it doesn't actually bother me that trump yaps the way he does, though i've seen plenty at this point. but i do think the russia connection might should prove fatal. it needs a hook in trump, but the whole thing is disturbing.
the guardian, among others, is insisting on interpreting trump's banter as a threat of assassination. but meanwhile this is a hell of a story: assange hints that murdered dnc staffer was the source of the leaks. if so, obviously the murder is an issue, though who knows? and also, if he was the leaker, what was all this crap about the russians? definitely taking on that scandal/house of cards flavor. the first thing one would wonder is whether seth rich was a sanders supporter: that would be motivation for the leak. obviously, all is speculation at this point, but it does have that might-blow-sky-high smell right now. this could be the wildest presidential campaign in us history.
meanwhile, the petition put up by joel pust and jeff jordan has gathered over 200 signatures, and i must say it's quite a lineup. by all means sign if you can be plausibly described as an academic and if you haven't already.
so amazed and pleased that the gofundme campaign has exceeded its goal! i am leaving it up, for legal expenses are likely to well exceed this. but thank you so much, folks. you're on the right side on this one. also, a petition is circulating for academics to express their...misgivings about dickinson's actions.
This is how my students appropriate, when they do: they cut and paste off Wikipedia (or whatever it may be), then replace a few synonyms with synonyms, recast slightly, etc. Both Jones and Zagzebski do that with my discussion.
But I call Zagzebski's plagiarism and not Jones's. Jones does introduce the argument with a quote from me, and I feel he does enough to avoid plagiarism. For one thing, someone interested in this argument or this question would naturally be directed to my papers by Jones's discussion.
Now it is just possible that Zagzebski cribbed the discussion from Jones. But then, she does not footnote Jones at all, so that would also be misconduct. And I will say again that though Zagzebski does give a reference to my papers, it is just a wave that indicates no connection at all to the relevant argument. I feel she does directly misuse the material, either mine (pretty obviously, I think) or Jones's. Either way...
just to begin the re-defense of 'knowledge is merely true belief': say you had some commitment to economy, ockham's razor, the simplest law-like explanation for apparently disparate phenomena. (that's supposedly stephen hawking's first criterion of theory choice, e.g.) don't you think you should see how far you can get with k=tb? not going to find a simpler among the proposed theories of knowledge, i believe (truly).
Again, I want to say that I haven't accused anyone except Zagzebski of plagiarism. Another person mentioned by Pritchard as a source of the swamping problem is Wayne Riggs, the chair at Oklahoma who according to Zagzebski said that I sent him a threatening email, which is demonstrably false. That got me threatened with arrest and held to be insane. That Riggs shows up again here as someone who's fundamental to the swamping problem is really quite the little coincidence.
At any rate, in Reliability and the Value of Knowledge (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, January 2002), he attributes the problem to Ward Jones, who certainly got it from me, and to Zagzebski (however, to an earlier book [Virtues of the Mind] and paper ['From Reliabilism to Virtue Epistemology']), and to Kvanvig (see note, p. 80). Like everyone else, starting with me, he saw that it was a fundamental challenge to reliabilism.
But obviously Riggs could really have gotten it from Jones and Zagzebski, and I don't see any cut-and-paste, etc. Still there too it derives from me, I believe, because at a minimum it derives from Jones and Zagzebski, who got it from me.
One thing about the swamping problem: whatever you may think of the thesis that knowledge is merely true belief, I don't think that anyone could have come up with the problem unless they had been focused very critically on the function of justification, someone who was skeptical about regarding justification as necessary for knowledge. And I think that perverse as the position was, it has turned out to be of use to the profession!
That is what I do, I feel, better than anyone working, more or less. I'm not necessarily smarter than the average analytic epistemologist, and i do make mistakes. But I focus on counter-consensus moves kind of automatically. So, if you want to remake part of a discipline or a topic, try this: what are the first few ground-clearing intuitions/assumptions that make everything else possible? These are often inadequately or not even argued for, and often I find when I think about it a little, I don't think they're obvious or even true at all.
That's how I did the swamping problem in Cargile's seminar at UVA, probably '87. I was probing for the assumption that would give a lever (and show my cleverness and profundity, etc). So we did Alvin Goldman's reliabilism, and something just seemed sort of off to me, like that's really just redundant: knowledge is a true belief that is reached by a reliable method for reaching...true belief. Well, what are we after then? What's our goal? Obviously or explicitly just true belief, so the method is merely instrumental to the real admitted telos. Then I started trying to generalize it and that's how I found all those quotes from Bonjour, Moser, Armstrong that Zagzebski and Jones recycled. Without that sort of reasoning, or to save some pet version of justification, no one would ever have generated the swamping problem.
Also I would say you better get out of a narrow frame. Actually, what was driving me was Kierkegaard; I thought that analytic epistemology just deployed definitionally a cult of reason that was really impoverishing and unrealistic. That's why I wanted to delete the justification condition in the first place. No one conducts their epistemic lives in the way the analytic trad suggests we all ought to; and anyone who did would just be gross and inhuman. So that's what made me probe for weaknesses. Ask any of these other alleged originators how and why they thought of this...
So a more recent version of this move is that I assert that free will is not required for moral responsibility. I submitted it here and there with no luck; still getting the 'that's ridiculous' response. But it will be in the ethics chapter of Entanglements. If nothing else, it will really press people in the free will problem to think hard about the initial assumptions. I think it could make a positive difference and I think again that it will be vindicated.
When I finally get back up to speed, I'll make this sucker stick against virtue epistemology and all the other alleged answers. K=TB, baby.
One way this happened, I think, was that everyone agreed that my position was ridiculous (and like I say many of the eminences of epistemology gathered at at APA in '92 or '93 and tried to crush it). One problem was that if I was right, the whole of analytic epistemology after Gettier was kind of a waste of time; I thought my position was a fun and useful provocation, but I can see how people might not want that, and the book was never published (originally I submitted it to the same Cambridge series that eventually did Kvanvig).
But then again, my argument did present one fundamental challenge: the 'swamping problem' or 'the problem of the value of knowledge.' For one thing, it just destroyed reliabilism. So people managed to absorb that, then maybe thought they'd be discredited by association with my insane conclusion? Everyone who tried to answer the problem or build on it, including Kvanvig, Jones, and Zagzebski, answered it on behalf of JTB or used it to build toward relatively fresh but not apparently bizarre conclusions (the way it drove virtue epistemology as a theory of justification). So that was a lot more palatable to everyone, and they wanted to forget where I drove it, so they wanted to forget where it came from.
Anyway, I am going to arm up (as it were) and reassert that (propositional) knowledge is merely true belief against all comers, virtuous, social, and whatnot. Then you can repress it again, so it might take another century or so, but finally people will capitulate to the obvious, no matter whom they attribute it to. One remark: the reason people have such strong 'intuitions' that knowledge requires more than truth and belief is because for a philosophy prof, whatever they said in intro when you were 18 is a baseline truth you remember from before birth. Guess what? There is no such intuition.
This difficulty is the so-called ‘swamping problem’, as defended most prominently by Jonathan Kvanvig (e.g., 2003), but also put forward in various forms by Ward Jones (1997), Richard Swinburne (1999; 2000), Wayne Riggs (2002), Linda Zagzebski (2003) and John Greco (forthcominga).
I am going to try to go at these in order, one at a time. Ward Jones' paper (American Philosophical Quarterly, October 1997), early on sets up the question with a quotation from me (page 424), and section 2 is a remarkably close recapitulation of section 3 of my journal of philosophy paper.
He formulates the problem in just my terms, attacks reliabilism with it as I did, then actually brings the same quotations to bear as I did, and Zagzebski.
Jones p. 427:
I have been discussing the reliabilist in particular, but I should reemphasize that I consider the relibilist to be representative of epistemic instrumentalists. Laurence Bonjour, a coherentist, writes:
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. . . . Epistemic justification is therefore in the final analysis only an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one.
And Paul Moser, a foundationalist, writes:
Epistemic justification is essentially related to the so-called cognitive goal of truth, insofar as an individual belief is epistemically justified only if it is appropriately directed toward the goal of truth.
And me, p. 172-73:
Indeed, proponents of all the major conceptions of justification hold this position. For example, the foundationalist Paul Moser writes:
Epistemic justification is essentially related to the so-called cognitive goal of truth, insofar as an individual belief is epistemically justified only if it is appropriately related toward the goal of truth. More specifically, on the present conception, one is epistemically justified in believing a proposition only if one has good reason to believe it is true.
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.
The quotes are obvious, but the whole discussion is a very close recapitulation of me. And of course, both these discussions are also identical to Zagzebski's. I will say that Jones also did a cut and paste from my paper, but at least he quoted me in proximity, and he comes closer to crediting me with the argument. But we will see that by every route that this argument entered the discourse, it derived from me.
i never lost a job, i believe, except because i wouldn't join a party, or i said something a feminist might construe as objectifying or something. they leave you speculating at the time, but sometimes you learn what happened. i believe i lost the job i really wanted at vanderbilt, because of my crazed, palpable anti-semitism. idit dobbs-weinstein and julie klein - real pc killers - did not give me a chance to say meet my great grandfather. on my mother's side. they missed my daughter's bat mitzvah. somewhere in the process i picked up the outlines. i hope i managed to convey that i was jewish.
then it was sort of: we learn to hate ourselves in our oppression; sometimes jews are the biggest anti-semites! not talking about you, of course...but they did hear one of the counter-examples i used in my job talk, and were retraumatized from the holocaust. that's 1992, y'all. much worse now. the next month, the same paper appeared in the journal of philosophy, merely despised until zagzebski found it. i was also doing some politically suspect columns for the nashville banner, like the one where i argued in favor of school vouchers. that sort of thing will garner you some pointed silence, though no arguments.
i'll throw a paragraph at mica, a place that was beloved to me before i ever got there, having lived around the corner and fantasized the whole time about teaching philosophy to art students. they don't have tenure. they brought me in with the understanding that i was permanent and there were no issues, they were lucky to get me, they said. i gave up my tenure track job teaching journalism and media studies and advising the school paper at penn state harrisburg. this is what i'd always wanted.
i was on campus a couple of days after 9.11, and i had already recorded a spot for all things considered. they were looking for someone who would express any sort of anger, could not find one among their staff or usual contributors, i gather. i had been talking to my (now-deceased) brother jim, who was an unbelievable cynic, raconteur, and artist of the hyperbole. 'i want to fly over the middle east and see nothing but piles of smoking rubble.' i started there. you know, i too want vengeance. in fact this distinction between justice and vengeance is complete jive, just a way of pretending you don't want revenge, or collectivizing responsibility, effectively offloading it from everyone entirely. i had three minutes, years of argument behind it. then i said: but even if it is legitimate to take vengeance, you are morally obliged to take your vengeance only precisely on the perpetrators. no burning rubble, my brother, without osama & co inside it. only them.
next day, robert merrill (a senior colleague), confronted me in the hall and said "that was disgusting!" the next words out his mouth were 'osama is a freedom fighter!' i felt a marked cooling toward me and rallying around him after that.
then for whatever political reason, they put my job to a national search. i did 'six names of beauty' as the talk, just or soon-to-published by routledge. anyway, it defines beauty' as 'the object of longing.' then i put up my childhood crush emma peel. then i went on to buntings and roses and the universe as a whole. a lit prof, soheila ghaussy, hopped up and started saying my whole thing was just (paraphrasing) coming from the dick, and weren't millennia of oppression enough? they hired someone else, who did not work out at all.
what i have found over and over again is that teaching, research, and service are irrelevant in an academic career (research, for sure). the only real criterion of advancement is conformity. that's why you have all these mediocrities at the very upper reaches: mere careerists. that's why the senior level of the profession now is lilliputian compared to the last cohort. i think the last actually interesting or sincere president of the apa was stanley cavell. if stanley was starting out now, he'd be drummed out of the profession for even mentioning greer garson, or because of that weird beret.
one conclusion i'd draw is that anything besides the noodly socialism that is unanimous in academia is incomprehensible to the people there. another is that in the long run it is impossible to be both a professor and any kind of honest opinion journalist.
the french are so civilized! i have often heard people admiring their sexual mores; remember mitterand's funeral, where his wife made out with his mistress or whatever? so civilized are french men that they promise to be faithful to you and are fucking someone else that afternoon. and so civilized are french women that they don't mind that at all; in fact, they like it when you lie to them, which i admit is actually a feature of civilized societies. americans are so provincial and puritanical. so what the hell is valerie trierweiler doing in a hospital for a suicide attempt or whatever it may be? it is treason to the french republic! a civilized, open-minded man acts like dominique strauss-kahn. we need to emulate these behaviors, or else we'll get fat. oh, the wine, the food, the clothes, the accent! i can hardly bear the romantic civilizedness of it all. let's go to provence and rape some maids, honey.
I also posted this at Veterans Today which was interesting when I looked at the initial comments. I recommend visiting that site and reading the comments. I responded perhaps more gently than I should but when the comments indicated that I was prostituting myself for the Jewish-Communist-Lezbo conspiracy to pollute the precious body fluids of true Christian Americans, I thought I'd take the high ground. Your comments are welcome.
I am proud, proud I say, to prostitute myself in the service of the Lezbo-Jewish-Commie-Irish-American-Sein Fein-Marching Band and Chowder Society. In fact, I think I'll have T-shirts made. See if I can get some in Staid Francais Rugby colors. (Black and Pink...mainly Pink.)
i never found my black cinderella. but we all found our black richard nixon. really. so just listen along, replacing her with him in the lyric. what progress means is that eventually there will be a female richard nixon, a latina richard nixon, one richard nixon each for l, b, g, t, and q, etc.
yo one run through that bassline is worth all the words that have ever come out of barack obama's mouth, and much more.
the irs/tea party scandal sure is a beaut. for one thing, the whole thing perfectly justifies the self-presentation of those groups; it is a lovely confirmation of their worldview. the best thing is the notion that the irs targeted groups that "sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Consititution." i do think the irs is just the group which ought to be in the business of repressing that document, which is entirely incompatbile with their conduct of life.
the thing to take away from petraeus scandal - not that people are really capable of drawing conclusons like this, or they would have done it from infinite data around 2000 bc - is a vague recollection of what power actually is, and what sort of person actually wants it, and what people do with it when they get it. this is just a kind of hilarious thing: beyond hubris and tragedy into a realm of sheer narcissism, grotesque self-deception, and farce. so really, i want you to picture this situation; petraeus chooses broadwell as his biographer either because he's sleeping with her or because he wants to. then they spend months together working together on a hagiography of petraeus and screwing (if you believe this crap about how it only started later, you're a worse sucker than david's wife; it might be some sort of attempt to save the book, which ought to be vaporized except as a cautionary tale). let's say the wholly uncritical worship - whether it was sincere or not (and in this sort of hierarchy, sincerity and voluntariness are always pre-compromised) - had an erotic effect; petraeus finally realized how his sexuality was actually configured or what it was actually for: an orgy of the most mortifying self-love, gaucherie on a world-bestriding scale. petraeus is his own fetish. then broadwell's on her book tour with their stirring tribute to his extreme...excellence, giving him a blowjob on every news program and radio show, and then again at the hotel room that night. in brief, a pure ethic of public service.
normally i might have a certain sympathy with the 'human foibles'/hey that could happen to anyone/throw the first stone kind of approach. let's say you want to think that through before you apply it here. the person of petraeus exposed in the scandal is a conspicuously outstanding - a truly distinguished - nightmare.
i like privacy as much as the next guy, but i am not going to peg my argument for it on the example of an invasion of the privacy of the director of the cia, though like so many others i would die to protect it. i would love to hear him explicitly crying foul on that, though. i admit that the concept that someone is rummaging around in the email of the director of the cia is very surprising, unprecedented as far as i am recalling at all. indeed, it is potentially explosive; it seems to expose rival commanding factions in the security state, like you'd get in pakistan or iran: hard to say who's in charge of what, really. you start to wonder who controls the nukes. i wouldn't think we know the half of it between the fbi and the cia; it could well have to do with, like, rival adulterous sexual factions: rival procuresses and viagra suppliers, for example, rival studs and lovelies and distinguished old men peppered throughout the military, the secret service, defense contractors, lobbying firms, etc. well honestly what do you expect in that sort of authoritarian hierarchy? heroes?