[Marxism] Philosophers to cross picket line

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 21 08:23:29 MST 2005

To Honor a Boycott or Not?

Philosophers have had plenty to debate in advance of this week’s meeting of 
the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association.

The meeting is at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel, which is 
currently subject to a boycott organized by labor groups upset over pay and 
working conditions. Some scholars have advocated moving the meeting to 
another location, as the Organization of American Historians recently did.

But the leaders of the philosophy group — in a letter posted on a Cornell 
philosopher’s Web site — said that a poll of program participants found 
that most did not want to relocate the meeting to San Jose or another 
location. The letter noted that large academic meetings are typically set 
up well in advance, and that many meeting participants had made plans that 
would be difficult and expensive to change. The letter also acknowledged 
that moving the meeting at this late date could create serious financial 
difficulties for the association.

So the group is going ahead with its meeting as scheduled, but also 
publicizing the efforts of some philosophers to relocate their sessions to 
locations at the University of San Francisco.

In comments posted on the Web site of Brian Weatherson, the Cornell 
philosopher, opinion appears divided.

One philosopher wrote, “I won’t cross a picket line and personally I can 
afford to change my plans if the conference moves, but I do wish there was 
some way that the A.P.A. could investigate the labor practices of potential 
venues for meetings well in advance and establish guidelines for program 
committees before it comes to this kind of crunch.... It’s a real moral 
dilemma in any case — one wishes that there would be panel discussion at 
some future A.P.A. on the moral responsibility, if any, of professional 
societies as institutions with bucks to spend in the real world.”

Others, however, say that the right thing to do is to stick with current 
plans. “Some people have to make plans far in advance for any number of 
reasons: financial, medical, disability, child-care, transportation, 
scheduling of non-A.P.A. commitments, etc,” wrote one scholars. “For this 
reason the A.P.A. has a serious moral responsibility to stick with its plans.”

— Scott Jaschik

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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