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 Velut Romanus

I suppose the crickets you here are from both the conservstives who already know they are not welcome here, and the (ahem) non-conservatives who steadfastly wish to maintain a left wing blog. Sorry, it really is that simple.


There is no such thing as a space that both includes people and excludes politics. The choice to avoid explicitly political conversations is itself political.

Marcus Arvan

Megan: No doubt. But the question posed to the community here is which (political) decision we should make. KZC suggested we should make the (political) decision to avoid politics here. As I said in my reply to their initial comment, I am inclined to disagree. I am inclined to think that political discussion is especially important today, and that the Cocoon might be a place for open but respectful political discussion (though, obviously, Velut disagrees). But this is a community blog, so--by the Cocoon's mission--I wanted to pose the question to the community.


I am inclined to agree with Velut.

This blog has been in the past, unjustly in my opinion, accused of being just another liberal academic mouthpiece. The two recent posts from the logician and Helen, however, do give evidence for that view. When the views they expressed are sanctioned as normal, those who are not on the left feel alienated. It tells them that there is no place left in their philosophical world that is free of prejudice against them however justified you think that prejudice is or however much the author of the post believes they are not being prejudiced.

If, Marcus, you are committed to steering this blog so that political issues are part of its purview, I'd ask you to note the following:
First, there is consensus on the left (best I can tell) that right wing views are _inherently_ in the cocoon's terminology unsupportive in a variety of ways. And while there are plenty of views I would not want to see on this blog, ruling out the right by definition, a) silences them and b) turns this blog into another left-wing echo chamber that you say you want to avoid. So the challenge is to be inclusive of conservative voices without dismissing their views out of hand. It can be done, but I suspect it will be a challenge in light of the prejudice that fully equates, say Brexit, and racism.

Second, when people complain that they "just can't find women to speak at their conferences" we do not excuse them. We expect them to look harder or we complain that the discipline is failing women by not including them in our profession. I suspect that you will have the same challenge finding people with views that go counter to, what we can call the "academic orthodoxy." You will have to work really hard to find people willing to speak out in favor of views you and lots of the others readers will not immediately accept. You will find many many more people who are mainstream "academically correct" than you will "political and religious minorities" in early career philosophy. Those of course are also the people least likely to speak out. Will you simply accept the fact that the overwhelming majority of people you find have the "correct" views, or will you demand more and actively and aggressively court those with different views? They will be tough to pull out of the woodwork, especially on the record. If you cannot, there is no dialog. (Keep in mind too that early career people have least to gain from anonymous blogging.) Will we just hear that "the blog just can't find conservatives to post here?" You could not expect conservatives to consider you fair minded if you do.


I don't see regretting the outcome of the election as `holding a left-wing view'. I think many conservatives would agree with that. I suspect many Republicans, and probably Paul Ryan in particular, would have been more comfortable had the election outcome been the exact same regarding the house and senate races, but with Clinton in the white house.

A different bit: the discrimination against conservatives that goes on in academia is almost certainly a real thing. But I don't actually know what views one might hold that one thinks of as (a) conservative and (b) disreputable for that reason.

I'm not saying there aren't any such views. I'm not saying I don't know them because I think anyone who holds such views is a bad person in some way. I'm actually just saying what I said: I don't in fact know what 'unacceptable' conservative views people hold.

I acknowledge this is probably a failing on my part, and is likely the result of my not knowing people sufficiently different from me. I acknowledge this and I now (with this post) seek to begin fixing it by simply saying that I'm listening with an open mind.

recent grad

When a political event occurs that is very relevant to our jobs, I like to see posts on it and to read comments on those posts. But I understand the worry about echo chambers and driving away non-leftists. I think the answer to these worries is not silence, but more posts from conservative philosophers. I don't mean I want to read a post about abortion or Hobby Lobby or something. But I don't doubt that there are conservative worries that are relevant to our jobs. Let's see posts about those sometimes. However, in this particular case--Trump's election--it's not always easy to balance the desire for inclusive blogging with a desire not to normalize something which many people take to be a terrible development.

Henry Lara

If we, philosophy professionals and students, can't discuss politics, and how it impacts us and our discipline, what hope is there for the rest of our respective countries? Or the world? I respect someone's desire not to engage with any issue, for whatever their reasons. But I think that, if something impacts us or the discipline, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we don't let those who so desire to engage with the topic.

Helen De Cruz

Perhaps it is because I experienced the whole leave campaign as an immigrant that it touched me so deeply - We are being reduced to alarming figures, to people who simultaneously steal jobs and rely on benefits. Our children are being asked for their nationalities so the UK can monitor "education tourism" (yes, really). I know many conservative people who agree with me. I have conservative friends who are devastated by Brexit, and American conservative nevertrumpers. Given the circumstances, I think it's understandable that some people - especially in a vulnerable position such as immigrants, muslims, etc - feel devastated. I honestly don't see what this has to do with conservativsm versus liberalism (I know some conservatives who voted Hillary)

Michel X.

I'm late to this party, but I just wanted to register the opinion that I don't think the Cocoon needs to steer clear of politics at all. What it should--and does, I think--steer clear of is the assumption that its readership is politically homogeneous, and the kind of derision that can attend that assumption. In particular, I don’t see anything wrong with the recent posts inspired by the American election.

Also, FWIW, I'm pretty skeptical of the narrative peddled by some conservatives, to the effect that they're unwelcome, maligned, and routinely excluded from the academic world. It seems to rely primarily on appeals to intuition rather than actual evidence, and on fuzzy equivocations about what or who counts as "conservative" in the first place. To me, it smacks of a tu quoque.

Anon Grad Student

As someone who is politically progressive but grew up in an environment with a large number of conservatives (I use this term deliberately, rather than Republicans, since many have been deeply unhappy with the Republican party for a long time, well before Trump), the majority of the ones I know have principled views about the role and efficiency of government. The conservatives I know were also nearly all vocal #NeverTrumpers, and were very critical of fellow conservatives who were choosing Trump on the basis of party alignment. I have some pretty fundamental principle disagreements with my conservative friends, but these are (mostly) things that, I think, reasonable people can disagree about. Yet, I do think within academia, such views are often marginalized and it is assumed that none of us have these views. This reinforces an us-vs-them mentality and ensures that discussion is deeply homogenous--which is part of why many of us were so surprised with the results of the election. Nevertheless, I do have serious concerns about normalizing Trumpism, and I think we have to make a principled case for why we ought to treat those differently (which I think we can and ought to). How we really listen to why people voted for whomever they voted for, however, AND take principled stands is where the rub lies, or so it seems to me.

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