Thomas Pogge Responds to Accusations (Updated — with emails)


Thomas Pogge, the Leitner Professor of Philosophy & International Affairs and Political Science at Yale University, has published a response to allegations he sexually harassed and retaliated against a student, Fernanda Lopez Aguilar.

Pogge begins by noting that he is limited in what he can say, and then summarizes his defense:

 Pogge defense excerpt 1

The last matter, which is gone into in some detail, regards the letter from Pogge to Lopez Aguilar offering her employment as a junior fellow in Yale’s Global Justice Program.

The complete statement from Pogge is here (additional link here). [NOTE: See 5/23/16 Update for link to new version of document containing the mentioned emails.]

UPDATE (5/22/16): From BuzzFeed’s report about Pogge’s response:

In his statement, Pogge claimed Lopez Aguilar’s assertions had already been disproven: “One version of her allegations was thoroughly investigated in quasi-judicial proceedings by a Yale committee of five faculty members and one Federal judge, who found her charges of sexual harassment to be not credible.”

The panel’s actual finding was that there was “insufficient evidence” with which “to corroborate either Ms. Lopez’s or Mr. Pogge’s differing accounts.”

Also, this:

On his Facebook page, Pogge said he was making “another attempt to see” whether BuzzFeed “will allow the other side to be heard.” He did not reply to requests for further comment.

cat emoji wry smile

Elsewhere:

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (UBC), in “The Presumption of Innocence,” writes:

The presumption of innocence is rightly considered a pillar of civilised society. But people have a tendency to over-apply it in irrelevant cases. The presumption of your innocence means that the state can’t punish you for a crime unless it proves that you committed it. That’s it. It has nothing to do with how one individual should treat or think about another, or whether an organisation should develop or continue a relationship with an accused individual. The presumption of innocence doesn’t protect you from being unfriended on facebook, or shunned at conferences, or widely thought by other people to be a criminal. It just protects from being criminally convicted…

The admonition not to pass judgement about the allegations is simply the admonition to ignore them. “Don’t believe anything unless it’s been proven in a court of law.” But this is just a ludicrous epistemic standard. Do you care whether powerful men in academic philosophy are using their stature to coerce students into compromising sexual situations? Then you should be interested in credible testimony to the effect that this one has been. Don’t be tempted by the fallacious inference from it hasn’t been proven in court to you have no way to tell whether it’s true.

Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam), in “On Pogge, Polygraphs, and Pseudo-Science,” writes

“Most psychologists and other scientists agree that there is little basis for the validity of polygraph tests”… It does not follow that Pogge’s denials are wholly false. But it does follow that his offer to pay for additional polygraph tests, while perhaps sincere, is based on bullshit. 

• Huffington Post‘s report on the Pogge story.

UPDATE (5/23/16): Pogge has posted a new version of his reply to the allegations by Fernanda Lopez Aguilar that includes the emails he had mentioned in the original version (alternative link here).

UPDATE (5/24/16): Further commentary elsewhere:

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Grad Sockpuppet
Grad Sockpuppet
5 years ago

…a polygraph test, eh? But what do the astrologers have to say?Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
5 years ago

So she accuses him of using his academic position and the career options it opens for her as a way to pressure her into accepting behavior that she otherwise would not, and as a way of showing that she is incorrect he provides emails in which she expresses the fact that she is grateful for the career options that have been opened up and that she would like to attend what I assume is a professional event in Argentina. I think this shows a lack of understanding on his part of what is problematic about the behavior he is accused of. A large part of what makes it bad is that the victim has been put in a situation where she has reason to continue the professional relationship in the face of unwanted sexual behavior. That does not mean that she likes the behavior, it means she values the professional relationship. How is his invocation of her emails significantly different than a guy who likes to proposition women at work saying that it can’t be harassment because the women keep showing up to work? If the emails suggested that she wanted to room with him again, or said that the part of their relationship that she enjoyed were the non-professional parts then I could see how they would be relevant. But keeping up a professional correspondence and attempting to make use of his networking advantages is exactly what you would expect her to do even if she was being victimized. It is the equivalent of continuing to show up to work, in that it is her maintaining the access and trying to make use of the access her professional relationship with him grants her. I don’t know what to say about the changes in her story because I don’t know what they are. The polygraph thing is weird. I thought no one in the legal professions took polygraphs seriously anymore. But perhaps I am wrong.Report

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Patrick Mayer
5 years ago

“I thought no one in the legal professions took polygraphs seriously anymore.”

This is not true.Report

Nicky Drake
Nicky Drake
Reply to  Andrew
5 years ago

Are you willing to say that on a polygraph?
Report

Cindy Phillips
Reply to  Andrew
5 years ago

“In 1998, the U.S. Supreme court acted to restrict their use in legal proceedings. In particular, defense attorneys can no longer use evidence that their client passed a polygraph test as establishing innocence of a crime.”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201303/do-lie-detectors-work
Report

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Cindy Phillips
5 years ago

Scheffer involved the narrow question whether a per se exclusion of polygraph evidence in the Military Rules of Evidence violated the defendant’s right to present a defense. The Court held that it did not. The Court did not hold that polygraph evidence should, as a per se matter, be excluded. In fact, four of the concurring Justices doubted whether the military’s per se rule was wise and speculated that, further down the road, and in another case that, such per se rules might be invalidated.

At any rate, there is no rule in the Federal (non-military) system precluding polygraph evidence as a per se matter, and courts have taken very different views of the admissibility of such evidence under the Daubert analysis. Likewise, states have taken very different approaches. I think it’s right that the dominant view is that such evidence should be excluded, or sharply limited, but it is certainly wrong that “no one in the legal professions t[ake] polygraphs seriously.” Report

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Cindy Phillips
5 years ago

Sorry. To be clear, Schaeffer is the 1998 case that your source is very badly misconstruing.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

He says the job offer was made on July 21, 2010, and moreover, that it was fake — but BuzzFeed piece reads (and Pogge confirms much of this in his response), “When Pogge offered Lopez Aguilar work at the Global Justice Program, she eagerly accepted. Pogge listed her as a fellow on the program’s website and introduced her as a junior Global Justice fellow in an email to his colleagues, explaining that she would join them for a year of practical training after graduation. “Just tell me what you’d minimally need per month and I’d find a way to pay you that,” he wrote her in May 2010 when she asked about payment. “We’ll make it work out, don’t worry,” he wrote in another email. “I even have a little money of my own.””

Here is a link to an archived version of the site where she is listed as a junior Global Justice Fellow on July 3, 2010: https://web.archive.org/web/20100703201539/http://www.yale.edu/macmillan/globaljustice/people.html

And here’s a link to a screen shot from the May emails regarding the position from BuzzFeed: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2840681-Screen-Shot-2016-05-20-at-12-17-41-PM-Pdf.html

If the offer to be work with the GJI hadn’t been made before July 21 (and even then, not really), and if it were only contingent on her not finding any employment elsewhere, one wonders why she would be listed on the site as a fellow on July 3, or why they would be making employment arrangements months in advance like this. Report

Mal Eugata
Mal Eugata
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

I think there’s a distinction to be made here between the Paid Offer, the Fellow Offer, and the Augmented Fellow Offer.

The Fellow Offer was initially an unpaid offer really meant to give Lopez Augilar the affiliation she needed to stay in the states for another year. Pogge says they talked about this during the 2009-10 academic year (see p. 4 of Pogge’s Response).

The Augmented Fellow Offer is Pogge’s agreement to “find a way to pay” her. In that discussion, he’s explicitly talking about paying her out of his own research funds of whatnot.

The Paid Offer was the fake letter provided on July 21st to secure Lopez Augilar’s lease.

The viability of this distinction depends entirely on the nature of the “Junior Fellow” position—are the Junior positions usually unpaid? Always? Never?

If they’re always or sometimes unpaid, it might be that:
(1) Pogge had the authority to make the Fellow Offer but not the Paid Offer. Whether he had the authority to make the Augmented Fellow Offer is really unclear to me (it seems like that would depend on Yale’s rules about research assistants?)
(2) Pogge was genuinely expecting to be the source of her affiliation for Fall of 2010 in May, June, and early July (and was uncertain about whether he would be her source of funding). That would explain the publication of her participation.
(3) Announcing her as a fellow was low-stakes for Pogge, and didn’t mean much more than telling the webmaster to put her on the site so she’d look legitimate.

If they’re never unpaid, (1) and (3) are clearly false and (2) is dubious.

Report

WP
WP
Reply to  Mal Eugata
5 years ago

I don’t think there was ever an explicitly unpaid offer. (Are there “fellows” ever unpaid anywhere?) The Buzzfeed article says that Pogge had told her “Just tell me what you’d minimally need per month and I’d find a way to pay you that,” and links to the exchange that Pogge quotes to suggest that Lopez Aguilar changed her mind about an unpaid affiliation: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2840681-Screen-Shot-2016-05-20-at-12-17-41-PM-Pdf.html

Lopez:
So, I’ve been looking into apartment costs in New Haven, and it’s really not so bad. My parents also offered that I do this for free, but I feel a bit bad making them pay for the apartment—in addition to other miscellaneous living expenses.
So, I was thinking perhaps our arrangement might cover housing expenses period, which is $1300.00 a month, from my calculations (food, rent, and utilities included). However, if this is a case of the mouse eating the cookie and then asking for cream (in other words, far too much) please let me know, and it really should be OK.

Pogge:
No, we don’t want them to have to subsidize you, we’ll make it work out, don’t worry. I even have a little money of my own. …

It seems like while she was figuring out what she would “minimally need per month,” her parents suggested they could fully subsidize her, which she then conveyed to Pogge while asking that he still pay her.

RE: “Announcing her as a fellow was low-stakes for Pogge, and didn’t mean much more than telling the webmaster to put her on the site so she’d look legitimate.”… Look legitimate for what? Not for getting an apartment—he announced her as a fellow almost two months before she asked for a letter for the apartment. Report

Mal Eugata
Mal Eugata
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

RE: “I don’t think there was ever an explicitly unpaid offer.”

Their initial discussion, according to Pogge’s statement, involved an initial offer to be part of the GJI did not include financial support. He writes, “We agreed that…should no suitable position materialize, she could be affiliated with my Global Justice Program. She initially indicated that she would be happy with such an unpaid affiliation, but later expressed a desire to be financially independent of her parents…” (p.4, Pogge’s Response). Since that, if true, was during the 2009-2010 academic year and it wasn’t until May that she asked for compensation, saying that she “felt bad” about making her parents support her, it suggests that she’d discussed this unpaid affiliation with them during the period between the initial offer and her email to Pogge. So, I think it’s reasonable to take there to have been an initial period during which the offer of affiliation was an unpaid one. She then negotiated the Augmented Offer. Unless Pogge is lying about the nature of the initial discussion, which IS possible (but seems unlikely, since Lopez Augilar’s letter makes it sound like *she* expected to have an unpaid affiliation), this piece is pretty clear. (That said, I really hope Pogge actually does release the emails he talks about in the Response, because that might settle the question.)

RE: “Look legitimate for what? Not for getting an apartment—he announced her as a fellow almost two months before she asked for a letter for the apartment.”

Look legitimate for her Optional Practical Training (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optional_Practical_Training). Her University would have needed to recommend her for OPT, which means Pogge would need to tell them, eventually, that she’d be working under the program. So, it seems unremarkable that he would add her to the site in expectation of that.

NB: It’s perfectly conceivable that Pogge’s response is fabricated, in which case the distinction might *not* be reasonable. This disambiguation of the offers depends entirely on him accurately portraying that part of their exchange. So, adjust your credence accordingly….

Report

WP
WP
Reply to  Mal Eugata
5 years ago

I know that’s how Pogge portays it. He says she changed her mind in the email I posted: “She initially indicated that she would be happy with such an unpaid affiliation, but later expressed a desire to be financially independent of her parents by making at least $1300 a month to cover ‘food, rent, and utilities’ because ‘I feel a big bad about making my parents pay'”

The full email does not seem to support his version. I don’t know what you mean by “Lopez Augilar’s letter makes it sound like *she* expected to have an unpaid affiliation.” It sounds like she was trying to figure out what she needed to cover her expenses after he offered a stipend to do exactly that, and *her parents* then brought up the possibility of them covering everything.

Is the claim that they were planning an OPT scam all along? It seems much more plausible that it was not just to “look legitimate,” but because they were genuinely planning on her working for him. Report

Mal Eugata
Mal Eugata
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

RE: “Is the claim that they were planning an OPT scam all along?”

Certainly not. Trying to make something look legitimate does not imply that it’s illegitimate. I also think Pogge probably assumed from the beginning that she *might* end up working as a Junior Fellow, and by July thought the possibility was likely enough that he should put her on the site. That’s an entirely separate matter from what he thought the level and means of her compensation would be.

RE: “It sounds like she was trying to figure out what she needed to cover her expenses after he offered a stipend to do exactly that, and *her parents* then brought up the possibility of them covering everything.”

No, that’s not the chronology. It’s that (1) he offered her a position with $x compensation attached, where x is greater than or equal to zero. We don’t know x. (2) She spoke with her parents about the position and that discussion led them to offer to cover her expenses while she was affiliated with GJI. (3) Her discussion with her parents led her to email Pogge about getting a stipend to cover housing etc. (4) Pogge offers to cover her expenses in response to that email.

It’s possible that she was asking for an /increased/ stipend, but I think that’s far from clear. Her line about the mouse and the cookie makes it pretty clear that whatever the initial arrangement was, her request is a substantial bump. As far as I can see, that leaves plenty of room for Pogge’s story to be correct with respect to this detail. I’m not saying it is, and I’m not saying that would somehow be exculpatory for him. This is just in response to the initial comment above.

I’m not going to respond further on this line because I don’t think further exegesis will be valuable without further evidence. Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

Mal, I don’t get the sense that she’s asking for a substantial bump (or even a bump)– I read this the same way WP does, and the comment about the mouse and a cookie from a place of not wanting to start off on a bad foot from the very beginning by asking for too much. Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

There’s the additional puzzle that in his email chastising her for showing up with the job offer, he does seem to be expecting her on the start date, but not expecting her to have her own key to the building (“You manage to destroy in an hour as much as I manage to build in months. For what? To get into the building with your own card on Tuesday?”)

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2840678-Screen-Shot-2016-05-20-at-12-03-10-PM-Pdf.htmlReport

Sundays
Sundays
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

Also what does she “destroy in an hour”? Is there context that explains that? Because without some, I can’t help but wonder whether that’s sub-text. Is the hour the hour she insulted him by rejecting him? And whatever it is, why is he *so* angry (and hence, incredibly insulting). This kind of anger seems inexplicable if it’s just over the internship issue. Very strange.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Sundays
5 years ago

Isn’t he presenting it as “the hour” in which she presents the letter offering her a job to the administrator at the Global Justice Initiative? That’s actually the only thing he got in trouble for–not harassing her, not all the other stuff, but writing an unauthorized letter on Yale stationery. Report

Former GJP fellow
Former GJP fellow
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

Sorry i accidentally pressed “report” on this one… plz dismiss it…
So far as i know, many GJP fellows listed on its website are unpaid and don’t have keys to the building. Whether this practice (giving out unpaid, probably unofficial, fellow titles) is procedurally legitimate is a different question, though.Report

Simone
Simone
5 years ago

Why does Pogge not address the Columbia sexual harrassment finding against him from years ago, which the Buzzfeed article finally put into the public domain? True, a no-disclosure agreement was signed by all concerned, but the reason that Yale looked into this before hiring him was that he faced disciplinary measures for this at Columbia. The quote in Buzzfeed from his former colleague there (Mercer) is presumably based on observations of his conduct whilst at Columbia. He is doing the classic thing now of trying to narrow the claims against him to a single person, and then denying these claims by attacking her credibility using misinformed and self-serving ideas about how a ‘good victim’ should behave after unwanted overtures (as proof that nothing could have happened). Totally unconvincing. Notice he does not address the many affidavits submitted to Yale in recent years by prominent philosophy colleagues at other universities – Nussbaum’s was only one of several – attesting to a pattern of behavior he has demonstrated over many years with students known to them. The fact that these incidents have not produced lawsuits is not proof that the didn’t happen. Why would individuals like Nussbaum submit affidavits if they were not truly concerned that Pogge was engaging in behavior harmful to others?Report

BecauseBeans
BecauseBeans
5 years ago

Maybe it’s in Pogge’s best legal interests to avoid taking responsibility and admission of wrongdoing, but choosing to die on this hill does not seem like a great strategy professionally either. Report

Will Behun
Will Behun
5 years ago

I have given up entirely on the sport of trying to judge situations like this on the basis of conflicting allegations. Whilst my initial prejudice is always to assume a philosopher has acted badly (not an unreasonable prejudice in light of recent scandals, I think) it does me no good to try to speculate. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

I think the only real thing that I can do that is remotely helpful to anyone, myself included, is to encourage others to take this and other accusations seriously and prevent myself from falling into the twin traps of victim blaming and too-hasty judgement. Report

Sundays
Sundays
5 years ago

Worth noting that everything Pogge mentions is consistent with Aguilar’s own account in buzzfeed. Except of course for the polygraph, which I’m assuming Aguilar wasn’t present for.

Aguilar says she was very confused and nervous after the attack, since she had planned on the employment offer, so she sent an appreciative email to Pogge. She also says she was deeply ashamed about the attack and didn’t tell her family or others about all of the tawdry details initially (she says he pressed her erection into her some part of her body, I think her back? Can’t recall where, and that he grabbed her breast. At which point she “fled.”)

I’ve been both sexually harassed in philosophy and, outside of philosophy, sexually assaulted. I understand so well the embarrassment and shame of admitting to yourself and others that you have been reduced to a sex toy, against your will. The feeling of humiliation is almost unbearable. So, I find Aguilar’s explanation of why she did not initially disclose everything that happened to be highly feasible.

One more point: many have described the allegation as one of sexual harassment, which of course, it is. But if Pogge did what he’s accused of, he (also) sexually *assaulted* Aguilar. Without consent, he groped her, which is a prosecutable sex crime, regardless of whether the person groped is your former student or future employee. Let’s not lose sight of that.Report

Jeff H
Jeff H
Reply to  Sundays
5 years ago

“So, I find Aguilar’s explanation of why she did not initially disclose everything that happened to be highly feasible.”

That makes sense to me when you’re talking about disclosing such a thing to friends or family or the general public in the normal course of events. But in a semi-judicial process specifically dedicated to determining whether *that exact type of thing* has happened? I’m not saying it could never happen but the bar for me accepting it is quite a bit higher.

At the very least she must (or at least should) realize that changing one’s story in a context like that is very, very bad for one’s chances of success in any current or future court proceedings. I totally encourage going to the cops or courts if you’ve been harassed or assaulted, but you MUST do so with a clear idea of the standards of evidence you’re going to be held to and be prepared to disclose EVERYTHING (easier said than done, yes). Too many people don’t and then it just turns into the kind of nightmare we keep hearing about in the feminist blogosphere. “Automatically believe the alleged victim” is a rule I have problems with in any context but it’s especially unreasonable to expect a court to adhere to it. A judge can’t tell the difference between you changing your story for good, understandable reasons and making stuff up after the fact, and is obligated to treat the latter as a serious possibility. And that right there is reasonable doubt.

This is what happened in the first Ghomeshi trial (and I personally believe JG is guilty, if not exactly as charged, then of *something*, but I also understand why that’s not good enough for the courts). All three alleged victims changed their stories and in the process admitted they’d lied under oath in earlier stages of the proceedings, and it completely torpedoed their credibility.Report

WP
WP
Reply to  Jeff H
5 years ago

I think describing this as “changing one’s story” is pretty misleading. As far as I can tell, Lopez Aguilar never made a statement that was inconsistent with an earlier one, she just added details that were not in earlier ones.

According to the Buzzfeed article, “She said that in their hotel room in Chile, Pogge had slid behind her in the chair so that his “pelvic area” touched her buttocks, but she did not specifically mention an erection, or his hands on her breasts.”

That seems like providing two additional details, not a “different story.” Report

Jeff H
Jeff H
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

At the very least, it means she didn’t tell the whole truth earlier, and there’s a reason that’s part of what you swear to do in (at least) a formal court proceeding.Report

WP
WP
Reply to  Jeff H
5 years ago

Whatever “the whole truth” means, it’s of course not “every single detail.” Report

Jeff H
Jeff H
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

No, just every single *relevant* detail.

In what world would the fact that an actual sexual assault allegedly took place, in the midst of the exact events being asked about, *not* be relevant to whether those events constituted sexual misconduct on Pogge’s part? There’s lots of things that could reasonably be omitted from her account of the events of that trip, but this is not one of them; if anything it’s a *textbook* example of the sort of thing that she should have included.Report

WP
WP
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

In what world is rubbing your pelvic area against someone’s buttocks without consent not “actual sexual assault”?Report

Jeff H
Jeff H
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

Um, that clearly *would* be sexual assault. I’m not calling that into question. In fact, the assumption that it is sexual assault is an indispensable part of the point I’m making. I fail to see how this post makes any sense as a response to mine.Report

WP
WP
Reply to  WP
5 years ago

Then she did not omit the fact that an “actual sexual assault” took place, because, as said before, she told Yale “that in their hotel room in Chile, Pogge had slid behind her in the chair so that his “pelvic area” touched her buttocks, but she did not specifically mention an erection, or his hands on her breasts.” Report

Christian Munthe
5 years ago

The letter is undated and unsigned and pretty bizarre in content, doubtful to support his case or standing. Beyond being uploaded on his public Yale file-server account, is there any hard proof that this is actually by Pogge’s hand? For instance that the link has been spread from P’s email or twitter account? If not, from where does the link originate, and is that source a reliable reason to pinpoint P as author of this letter? The PDF’s file-info contains no other info of the ownership of the original creating program than “Word” (usually university employed academics have their computers and programs made identifiable by name or some user ID by central IT services) – everybody can check this for themselves by d-l the pdf and check the file info. Anyhow, probably a good idea by DN editors to clarify this. I’ve asked P directly on Twitter, but no response there.Report

Christian Munthe
Reply to  Christian Munthe
5 years ago

Seems the source is TP’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thomaspoggeyale?fref=tsReport

Simone
Simone
5 years ago

Pogge is downplaying the Yale inquiry into his conduct vis à vis Lopez Aguilar. Although there was not enough evidence to find him guilty of sexual harassment – and let’s not forget, it was certainly not in Yale’s interest to find him guilty of this – he was certainly found to have violated professional practices in a number of respects (i.e., not just writing the faux job letter): http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2016/05/21/philosophy-professor-accused-of-sexual-harassment/
Report

Florence
Florence
5 years ago

Pogge’s note says that the email correspondence is appended, but it seems to be missing. Is there a link? Report

smj
smj
5 years ago

None of the alleged evidence against Lopez Aguilar is inconsistent with the behavior of someone in a vulnerable position who is forced to placate and maintain a relationship with someone who has a lot of power over her and her future. This kind of evidence is used again and again to dismiss allegations of abuse made by women (e.g. see the recent cases against Jian Ghomeshi, see Colin McGinn). Report

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman
5 years ago

From Pogge’s statement: “And we know that false charges and rumors can be highly effective weapons in the intensely competitive worlds of academia and university politics.”

Is there any evidence that this is true? No doubt accusations of sexual harassment can be damaging to the accused, but are they ever professionally beneficial to the accusers?

Report

Herewego
Herewego
Reply to  Derek Bowman
5 years ago

Women often don’t report harassment because they perceive that doing so will end or damage their careers (I’m a woman. I’ve been sexually harassed in philosophy, and I did not report it for precisely this reason, and I know several other women who have not reported for the same reason).

And experience shows that women have good reason to think reporting will harm them professionally.. E.g., Yale itself (very bizarrely) cited the fact that Aguilar takes anxiety medication as reason to doubt her testimony (code for “she’s crazy”). When the Miami grad student accused McGinn, many people on philosophy blogs complained that she had “deprived” Miami of a great philosopher and in effect, should have kept her mouth shut. McGinn himself falsely portrayed their relationship as consensual and Stephen Pinker and Stephen Schiffer both publicly rushed to McGinn’s defense, effectively also calling her a liar (I think Pinker & Schiffer might’ve retracted these statements later, I can’t quite recall, but their knee-jerk reaction was to accept McGinn’s take). The grad student at UC-Boulder who accused another philosophy grad student of assaulting her allegedly had her sexual past investigated by a UC-Boulder faculty member. And the students at Northwestern who accused Ludlow of assault were sued by him. They were *sued.*

I just find the suggestion that reporting harassment might advance one’s own career to be incredible. The slut-shaming, crazy-shaming, and other kinds of reputation-shaming are going to do irreparable harm, and most would-be accusers will know this.Report

nothankyouplease
nothankyouplease
Reply to  Herewego
5 years ago

Not to mention the lunatic internet vigilantes. You can get sued by your abuser, but at least in a lawsuit there are (some) rules about how that fight is fought. When it comes to the underbelly of the internet it’s no-holds-barred, and it’s really easy for pretty much anyone to dig up pictures of you, or to start a twitter account for the sake of harassing you, or to send threatening emails to you and your friends and family, or… on and on. Life after coming forward is pretty fucking miserable, is the point. Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
5 years ago

Pogge seems to be having some technical difficulties — he accused BuzzFeed of “hiding” his comment where he posted that he would respond to the allegations, but actually that comment was how I found the link to his response before it was posted here (or in the follow-up piece BuzzFeed piece did on his response here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/yale-professor-responds-to-allegations-of-sexual-misconduct?utm_term=.utVYYP6R8#.uuR66gy5d). It appears here: https://www.facebook.com/BuzzFeedNews/posts/1154995367854813Report

WP
WP
5 years ago

Pogge’s claim that “Lopez Aguilar has given four different versions of the alleged misconduct” is entirely based on portraying a friend’s description of the allegations as the allegations themselves (the “third version”), and pretending that he had never made her an offer before she asked for a letter from the apartment.

Presumably the rescinded job offer in “the initial version” refers to the agreement they made in early May, where they made plans for her to work for him and he agreed to cover her expenses of $1300 per month. With that, the timelines of the first, second, and fourth “versions” align, and are mere elaborations of each other. Report

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
5 years ago

Pogge’s statement attempts a kinda slick move in the discussion of ‘trial by internet’, evoking the presumption of innocence and the protections of civil law. But ‘the internet’ is not contemplating using state power to restrict Pogge’s liberty; he is not literally on trial, and courtroom rules of evidence do not apply. Perhaps there is a very weak metaphorical sense in there is an internet trial—people (‘the internet’) are considering the matter and trying to decide what to think (‘trial’). While I’m not surprised that Pogge might prefer for us not to consider the matter and try to decide what to think, it’s pretty hard to see that there’s any plausible objection to our doing so. Insofar as this is something we should care about, it’s proper for us to consider the matter and try to decide what to think. Indeed, I think we’d be neglectful not to.Report

Heidi
Heidi
5 years ago

For those thinking about the irony of the fact that Pogge is a moral philosopher, and trying to understand how his actions are inextricably tangled with his research methods and topics, it might help to note that many of the conceptual components of mindfucking — as described by Colin McGinn in his manifesto, Mindfucking: A Critique of Mental Manipulation (trust, deception, emotion, manipulation, false belief, vulnerability, etc.) — are present in Pogge’s interactions and correspondence with Fernanda and his public “response” to her allegations.

Pogge’s skill in mental manipulation was the source of the pseudonym, Lisbeth, that Fernanda and others adopted in 2014 after they recognized the fact that his dexterity in manipulating moral reasoning was also a part of his MO as a mindfucker.

So that readers can appreciate the connection, I’ll offer a one question quiz:

Which of the following two quotes is from serial rapist and killer Martin Vanger as he mindfucks Lisbeth, the protagonist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — and which one is a quote from a message sent by Thomas Pogge to one of his “Lisbeth” victims?:

(a) “You have an advanced case of the occupational disease of self-righteousness which affects many ethicists and preachers: you make strong moral judgments of others that far outstrip your understanding. And it’s especially scary because your eclectic choice of moral rules (gathered from petty-bourgeoisie sources) is untempered by any effort on your part to try them on for size.”
(b) “My actions aren’t socially acceptable, but my crime is first and foremost against the conventions of society… You with your bourgeoisie conventions would never grasp this.”Report

Jeff H
Jeff H
Reply to  Heidi
5 years ago

The first is obviously Pogge, and the second is obviously from the novel. I don’t see how anyone would be even momentarily confused about this. (Same with nearly all of these “which quote is from which source?” memes I’ve seen recently.) It’s possible there’s a valid point in there somewhere, but this is a really bad argument for it.Report

Jeff H
Jeff H
Reply to  Jeff H
5 years ago

(And no, I haven’t read either the novel or the relevant McGinn work, or very much of Pogge’s stuff for that matter – one, maybe two papers.)Report

Jared Michaelson
Jared Michaelson
5 years ago

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa may be right that the presumption of innocence is a feature of criminal procedure, not an epistemic norm. But that distinction hides why we have such a presumption in the first place, why the Warren and Brennan courts fought so hard to enshrine and enforce it — all of which applies equally well without cops and courtrooms: whenever we punish people, in a way that deprives them of their place in society forever, we’d better have more than our suspicions or well-founded beliefs. We’d better have proof. Now, of course, believing an accuser, taking her word, is hardly the same as depriving the accused of his place in society. Of course, of course. But taking public action, including publication itself (and yes, on the internet, too) comes a lot closer to criminal conviction in terms of its consequences for that person. Obviously a victim should still go public — she has all the proof she needs — but the rest of us ought not to be so morally reckless, however well-meaning.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
Reply to  Jared Michaelson
5 years ago

Jared Michaelson says ‘But taking public action, including publication itself (and yes, on the internet, too) comes a lot closer to criminal conviction in terms of its consequences for that person.’ So suppose we all get together and say how we think Thomas Pogge has done bad things. For most of us, myself included, this is entirely without consequence for him, since we do not know him personally nor do we travel in his circles. It will never matter to Thomas Pogge what an assistant professor at an undergraduate only teaching focused school thinks of him. Now of course what people like me can do is make it a little harder for those who do travel in his circles to maintain their personal and professional connection to him. Those people with a connection to him can harm his professional life (not inviting him to conferences, not taking part in events in which he is involved, etc.) But the costs here are nowhere near the costs in play in say, a felony trial. The worst case scenario of harms that can be inflicted by the community is probably McGinn’s case, where he was probably fired because he became a liability to the university on account of how his name is now mud, and even if that is not the case he became un-hirable anywhere else because of it. But he retains his freedom, and retains his status as a man of leisure. All we can do is make them feel unwelcome in the professional community. We cannot stop him from doing philosophy by denying him a position (Derek Bowman can back me up on this, since he makes this point in almost every thread), or from writing on topics he thinks are important. We simply make it so that he cannot associate with us anymore. This is not among life’s great harms. And to prevent inflicting this harm on the undeserving we are asked to do what? To continue to associate with someone we think is serial manipulator and harasser of young women because we do not have proof? To not respond to silly arguments he makes in his own defense? To greet what we think are likely true allegations of significant misconduct made by vulnerable members of our community with silence? If any of these things is what you are asking for then it seems to me the balance of reasons is not on your side.
Or maybe you weren’t comparing what we are doing to the punishments of a felony trial, to prison. Maybe when you said ‘criminal conviction’ you meant a fine, in like traffic court or something. Then I have to say they make use of a lot less evidence than we are here. The last time I went before a judge on a ticket they just asked the guy accusing me (a police officer) what I did, he said I was speeding, and the judge said ‘Ok that will be $X.’ I was punished, but if proof was offered there, then proof has been achieved here. And while I don’t like paying fines for speeding, I don’t think I was treated unfairly in traffic court. because I think it would be absurd to demand the same standards of proof be met there as in cases that really matter (for all I know I am describing how things actually are, does traffic court require proof beyond a reasonable doubt? It seems like not). I cannot see how severity of the harm to be inflicted doesn’t matter to how much evidence is necessary to justifiably inflict the harm.
This is of course putting to one side the philosophically interesting feature of the situation where none of us has it in our power to hurt him even in the way we are discussing, but that this harm only emerges from a lot of us deciding to do things in an uncoordinated way. If a member of a band is accused of misconduct severe enough that the fans start getting queasy about listening to their music, then the band is probably going to fail. Is a fan doing something wrong if they stop buying albums even when they do not have proof the accusations are correct? Are they doing something wrong if they explain why they stopped going to concerts by saying that it makes them feel a little gross to listen to the band’s music? Perhaps I am downplaying what those of us who comment on this case are doing, but it seems to me more like the case of the fan than of a judge at a trial.Report

Jared Michaelson
Jared Michaelson
Reply to  Patrick Mayer
5 years ago

Silence and acceptance are not the only alternatives to publication. You may read “publication” as “any form of acting on our reasonable suspicion,” but I don’t. For me it requires working to make the accusation part of the public record or narrative of what happened, so that it becomes part of the accused’s public biography. Journalists and their online equivalents (Buzzfeed incl) can engage in publication, and the rest of us can do so (only) indirectly, by prompting them to report it or by trying to spread the word. Other responses, including shunning or just not associating with the person, are (obviously) distinct from publication.

What’s so bad about publicizing these horrible charges? I agree with you that McGinn got the worst of it, becoming “uinhirable,” because “his name is mud,” as you put it. But you may underestimate how serious a sentence that is, in practice, because McGinn and Pogge are unrepresentative targets – they’re successful and well-off already, “men of leisure,” as you put it, and are near retirement-age anyway. But suppose the same happened to an assistant or associate professor who devoted her life and CV to philosophy and might have dependents to support or, at least, her own mouth to feed, or she might yet value her still-forming reputation both professionally and in her own communities. Can we really think we should “make her name mud” and her employment prospects impossible, probably for the rest of her life, just as long as we believe her accuser?

I agree, being condemned to a lifetime of unemployment and social pariah status isn’t identical to violent incarceration. But it should still take more than mere belief in the accusation, right?
Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
Reply to  Jared Michaelson
5 years ago

No one is suggesting we publicly shame people based on mere belief. In your first comment you set the standard at proof. There is room between proof and mere belief, believing with some evidence but evidence that does not rise to the level of proof. That is what I think we have here. There is more going on here than just ‘X said Z did Y so Z did Y’. There is more than one accuser, the accuser’s story explains certain facts of public record that otherwise seem odd (her shifting position with the Global Justice Program), the accuser’s story fit with a pattern we have observed elsewhere. Unless you are working with a very low threshold of proof this does not rise to that level, but there is more going on that just believing something. We have reason to believe the accuser.
As far as the space between silence and acceptance, it is hard for me to see what that is. Suppose this wasn’t happening on the internet. Suppose that Aguilar made these accusations in the middle of a faculty meeting or at the APA, in a room full of philosophers. And suppose we all just stayed silent. The inference that we were standing with the accused rather than the accuser would be reasonable. It would be reasonable because the accuser and the accused are not symmetrically situated. Silence on our part gets the accused what the accused wants (the accuser to be ignored). Silence harms the accuser’s chances of getting justice (or successfully framing people in the scenario that so many people are so quick to think likely). Silence isn’t neutral. I am not sure what would count as the neutral response. But I don’t think that matters in this case, because a neutral response is not called for. Pogge has been accused several times by students. He has colleagues that publicly announce that they believe these accusations. The administration has taken official steps to bar him from the department at certain times. The more reasonable thing here is to believe the accuser rather than the accused. Now I am not claiming a duty to speak out on this. I don’t think people should be shamed if they don’t come out swinging against Pogge, so I accept that it is legitimate to believe the accuser and stay silent. I just don’t think I have a duty to stay silent.Report

Jared Michaelson
Jared Michaelson
Reply to  Patrick Mayer
5 years ago

There is no duty to stay silent, even on mere belief. What does require proof, on the other hand, are actions that deprive people permanently of their place in the community, and I include publication inasmuch as (and to the extent that) it makes the allegation of sex-offense part of the person’s public record or biography, thereby rendering him or her an unemployable pariah. THAT, again, is what should be avoided on pain of proof. But there is so much that lies between that and staying silent.

This whole subject matter has, tragically, led to a kind of dichotomous thinking that harms everyone: either we’re with the victim or her abuser; either we act as though the accusation is true or we call the victim a liar; either we publicly condemn the accused as a sex offender, from now on, or we stay silent. Please let’s move beyond that.Report

Patrick Mayer
Patrick Mayer
Reply to  Jared Michaelson
5 years ago

Am I publishing just by posting a comment? Or have I not published? I have said I believe the accuser, so have I broken the duty you are claiming I have? (which, to be clear, I still disagree with you about) And do I take actions that deprive someone permanently of their place in the community when my action does not do that on its own, and only contributes to that when other people, with whom I have not coordinated, act as I have?
And why does this duty you claim we have not apply equally to the accuser? If our public support of her counts as permanently depriving Pogge of his place in the community, why doesn’t our not publicly supporting her count as depriving her of entrance in the community (by signaling to her that she is not welcome, something women have reported feeling in cases like this)?
Finally, I don’t think there is any moving beyond thinking that you either support the accuser or the accused once the accusation has gone public, much as we might wish there were some third alternative.Report

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Reply to  Jared Michaelson
5 years ago

Jared Michaelson, I don’t understand what your position is. What is it that you think people like you and me, who know only what we’ve read in the public domain about the situation, must be careful not to do without further proof? If you’re saying that I shouldn’t go to Buzzfeed and accuse Pogge of a bunch of abusive behaviour, then of course we all agree. I assume you’re intending something stronger, but what?Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Jared Michaelson
5 years ago

Jared Michaelson, is your suggestion that no one should enter into the public record any account of allegations serious enough to indirectly threaten the accused’s employability in the field of their choice? That seems to carry the silly implication that it would be wrong for media to cover serious accusations against public figures like celebrities and politicians qua accusations. Also, I don’t get why you seem to think that publishing an accusation against someone qua accusation is more threatening to their career prospects than informal shunning. To my mind, they are on a par in this regard–neither is particularly threatening in itself, since one only becomes a pariah if there is broad community uptake and that requires it being the case that lots of other things are true.Report

LV
LV
5 years ago

As http://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/ notes, a ‘culture of silence; perpetuated by (typically senior and powerful) faculty & administrators who look the other way enables this type of behaviour. It’s been an ‘open secret’ for long, so Yale–as well as Kings College London and others (as listed by Pogge on his website)–have happily had Pogge on their websites whilst presumably doing or saying nothing about this behaviour. It’s easy to justify doing nothing on the basis of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, even though that really only applies to punishment by the state. The response to false accusations made in the public sphere isn’t to point out that you were never found guilty in a court of law (which in any event doesn’t mean you’re innocent, only that the state didn’t meet its burden of proof); it’s to pursue a suit for slander or defamation (which Leiter notes Pogge hasn’t done). And even if Pogge’s conduct isn’t criminal, it’s clearly a violation of professional ethics and the duty of care we owe our students–something that requires peers to monitor and foster.

Also, Lopez-Aguilar’s behaviour is how an undergraduate/recent graduate would respond to the inappropriate conduct of her senior thesis adviser. When I was that age, it would not have occurred to me that I was the victim of harassment; I would have been uncertain as to what was going on, whether it was my fault, worried about annoying a powerful person, and tried to salvage/return the relationship to a professional footing with the limited tools and experience I had. Pogge refers to their relationship with all the indignation and anger one would reserve for a peer who has betrayed him.Report

Mal Eugata
Mal Eugata
5 years ago
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
5 years ago

The emails that Pogge has rather surprisingly chosen to publish are rather damning to his stated position. In particular, they do not even slightly support Pogge’s assertion that it was mutual knowledge between the two of them that there would be no paid position for her, and that the letter he was writing was fraudulent. She asks for documentation concerning ‘the’ job with an ‘estimated’ salary, the latter of which about which he should feel free to guess. She writes, in her August 21 message (p. 10 in Pogge’s pdf), in a way that makes it clear she is expecting to be working two jobs, the latter of which starts too late for her to secure her housing. At no point does Pogge make any effort to correct what should be, from his alleged point of view, an alarming misconception.

And this is the evidence that *Pogge himself* has deliberately made public. Perhaps he, too would benefit from the advice of a lawyer-in-training.Report

WP
WP
Reply to  Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
5 years ago

I agree that the emails are damning to his stated position, but I think releasing them is completely strategic on his part.

If he thought Lopez Aguilar was going to release the emails, he has nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain by doing it first. Now he gets to portray himself as the “transparent” one, and he gets to set the stage—anyone who wants to look at the emails is first met with his version of their contents.

For the people who care enough about this to read in depth and aren’t skeptics about sexual harassment, Pogge was clearly at fault here. He didn’t have a chance of avoiding that. But by releasing the emails he can make himself look more like he didn’t *realize* what he was doing. For the committed sexual harassment skeptics, the emails are just ambiguous enough to insist that Pogge’s account was right.

And most people don’t care enough about this to read in depth. A few years from now when someone hears about this and skims his account, the fact that the emails are attached will matter more than their contents.

Ugh. Report

Aurora
Aurora
5 years ago

I think we’re missing a big question. How has Yale University managed to keeps this story under wraps for so long? What did you expose this woman to?Report

Emails
Emails
5 years ago

It is astonishing that Pogge published these emails in support of his position. He comes across as completely in the wrong, as well as utterly uncooperative, uncharitable, and hostile. She comes across as having done nothing wrong, and acting in good faith throughout. She repeatedly tries to communicate in good faith, and he returns nothing but hostility. Absolutely astonishing.Report

Fred Marcus
Fred Marcus
5 years ago

I fail to see how this man can be defended. Even if one were an assistant professor trying to build one’s professional reputation, it is fair for the media to report on a pending investigation when the individual has been systematically accused over the course of life by several individuals (Columbia and then again at Yale). Second, this man has at the very least shown very poor judgment. Who thinks it is defensible to sleep in their student’s lap on a flight, or watch a movie with them in bed (both things that he has admitted too)? Indeed, such behavior coming from someone aware of the current standards of conduct around title IX issues cannot but be seen as willfully transgressive. If I were to do such a thing, I would not be surprised when I my institution fired me when my actions came to light. But let us concede these are merely lapses of judgment. What about writing a letter of reference for someone because one finds them attractive and has slept with (again something he admitted to)? I think debate here is pointless, one need not believe anything that the accuser says, Pogge’s own admission are sufficient to damn him. Report

Jean Kazez
Jean Kazez
5 years ago

I’m puzzled by the last couple of comments. It seems to me the emails do pretty well corroborate part of Pogge’s response. Lopez says there was a real job offer that was withdrawn as retaliation, and the Buzz Feed article makes it seem as if there was certainly a real job offer. The emails make that seem very questionable. The July 21 4:31 am email is especially relevant. She’s asking Pogge for a “letter offering me the position and an estimate salary” but makes it very clear what she’s asking for is a fake letter, so she can qualify for an apartment. She says she has a job offer from Brookings but can’t get a letter from them soon enough. The July 21 3:26 am email from Lopez to Pogge makes it 100% clear she sees the letter as a fake. He’s asked her to write it herself and she says “we can rip it to shreds after I send it to the Taft [the apartment] if you like.” The other emails around this time are consistent with this interpretation. He’s just doing her a favor by writing a fake job offer letter.

The August 31 email exchange shows that she’s tried to get into Yale facilities using the letter. Pogge is angry because the letter was mutually understood to be a fake. He’s now worried he’s going to be in trouble for writing it. Her emails from that point forward make it seem as if she construes the letter differently–not as a fake, but as a real offer. For example, in the August 31 2:10:05 email she says she tried to get access to Yale by showing the letter “because I honestly believed that you would be employing me; and had you told me that my presence at Yale was to be clandestine, I would have never, ever done so.” She then talks about being treated as “smuggled goods,” etc.

Looking at all these emails, it appears that Pogge has not withdrawn a job offer. Rather, Lopez has asked for a fake letter and then tried to use it as a real letter. Now, it could be this is not the whole email record. Maybe there are other emails or letters where Pogge makes a real job offer. Maybe there were other conversations that superseded the email interchange. That’s all possible. But the email he’s chosen to publicize does back him up on the issue of the supposedly withdrawn job offer.

Just to be clear–I’m not defending the man in any general sense. It seems pretty clearl he has a history of treating female students inappropriately. It seems clear he treated Lopez inappropriately by booking a room with her in Chile. I’m just responding to the comments above that say the emails are damning. No. They seem to corroborate his version of events, with respect to the job letter. Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Jean Kazez
5 years ago

Your reading of these email is rather infelicitous. In the Jul 21 4:31 am email, immediately following her request for the fake letter, she writes, “This doesn’t need to be my actual salary, just a document and figure which I can scan/email them soon.” Her use of the qualifier ‘actual’ when referring to the salary suggests that she meant to elicit Pogge’s help to deceive Taft about how much he will be paying her rather than whether he will be paying her at all. A closer look at the Jul 21 3:26 pm email supports this reading of the 4:31 am email. In the sentence following the one in which she writes, “We can rip it to shreds after…” she goes on to explain her purpose in wanting the letter in the first place: “I just wrote down something that they could be appeased with, as far as the salary figure was concerned.” Again, the emphasis is placed on the size of the salary rather than the promise of some kind of salary in the first place. Taken together, the most natural reading of the relevant passages in their entirety from these emails is that, contra Pogge’s claim, he had promised her a position with some indeterminate but likely low pay, which she plans on supplementing with the “fine salary” (4:31 am) from Brookings, but she is asking him to fib for her (“actual salary” [4:31 am]; “as far as the figure is concerned” [3:26 pm]) in order to secure the apartment at Taft because Brookings won’t come through with their formal offer in time.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  JT
5 years ago

I don’t even think that the letter even suggests that Aguilar was hoping to deceive Taft about the level of her salary. She wrote, “Would it be possible for you to write me a letter offering the position and an estimate salary? This doesn’t need to be my actual salary…” etc. I think the most natural reading of “estimate[d] salary” versus “actual salary” is that Aguilar thinks that the exact amount of the salary may be unsettled (or might take some work for Pogge to establish) and that she just wants something approximate, not that she’s trying to deceive Taft about it. The later line about “rip it to shreds” is also at least compatible with the idea that she’s expecting an actual salary, that she thinks there may be some bureaucratic delay getting the formal letter offering her the job (a not unheard of situation!), and that she just wants something she can show the apartment before she gets the official letter. And that she’s drafting the letter because Pogge has been dragging his feet a bit. This is consistent with her later claim that the only thing she thought was indeterminate was the amount of the stipend.

It’s only when she discovers that the Yale center doesn’t know about her that she pulls out the letter from Pogge to, as she says, show that she’s not some random person trying to fake her way into the center.Report

Jean Kazez
Jean Kazez
Reply to  JT
5 years ago

Infelicitous? I think I’m just reading these things in the most natural way. Here’s the crucial passage from the 7/21 4:31 email–“I’ve already reserved an apartment at the Taft, and received this letter in my Inbox this weekend. Would it be possible for you to write me a letter offering me the position and an estimate salary? This doesn’t need to be my actual salary, just a document and figure which I can scan/email them soon. I would ask XXX but Brookings would not officially hire me for the position until early September…”

It doesn’t seem possible that the first occurrence of “the position” refers to some Yale position she’s already been offered, when the second occurrence clearly refers to the Brookings position. Rather, she seems to be asking Pogge to make it look as if he’s offered her a position, to substitute for the Brookings letter she doesn’t have yet. Of course, if he really did offer her a position and then withdraw it, she can presumably substantiate that offer with other emails or letters, but I don’t think that’s corroborated in the emails Pogge published.Report

Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Reply to  Jean Kazez
5 years ago

Jean Kazez, your suggestion is that she used the phrase ‘the job’ to refer a fake job she was introducing into the conversation. But that’s just not how the definite article works. Heim 101.Report

Jean Kazez
Jean Kazez
Reply to  Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
5 years ago

Whoops, I hit the “report” button when I meant to hit the “reply” button.

One natural way to read it is that “the position” refers to the Brookings position, in both occurrences. Since Pogge obviously can’t offer her the Brookings position, there’s an implicature that she’s asking for something else– to create a fake letter, so she has what she needs to get the apartment. I don’t see how in this email there’s any context supplied that could make the first occurrence refer to an actual Yale position. It would certainly be a very confusing email if the first occurrence referred to one job and the second referred to another.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  Jean Kazez
5 years ago

I don’t understand how your reading is less confusing than any other. You argue that it would be confusing if the two different occurrences of “the position” referred to different positions, and so they must both refer to the Brookings position. But since Pogge can’t offer her the Brookings position, that occurrence of “the position” must (by implicature) mean that she’s asking for him to make up a totally fake position. So the two occurrences of “the position” don’t refer to the same thing after all. How is this more straightforward than a reading on which when she’s talking about Brookings, “the position” refers to the position Brookings offered her, and when she’s talking about Pogge writing her a letter, “the position” refers to the position Pogge offered her? The only thing you’ve added is to change the latter referent to a fake position that they hadn’t been talking about before, which would hardly be clearer.

For that matter, if there never was an offer to work at the Yale facility, why is Lopez Aguilar even trying to rent an apartment in New Haven? The Brookings Institute is in Washington D.C., and Lopez Aguilar mentions that she had to ask the Brookings people if it was OK for her to live in New Haven.

It seems to me that in order to get this e-mail to support what Pogge says we have to put a very strained reading on an e-mail that was not exactly being written for publication. If Pogge had offered a position (which he might well not have done formally over e-mail), the reference to “the position” would have been clear.Report

E
E
Reply to  Jean Kazez
5 years ago

Squabbling over that particular sentence is a bit moot. Even setting it aside, some of the other e-mails seem to substantiate that she believed she had a job waiting for her at Yale (and that Pogge gave her good reason to so believe). Report

JT
JT
Reply to  E
5 years ago

I’m inclined to agree with you, E. But I felt it important to rebut Kazez’s suggestion, which seemed to me to perversely twist Lopez Aguilar’s words.Report

WP
WP
Reply to  Jean Kazez
5 years ago

What is the “estimate salary” supposed to be an estimate of, if not the actual salary that she expects him to pay her?

Pogge clearly has offered her *a position,* as the first half of the email is her talking about how she’s planning the work that she’ll do for the Global Justice Program… Report

Donald P. Wyatt
Donald P. Wyatt
Reply to  Jean Kazez
5 years ago

Reading the whole ordeal as a legitimate job offer seems to me like an extremely biased read of what Pogge published, to say the least. Unless the job was explicitly offered through other messages or by using other means, it seemed very clear to me that she just needed a fake document to convince her new landlord that she had the means to pay for the apartment.

And after that she keeps pushing him for payments and mentioning that she needs the money right away. That’s extremely suspicious, considering that she mentioned that her parents could easily afford to send her money anytime she wanted. And the fact the he told her to stop calling him is also suspicious: he was being assertive about communicating only through documented means, to protect himself.

The thing is: staying in the US after graduation is a big thing for foreign students. A regular job at the US pays as much as a top managerial position in Tegucigalpa, the world’s murder capital. And once you’re back in your home country, without an advanced degree, your chances of ever becoming a permanent resident start to get close to zero.Report

prime
prime
5 years ago

Why ultimately does it matter whether Pogge offered Lopez Aguilar some position or other at his Global Justice Program? Doesn’t his unprofessionally physical behavior toward a very recently former student indicate that this was yet another case of his academic influence peddling for sexual intimacies? (If so, wouldn’t it be somewhat perverse to argue that Lopez Aguilar was due whatever position Pogge seems to have offered or implied?)

The bottom line is what was suggested on another philosophy blog: Given all that is known and not really in dispute, we can safely conclude that “normal professionals don’t do shit like this, period.” Pogge’s release of emails isn’t supposed to support his position in any straightforward sense. He’s blowing smoke in an effort to funnel attention to the Lopez Aguilar case and make it seem complicated.

Pogge has been running some kind of sexual harassment and/or academic influence peddling game going back to the ’80. This has been known long before the “Lisbeth” scandal broke. He seems to have tried to modify his game so as to operate in a gray area whereby he might not strictly be in violation of whatever laws or rules. So what? Enough of this character. He’s now an openly noxious embarrassment to Yale and the profession.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
Reply to  prime
5 years ago

Well, it’s certainly not the case that Pogge’s (apparent) behavior would’ve been OK if he’d never offered Lopez Aguilar a position. But if he offered her a position and then withdrew it or failed to follow through because she refused his sexual advances, then as I understand it that would be a form of retaliation which is a particular offense under sexual harassment law. (Again, only as I understand it–I’m not a lawyer.) As for the question of whether she was “due” the position, she was due it once it was offered to her.

Again, not to take away from your general point, which is that we don’t need to know whether Pogge offered Lopez Aguilar a position to know that what he did was bad, and he’s been doing bad things for a while. Report

postdoc
postdoc
Reply to  Matt Weiner
5 years ago

This may seem like a quibble, but I think it’s actually very important: these aren’t (merely) “sexual advances” he’s accused of. He’s accused of sexual assault. If you grab someone’s breast and/or press your erection into them without consent, you’ve sexually assaulted them. You can go to jail for something like that, and many people do.

But of course, the alleged retaliation is *also* relevant and forms an important part of Aguilar’s complaint. But it’s not the worst he’s accused of (I’m not suggesting you think it is, but I just think the point is worth making).Report

Donald P. Wyatt
Donald P. Wyatt
Reply to  postdoc
5 years ago

Going to jail? You might be overreacting, as you’re ignoring context. Yes, you can go to jail if you grab someone’s breasts in the middle of the street, four seconds after seeing that person for the first time in your life.
Being jailed for a perverted hug while sleeping on the same hotel room, after a long period of social interactions and flirting? Not going to happen. It’s not even “sexual assault”, if her account is correct. It’s merely an inconvenience. Embarrassing? Sure. But not an “assault”, as the advances were not sustained (by her own account) after it was made clear that he should stop doing that.
But denying professional/educational opportunities as a retaliation of being rejected is sexual harassment. You don’t even need to touch people to be sexually harassing them if you’re in a position of power and making sure that it is understood that some opportunities depend on future close, personal interactions, that don’t even need to be actual sex.Report

Fred Marcus
Fred Marcus
5 years ago

It seems that yet again Pogge is going to get away with it. Yale has done nothing and he himself has no conscience so isn’t stepping aside or going on leave. Basically this is turning into a repeat of what happened with the Thought Catalog piece. Report