philosophy meta-forum

This ain't no straw man

Myles

16 day(s) ago

From the writeup at Daily Snooze:

"Helen Beebee (Manchester) and Heather Widdows (Birmingham) have co-authored an essay at IAI, “Weinstein, Westminster, and Philosophy: Structures of Abuse,” on the recent spate of accounts of sexual harassment and assault.

"The authors make two suggestions.

"The first concerns belief: “Don’t ask her for proof; instead ask yourself whether you have a credible reason for thinking that she is lying to you. If you can’t think of one—and you almost certainly won’t be able to—believe her.”"

Christine

16 day(s) ago

I also believe that a giant teacup orbits the earth

Myles

16 day(s) ago

Christine, I'm not going to ask you for proof. Instead, I should ask myself whether I have a credible reason for thinking you're lying to me. I can't think of one. Why would you lie about such a thing? What do you stand to gain? I don't even know who you are!

Therefore, there is a giant teacup orbiting the earth.

How wonderful! New knowledge is gained!

Now let's use this pattern to fuck up innocent people.

Adolf

16 day(s) ago

Just what the doctor ordered, more philosophers commenting on current events with their usual tin-ear. An article that is certainly going to be valuable to read and make many useful and not at all ideologically motivated suggestions.

Myles

16 day(s) ago

Oh, not at all motivated by ideology. They're feminist philosophers. What ideology could they have?

How nice to see these 'philosophers' helping to keep the most vile moral outrages of the mob in check.

Allan

16 day(s) ago

Only one person in the philosophy profession has been credibly sexually assaulted and that's because an eyewitness was present and corroborated it. That victim was male and the perpetrator female.

Al-Farabi

16 day(s) ago

Keep fuckin' that chicken, Jeff

Aristippus

16 day(s) ago

Keep up the excuses for sexual violence, loon.

Reinhold

15 day(s) ago

I admit I am in two minds about this. Whose testimony should we trust: the accuser or the accused? When there are high social penalties for accusing someone and little to no social penalties for assaulting or harassing someone, we might think it more plausible that accusers are likely to be telling the truth (as has been the case in the past). But if, because of this, we shift to a model where we make it the case that there are high social rewards for accusing someone and high social penalties for assaulting or harassing someone, then might we not have created conditions whereby we have reasons for doubting the accuser's testimony?

Alf

15 day(s) ago

I admit I am in two minds about this. Whose testimony should we trust: the accuser or the accused?

You should trust eyewitnesses.

Reinhold

15 day(s) ago

The problem with sexual assault and harassment is that it's usually perpetrated in privacy. That's pretty obvious, right? That's why women often feel afraid when they find themselves alone with a man they don't know or don't trust, say, in an elevator or in a car park. It's also the reason why many people are surprised when yet another guy kills his family and then himself: "oh he seemed so NICE" they say. Abusive people usually don't put their abuse on display.

Richard

15 day(s) ago

Which of these would you prefer to be:

Inappropriately propositioned or groped by sometime, and having people suspend judgment on that case because you had no corroborating evidence?

Or having your life torn apart, losing your job, your friends, your respect, your reputation forever and ever, because a howling mob is dogpiling on you on the internet after activist groups call your employer and demand your firing because of these mere accusations, while nobody has the guys to stand by you, while your whole life's dirty and clean laundry is aired in public, scanned for salacious details as everyone who ever knew you joins in the stomping?

Which one?

Don't let today's mass hysteria fool you. The lessons of history all point the same way on this. This is vile and disgusting behavior. Incident until proven guilty, or civilization falls.

Philippa

15 day(s) ago

Compare and discuss

The first concerns belief: “Don’t ask her for proof; instead ask yourself whether you have a credible reason for thinking that she is lying to you. If you can’t think of one—and you almost certainly won’t be able to—believe her.”

Helen Beebee and Heather Widdows

Last week, Heidi Howkins Lockwood publicly accused me of groping her after a colloquium at Yale in October 2007. I categorically and unequivocally deny having groped Lockwood on that occasion or on any other. Lockwood asserts that I was so drunk that night that I would have been unable to find my way to my hotel, apparently implying that this is why I had "no recollection" of groping her. Both claims are false. I have vivid memories of the entire evening. When I deny groping Lockwood, it is not because I do not remember doing so; it is because I positively remember not doing so.

Richard Heck

Leonard

15 day(s) ago

"When faced with an accusation of witchcraft, don't ask for proof; instead ask yourself whether you have a credible reason for thinking that the accuser is lying to you. If you can’t think of one—and you almost certainly won’t be able to—believe the accusation."

Quoted from page 666 of Beebee & Widdows (1692).

Alfred

15 day(s) ago

Yes witchcraft and sexual assault are perfectly analogous!

Metabros are frothing again.

Alfred

15 day(s) ago

Which of these would you prefer to be:

Inappropriately propositioned or groped by sometime, and having people suspend judgment on that case because you had no corroborating evidence?

Or having your life torn apart, losing your job, your friends, your respect, your reputation forever and ever, because a howling mob is dogpiling on you on the internet after activist groups call your employer and demand your firing because of these mere accusations, while nobody has the guys to stand by you, while your whole life's dirty and clean laundry is aired in public, scanned for salacious details as everyone who ever knew you joins in the stomping?

Which one?

Don't let today's mass hysteria fool you. The lessons of history all point the same way on this. This is vile and disgusting behavior. Incident until proven guilty, or civilization falls.

Richard

Richard, do you really not see how being targeted by a sexual predator can ruin someone’s career and cause them severe psychological trauma? Do you not see how a culture which routinely treats accusations of sexual assault with suspicion gives predators the latitude to assault with impunity?

Of course false accusations can ruin a person’s career. But so can bring sexually harassed / assaulted. Both predators and opportunists have just gotten away with it for too long.

Johann

15 day(s) ago

Best to publicly ignore these people while privately discussing the depravity and intellectual and interpersonal immaturity they embody. Time is never kind to the adversaries of due process.

Compare and discuss

The first concerns belief: “Don’t ask her for proof; instead ask yourself whether you have a credible reason for thinking that she is lying to you. If you can’t think of one—and you almost certainly won’t be able to—believe her.”

Helen Beebee and Heather Widdows

Last week, Heidi Howkins Lockwood publicly accused me of groping her after a colloquium at Yale in October 2007. I categorically and unequivocally deny having groped Lockwood on that occasion or on any other. Lockwood asserts that I was so drunk that night that I would have been unable to find my way to my hotel, apparently implying that this is why I had "no recollection" of groping her. Both claims are false. I have vivid memories of the entire evening. When I deny groping Lockwood, it is not because I do not remember doing so; it is because I positively remember not doing so.

Richard Heck

Philippa

Mao

15 day(s) ago

To start with, Alfred, you sound like a complete moron when you use the metaphorical word 'predator' as broadly and sensationalistically as the National Enquirer does. I know, some broader media outlets have stooped to the same level. it doesn't make it right for serious people do to that.

So, yeah, let's ask that question. There could be a very nasty rape that would cause someone severe psychological trauma. If that happens, can you keep your friends? Yes, you can. Can you keep your career? It's difficult, and some might not be able to. But some do. Then again, how many people who have been publicly accused in this utter fucking mania are keeping their jobs? They're all losing their careers, their reputations, everything. If you're accused of anything serious, the fuckups and cowards that apparently make up 99% of the profession will turn their backs on you. They will not be your friend anymore. They will hound you out of a job. You will never work again. You will never be invited to a conference again. You will be ostracized. Your works, no matter how popular they were before the accusation, will never even be cited again. You will become an unperson.

As far as your career is concerned, it would be easier to get past even a rather nasty rape than an accusation of sexual assault.

But sexual harassment isn't a very nasty rape or even a rape at all. It's a series of allegedly inappropriate comments, etc. Is it unpleasant? Sure it is. But the remedy in most cases is just to say "Fucking stop that" and walk out of the room. Where that and other direct measures don't suffice, any minimally decent person would report it to the proper authorities and not spill it all over the internet, where it will cause permanent and utter ruin.

Are you actually saying that it would be as hard to persist in one's career after someone made a sexually improper comment to you, or even several sexually improper comments to you, as it would if you're, say, Peter Ludlow? That is just not credible. People move on from lewd comments all the time, if they're adults. Lewd comments don't follow you around to the end of your life. You cannot move on, ever, from an accusation when it's made in the most public manner imaginable on the most trendy shameful topic imaginable. Once someone speaks out against you, you're toast. Open your eyes.

Novalis

15 day(s) ago

Yes witchcraft and sexual assault are perfectly analogous!

Metabros are frothing again.

Alfred

Even my Philosophy 101 undergrads know that saying "X and Y aren't perfectly analogous!" is hardly an objection to the claim that X and Y are analogous in some particular, salient way.

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

Yes witchcraft and sexual assault are perfectly analogous!

Metabros are frothing again.

Alfred

Even my Philosophy 101 undergrads know that saying "X and Y aren't perfectly analogous!" is hardly an objection to the claim that X and Y are analogous in some particular, salient way.

Novalis

Obviously, the use of sarcasm indicates that what is meant is that they are not analogous at all.

Gorgias

15 day(s) ago

Obviously, the comment is then false. So it's either sarcastic and false, or literal and ignorant.

Novalis

15 day(s) ago

What Gorgias said. Nice try though, Joseph!

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

"What happens to women who try to resist or report harassment is also uniformly bad, Carlson reports. Human Resources offices are unresponsive (there to protect the company only); harassers who respond to complaints with defenses such as “You think I’d hit that?” (Trump’s defense too) are believed over accusers. Women who come forward are likely to be passed over for promotions and good assignments, or find their jobs mysteriously eliminated. On rare occasions when a boss-harasser is actually fired, the woman who brought him down often gets treated like a leper by his allies. The majority of those who report harassment end up in different jobs, which makes it understandable that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 70 percent of women who are harassed don’t report it. The Bureau of Justice Statistics keeps a separate category for workplace rapes and sexual assaults, which number upward of 43,000 a year, but Carlson notes that “women’s advocates say that this number vastly underrepresents such crimes.” Then there are the psychological effects Carlson catalogs: depression, sleep disorders, lost self-esteem, even suicide attempts."

Laura Kipnis on the money, as usual: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/12/21/kick-against-the-pricks/

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

I'm with Kipnis: we need to redress the historically unjust treatment of people who are sexually harassed and assaulted at work without going too far in the opposite direction. Obviously a reflexive and absolute "believe all women" is ridiculous and unjust. But we can be less outrightly dismissive to complaints about sexual harassment and assault too. I'm pretty sure there's a sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

Oh and as for witchcraft and sexual harassment and assault: I hate to break it to you, but witchcraft isn't "real", anymore than seances are "real". They are just pretence, no matter how much participants believe them to be real. Sexual harassment and assault, though, are obviously real with real effects.

Gorgias

15 day(s) ago

Ah, but how many Heidi Lockwoods and Sabrina Erdelys are worth the hunt for that sweet spot? That's the problem with witch-hunting. And it's no excuse to ignore the analogy.

I'm with Kipnis: we need to redress the historically unjust treatment of people who are sexually harassed and assaulted at work without going too far in the opposite direction. Obviously a reflexive and absolute "believe all women" is ridiculous and unjust. But we can be less outrightly dismissive to complaints about sexual harassment and assault too. I'm pretty sure there's a sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

Joseph

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

Gorgias did you know that it is estimated that 20% of inmates in the prison system are innocent? Do you think this means we should do away with law and punishment?

Gorgias

15 day(s) ago

You prove my point. Due process is respected precisely because we want to minimize false positives. Beebee, Widdows, Lockwood, and Erdely are increasing those odds.

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

And I am agreeing with you about "due process". I don't think accusers or the accused have received what should count as due process in the past. Your willingness to irrationally deny the severity of harms meted out to victims of sexual harassment and assault shows that you don't really care about due process for victims. You are happy to maintain a social environment that fosters an extreme skepticism toward accusers that works to provide cover and protection for predators and opportunists. I think we need to go some distance toward rectifying that without going too far in the opposite direction whereby the accused and those likely to be accused become victimised. And I scare quote "due process" here as we are actually speaking metaphorically because what we are discussing is social consequences, not legal ones.

Joseph

15 day(s) ago

Re Lockwood and Heck: I read both their testimonies and thought about the evidence I had regarding their characters. As a result, I am inclined to believe Heck, subject to further evidence as always. I think Lockwood was sniffed out pretty quickly: Langton had her number too.

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