Crispin Sartwell Removed from Dickinson Campus (updated with responses from Nehamas and Zagzebski)

Crispin Sartwell, associate professor of philosophy at Dickinson College, reports today that he has been “removed from campus” for posting a video of Miranda Lambert’s song, “Time to Get a Gun.”

Over the past several days, Professor Sartwell had launched accusations at his blog that his work had been plagiarized or at least had gone wrongfully uncited by Alexander Nehamas (Princeton) and Linda Zagzebski (Oklahoma). He at first says that they are “not perfectly clear cases of plagiarism,” though after he lays out his claims against Professor Zagzebski, he writes, “i’m taking back what i said earlier about not a clear case of plagiarism.” (Reporting the accusations here does not imply endorsement.)

Following this, Professor Sartwell states:

i have been a resource for some of the most eminent philosophers in the world; seems like they might sort of be impossible without me. it’s like being kant in the 19th century. footnotes would help, though.

He then announces that it was the recent APA statement against bullying that “got me to just decide to quit academia,” and followed this by posting the music video mentioned earlier.

It is in today’s post, below, that Professor Sartwell announces he has been removed from Dickinson’s campus, reportedly on the grounds that the music video was a threat against Professor Zagzebski:

sartwell blog post 1

I’m awaiting further information from some relevant parties, and will update the post as necessary.

UPDATE: Professor Sartwell has officially been placed on “temporary leave” by the administration at Dickinson College.

UPDATE 2 (3/3/16): In response to Professor Sartwell’s allegations in the March 2nd post at his blog, Alexander Nehamas writes:

I gave a Stanford Presidential Lecture on beauty, where the germ of the ideas of my book appears, in 1999.  In 2000, an essay drawn from the lecture was published in Threepenny Review and a longer version appeared in Representations in 2001.  I wrote another essay on beauty, which contained some of these ideas, for The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism in 2000 (a shorter version was published by The London Review of Books, also in 2000) and yet another article on the topic in Critical Quarterly in the same year.  In 2000, I gave two lectures at Berkeley, which I developed into the Tanner lectures, which I delivered at Yale in 2001.  These lectures, which were published in 2002, contain most of the main ideas of Only a Promise of Happiness, which eventually came out in 2007.  True, Sartwell’s Six Names of Beauty came out in 2004 but most of the material in my book had already been published by then.  So, I believe Sartwell’s accusation is perfectly groundless—and, just for the record, I never read his book.

UPDATE 3: The school newspaper reports on the story here and here.

UPDATE 4 (3/5/16): A response from Linda Zagzebski:

My paper, “The Search for the Source of Epistemic Good,” is the third or fourth in a series of papers in whole or in part on a problem I dubbed “the value problem” in 1997. That is the problem that an adequate account of knowledge must explain what makes knowledge better than mere true belief. In my first paper, “From Reliabilism to Virtue epistemology,” I argue that reliabilist theories falter on this problem and that my virtue approach has an advantage. Subsequent papers like “Intellectual motivation and the good of truth” defend my way to solve the value problem. The paper Sartwell is attacking is a larger exploration of epistemic value, and it includes a section in which I argue that some internalist theories have the same problem I had earlier identified in reliabilism. In that section I have a quote from Bonjour that is the same as Sartwell uses in his paper in a different context. Sartwell argues that knowledge IS true belief. 
Of course I know nothing about the paper Sartwell wrote in graduate school. I recognize that it is possible for people to have the same idea independently, or to have published similar ideas and people do not notice the similarity. I do not see much similarity between Sartwell’s published work and mine, but my published ideas are completely my own. 

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