What It’s Like to Exit Professional Philosophy: Crispin Sartwell. By Z and Crispin Sartwell.

APP Editors’ Note: What is it like to exit professional philosophy? The first item below is re-posted from Crispin Sartwell’s blog. It refers to the amazing “Out.” The second is new and exclusive to APP.

And this just arrived from CS: “update. i have been removed from my campus on the grounds that posting miranda lambert’s video ‘time to get a gun’ constitutes a threat!”

Unbelievable: edgy speech is not abusive speech. Here are the most relevant bits of that linked post:

By edgy speech … I mean speech whose primary intent is to be dissenting, disobedient, resistant, and transgressive, for aesthetic or moral reasons.

Edgy speech is never abusive and always morally permissible and First-Amendment-protected.

But edgy speech can be, and often is, offensive to people who are either authoritarians (aka assholes, fuckers) or over-sensitive (aka crybabies, weenies).

And then there’s the hybrid category of “fuckweenies,” i.e., over-sensitive authoritarians.

In the ideologically-disciplined context of professional life, edgy speech usually scares good little professionals shitless; and it also not infrequently triggers them into a coercive moralist, witch-hunting frenzy.

It also enrages their administrators and political overlords.

Edgy speech is unprofessional, therefore “bad.”

This is particularly true in the ideologically hyper-disciplined context of contemporary professional academic philosophy.

Am I right that this is now what is happening at Dickinson to Sartwell, or am I right?

By the same absolutely absurd, coercive moralist reasoning used by the Dickinson administration, anyone associated with any college or university who ever talked about, used in class, or posted an online reference to, any work of art with some grammatical variant of the verb ‘to get’ and the word ‘gun’ in the title, would be a threat.

For example, teaching Dalton Trumbo’s Pulitzer-prize winning 1938 novel, Johnny Got his Gun in American literature classes.

Or what about showing the 1950 Hollywood musical, Annie Get Your Gun in film-studies class?

Better ban everyone named ‘Johnny’ or ‘Annie’ from campus too, just in case.

This is institutional insanity inside the Professional Academic State. Get it together, Dickinson.

1. Plague.

March 28, 2016, Eye of the Storm

people seem to think i buried the lead, even though this is not what i think is most important. so here is bunch from late in the post below, also now expanded yet again.

you know, i sat in an american society for aesthetics session and literally listened to someone, jim carney, read back a paper i wrote and sent him a couple of months before. i just talked to him outside; he purported to have a neurological disorder. you know when something like that happens, it strikes you that if you just happened to hear that there might be others. never tried to check. here’s what i told myself: i’ve got plenty to go around, and i am opposed to intellectual property (although definitely not opposed to crediting your sources, particularly if one of those sources is the author of your paper). i think i actually emailed semi-politely with carney after that. after a couple he asked me what i was working on, would i send it along? he promised, not this time! neurological disorder! ever since then, the asa has been consistently rejecting my papers or any panel i was associated with. odd, when at least in my opinion i have done as much and as good aesthetics as anyone.

alexander nehamas was also a friend of danto’s. our books on beauty have the same epigraph, i’m assuming (well, sort of hoping) that he gave it to us both. nehamas writes to revive a more erotic, desire-based conception of beauty, just precisely what i had done for routledge 5 years before, without the elitist obfuscation and excruciating taste. also infinitely less pretentiously and more beautifully. i found this out the hard way when i ordered the thing sight unseen (i think on danto’s recommendation) for my beauty course. oh yeah we both published books titled the art of living. let me see if i get this right? mine was 1993 from suny after going through several publishers. his was 2000 from harvard (oops i checked it: california, as low as alexander nehamas ever sank on the publishing pecking order), ecstatically received. let me see, what is his academic position? he does read greek, though. i had concluded long before his book appeared that ‘the art of living’ was a lame title, so go for it, man. go try to find a single review of mine, though. wrong publisher? definitely, but thank the good lord for suny press. in mine, i actually gave a new theory of art. now it needed some refinements, but it got the spirit of what art is.

another thing i’ll add to the nehamas case: the position was definitely not danto’s, had hardly been part of the literature since burke. suddenly there it was twice. i am an expert on that. now i’m thinking i should take each sentence of that stanford article and put it into jstor and see what comes back. but however, i don’t really care that much! i think i actually literally threw the thing away, but i don’t think i was in the index, which is just insane. i do wonder whether only a promise of happiness won any awards? you could xerox them and send them on. i will whiteout his name and put my own, and comfort myself with them.
oh yes, just for the hell of it, i invented the swamping problem – which, i’m told, is one of the major problems of contemporary epistemology and also a decisive refutation of reliabilism – in cargile’s epistemology seminar in 1987. the first thing i did with it was refute reliabilism. i think that one’s in a box under my house. B+ dude. are you beginning to get the picture? i couldn’t get the book in which i did that, which would have been my first book, published, put it on amazon decades later. at publisher after publisher they sent it to the people who had already laughingly, with such bad arguments, slapped me down. right. william lycan. that’s when i quit epistemology. i tried to catch up a bit. i think the swamping problem revolutionized epistemology when linda zagzebski invented it in the late nineties. i am in the footnotes. very same paper. but not in the swamping bit.

zagzebski’s discussion is remarkably close recapitulation of mine, including the very same quotes trimmed the very same way. and she does footnote my paper, almost randomly: ‘one person who denies this is.’ but then it is completely palpable that her own presentation is a raw recapitulation of mine. and she has gotten credit for the swamping problem for all this time. looking at it squarely, it’s pretty bold, obvious academic misconduct.

i will also say this: in some sense the swamping problem was my central contribution to epistemology, one of the best ideas i ever had. it turned out to be a major contribution to epistemology. but it has been credited entirely to zagzebski. the movement to the style of theory of beauty in 6 names of beauty is certainly, in my mind, my central contribution to aesthetics. nehamas has been extremely widely celebrated for it; myself far less so. that will tick a professor off! and then to se it happen with different figures, different disciplines: it really makes you wonder what else is out there. and it really drives you to despair, actually.

by that time, i guess, i was so dead in academic philosophy that people just felt free. well, nature needs carrion feeders, too. i comfort myself with the fact that i am a much better writer than nehamas or zagzebski, which admittedly is like saying you’re taller than marco rubio. not carney, though. we are equals. what happens when in an exploratory way you email alexander nehamas or linda zagzebski, both saying and not saying you are biting me. we should connect! our work is so similar! we work on the same issues! well, i’m not sure exactly what happens; i only know you will never get a reply.

the purpose of this entry was not to level accusations. but now it is. so i will begin the documentation project. to begin with i am talking about these two papers:

mine (journal of philosophy, april 1992)
and hers (metaphilosophy, january 1993)

here is one extremely telling moment. in quite the same discussion, at quite the same point, we quote bonjour. her:

The basic role of justification is that of a means to truth, a more directly attainable mediating link between our subjective starting point and our objective goal. . . .If epistemic justification were not conducive to truth in this way, if finding epistemically justified beliefs did not substantially increase the likelihood of finding true ones, then epistemic justification would be irrelevant to our main cognitive goal and of dubious worth. It is only if we have some reason for thinking that epistemic justification constitutes a path to truth that we as cognitive beings have any motive for preferring epistemically justified beliefs to epistemically unjustified ones. Epistemic justification is therefore in the final analysis only an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. (BonJour 1985, 7–8)14

me:

If epistemic justification were not conducive to truth in this way, if finding epistemically justified beliefs did not substantially increase the likelihood of finding true ones, then epistemic justification would be irrelevant to our main cognitive goal and of dubious worth. It is only if we have some reason for thinking that epistemic justification constitutes a path to truth that we as cognitive beings have any motive for preferring epistemically justified beliefs to epistemically unjustified ones. Epistemic justification is therefore in the final analysis only an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. (ibid. p. 8)

she’s quoting bonjour, not me. but this just makes it obvious, alright? i quoted the same passage in my very first published presentation in american philosophical quarterly, april 1991, making the very same argument. any philosopher will see that part. i use it almost casually to attack reliabilsm on page 162. it is a decisive refutation of reliabilism; only i have ever recognized that until zabgzebski put her name on it. i had much more, even liable to be in the unpublished book. many other resemblances will appear if you look at the papers. keep in mind publications, dates, etc.

let me address to you a question: how does a profession publish an article in arguably its top journal, then a raw plagiarism of it in metaphilosophy and no one sees it? tip of an infinite iceberg? y’all don’t seem particularly attentive. how can i be discovering this a quarter century later?

these same big names who regarded my work as ridiculous regarded hers as revolutionary. take a searching and fearless moral inventory is my advice to your. scholarly too. where was robert audi? where was paul moser? where the fuck was laurence bonjour, alvin goldman? i was sure under the impression they were reading everything in this area at the time. they were trying to project that about themselves when they all gathered in a single room at the apa and put me down forever, after which this idiotic knowledge is merely true belief thing was over. they didn’t even notice that i won the argument. there should be reparations, like when you wrongly condemn a man to life imprisonment. over and over and over (see entry below).

i hate to say it, i think a lot of her work rests on this argument. it is absolutely my argument. perhaps i’ll let other people evaluate later papers? or even this one, more thoroughly if they need to. in a way i can hardly bear to read it. this is enough, it seems to me.
i’m taking back what i said earlier about not a clear case of plagiarism.

i took these one by one at the time, just kind of decided not to let shit like this obsess me and turn me from the next project. but looking at it all together (there might be some more questionable cases in my mind), it is rather disturbing. obviously what i’m saying about nehamas and zagzebski is right there on the surface; it hardly needs any documentation. (well, i would have to show that my paper does indeed formulate the swamping problem. best procedure: read it.) then again these are not perfectly clear cases of plagiarism, are they? the carney would be a bit harder. maybe i have old discs with the emails, or maybe there’s a recording of the session. i certainly talked a lot to people about that there. i think danto? one context or another for sure. no help. i think arnold berleant? (we both eventually got purged from the asa as insufficiently kantian.) plus jim carney was never worth a big hassle in any respect.

and look i never went and tried to find out what was out there, though some things hit you between the eyes. for one reason or another, such things might make you never go to a conference again, like you don’t know who you might see and how it might go from there. sadly i am no necro. there definitely are plenty of other reasons not to go to conferences, though, like that all the people hate you and despise your work.

on the other hand, i should be proud to add my talent to the collective. i have been a resource for some of the most eminent philosophers in the world; seems like they might sort of be impossible without me. it’s like being kant in the 19th century. footnotes would help, though.

note to the apa. the thing that actually got me to just decide to quit academia was the anti-bullying thing. and that was what made me decide to write the entry below, which began to expand into this. i think you may see what bullying really is pretty quick.

2. The Case Against Linda Zagzebski.

March 2, 2016

mine (Journal of Philosophy, April 1992)

and hers (Metaphilosophy,January 1993)

Zabzebski is credited with a profound innovation, which she calls the value
problem, and was later called the swamping problem: one of the most
important innovations in recent epistemology. I invented the swamping
problem in a graduate epistemology seminar in 1987 at the University of
Virginia. It is my best idea in epistemology. The first thing I did with it
was refute reliabilism.

It may appear that Zagzebski’s citation of my paper is exonerating. It is
wholly damning. It is a thowaway not not bearing on any of her arguments.
She does not footnote me anywhere near where she re-states my argument, or
attribute a single one of my own ideas to me. *But the footnote proves she
had the paper. *This is utterly damning; I invite you to consider the whole
situation.

Zagzebski’s discussion in her section 1 (pp. 12-20) is remarkably close
recapitulation of mine in (section III. pp. 172-180), including the very
same quote trimmed the very same way, introduced in identical terms.

Here is a breathtaking plagiarism:

Zagzebski, “The Source of the Epistemic Good,” Metaphilosophy p.16:

Notice that in this passage BonJour understands the value of justification
the same way the reliabilist does, as something that is good because it is
truth conducive. The internality of justification has nothing to do with
its value on BonJour’s account. But as we have seen, if the feature that
converts true belief into knowledge is good just because of its
conduciveness to truth, we are left without an explanation of why knowing p
is better than merely truly believing.

The basic role of justification is that of a means to truth, a more
directly attainable mediating link between our subjective starting point
and our objective goal. . . .If epistemic justification were not conducive
to truth in this way, if finding epistemically justified beliefs did not
substantially increase the likelihood of finding true ones, then epistemic
justification would be irrelevant to our main cognitive goal and of dubious
worth. It is only if we have some reason for thinking that epistemic
justification constitutes a path to truth that we as cognitive beings have
any motive for preferring epistemically justified beliefs to epistemically
unjustified ones. Epistemic justification is therefore in the final
analysis only an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. (BonJour 1985,
7–8)14

Sartwell, “Why Knowledge is Merely True Belief,” p. 173:

The reliabilist Alvin Goldman claims, similarly, that a condition on an
account of justification is that beliefs justified on the account be likely
to be true; he says that a plausible conception of justification will be
“truth-linked” ( op. cit. 116-21) . And the coherentist Luaurence Bonjour
puts it even more strongly (p. 173).

If epistemic justification were not conducive to truth in this way, if
finding epistemically justified beliefs did not substantially increase the
likelihood of finding true ones, then epistemic justification would be
irrelevant to our main cognitive goal and of dubious worth. It is only if
we have some reason for thinking that epistemic justification constitutes a
path to truth that we as cognitive beings have any motive for preferring
epistemically justified beliefs to epistemically unjustified ones.
Epistemic justification is therefore in the final analysis only an
instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. (ibid. p. 8)

The introductions are conceptually indistinguishable, the quotes identical.
If you look at the sections, you will see that the arguments over a long
haul are quite identical.

This is a devastating, though it seems small: Zagzebski does actually cite
my paper (p. 13) in a footnote, proving that she had consulted it. And yet
it is just a wave near the beginning. It does not attribute any of her
ideas or mine to me (satisfy yourself). Then she goes on to practically
quote that very paper without attributing the ideas to me.

To clarify this point: if you consider the role of the reference in the
paper, it is damning not exonerating, attributing none of the material to
me but demonstrating that she had the paper on her desk more or less. It is
very decisive in proving the plagiarism if you understand where the
reference is and what she does with it.

These points are dispositive. A longer look into the papers will show
identity in the central argument that cannot be explained by any other
plausible means.

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Z

About Z

Z is a 50-something cosmopolitan anarcho-philosopher, and previously was a tenured full professor of philosophy at a public university somewhere in North America, but still managed to escape with his life.