in the court of public and academic opinion, he can’t claim “free speech” in the FA sense of the term. Marquette's desire to uphold Catholic values is going to be important: I don’t know if McAdams has the contractual right to act in the way he does AND to be employed at a Jesuit university whose basic value is “care for the person.” It would be ironic indeed if he loses because of religious freedom of the institution to enforce its code of values. (I don’t know what he thinks about the Hobby Lobby and such decisions; I imagine he liked them at the time, but that he might not like it at the end of his trial.)
Toggle Commented Dec 23, 2014 on Pallas on facebook at Jon Cogburn's Blog
I'm a moral particularist. I don't think we'll find a principle that will justify or outlaw any and all cases of an administration putting a department into receivership, i.e., replacing its chair with another. As such, I think we need to study the messy details of the actual cases where a new chair is installed. In the case of Colorado, this is an account of how it went down. To my eyes, it's difficult to say that the autonomy of the department was "over-ridden" as they asked for a new chair. Now you can say that they were severely constrained here and that they felt that if they didn't ask for a new chair, their dept would be disbanded. But there are other interpretations possible, such as what I would guess would be Boonin's read on it, that the dept members felt they couldn't move forward on their own and needed an outside chair. "External chair decision. After receiving the external report, the department conducted an informal online survey to gather faculty opinions, said Monton, an associate professor. Many of the survey questions centered around Forbes and whether bringing in an external chair — as suggested in the independent report — was a good idea. According to survey data provided by faculty, 17 of 23 people voted that an external chair from another campus department was the best way to move forward. In addition, 20 of 21 respondents said they agreed with the statement, "We do not find Graeme Forbes to be at fault here," and 19 of 21 people said they felt the external report contained "good, constructive" recommendations. Monton said the dean's office conducted its own online survey of the department to see who faculty members would like to become the new chair and what types of traits they looked for in a chair. CU declined to provide the Camera with data from that survey, saying it was protected by the deliberative process privilege. Campus administrators have said they removed Forbes as chair, but Monton said it wasn't that simple. He said given the faculty's survey responses, it was a decision made by the department, which was then backed by Forbes and the administration. "It wasn't an issue of (Forbes) stepping down or being forced out, it was just obvious to most everyone, including him, that bringing in an external chair was a step we needed to take," Monton said."
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2014 on Pallas on facebook at Jon Cogburn's Blog
Pallas, what I am saying is that the second clause of your number 7: "7. At the same time, the Colorado administration has unquestionably destroyed the autonomy of the faculty, and the department faced dire results that it seems could have been avoided had the department dealt with the inappropriate behavior problem in a different way" is not an agreed-upon fact, as it is not agreed-upon by Boonin, the ex-Chair at CU, who denies that the department could have dealt with their problems in an effective way, since they had exhausted all they could do as a department. Further, Boonin thinks this is a false dichotomy: "what you're saying, it seems, is that there was just no way to prevent sexual harassment in the Colorado department other than taking the steps that the administration did, after being handed the report from the Site Visit team." Boonin: "I do not believe that this justifies everything that the administration has done since the Site Review team visited our Department. I’m not going to comment on whether they did the right thing in publicly releasing the report, and I’m not going to say that they made the right call in suspending graduate admissions last year. I’m not even going to say that every strong action they have taken with respect to the various faculty members in the Department with respect to whom they have taken strong action has been justified. But I do think that at least some very strong actions that they have taken with respect to at least some members of the Department have been enormously beneficial. And based on my experience as Department Chair, I have to concede that it is less likely that these kinds of actions would have taken place had the Department been left to continue attempting to address these issues on its own. In that respect, I too am grateful for what Andy Cowell has done for our Department and to the administration for the role that it has played in enabling him to do so." I think it behooves us to listen to Boonin and his colleagues in their letter linked above. It seems Cheryl Abbate, for one, has placed her confidence in them, which should count for something.
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2014 on Pallas on facebook at Jon Cogburn's Blog
Pallas, I have some 1750 FB friends, the vast, vast, vast majority of whom I've never met, nor really have never heard of, yet I accept all requests, except for those that are quite obvious commercial plants (one mutual friend, implausibly beautiful picture, etc.). Not everyone has that policy, but many people do, as I've had many people accept my friend requests w/o having met me (though I do suspect I have a high enough web presence that they would have heard of me). If you think of it in population terms, there will be a distribution of friending thresholds among the recipients of your requests, and you might as well try if you want to, because the worst that can happen is that you remain where you were -- not FB friends with the person who doesn't accept the request. As for professional power dynamics in friending, there was a discussion recently in which the proposal was made that one should never put out a "friend down" request -- especially in the same department or school -- as that puts too much pressure on the person asked to accept, and might lead them to think they were being spied upon. Whereas (I think this was the proposal) you should always accept "friend up" requests, as the requestor might a) just want to be FB friends and / or b) might want to network with you, but hey, there's nothing wrong with networking. Okay, to shift gears. I think the first 6 of your points about Colorado are indeed widely accepted as agreed-upon facts. I think however that the second clause of 7 departs from that status. You write: "7. At the same time, the Colorado administration has unquestionably destroyed the autonomy of the faculty, and the department faced dire results that it seems could have been avoided had the department dealt with the inappropriate behavior problem in a different way." But David Boonin, CU Phil Dept member and ex-Chair of the dept, in his comment here writes: "I think it’s fair to say that what I and the Department did under my leadership did not prove to be enough. And while I feel confident that my successor as Chair, Graeme Forbes, was at least as vigilant about addressing such issues as I was, I think it’s also fair to say that problems persisted during his time as Chair, too. I don’t want to get into the question here of whether this is because Graeme and I were ineffective as Chairs or because there are serious limits to what, on his or her own, any Department Chair can do about these kinds of problems. The relevant point, to my mind, is simply that over a fairly long period of time, the Department did not prove able to satisfactorily address these issues when it was essentially left to try to do so on its own." From Boonin's testimony, the dept tried many approaches and yet failed to resolve its problems on its own. The rest of his comment, and the statement of the CU tenured women philosophers to which he is responding ( is well worth reading.
Toggle Commented Dec 21, 2014 on Pallas on facebook at Jon Cogburn's Blog
John Protevi Phyllis M Taylor Professor of French Studies Professor of Philosophy Louisiana State University
I am very poorly informed about the situation described in this appeal, which I received via an intermediary, but I would welcome discussion of the issues and links to more information. Here is a link to the website of the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at John Protevi's Blog