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Jon Cogburn
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Actually these guys are kind of jerks. Silcox and I originally pitched Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy to Blackwell. The series editor was excited about it but the marketing people made us write another marketing report and then rejected it because there was no "marketable moment" like a Dungeons and Dragons movie. So Silcox and I sent the proposal to Open Court, which accepted it (the book has been out for a couple of years now - ). As far as I've been able to piece this together, Blackwell gave the book to Robichaud (a book with the same name as the book Silcox and I pitched) after Open Court put our book as forthcoming on the Open Court web site. Robichaud is not a philosopher but who has done a number of these titles for Blackwell. After that it got very weird. Robichaud didn't contact his own authors for a long time, so when Open Court came out with our book, his own authors wrote angry e-mails to Mark and I assuming that it was the same book (naturally, it has the same title) and that we didn't like their papers but hadn't bothered to tell them they were rejected. It was just surreal. Then, other Open Court editors wrote us saying that the Blackwell series editor had done the same thing to them. You can't copywrite titles and "X and Philosophy" is too broad to constitute intellectual property, even if you are the one who actually pitched the thing to the press. A lawyer friend of mine looked at the proposal and marketing reports that Silcox and I did and said the last bit gave maybe a 50/50 chance of winning a court case, but at no point were Mark and I interested in doing that. For about two weeks our book was in Barnes and Nobles type stores, but then Open Court got bought out by e-books and all of their physical titles were taken off of the floors (I assume that the remaindering tax write off was part of how they made money on the acquisition). But the Blackwell popular culture volumes are still in physical bookstores. So this non-philosopher who edited a book that we pitched (and which has the same title) is getting shelf space in premier book stores. I realize that this is a first-world problem, but it's still a little bit irritating.
Hey, it's great to hear from you. I'm pretty sure I was a regular reader of your blog. I'm mostly just kvetching above. I don't at all have a beef with respect to what you describe. I am rubbed wrong by the use of the public assertion of beliefs as a way to differentiate between us good folks and everybody else (if there's anything to Nietzsche's claim that the last Christian died on the cross, it's surely do to the way this kind of thing works out in religion). Too often there's an undercurrent of rams butting horns just for the sake of doing so. And the us verses them thing is morally dangerous because it functions to allow us to remain incognizant of all of our own problems. "I believe x, y, and zed; therefore, I'm a good person" is just fallacious, but I find that the blogosphere more often then not reinforces it as a kind of sick pragmatic enthymeme. I also rubbed wrong by a lack of humility with respect to the futility of one's own gestures. Two of the reasons I had to leave newapps are related to this. First, much of what I posted seemed completely frivolous to the people who don't differentiate philosophy from political activism. Second, I did things like link to conservatives such as Rod Dreher. I should note that it's fine if people don't want to be part of a group blog where someone is too often facetious or who links to Rod Dreher, but the idea that it makes one whit of difference to the world whether newapps contains frivolous or Rod Dreher linking posts is just ridiculous. At the end of Bertrand Russell's wonderful little book, The Problems of Philosophy, he adduces two values to philosophy. First, it radically expands our sense of what is possible. Second, it teaches us to be humble. I think he was absolutely right about the value of both of these things, but I'm not so sure that academic philosophy really accomplishes them very reliably.
Ha! The shoe fits. Thanks for the great links. I wasn't familiar with either seriouseats or food52 and they're both absolutely fantastic. The article on what to do with thanksgiving leftovers ( is pretty inspired. Sichuan-Style Hot and Numbing Sliced Turkey is in my future as is the Turkey and potato soup showcased at food52.
Thanks, that's an extremely helpful comparison. It's actually a very pressing issue in its own right, one that I think I got wrong during a fair portion of the interminable moral panics at newapps. For example, I feel so strongly about gay rights issues that it was just very hard for me to see people defending Christian colleges' rights to discriminate against gay people as informed people of good will, and in some of my public comments I didn't treat them as such. I bitterly regret that and have since had the chance to privately apologize to some of the people involved. As I said in the OP, there's already debate among feminist scholars about many of the issues you raise. I'm *not* trying to dismiss the substantive points you are making by saying this. Philosophers haven't been much involved in debates about the three waves of feminism, so there's all sorts of new things at the intersection. What I am saying is that your case would be made much more charitably if you used existing work by feminist scholars to shed light on what you take to be problematic about "feminist philosophy" as it tends to be manifest on the blogosphere. If you just did a little digging about contentious issues involving the three waves, you wouldn't need to contrast real versus phony feminism, wouldn't need to engage in anything approaching name-calling, and you wouldn't need to be trying to reinvent the wheel. I also think people would be less defensive in reaction to your critical arguments as a result. Again, I'm going to do a post about name-calling some time in the next week.
Thanks for taking the time to share. I'm going to do a separate stand-alone post in the next few days trying to show what I find problematic about the specific varieties of name calling that pervaded pmb and pervades pmmb. I'll be interested in your thoughts. I think I'm particularly sensitized to this kind of thing since I grew up in Alabama during the dying days of legal Apartheid. Note that there's a kind of white racist (sometimes even well-meaning, just very ignorant) who defends using the n-word because when he uses the n-word it's only supposed to refer to the bad ones. I do think that "feminidiot," "feminast," "feminazi," etc. are analogous in important and relevant ways, and I'll try to show as much in my post.
I actually think it's pretty wonderful on its own merits. The only way it could possibly be better is if Morrison had somehow included reference to the last batch of insane letters to Cosima Wagner, Jacob Burkhardt, Peter Gast, etc, all signed by Nietzsche as "The Crucified." But it's nearly perfect as is.
Yeah, it's probably a normal part of psychological maturation to become sensitized to the persona. If you take out GoM and TBoT all that's left is marketplace Schopenhauer with that kind of Ayn Rand condescending affectation thrown in (she actually got it from him).
I'm sorry Anon, nobody mentioned disability in the anonymous posts that you are talking about, and the his OP makes no sense if it is supposed to be about shunning anonymous people. Wallace called him out and he backtracked. This isn't some paranoid thing on my part. From e-mails I know that lots of people interpreted them the same way that I did and during this last week friends have tried to get me to read comments about me on public facebook threads made during the same time he posted the shunning thing. I do agree with you that I've made too big a deal about this. One, if he was at all successful people would have commented on the original execrable post. Two, Schliesser's original post was much more problematic if only because it was actually clear what he was saying.
She's four years old.
Thanks for this. On the second point- The passive aggressive attack on me is not in the actual post, but in the post to which he links and whose moral he reiterates in yesterday's post. Again, it's at where Kazarian endorses Schliesser's recommendation of shunning philosophers, but extends the proposal from people who sue colleagues or students to bloggers whose posts Kazarian determines to involve retaliation against members of groups of people who are discriminated against. It's not even possible that he means to be talking about the majority of philosophers in that post because if only a minority of philosophers shunned the majority in the way Schliesser describes (not inviting to talks, not accepting papers, etc.) it wouldn't make any difference. In the original post he gives the example of people who retaliate against disabled people, but doesn't name any names. Many, many people reading that took it to refer to me and Brian Leiter because we are the only people he's ever attacked by name (on newapps and facebook). His criticisms of me referred to a post I did about people who hector those they disagree with because of supposed ableist speech. On the first part- The "Policing the borders in philosophy" in Kazarian's title is meant to refer to differentiating philosophy from non-philosophy as well as holding that certain figures in Western philosophy are justly canonical. This is a big debate in SPEP that Steinbock discusses in his recent presidential address in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Steinbock argues that SPEP should not be considered as essentially involved with preserving a neglected part of the canon (German Idealism, Phenomenology, Critical Theory, Post-Structuralism) but should rather be identified with a sort of Levinasian attitude of openness to the other and the new. People who reject Steinbock's conclusion are border policers. This is a fine debate to have, though I disagree with Steinbock et. al. Steinbock's article is very good, and does not confuse the attack on the canon with attempts to make the set of philosophers more ethnically diverse. This confusion is what Henry Louis Gates attacks in his book with respect to African and African American Studies. First, it's a risible claim on its own merits. As if the reason we teach the Greeks and Germans is because it will increase the number of Greek and German students in the field. Second, it involves an unfair, subtle moral criticism of defenders of the canon as upholders of ethnic and gender superiority. To be clear, I think the canon should be expanded to include the philosophical traditions of non-Western and gender excluded thinkers. The Japanese philosophers into Heidegger don't study him in support of affirmative action, but because his thought is worth attending to. I also strongly support affirmative action with respect to faculty, and think that success there will remediate the gender and ethnic disparity among our students. But I still think there should be a canon and that there are good reasons that certain figures are canonical. To conflate attacking or even extending the canon with making academic philosophy more diverse is bad in all sorts of ways. Among other things, it's condescendingly racist and sexist. But it's also only defensible with respect to a crappy kind of relativism that can't recognize the objective import of the mighty dead.
Let me apologize profusely for this. In the future I'll do revisions *before* I post the thing. I think (as usual) your comments are interesting and worth thinking about, so I'd rather leave them. As far as I can tell from looking at cached versions (, the only major difference was that I took out the paragraph I cut and pasted into comment 2.
I have struggled about how to write about the difficulties I've had with my son Thomas, really since he was born. Mostly, I just haven't, even on Facebook. Part of the reason is because most people simply don't understand. As a result, I knew that I'd invite a lot of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2014 at Emily's Pretty Cool Blog
Anonym, Thank you. This is a very fair request, and I think an attempted explanation would be really helpful as well as philosophically interesting. I'm absolutely crushed for time this next week, but if anyone else wants to have a go, please take a stab at it and I can maybe post the comment as a guest post. If not I'll do a post the week after.
I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to respond, and for doing so in a way that will be helpful to anyone reading this.
Thank you. That's a great idea. I've added an update and mea culpa at the top.
Wow, thanks. That's oddly moving. . . I love how it ends in a Ric Flair woo. Sonically, much of it sounds like when musicians put the guitar track on backwards like in Hendrix's "Are You Experienced" or the Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping."
Cool beans. If you ever want to do a guest post about anything, just shoot me an e-mail. I could add a brief footnote saying you aren't Meena Krishnamurthy or you could use a different nom de plume if you want. But if you don't want to do that, that's great too.
Thanks. These are really helpful points. I think you are right that the analogy to the anti-Apartheid movement in the United States is strained at best. As far as I can tell, the biggest part of our disagreement comes down to judgments about how the utilitarian calculus goes. I still can't help but think the following: (1) I'm not at all convinced that these two cases are going to have any kind of chilling effect (though I think this is something that reasonable people of good will can disagree about) over and above the awful state of affairs already facing victims. (2) I think there are a lot of other things we could be doing that are more likely to help this state of affairs (for example, please see today's post about what some of us are trying to do with respect to toxic aspects of Greek culture at LSU). (3) The culture of shunning that Eric and I helped promulgate at oldnewapps and that is ascendent in newnewapps seems to me to be on the whole a very bad thing for philosophy (again, I think that reasonable people of good will can disagree about this). (4) The harm that Ludlow and Barnett have already suffered is not hypothetical and thus should have more weight in the utilitarian considerations. Barnett faces losing his job and to the extent that the shunning is successful he will not be able to get another one. Again, I don't intend to be making any judgment about the case because none of us are in any position to know. (5) I think the campaign is self-defeating. This kind of shunning makes up a non-trivial amount of the damage relevant to establishing defamation in the United States. Two brief things beyond the weighing of utils. Even though the civil rights analogy was strained, I do think that to ruin someone's livelihood for exercising their legal rights is to abrogate those rights. I realize that we might disagree about this, or disagree about whether that even really describes what is being proposed. I'm not sure this is significant though. As long as one takes act utilitarian concerns to trump concerns about rights in *some* cases (as they surely do), it would still be possible to defend the shunning campaign while saying it involves an abrogation of the shunned's rights. This being said, I think the bar is very high in these kinds of cases. It must be very clear how the utils pan out with respect to each course of action, and the difference should pass a high thresh-hold. For the reasons given above, I just don't think they do here. Anyhow, if you have time, please have the last word as far as this exchange with me on this issue. I look forward to reading it.
Anon, Thanks tons for the clarification. It makes a lot more sense now.
Are you the philosop-her whose comment I put as a guest post at ? That was great stuff.
Please, please forgive me if I'm being obtuse, but wouldn't that reasoning apply to any victim of any crime whatsoever thinking about bringing charges against a perpetrator? Would it be justifiable to have a policy that the accused can never bring defamation charges against accusers? I think your point about our specific obligations to the communities that we find ourselves in, and how these obligations can trump general rules, is both plausible and relevant to this worry. Maybe I'm too pessimistic about the possibility of the blogosphere bringing about positive change, but I feel like I'm being asked to trade a clear injustice to Ludlow and Barnett* for the possibility (the realization of which is not clear to me) that this injustice might be optimal in the long run utilitarian calculus. Maybe the main difference then is that this doesn't seem like a clear injustice to Ludlow and Barnett to you? Is the argument that we're not abrogating their right to sue just by jointly punishing them in legal ways for exercising that right? This seems fishy to me though, too similar to Ron Paul type arguments against civil rights laws, where they attempt to argue that private citizens refusing to publicly accommodate minorities is not an abrogation of minority's ability to exercise her rights.
What you write seems to articulate to me pretty well the more general utilitarian considerations as well as considerations involving rights (which should not be dismissed with respect to footwear or lawsuits). To be fair on the latter, a libertarian might argue that it's no violation of rights to refuse to hire someone, refuse to publish their papers, etc. if they own shoes (GradStudent is correct that no one is defending a law against defamation suits), but that still doesn't seem very plausible.
That seems right to me as far as it goes from a rule utilitarian perspective. Of course there are two responses. (1) The conclusion only follows if the bad consequences are clearly worse than the consequences of not allowing the people to sue. (2) There are problems with rule utilitarianism that might be relevant to this case. Generally, I find act utilitarianism and Kantian ethics both to be more plausible than rule utilitarianism, and I think the case is much less clearer on either way. I don't know.
Thank you. I agree with everything you write, but it still seems to me that much of this is a reason to let courts (with experienced judges, rules of evidence, and neutral adjudicators) sort this stuff out. If I were Ludlow or Barnett I couldn't help but feel that I'd already been tried and found guilty by the internet. The shunning that Schliesser calls for seem to me to already be in full effect. Without making any judgment whatsoever of the facts of the case, I think it's understandable that they'd want to legally clear their names. I think that your points that the cost of reporting is already high and there are far more cases that go unreported than there are cases of false reports need to be shouted to the heavens over and over again, especially when something like this comes up. High profile, visible cases effect what people take to be typical.