In recent weeks, the philosophical community has seen several instances of philosophers being targeted for harassment, and even threatened with violence, through social media and email in response to expression of their philosophical views. The most hostile and threatening communications have come from members of the general public and have displayed open contempt for the philosopher’s social identity. Some of the harassment and bullying has come from members of our profession, raising concerns similar to those that originally inspired a petition for an APA Code of Conduct.
Recognizing the effect of these kinds of incidents on both the individuals directly involved and the profession more broadly, the APA board of officers has issued the following statement.
Board Statement on Harassment, Bullying, and Intimidation of Philosophers
The APA strongly supports the reasoned discussion of complex and controversial social issues, whether in the context of scholarly journals or in more public forums. Incidents of harassment, bullying, and intimidation are a reminder of the social, personal, and professional risks of doing this work—risks that are intensified when the philosopher occupies a minority social identity, untenured position, or other vulnerable status.
In February 2016, in a statement responding to a case of a philosopher being harassed and threatened for expression of philosophical views, we wrote the following:
Philosophers are gadflies, at least some of the time, and we must support those who take intellectual, ethical, and social risks in their work, including their public presentations. Bullying and harassment that target a person’s race, gender, class, sexual orientation, or other status are especially abhorrent. We unequivocally condemn such behavior and stand in solidarity with our members who are subjected to this deplorable and discriminatory abuse.…
The APA condemns the activities of those who seek to silence philosophers through bullying, abusive speech, intimidation, or threats of violence. We also call upon our membership to speak out against such attacks, whether from within the academy or from the public sphere.
Today, we reaffirm these statements and our steadfast commitment to academic freedom and respectful scholarly engagement.