Saucers of Mud

July 9, 2019

Brian Leiter Is A Disgrace To Philosophy

Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 1:29 pm

(Matt Weiner, University of Vermont)

It seems that a graduate student in philosophy with a pseudonymous account lightly mocked Leiter on philosophy. In response, Leiter posted his full name and insulted him. When Kate Manne criticized him for this, Leiter took his Twitter account private (claiming “harassment” and “shameless misrepresentations”) where he has apparently continued disparaging Manne and the grad student to fairly prominent media figures.

It seems as though Leiter has also been attacking grad students who are outspoken about philosophy’s transphobia problem. I say “it seems” because I don’t read Leiter’s blog when I can help it, because in an ideal world nobody would. A couple of times before I’ve run across his transphobia and attempts to police the discourse–at least I believe that the “Brian” in the second link who said it was “authoritarian” to criticize someone for posting a link to a transphobic post is Leiter.

As many folks in that discussion have said, it is a bad thing for an influential professor to attack graduate students, who are going to be applying for jobs on an always difficult market, and who will have to worry about whether their job prospects will be hurt because people on the job committees heard something bad about them from that professor. We shouldn’t create a climate where grad students feel fear about speaking out about important issues and important issues affecting the discipline.

But also, it’s a disgrace to philosophy that Leiter has been able to attain such a position of influence. He has always been awful. We are coming up on five years since hundreds of philosophers vowed not to participate in the Leiter-run Philosophical Gourmet Report (a bad thing anyway) because of bullying behavior from Leiter that started when he took a post where a philosopher vowed to treat others with respect as a threat and threatened litigation over it. More background here. Why do any philosophers listen to Leiter’s invective? Why did we ever?

I endorse Justin Weinberg’s statement that we ought to respect and support Christa Peterson, one of the grad students Leiter and others have targeted; and for Nathan Oseroff-Spicer as well.

UPDATE: To coin a phrase, yikes.

2 Comments »

  1. […] If the behavior documented above is transphobic, and I think it’s hard to make a case that it isn’t, then it’s not “cruel and abusive rhetoric” to describe it as transphobic. Much of the rhetoric used by these philosophers is cruel and abusive itself. This is not to mention the frequent cruel and abusive rhetoric deployed by the philosophers who’ve exhibited transphobia against their non-trans critics, such as this, this, this, and many more examples. (A small sample of the reasons I don’t like Leiter.) […]

    Pingback by Is It Ever Correct To Describe A Philosopher As Transphobic? Yes. | Saucers of Mud — July 23, 2019 @ 4:49 pm

  2. […] by Leiter on his blog; if I minded the prospect of Leiter attacking me, I wouldn’t have publicly expressed such a thoroughly negative opinion of him. But, interest declared, if you need […]

    Pingback by A Bit More on the Current Transphobia Wars | Saucers of Mud — July 28, 2019 @ 10:58 pm


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