Saucers of Mud

May 4, 2017

On the truth-value of some of Brian Leiter’s statements

Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 9:04 am

There is a controversy going on about a certain philosophical article and a letter written in response to it. I don’t want to address the underlying merits at all. (You can find out about it if you follow some of these links.) But I did notice something odd.

At Feminist Philosophers, Prof. Manners noted that Brian Leiter had publicly posted a list of the signatories to the letter (which I believe has since been taken down), and expressed concern that this would lead to “mobbing” behavior. Leiter responded in comments: “There will be no ‘mobbing’ here, since I will moderate comments [to his post] and am limiting the thread to those who signed the open letter.”

His post itself statements, “Only signatories to the letter may post here (including signatories not mentioned above, whom I missed).” But the comments appear to be from someone calling themselves “gprofessx” and from an Anonymous account (linking to comments made offsite). These do not appear to be signatories to the letter. Indeed, the gprofessx profile links to a German-language blog that describes itself as neoreactionary, and which retweets notorious misogynists (to put it mildly) such as Roosh V and Scott Adams.

So it seems as though Leiter announced a policy of only approving posts from the people he was attacking, and promptly violated that policy, instead signal-boosting someone who looks to be a pretty vicious misogynist. Perhaps Leiter mistakenly thought that this post was from a signatory? One hopes he would be more careful.



  1. Leiter says at Feminist Philosophers:

    “I am running a number of open threads on my blog, that have attracted many comments. I failed to realize that some comments were, in fact, submitted on the thread that was only for signatories, rather than the other threads. I’ve now removed them. But instead of charitably assuming an innocent error on my part, which I would correct, you opted for the uncharitable approach of which, ironically, you accuse me. But let me be clear: you’re entitled to your idiosyncratic standards of what counts as “unnecessarily aggressive” engagement, but this is a matter of taste, and your taste is not of any interest to me. But I do appreciate your catching this mistake.”

    This also appears to be false. As of this posting the comments by non-signatories are still up.

    Comment by matt w — May 10, 2017 @ 9:45 am

  2. And now, after I pointed out the falsity of the above-quoted post (at Feminist Philosophers), Leiter has deleted one of the three comments that were left on his blog post. This was a comment that criticized the statements by a signatory that were linked to in the comments by gprofessx and Anon. But the comments by gprofessx and Anon remain as of my last check.

    Perhaps his idea is that it’s OK to leave up the comments by gprofessx and Anon even though they are not signatories, because they link to posts by signatories. But this is still a plain violation of his assertion that he was “limiting the thread to those who signed the open letter.” The comments that remain were not made by those who signed the open letter. Those who signed the open letter chose not to comment on the thread; so other people who link to those comments in that thread are not respecting the wishes of the signatories. And, given the content of the gprofessx account and blog, it’s hard to believe that the person who left that comment meant to respect the signatory’s wishes.

    If Leiter had meant that he was going to restrict the thread to statements by signatories and links to statements by signatories supplied by third parties, he could have said that, rather that what he did say. It seems shabby that he asked Prof. Manners to approve a comment in which he stated that he was limiting the thread to those who signed the open letter, and then failed to do so. And his claim that this was an accident is undermined by his claim to have cleaned up the thread when he hadn’t.

    Comment by matt w — May 10, 2017 @ 3:14 pm

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