How bad is Brian Leiter’s behavior? Given how mindlessly deferential philosopher’s are to those in power (within the profession), to have such a substantial portion of the profession dare to rise up to say something against you is really quite incredible. That so many of them were themselves prominent people is even more telling. Like all ruling classes whatever differences there may be amongst members “senior philosophers” always seem to band together to protect their privileged positions. This includes not calling people out on their bad behavior, since that might curtail their own ability to get away with their own brand of abuse of power in the future (how many big names are visibly doing something to change the climate for women, to call out the sexist dicks in the profession?1). When what you have done is beyond the pale of “senior philosophers” jealous of their honor and caste privilege to the extent that are ready to abandon one of their own, it must be pretty fucking bad. Right?
Maybe on some level they just realized that his behavior, if let to continue unchecked, would result in a shift in the power dynamics of the profession to their disadvantage. Which is to say, he is not a miscreant, but a liability.
If someone like David Chalmers or Jerry Fodor came out and said to the sex-starved (middle aged) boys in our profession — “now, nerdlings, girls are people too, and just because you’re really passionate about zombies and swamp men and can use words like “teleosemantics”, or have tenure, does not in itself make you sexually desirable — and it doesn’t give you the right to treat them like sex dolls. Real men treat women as persons of equal status (and have learned that it is generally a surer way to “get them to like you”). Real men don’t need to use their professional status to “attract” their students into dating and fucking them, so cut it the fuck out, it just makes you look stupid.” — the treatment of women would probably improve drastically, overnight.
It is really unfortunate that Leiter is one of those “senior” people who have actually said something, with friends like this… ↩