Benhabib on Pogge (Updated with Clarification from Benhabib)

The German newspaper, Zeit, has an article on the recent allegations of sexual harassment and other unprofessional behavior against Thomas Pogge. In it, Seyla Benhabib, Pogge’s colleague in Yale’s Department of Political Science, is reported as calling for Yale to act.

She says the material now in the public domain reveals Pogge’s “shockingly poor judgment.” She adds that he ought to go on leave from his position as “he is not able to teach at this time.” If doesn’t decide on his own to go, then, she says, Yale should put him on administrative leave until the matters are settled.

The article, which is in German, is not officially online, but has been posted and roughly translated here. Contrary to the translation there, Benhabib is not calling for Pogge’s resignation. Rather, as she clarified in an email, she is suggesting he go on administrative leave.

Pogge Zeit article tweet 2

UPDATE 1: Here’s a scan of the hard copy of the original article (click image below for larger size):

Pogge Zeit article image

UPDATE 2 (7/10/16): Seyla Benhabib writes:

I have been following some of the discussion on your blog concerning Pogge and I am now sending you the correspondence with the German journalist – Anna-Lena Scholz. Since my German knowledge is quite excellent, there is no need for people to keep spinning their wheels about what I said or meant.

I said “it is morally the appropriate thing to do for Pogge” to step back from his position until the “juristischer Fall,” meaning the Title IX complaint is resolved. I drew a distinction between what would be the “morally appropriate” thing to do and the “legal” case – which has not been resolved and is a complaint against Yale violating Titles IX and VII, not against Pogge himself. But it may have consequences for Pogge’s appointment at Yale.

I am sending you this because, unfortunately, the July 8th article in the NY Times did not publish my call for Pogge to take an administrative leave, thus making it seem as if I was accepting that nothing could be done.  I had sent a version of the passage below in English to Noah Remnick, the author of the article.


Seyla Benhabib sagte der ZEIT, dass Pogge sich verantworten müsse. Als Kollegin habe sie Gerüchte über ihn lange zurückgehalten. Das nun öffentlich gemachte Material zeige aber, dass Pogge „erschreckend schlechtes Urteilsvermögen und Charakterschwäche in seinem übergriffigen Umgang mit Studentinnen und jungen Kolleginnen“ habe. Moralisch geboten sei es, so Benhabib, „von seinem Posten in Yale zurückzutreten, bis der juristische Fall geklärt ist. Die Universität Yale sollte ihn darum bitten, sofern er diesen Schritt nicht freiwillig anbietet. Zur Lehre ist er derzeit pädagogisch nicht in der Lage.“

Talking to DIE ZEIT, Seyla Benhabib said Pogge had to take responsibility. As a colleague, she had withheld rumours about him for a long time. The material now open to the public, however, showed Pogge’s “appallingly bad judgment and weakness of character in his predatory dealings with female students and younger colleagues.” The morally correct thing to do would be, said Benhabib, “to request an administrative leave from Yale until the legal case is resolved. Yale University should request him to do so if Pogge does not take this step voluntarily. He is not pedagogically fit to continue teaching at this point.”

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