Thoughts on the Hypatia affair

by Holly Lawford-Smith on May 6, 2017

[Note by CB: This is a guest post by Holly Lawford-Smith, a political philosopher at the University of Melbourne. Internet discussion on this topic has been very heated so we intend to enforce quite a restrictive comments policy. All comments that are not written in a minimally respectful tone, vis a vis all parties, will not be approved. No raising of voices. No insults.]

Something bad happened recently. Here’s what I thought it was: a member of a marginalized group within our profession (a pre-tenure woman) published a paper; a group of philosophers were angry about the paper; those same philosophers signed an open letter to Hypatia calling for retraction of the paper; Hypatia issued an apology for publishing the paper; another group of philosophers rallied in defence of paper’s author, against both the journal and the group of philosophers who were angry about the paper in the first place. This would be bad, because the way we deal with disagreement in our profession – both about form and about substance – is not to demand retractions but to write replies. Also, we generally try to encourage and support junior and marginalized scholars, not pile on in attacking them when they make mistakes.

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