Leiter Responds: Immediate Departure “Unacceptable” (updated)


Brian Leiter has declared that the two of three options presented by the majority of the Philosophical Gourmet Report’s board members which included requests that he step down immediately are “unacceptable.” He explains that he has already put in a significant amount of work towards the production of the 2014 edition of the PGR so he as “at least co-edited” it. He adds:

“I have also informed the Board that I am still considering the third proposal, namely, proceeding with the 2014 PGR (with Brit Brogaard as co-editor) while simultaenously committing to turn over any future PGR to others.  I am also considering two other possibilities:  (4) proceeding with the 2014 PGR (again, obviously, with Brit as co-editor) and postponing any decisions about the future of the PGR until after the 2014 PGR and after the current controversy; or (5) simply discontinuing the PGR altogether.”

You can read the rest of the post here.

UPDATE: Leiter has updated his post with the text of the letters the PGR board sent him. Here is an excerpt from the second one:

In the interim we have had some discussion among board members of the various options.  The consensus of the board members we have talked to is that we should request that you either step down from the leadership now and relinquish control of the PGR, or at least that you make a commitment to doing so by a specific date in the near future (with the consensus being that something like January 2015 would be the latest appropriate date, though the details could be discussed).

At this point, 30 board members have endorsed this request. 

It is clear that the majority of the board thinks that the only solution is for you to step down.  Of course we recognize that the PGR as it stands is under your control and the decision is yours.  But we do urge that you follow the request of the board. 

The central point is that this controversy, whatever its merits, will seriously undermine our ability as a group to produce a legitmate ranking.  Over 500 people have already signed a statement committing them to boycotting the PGR if you are in control.  Many others who have not signed the statement are waiting to see what happens.  We think that any ranking produced in this circumstance will be seriously compromised, and that the authority of the PGR will be undermined.

The board’s request specifies that you step down from the leadership and relinquish control of the PGR, meaning there should be a leader or group of leaders without your playing a direct or an indirect controlling role (an advisory role would be fine).  Ideally this leader or group of leaders should be appointed by the board, and the board rather than any individual should retain ultimate control of the PGR.

There are various ways in which this might occur.  In a previous email we suggested the following options:

(a) You step down from the leadership now.
(b) We postpone the survey until 2015 while you (publicly or privately) commit to stepping down before the survey.
(c) You remain on as co-editor for a 2014 survey and publicly commit to stepping down as soon as the survey is completed.

Our view is that (a) would be best, (b) second best, and (c) third best.  Some board members have said to us that they would find (c) unacceptable.  It is clear that many philosophers (including some board members) would still boycott the PGR under this circumstance, and that serious damage would be done, though less damage than would occur without the public commitment.  Still, many board members say that (c) would be acceptable.

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