Yet another new Mini-Heap…

  1. What can we learn from auditory illusions about the relationship between mind and reality? — an especially delightful episode of Hi-Phi Nation, from Barry Lam (Vassar)
  2. How much enhancement can the self take? — Susan Schneider (Connecticut) on the philosophical issues raised by the prospects of human-AI mergers
  3. “The devised multi-disciplinary program failed to transition to a mature inter-disciplinary coherent field” — doubts about the field of cognitive science (via Evan Thompson)
  4. “The graduate students are on strike, and I have crossed picket lines to be in my office. Later today, I will cross them again to teach my class” — Agnes Callard (Chicago) on civility, Socrates, and strikes… and one of the striking graduate students responds
  5. The conditions under which “morality unseats humour” — Noël Carroll (CUNY) in The New Statesman
  6. “This is a world in which unsubstantiated opinion is treated as logical simply because those peddling this opinion know how to speak in the language of analytic philosophy––and thus don’t have to do any research” — J. Moufawad-Paul on recent discussions of trans issues in philosophy
  7. Is Trump eroding people’s respect for our Constitutional system? — David Lay Williams (DePaul) tries to figure out what he can learn from his students’ changing reactions to The Federalist Papers

Mini-Heap posts appear when 7 or so new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, the ever-growing collection of items from around the web that may be of interest to philosophers.

The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap. Thanks!


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Tom Davies, Princeton GSU
Tom Davies, Princeton GSU
4 years ago

I want to respond to the piece by Agnes Callard you linked to. I’ll preface this by saying that I have benefited from Callard’s scholarship in ancient philosophy, and I don’t relish the prospect of publicly attacking a tenured colleague in my own subfield. But her article is outrageous.

In the piece, Callard tries to justify crossing a picket line of her colleagues and students. She suggests that their decision to strike is a regrettable exercise of force, and that they should approach their grievances as Socrates might, determining what is right and wrong through relentless persuasive argument: “Socrates wouldn’t respect the point of view of the protesters outside his window. He would want to know who is right and who is wrong, and he wouldn’t stop talking to them until the difference between points of view was obliterated. Persuade or be persuaded.”

Is it possible that Callard is unaware the argument she envisions has been going on longer than her career at Chicago? Chicago’s Graduate Students United, founded in 2007, was instrumental in pushing the National Labor Relations Board to rule that graduate employees at private universities have the right to unionize. GSU members then led a volunteer campaign to persuade their colleagues, through conversation and argument, to vote for a union. Chicago hired the union-busting law firm Proskauer Rose to combat these efforts, but despite what must have been an enormous outlay of funds by the administration, they failed: in 2017, Chicago grads took their vote, and more than two-thirds voted to unionize.

In the 17 months since, Chicago has simply refused to negotiate, in violation of US labor law (NLRA Section 8(a) and (d)). They have instead joined with other wealthy private universities to petition the new Trump-appointed NLRB to remove their workers’ legal right to unionize. This is an obvious exercise of force: the admin is dodging its duty to ‘persuade or be persuaded’ at the bargaining table. But Callard’s piece makes no mention of these Calliclean manoeuvres by her employer. In fact, the piece betrays no interest at all in why there was a strike, the union’s demands, or why her colleagues asked her not to scab. She appears to have joined this argument–more than a decade after her colleagues began it–only at the moment it intruded on her personal convenience, and only to justify her own actions in the face of this inconvenience.

The situation is very simple. Callard’s colleagues were striking because Chicago is refusing negotiations to which they are legally entitled and which they democratically elected to pursue. They asked Callard to support their strike by canceling her classes, or teaching them off-campus. She had a choice between solidarity with her fellow workers, or obedience to her boss. She crossed the picket line.

Dave Dixon
Dave Dixon
4 years ago

Does anyone have access to the article in Nature on cognitive science? Sadly, I don’t; would anyone mind relaying some of what the authors say/argue?