The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

Crispin Sartwell, former associate professor of philosophy.

Crispin Sartwell, former associate professor of philosophy.

Lizzy Hardison '16, Co-Editor in Chief

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






A professor in the Dickinson philosophy department was placed on temporary leave on Thursday, March 3 in response to a series of blog posts in which he accused two philosophers at other schools of plagiarism.

Professors in the philosophy department told students on Thursday that Crispin Sartwell “has not been fired” but that “he is on temporary leave,” according to Chauncey Maher, philosophy department chair. Maher said that students in Sartwell’s two classes, political philosophy and Asian philosophy, will be updated on arrangements for covering his classes during his absence.

“We’re currently trying to devise a plan for proceeding with the semester, and trying to assure the students in his classes that we’re trying to move thoughtfully but quickly so that everyone can have as normal a semester as possible,” Maher said.

On his personal blog, eyeofthestorm.blogs.com, Sartwell claimed that he was fired over a “free speech” issue, but department members say that is not accurate, and that he has not been fired.

Elsewhere on the blog, Sartwell accuses at philosophers at the University of Oklahoma and Princeton University of plagiarizing his work. Sartwell embedded in the post a video of Miranda Lambert singing her song “Time to Get a Gun.” Sartwell says in his blog that “the Oklahoma authorities contacted the Dickinson Department of Public Safety” after seeing the accusation and video.

This post will be updated with additional details as they become available.

Print Friendly

10 Comments

10 Responses to “Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave”

  1. cheese on March 3rd, 2016 5:21 pm

    boo dickinson

    [Reply]

  2. crispy on March 3rd, 2016 5:39 pm

    this leave will not be temporary! i feel so bad for my students. but this was the right thing to do. you can get some details (and gloating) at eyeofthestorm.blogs.com. i think you can reasonably expect bill o’reilly on campus, and country shows in carlisle. sorry! it’ll be kind of crazy for awhile!

    [Reply]

  3. crispy on March 3rd, 2016 5:46 pm

    i am perfectly comfortable accusing linda zagzebski of plagiarism. the nehamas case is more subtle, and i did not directly accuse him of plagiarism. this is as close as you can come to firing a tenured professor, and as i will not be participating in any discipliary proceedings, it certainly amounts to that.

    [Reply]

  4. crispy on March 3rd, 2016 6:19 pm

    proof of libda zagzebski’s plagiarism:

    Zagzebski is credited with a profound innovation, which she calls the value problem, and was later called the swamping problem: one of the most important innovations in recent epistemology. I invented the swamping problem in a graduate epistemology seminar in 1987 at the University of Virginia. It is my best idea in epistemology. The first thing I did with it was refute reliabilism.

    Zagzebski’s discussion is remarkably close recapitulation of mine, including the very same quotes trimmed the very same way. and she does footnote my paper, almost randomly: ‘one person who denies this is.’ but then it is completely palpable that her own presentation is a raw recapitulation of mine. and she has gotten credit for the swamping problem for all this time. looking at it squarely, it’s pretty bold, obvious academic misconduct.

    Here is a breathtaking plagiarism:

    Zagzebski, “The Source of the Epistemic Good,” Metaphilosphy p.16:

    Notice that in this passage BonJour understands the value of justification the same way the reliabilist does, as something that is good because it is truth conducive. The internality of justification has nothing to do with its value on BonJour’s account. But as we have seen, if the feature that converts true belief into knowledge is good just because of its conduciveness to truth, we are left without an explanation of why knowing p is better than merely truly believing.
    The basic role of justification is that of a means to truth, a more directly attainable mediating link between our subjective starting point and our objective goal. . . .If epistemic justification were not conducive to truth in this way, if finding epistemically justified beliefs did not substantially increase the likelihood of finding true ones, then epistemic justification would be irrelevant to our main cognitive goal and of dubious worth. It is only if we have some reason for thinking that epistemic justification constitutes a path to truth that we as cognitive beings have any motive for preferring epistemically justified beliefs to epistemically unjustified ones. Epistemic justification is therefore in the final analysis only an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. (BonJour 1985, 7–8)14

    Sartwell, Why Knowledge is Merely True Belief, p. 173:

    The reliabilist Alvin Goldman claims, similarly, that a condition on an account of justification is that beliefs justified on the account be likely to be true; he says that a plausible conception of justification will be “truth-linked” ( op. cit. 116-21) . And the coherentist Luaurence Bonjour puts it even more strongly. p. 173
    If epistemic justification were not conducive to truth in this way, if finding epistemically justified beliefs did not substantially increase the likelihood of finding true ones, then epistemic justification would be irrelevant to our main cognitive goal and of dubious worth. It is only if we have some reason for thinking that epistemic justification constitutes a path to truth that we as cognitive beings have any motive for preferring epistemically justified beliefs to epistemically unjustified ones. Epistemic justification is therefore in the final analysis only an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. (ibid. p. 8)

    The introductions are conceptually indistinguishable, the quotes identical. If you look at the sections, you will see that the arguments are quite identical.

    This is a devastating, though it seems small: Zagzeski does actually cite my paper (p. 13) in a footnote, proving that she had consulted it. And yet it is just a wave near the beginning. It doies not attribute any of the ideas to me at all (satisfy yourself). Then she goes on to practically quote that very paper without attributing the ideas to me.

    To clarify this point: if you consider the role of the reference in the paper, it is damning not exonerating. It is very decisive in proving the plagiarism if you understand where the reference is and what she does with it.

    These points are dispositive. A longer look into the papers will show identity in the central argument that cannot be explained by any other plausible means.

    [Reply]

  5. An Alumnus on March 3rd, 2016 10:09 pm

    While the plagiarism seems quite apparent, and I sympathize with Professor Sartwell’s frustrations, the response from Dickinson is almost as disturbing as Zagzeski’s alleged pilfering of Sartwell’s work. Have we gone so far down the route of political correctness that a critique or benign venting of anger comes across as a personal attack? His firing seems to fit into a wider context of shrinking freedom of debate across campuses nationwide. Sartwell is unorthodox and, dare I say iconoclastic, but endearing in his radicalism. He is our Socratic gadfly. Without Sartwell, the level of political and social dialogue at this institution looses much of its richness. We run the risk of descending into an echo chamber, where the tyrannical will of the majority stiffles discourse.

    But even despite all I’ve said before, I will give Dickinson’s administration the chance they refused Sartwell: the chance to explain themselves. Let’s hear what they have to say about the situation before coming to any more overly hasty judgments.

    [Reply]

  6. Concerned Student on March 3rd, 2016 10:17 pm

    Crispin Sartwell is an amazing professor. It saddens me that he is going through this. I do not know all of the information regarding this situation but it seems to me that he is not being supported by the institution (which isn’t surprising part). It’s unfortunate that his leave will not be temporary (as stated above) as he has had a great impact on all of his students. He is truly a genius and agreed by not only himself, but many of his students to be one of Dickinson’s best scholars.

    Professor Sartwell-
    Thanks for always bringing a new and unconventional perspective to our class discussions and just being a super dope dude.

    [Reply]

  7. Concerned Student 2 on March 4th, 2016 1:48 am

    Crispin, just know that in talking with so many other worried and confused philosophy students, that you have our support 100%. We will not let this go lightly.

    [Reply]

  8. BostonMac on March 8th, 2016 11:49 am

    The only reason the plagiarism “seems quite apparent” is that Sartwell refuses to use formatting that would make apparent that both texts rely on the same extended, identical quote. Gosh, two discussions of the same quote have similarities?? Well, of course, Bill O’Reilly will be interested in THAT scandal. Watch out, Dickinson, things are going to get cRaZY there!

    [Reply]

  9. S on March 19th, 2016 11:04 pm

    The mentorship Professor Sartwell and I developed over the years was one of the fond memories I had at Dickinson. His teaching, and pointed views had impact on me. I was drawn into the world of art, aesthetics and beauty, cultural and political climate of the East and West. During my hardest time battling a rigorous academic environment and my own emotional wellness, Prof. Sartwell saw the potential in me and kept encouraging me to improve – I have felt Prof. Sartwell really helped me grow. We worked one on one during independent studies when he generously spared his office hour working with me on materials and reviewed my progress. I turned to him for advice, on study and later on life, and got to know him better. Knowing that he has been practicing Quakerism, never would I think that this scintillating, incredibly sagacious intellectual, humble scholar who cares deeply about every student of all backgrounds in his class, embraces, includes their individuality, and nurtures them to become strong critical thinkers in the classroom of philosophy be connected to gun violence. The vilification from the school’s administration of a progressive intellectual, commentator like Sartwell has left me saddened. Students and alums felt he was rather left stranded in disparity over the alleged plagiarism rather a distorted rumors on his mental health. It hurts every student of Sartwell, friends and faculty how this issue was developed, and the ill-advised decision the school administration has made and progressed. Professor Sartwell was an indispensable part of my Dickinson experience and would become one for any prospective Dickinsonians and future philosophers that takes on world issues as global thinkers. I hope President Roseman and Dean Weissman and among others school officials involved and the whole Dickinson community would have a thorough view on professor Sartwell’s case and show an inclusive support for a tenured professor of this institution.

    [Reply]

  10. Alumnus on March 20th, 2016 12:35 am

    The school’s actions directly impinge on first amendment fundamental rights of free speech. Dickinson’s blatant disregard for Professor Sartwell’s fundamental liberty is shocking. What has become of this school?

    [Reply]

The Dickinsonian strives to provide a forum for lively and respectful discussion among members of the Dickinson College community. We reserve the right to remove any comments that we do not adhere to our community standards.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    Life & Style

    Letters from Abroad The Food Capital

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    Life & Style

    Let’s Get Reel: Dexter

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    News

    Landis Creates Safe Space for Non Gender Binary Shopping

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    News

    Springfest Features the Mowgli’s, Inflatables and French Fries

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    News

    Dickinsonians Reflect on President Trump’s First 100 Days

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    News

    Controversy at the Cube

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    News

    Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony Held at Old West

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    News

    “Joy” Highlighted at Choir and Collegium Spring Concert

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    Life & Style

    Let’s Get Reel: Shameless

  • Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave

    Showcase

    Track & Field Stays Strong

The student news site of Dickinson College.
Philosophy Professor Placed on Temporary Leave