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Mark Lance

Bravo. Excellent post.

Gabriele Contessa

Nice (and honest) post, Eric!

I just skimmed through most of Tooley's self-apologetic treatise (from the little I have seen, I don't think it's worth my time or my anger) but, in doing so I stumbled into the second passage you quote and I was taken aback!

How is punishing a repeat sexual harasser who is being disciplined for the second time with one semester's suspension without pay *not* a slap on the wrist?
What measures were taken to ensure that after that semester the repeat harasser would stop harassing for good this time?
How do you navigate being colleagues with someone who seems to have a habit of harassing your colleagues and/or your students?

Apparently, Tooley is too busy salvaging his professional reputation and attacking the Site Visit Team to tell us. In the process, he's essentially outing himself as someone who has no intention to be part of the solution, for, according to him, there is no problem in the first place. In fact, if there is a problem, it's that the white guys are being discriminated against. It's the typical reaction of white dude who feels his privilege is under threat and it's very disappointing coming from someone as smart as Michael Tooley, but, unfortunately, I fear that this view is shared by many philosophers of Tooley's generation. It's just that Tooley felt pressured to express these view in public. Let's hope they retire soon (the climate in philosophy for old white dudes is becoming so hostile! :-) ).

Remy Debes

Very, very well said, Eric.

Katy Abramson


Mohan Matthen

Eric, it does come as something of a surprise to me that only one tenured member of the Philosophy Department has been found guilty of harassment, and that he was suspended without pay on the second occasion. After all, the Report does say things like: "the Department maintains an environment with unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior, and divisive uncivil behavior," that only slaps on the wrist were handed out, and that the department has an international reputation for being unfriendly to women.

True, these statements are compatible with Tooley's. But I still think that Tooley was right to make his point about how many people had actually been found guilty.

Now, as to his never having witnessed a single case of sexual discrimination within our profession, that is a load of codswallop and you are totally right to point out that it is so.

Eric Schliesser

Mohan, it seems we were surprised by the same fact.

Eric Schliesser

[Prof. Tooley has asked me to post this response on his behalf.--ES]
Dear Professor Schliesser,
Because of other things to which I have been attending, it is only today that I got around to following the link in the letter you sent me, and to reading your reaction to the documents that I posted.

I had expected that you would be responding to the criticisms that I had advanced of the site visit team, and so I was rather surprised when you didn’t seem to address those criticisms at all. In particular, I was struck by the fact that in your post you do not mention two of the main points that I made, and at considerable length. First of all, there was the site team's violation of their agreement with the Philosophy Department. Second, and even worse, the site team then proceeded to assert something that there appears to be excellent reason for thinking is false, viz., that the Dean and the Provost had joined the Department in requesting the site visit. Yet you say nothing at all about any of this.

One of the documents that I posted on my website describes the significant disagreement that exists within the Philosophy Department over whether it would be wise to release a serious and thorough-going criticism of the site report, along with the reasons that some of my colleagues have offered for not doing so. Among those reasons is the fear of the sort of response of which your post is a rather vivid example. But another, and rather more serious concern, is the fear of retaliation and of a negative reaction on the part of the University Administration. One may very well expose oneself to criticism, for example, merely by saying that the Administration, by refusing to release statistical information about the number of cases of sexual harassment, uncivil behavior, and other types of unprofessional behavior that have occurred, has failed to do anything to minimize the harm that has been caused to innocent members of the Department, including untenured junior members, to present graduate students, to recent Ph.D. graduates who are currently on the job market, and to all of their families.

As I indicate in that document, I’m not convinced that the reasons that I mention there are good reasons for not criticizing the site report, but my hope is that more of my colleagues will come to share my view that we should not remain silent, and that hope is the reason that I have not yet posted the document containing my full account of the background to the site visit, along with my detailed response to the site report. Your post, with its vigorous title, “Michael Tooley, sees no evil, hears no evil,” does, of course, dramatically bring out the personal downside for me in holding off on the release of the document in question, since in that document I do discuss the different types of problematic behavior that have occurred in the Philosophy Department. Ultimately, however, I will release that document, and I’ll be interested at that point to hear whether you are willing to defend the view that the site report provides a fair and accurate account of the Philosophy Department at the University of Colorado.

In the meantime, perhaps I can draw your attention to a document that, as I can see from the date of your email to me, I hadn’t completed at the time when you posted your reaction, namely, “A Brief Historical Overview of the Actions Taken by the Philosophy Department.” Here are three paragraphs from that document:

“Because of the veil of total secrecy that I have just described, most people in the Philosophy Department were, for a number of years, completely unaware that any of their colleagues had behaved in very unacceptable ways. Gradually, however, information leaked out, and as it did, the Philosophy Department asked itself what action it could take.

The first thing that the Philosophy Department did was to create, in December of 2011, an ad hoc Departmental committee to look into the issue of behavior that the Department considered unacceptable, including behavior that is highly undesirable in spite of the fact that it does not violate any of the University’s policies. (This ad hoc committee, of which I was a member, was subsequently replaced by a permanent, ‘Climate Committee’, within the Department.)

That committee immediately began deliberations, consulting with the Office of Discrimination and Harassment as it did, and the result of that committee’s deliberations was a recommendation to the Department by the Climate Committee that led to the adoption by the Department of a detailed “Code of Conduct Concerning Relationships,” of which I was a principal author, and which was posted on the Philosophy Department website along with links to the AAUP Statement on Professional Ethics, as well as to the discussion, in the CU Faculty Handbook, of Principles of Professional and Ethical Responsibilities, together with the University of Colorado’s official policies concerning sexual harassment, discrimination, and amorous relationships. (The detailed “Code of Conduct Concerning Relationships” document has, however, been taken down by the External Interim Chair, Professor Andrew Cowell.)”

Given my involvement in the Department’s attempts to deal with unacceptable behavior, your “sees no evil, hears no evil” characterization is completely inaccurate, and your use of the word "disgrace" is, well, disgraceful. As for "moral courage," you have things entirely back-to-front. In the present environment at my university, raising any criticism at all of the site report is what most people find very difficult.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Tooley

Eric Schliesser

Dear Prof. Tooley,
Thank you for your response to my note.
First, I posted a link to your webpage in my original post so that my readers could make up their own mind about your criticism of the site visit report; in my post I note that it is "largely devoted to discrediting the report."
I would not be surprised to learn that the site visit made mistakes or that their visit has been badly handled by a host of parties involved. It's a new institution, so that is to be expected. I have no idea why you think I would have to respond to your criticism on their behalf; I am not a member of the committee nor a member of APA anymore.
Second, as I make clear in my original post, I think the Administration at Boulder is clearly mistrusted by your department, and I have come to believe that you all have good reason for that. (I find it odd that you do not seem to notice this about my original post.) I am very sad to hear that Boulder has become a fearful environment.
Third, you have every right to criticize the report; everybody benefits from good faith efforts at improving the situation. In my original post, I explain why your approach of doing so strikes me as counter-productive.
Fourth, I heartily recommend that you re-read Profs. Lee and Pasnau's response (in their capacity as Co-Chairs, of the Climate Committee) to the site committee's report: . It manages to address the harms done to victims without giving up a critical stance either toward Boulder's administration nor, it seems, the site visit's Report.
Finally, I am sad that you do not address my substantive criticisms of you. I am, however, relieved to learn of your personal attempts to improve climate at Boulder; I hope you make us all proud in turning things around.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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