The Ideas of Objectionable Philosophers


A reader writes:

Recently I have found myself engaging less with the work of certain philosophers who have engaged in highly objectionable or unprofessional behavior, either not addressing and citing it when it could be relevant, or not reading it when I am unsure of its relevance. I am unsure whether I should be moved by these “personal” considerations. On the one hand, it seems somewhat unphilosophical, insofar as the ideas are separable from their authors (a point which is stressed in many ways in philosophical training). Yet on the other hand, insofar as they are their ideas, and they have behaved badly, it hardly seems unfair or wrong of me to ignore or shun their work. Besides, there are plenty of other philosophers whose work I can discuss. I am curious whether others have thought about this issue and what they would recommend.

Readers are welcome to discuss this issue, but I ask that, unless there are very compelling reasons, we use hypothetical cases and avoid naming names. (We can loosen this guideline so as to allow for the discussion of actual historical cases, though.)

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