Do the Tenured Speak Up Enough?

Tenure is, in part, designed to protect one from retaliation. It’s the tenured that can make the culture of silence (and shame) within a profession disappear….  Obviously they need help from their employers (universities and grant agencies), but it does make a difference. 

What is so distressing about professional philosophy, is that too much of the hard work in changing our norms and practices has fallen on some of the most junior and vulnerable in our profession (when these are not actively undermined or shunned for breaking the culture of silence) or on a relatively small group of change-agents.

Yes, there is a lot more support of victims and far wider public recognition of our profession’s problems than there was, say, a decade ago. (I hope that’s true; there is also a lot more public vilification too, so I may be too optimistic.) During all the scandals that have come to light during the last few years, some of our senior colleagues were instrumental in aiding victims; behind the scenes there is a lot more effort to prevent serial harassers from speaking at conferences and workshops. But too many of our profession’s big shots continue to show indifference or, worse, cover for philosophically talented peers about which there are plenty of “open secrets.”

That’s Eric Schliesser, writing at Digressions & Impressions about how the sexual harassment scandal concerning Geoff Marcy is being handled by the astrophysics community in which Marcy is a central figure, particularly by senior, tenured members of that community, and how it seems to differ from what happens in the philosophy profession.


(Sculpture by Manuela Viera-Gallo)

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