My post regarding U. Chicago Professor Brian Leiter, and his “philosophical” interest in political acts of violence has yielded a reply — from the good professor himself. As you’ll see, Prof. Leiter has invited me to publish a “correction.” I have declined that invitation, but I did send the professor an invitation to join Ricochet, with the promise that I would post his comments in full. So here goes Professor Leiter’s response (and I will supply the first “comment” below)….
I do not advocate violence in Wisconsin, but I do think the attack on collective bargaining in Wisconsin is morally abhorrent. I am not a pacifist (nor were the Founders, nor are those who supported the war in Iraq, and so on), but I think it is a hard moral and philosophical question when civil disobidence, violent or nonviolent, is morally justified. The passions aroused by the events in Wisconsin make this general question more urgent for philosophers, and that was my point, since I write my blog for philosophy teachers and students. The Vietnam War had a significant effect on the questions philosophers addressed, and I expect the attack on labor unions and collective bargaining rights, which is quickly becoming the issue of our time, is going to have a similar effect. I expect most philosophers are likely to conclude, even if they think Wisconsin’s attack on collecting bargaining rights wrong, that violent civil disobedience would not be justified.
I trust you will print an appropriate correction, since inflammatory headlines work mischief, as I’m sure you know.