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A Step Forward November 19, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Ethics, Philosophy Profession.
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Via The Leiter Reports:

Apparently, The American Philosophical Association has adopted a new policy on religious institutions that discriminate against gay men and women (see here for previous post on this):

The American Philosophical Association rejects as unethical all forms of discrimination based on race, color, religion, political convictions, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or age, whether in graduate admissions, appointments, retention, promotion and tenure, manuscript evaluation, salary determination, or other professional activities in which APA members characteristically participate. This includes both discrimination on the basis of status and discrimination on the basis of conduct integrally connected to that status […]

There has been no official announcement yet, but according to an unofficial report by Professor Alistair Norcross:

This statement will be displayed on the page where institutions buy ad space for JFP, and they will be asked to check a box to indicate that they are in compliance with our statement. If they do not check this box, a flag (i.e. a symbolic marking, like the dagger sign currently used to flag censured institutions) will automatically be added to the ad. The flag will say something like this: this institution has not indicated that it complies with the APA Nondiscrimination Statement.

In addition, the APA will fully investigate any complaints about institutions that may not be in compliance with our nondiscrimination statement, a flag will be used to mark ads taken out by any institution that is found not to be in compliance, and this flag will state that, following a full investigation, the APA has determined that the institution is not in compliance with the APA Statement on Nondiscrimination.

This is good news and about time.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com


APA Anti-Discrimination Update April 2, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Philosophy Profession.
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I posted recently about the petition demanding sanctions for colleges that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Via the Leiter Report, a petition opposing sanctions against the primarily Christian colleges that forbid homosexuality is now available.

You can follow the debate in the comments section of the Leiter Report.

The APA and its Anti-discrimination Policy March 6, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, Ethics, Philosophy Profession.
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The APA (American Philosophical Association) is embroiled in controversy over its job postings. (See Brian Leiter’s Website for a blow-by-blow)

The APA’s anti-discrimination statute forbids discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Yet, it accepts ads from Christian colleges that require all employees to sign contracts in which they promise not to engage in various “un-Christian” behaviors, including having a gay partner.

These ads would seem to be a clear violation of the anti-discrimination policy. Approximately 1,200 APA members (myself included) have signed a petition requesting that the APA refuse to accept ads from colleges with such contracts.

As might be expected, some Christian philosophers object to this petition, arguing that Christian colleges are in full compliance with the APA’s anti-discrimination policy. Their argument is that these contracts permit hiring persons of any sexual orientation so long as they do not act on that orientation. Hence, there is no discrimination against persons or their sexual orientation, only a prohibition against particular actions. And they support this distinction by use of analogies, e.g., one could rightfully hire an alcoholic but forbid her drinking.

It never ceases to amaze me how highly-trained philosophers in the grip of a dogma can trot our such bad arguments. Human beings define themselves and are defined by others through their actions. And our dispositions, proclivities, and preferences acquire their full meaning and significance only they are directed toward action. It is a profoundly alienating experience when central features of one’s identity cannot be acted on. (I doubt that being an alcoholic quite qualifies). The reliance on this distinction between sexual orientation and action is just a smokescreen for abject bigotry.

There is another side of the issue that the APA must grapple with. Private, religious institutions have a right to teach their own traditions and define them as they see fit without government interference. The APA has always defended principles of academic freedom and religious liberty and rightfully so. But the APA is not a government entity. It is a private association, and many of its members do not want their offices to be used to promote bigotry. The petition does not seek to control what religious institutions teach or whom they hire. It seeks only to decline to run job ads that openly discriminate in violation of its statutes.