Friday, February 27, 2009

Our petition is better than their petition

Their petition:
The American Philosophical Association currently allows institutions that prohibit homosexual acts among their faculty, staff, and students to advertise in 'Jobs for Philosophers.' [ed. I'm not sure that "allowed" is the right word. Cops don't "allow" pickpockets to pick pockets simply because they aren't paying attention or properly doing their job.] A petition recently submitted to the APA alleges that this practice is inconsistent with the APA's anti-discrimination policy and calls for the APA either to "(1) enforce its policy and prohibit institutions that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation from advertising in 'Jobs for Philosophers' or [to] (2) clearly mark institutions with these policies as institutions that violate our anti-discrimination policy."

We reject the suggestion that there is an inconsistency between the practice in question and the APA's anti-discrimination policy. Institutions can require their faculty to agree to abide by ethical standards that forbid homosexual acts while not ipso facto discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The conceptual distinction between a certain kind of act and a disposition to perform that kind of act is one that no philosopher would fail to acknowledge in other ethical contexts. We fail to see why it should be ignored in this one. [ed. It could be that the people who wrote the statement reject the distinction as spurious in this context. For example, Scalia seems to think that you shouldn't give special protection to those who have the orientation that disposes homosexuals to engage in actions that are illegal. What's good for the goose...]

Historically, many of the greatest philosophers have argued that homosexual acts are morally objectionable. The position implied by the proposed policy--that this view is philosophically beyond the pale and should be stigmatized by the APA--is indefensible. [ed., I suppose a fallacious appeal to authority is a kind of argument]

Removing ads from these institutions from JFP would do a disservice to APA members by making it more difficult for them to learn about available jobs for which they might want to apply. It would also harm the profession by making it more difficult for institutions to find good philosophers. [ed., I don't think we're hurting from a short supply of good philosophers in need of work but if you want these schools to hire the best people you could start by convincing them to stop discriminating.]

The present policies of the APA prohibit discrimination based on religion or political convictions. [ed. Fail. It does so within limits.] But the policy recommended attempts to segregate and penalize religious institutions for abiding by their long-standing and coherent ethical norms. [ed. 'Coherent', that's both a stretch and underwhelming.] Moreover, this policy would foster an environment that would encourage discrimination against philosophers whose religious, political, or philosophical convictions lead them to disapprove of homosexual acts. [ed., I'm pretty okay with that.]

We therefore call upon the APA to reject the petition in question and to maintain its current practice without alteration.

JD and VR, I'm really disappointed in the two of you.


David C said...

You seem to have Antonin Scalia wrong. "Scalia seems to think that you shouldn't give special protection to those who have the orientation that disposes homosexuals to engage in actions that are illegal."

Actually, Scalia thought that since forbidding homosexual acts isn't unconstitutional it cannot be unconstitutional to prohibit the conferring of special protections on homosexuals.

For Scalia to involve what he personally thinks (if he thinks anything in particular) about "special protection to those who have the orientation" would go beyond the bounds of what Scalia considers proper jurisprudence.

Clayton said...

David C,
I don't see where I disagree with what you're saying. I might not have stated it quite as carefully as you did, but I simply wanted to note that Scalia thought that you couldn't protect orientation to engage in conduct that is itself the sort of thing that cannot receive a certain kind of protection. My point is that Scalia's attitude on the matter seems quite different from those who adopt the attitude that there is no tension between protecting the orientation while essentially prohibiting the behavior that someone with that orientation typically engages in.