Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nazi Philosophers

Recently, I've done a fair bit of work on the moral behavior of ethics professors (mostly with Josh Rust). We consistently find that ethics professors behave no better than socially comparable non-ethicists. So far, the moral violations we've examined are mostly minor: stealing library books, not voting in public elections, neglecting student emails. One might argue that even if ethicists behave no better in such day-to-day ways, on grand issues of moral importance -- decisions that reflect one's overarching worldview, one's broad concern for humanity, one's general moral vision -- they show greater wisdom.

Enter the Nazis.

Nazism is an excellent test case of the grand-wisdom hypothesis for several reasons: For one thing, everyone now agrees that Nazism is extremely morally odious; for another, Germany had a robust philosophical tradition in the 1930s and excellent records are available on individual professors' participation in or resistance to the Nazi movement. So we can ask: Did a background in philosophical ethics serve as any kind of protection against the moral delusions of Nazism? Or were ethicists just as likely to be swept up in noxious German nationalism as were others of their social class? Did reading Kant on the importance of treating all people as "ends in themselves" (and the like) help philosophers better see the errors of Nazism or, instead, did philosophers tend to appropriate Kant for anti-Semitic and expansionist ends?

Heidegger's involvement with Nazism is famous and much discussed, but as I see him as a single data point. There were, of course, also German philosophers who opposed Nazism. My question is quantitative: Were philosophers any more likely than other academics to oppose Nazism -- or any less likely to be enthusiastic supporters -- than were other academics? I'm not aware of any careful, quantitative attempts to address this question (please do let me know if I'm missing something). It can't be an entirely straightforward bean count because dissent was dangerous and the pressures on philosophers were surely not the same as the pressures on academics in other departments -- probably the pressures were greater than on fields less obviously connected to political issues -- but we can at least start with a bean count.

There's a terrific resource on philosophers' involvement with Nazism: George Leaman's Heidegger im Kontext, which contains a complete list of all German philosophy professors from 1932 to 1945 and provides summary data on their involvement with or resistance to Nazism. I haven't yet found a similar resource for comparison groups of other professors, but Leaman's data are nonetheless interesting.

In Leaman's data set, I count 179 professors with "habilitation" in 1932 when the Nazis started to ascend to power (including Dozents and ausserordentlichers but not assistants). (Habilitation is an academic achievement after the Ph.D., without an equivalent in Britain or the U.S., with requirements roughly comparable to gaining tenure in the U.S.) I haven't attempted to divide these professors, yet, into ethicists vs. non-ethicists, so the rest of this post will just look at philosophers as a group. Of these, 58 (32%) joined the Nazi Party, the SA, or the SS. Jarausch and Arminger (1989) estimate that the percentage of university faculty in the Nazi party was between 21% and 25%. Philosophers were thus not underrepresented in the Nazi party.

The tricky questions come after this first breakdown: To what extent did joining the party reflect enthusiasm for its goals vs. opportunism vs. a reluctant decision under pressure?

I think we can assume that membership in the SA or SS reflects either enthusiastic Nazism or an unusual degree of self-serving opportunism: Membership in these organizations reflected considerable Nazi involvement and was by no means required for continuation in a university position. Among philosophers with habilitation in 1932, two (1%) joined the SS and another 20 (11%) joined (or were already in) the SA (one philosopher joined both), percentages approximately similar to the overall academic participation in those organizations. However, I suspect this estimate substantially undercounts enthusiastic Nazis, since a number of philosophers (including briefly Heidegger) appear to have gone beyond mere membership to enthusiastic support through their writings. I haven't yet attempted to quantify this -- though one further possible measure is involvement with Alfred Rosenberg the notorious Nazi racial theorist. Combining the SA, SS, and Rosenberg associates yields a minimum of 30 philosophers (17%) on the far right side of Nazism, not even including those who received their university posts after the Nazis rose to power (and thus perhaps partly because of their Nazism).

What can we say about the philosophers who were not party members? Well, 22 (12% of the 179 habilitated philosophers) were Jewish. Another 52 (29%) were deprived of the right to teach, imprisoned, or otherwise severely penalized by the Nazis for Jewish family connections or political unreliability (often both). It's somewhat difficult to tease apart how many of this latter group took courageous stands vs. found themselves insufferable to the Nazis due to family connections or previous political commitments outside of their control. One way to look at the data are these: Among the 157 non-Jewish habilitated philosophy professors, 37% joined the Nazi party and 30% were severely penalized by the Nazis (this second number excludes 5 people who were Nazi party members and also severely penalized), leaving 33% as what we might call "coasters" -- those who neither joined the party nor incurred severe penalty. Most of these coasters had at least token Nazi affiliations, especially with the NSLB (the Nazi organization of teachers), but probably NSLB affiliation alone did not reflect much commitment to the Nazi cause.

Membership in the Nazi party would not reflect a commitment to Nazism (or, also problematic, an unusually strong opportunistic willingness to fake commitment to further one's career) if joining the Nazi party was necessary simply to getting along as a professor. The fact that about a third of professors could be "coasters" suggests that token gestures of Nazism, rather than actual Nazi party membership, were sufficient for getting along, as long as one did not actively protest or have Jewish affiliations. Nor were the coasters mostly old men on the verge of retirement (though there was a wave of retirements in 1933, the year the Nazis assumed power). If we include only the subset of 107 professors who were not Jewish, habilitated by 1932, and continuing to teach past 1940, we still find 30% coasters (28% if we exclude two emigrants).

Here's what I tentatively conclude from this evidence: Philosophy professors were not forced to join the Nazi party. However, a substantial proportion did so voluntarily, either out of enthusiasm or opportunistically for the sake of career advancement. A substantial minority, at least 19% of the non-Jews, occupied the far right of the Nazi party, as reflected by membership in the SS, SA, or association with Rosenberg. Regardless of how the data look for other academic disciplines, it seems unlikely that we will be able to conclude that philosophers tended to avoid Nazism. Nonetheless, given that 30% of non-Jewish philosophers were severely penalized by the Nazis (including one executed for resistance and two who died in concentration camps), it remains possible that philosophers are overrepresented among those who resisted or were ejected.


peter kirwan said...


peter kirwan said...

regarding this:

"Well, 22 (12% of the 179 habilitated philosophers) were Jewish. Another 52 (29%) were deprived of the right to teach, imprisoned, or otherwise severely penalized by the Nazis for Jewish family connections or political unreliability (often both). It's somewhat difficult to tease apart how many of this latter group took courageous stands vs. found themselves insufferable to the Nazis due to family connections or previous political commitments outside of their control"

if i can make a suggestion, I think it would help in the interpretation of the data to see if there was some clear de jure and/or de facto Nazi party policy on people who were not jewish (in the jewish sense of one's mother being jewish) but were considered to have 'too much' of a jewish family connection by the Nazis.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if the Nazis had their own definition of Jewish which was wider than the Maternal Descent definition used by Jews.

Also, obviously, worth crosschecking to see who was undesirable for non political AND non jewish reasons i.e. being gay, gypsy etc. For data purposes these could be lumped with jewish/'too jewish' as what's interesting isn't the feature of the person involved but the fact that the Nazis rejected them and not the other way round.

praymont said...

Thanks for doing this. One problem is that it's hard to determine who was a professional philosopher in that culture. Your reliance on Habilitations is a good method, but even it faces some difficulties.

E.g., one of the first academics to be dismissed by the Nazis was Paul Tillich. Though known chiefly as a theologian, he had a doctorate in philosophy and periodically taught in philosophy departments. At the time of his dismissal, he was a philosophy prof at the Univ of Frankfurt.

Also, Karl Jaspers was teaching philosophy at Heidelberg in 1937 when he was forced into retirement by the Nazis (because his wife was Jewish). But his training was in medicine. I don't think he even had a philosophy degree, let alone the Habilitation.

Finally, there is Kurt Huber, who was part of the White Rose resistance group and was executed by the Nazis in 1943.

Huber's higher degrees were in musicology and psychology, but (according to the above site) Huber, a Leibniz scholar, started teaching philosophy at Munich in 1926. I think it was in that capacity that he met and influenced the younger members of the White Rose group (esp. Sophie Scholl). Moreover, Huber actually joined the Nazis in 1940, apparently for career advancement, before becoming a martyr in the White Rose resistance movement.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the comments!

@ Peter: Yes, those are good points. And yes, Nazis had much more inclusive criteria for Jewishness or "mixed" than the Jews themselves did. Leaman's data are pretty gappy on the reasons for exclusion: In some cases it's clear (e.g., Jewish wife), in other cases it's not specified by Lehman or specified only vaguely. I'm inclined to think that Lehman specified where it was clear from his own sources, but some of these philosophers are pretty obscure and data on them is doubtless fairly limited.

Yes, the key issue is whether they even had the opportunity to reject the Nazis rather than being immediately intolerable to them for reasons beyond their control.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

@ Praymont: I agree that being a habilitated associate of a Philosophy department at a University is probably bit too broad a measure -- though it is nicely clean and objective, which counts for a lot! Besides your cases, several of the "philosophers" by this measure were, I think, pretty much straight psychologists by contemporary criteria.

For my purposes, the main issue is this: Should we expect them to have substantial exposure to philosophical ethics? Probably most of them did have some exposure, much as contemporary philosophers even outside of ethics have some exposure to the ethics of Kant, Mill, Aristotle, and various contemporary ethicists. However, it would be nice to have a coder fluent in German and familiar with the period who could split the group of "philosophers" into what we might think of as real ethicists vs. others (perhaps based on the titles of their published work).

But actually, there's even a further complication beyond that. Consider: Was Heidegger an ethicist? He's not exactly an archetypal ethicist by contemporary Anglophone standards, arguing about abortion or the moral theories of Kant and Mill; but I think he should count as an ethicist because he exposits a general vision of how one should live one's life. Many philosophers of the period seem to be ethicists in the same sense.

praymont said...

True, the Habilitation criterion is too broad in the sense that it includes some academics who weren't really philosophers (let alone ethicists). But my examples were intended to show that it also wrongly excludes some individuals who really were philosophers (even though they didn't have the Habilitation in philosophy). And at least two of these people (Jaspers & Tillich) would also count as ethicists in your more general sense.

With respect to your question whether a background in ethics protected one from the moral delusions of Nazism, Huber is an ambiguous case. In one regard he seems morally worse than Heidegger -- anyone who joined the Nazi party as late as Huber did (when the Nazis had implementated many of their evil policies) was not well protected from moral delusions. But then, after hearing of atrocities committed against Soviet soldiers, Huber gave his life in order to oppose the Nazis.

Leif czerny said...

It might be worth considering that a Professor was a Beamter 8a civil servant) while a Privatdozent was not. And 1933, this happened:
As Fritz Ringer has pointed out in his "Decline of the German mandarins" the university culture wasn't as robust as it could have been. Academics were shocked about the development and the outcome of WWI, while most oft the higher ranking academics had compromised themselves by supporting the war. The socialist administrations after the war promoted some pacifist academics, resulting in a cold war between the older and the younger Ordinarius'. That said, German Professors were significantly growing older, while young academics would get a beamtenstelle at all for years (since the Universities didn't have any money to create new positions in the Weimarian time). After the Machtergreifung, some Professors simply retired or died of old age. The ones appointed afterwards had to be supporters of Nazism, which had a stronghold in the student bodies of most universities.
Given the relatively small sample of 179 Professors in 1933, a quantitative approach an guessing which persons were deemed to Jewish seems to be a moot point. To loose your tenure, a denunciation by faculty colleagues would have sufficed.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

@ Praymont: Jaspers and Tillich are both in Leaman's list as habilitated profs affiliated with university philosophy departments in 1932. I hope that Leaman did this rigorously. The SEP states that Jaspers was indeed in Philosophy (Heidelberg), but the info I see on Tillich is less clear. Leaman lists him as in Philosophy at Frankfurt in 1932.

And yes, I agree that Huber is an ambiguous case, for exactly the reasons you state.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

@ Leif: Thanks for your interesting comment!

On the BBG in 1933: Leaman has nice data on this, even listing what section of the BBG individuals were released under.

On whether ordentlicher Professor positions were unavailable to the younger generation during the Weimar period: The data from Leaman's book don't appear to support this assertion, at least for philosophers. Given that o Prof is the highest rank requiring graduate degree, then habilitation, then normally an ausser position next, to be an o Prof in one's 40s seems to me "young". In 1932, there are 63 o Profs in Leaman's data set. 32 -- almost half -- are in their 40s, including 14 who were 45 or younger. If anything, it seems to me to skew young.

On the other hand, you are right that there was also a wave of retirements with in 1933.


Eric Schwitzgebel said...

@ Leif, cont.: Did one have to support Nazism to be promoted out of a Dozent position during the period? In one sense, clearly yes: Almost all professors who did not at least have some token Nazi affiliation (like the NSLB) were driven out in some way over the period. But did one also have to have the higher level of commitment apparently reflected by membership in the NSDAP, SA, or SS? I encoded promotions in my data set, and eyeballing those data, membership in those groups did seem to help. However, 14 "gliders" by my criteria received some sort of promotion during the period. Gadamer, for example, went all the way from Dozent to o Prof & director. (Yes, Gadamer signed the notorious Bekenntnis zu Hitler; in my view it's a close call whether signing that letter should be sufficient to be a "Nazi" for present purposes even without NSDAP, SA, or SS membership; as of now I am not using it as a criterion.)

As for the apparent suggestion that quantitative methods are pointless and there's not point in "guessing" who was a Jew: There are records about who was a Jew, by their own lights and by the lights of the Nazis, not a lot of guessing involved. And all generalizations are quantitative, whether that quantification is formal or not. Rendering it formal has weaknesses, of course, but also helps avoid problems like confirmation bias and saliency bias -- as well as inherited, plausible-seeming rumor.

praymont said...

I think I might have misunderstood the standard that you and Leaman have used. I thought you were trying to isolate the people with a habilitation in philosophy who taught philosophy in universities, but it looks like Leaman was listing instead those who had a habilitation (in any subject) and who taught philosophy.

Re. Tillich: According to his biography (written by Wilhelm and Marion Pauck), his highest degree in philosophy was the doctorate (from Breslau). He also completed a licentiate in theology (at Halle).

The same source reports that Tillich had the Chair at Frankfurt that had previously been held by Max Scheler. The title for the holder of this Chair was "Professor of Philosophy and Sociology".

Tillich's case raises another issue: the difference between those who took a stand (against the Nazis) and many of those who didn't might have derived mainly from differences between their non-moral beliefs rather than from any variation in moral probity.

E.g., Tillich of course deserves praise for standing up to the Nazis, but there's a suggestion in the Pauck's biography that his courageous stance was due at least in part to naivete -- his peers and friends thought he didn't realize his vulnerability (to dismissal by the Nazis). Also, he was convinced the Nazis were a short-term phenomenon and would soon be ousted.

So, in his case (and perhaps some others), it may be that the main difference between those who took a stand and those who didn't was rooted in the non-moral belief by the former that they weren't risking as much by taking a stand.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for your continuing thoughts, Praymont! That's helpful on Tillich. I agree that it's going to be mushy to what extent opposition reflects moral insight or courage; in some cases yes, in some no. Even knowing the details of the biography might not be enough to make that call.

Diary-Thinker said...

I got a strong urge to read Wittgenstein after reading this.

Leif Czerny said...

Eric, you're right in assuming that 40ish is kind of young for a professor. But it was a high concern that the univeristies produced to much people with a degree to the point that a whole cohort of philosophers was on the job market. My (only kind of informed) guess is that most professors got their positions in their early forties, and then held it until retirement, for at least twenty years. Since the numvers of students, doctorates and habilitations steadily increased befpre and after the WWI, bur only few aditional positions were created, the job market was particulary tight. I'd still like to suggest that there was an age gap between the professors hgired pre-war and the younger ones, and tht the onlder ones tried to maintain a conservertive position, mostly regarding Nazism as ruling poltival party, while younger ones either opposed it or assimliated it ideologically.
Regarding the quetion of jewishness, i still think that the general rules of the Rassengesetze were applied to higher-level academics more or less arbitray, regarding their social status and could be used as a threat by malicious collegues. (compare
After the establishment of the Reichschrittummskammer and the GeStaPo, intellectual life was under strict control anyway, and the slightest susoicion could lead to arrest - and my guess is that some faculties used this condition to weed out lesser-liked collegues.
I can't guess hoew moch aktoal comittment was needed to get appointed. But it would be intreesting to see if there was anyone how didn't join the teachers union, the NS-Lehrerbund.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Leif: Yes, you're right that the numbers I just gave you don't take into account differences in the rates at which degrees were granted, so that even if the average o-Prof was on the youngish side, there might have been a fleet of people with degrees but no job; I don't have data on that.

In the data I'm looking at, most of the people who were dismissed for being non-Aryan or "mixed" were dismissed early on, esp. 1933, whereas most of the later dismissals appear to be for more general lack of ideological conformity.

There are only two non-emeritus philosophers on Leaman's list who showed no evidence of Nazi involvement, not even in the NSLB, and yet who glided through without serious reprisal: Siegfried Behn (o Prof in 1932, given a directorship in 1937) and Rudolf Zocher (promoted from Priv-Doz to nbao in 1934 and to apl-Prof in 1939). I do not know to what extent Behn and Zocher endorsed Nazi or Nazi-like principles in their writings and such.

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

P.S. Leif: If you're interested, I'd like to continue our conversation by email: eschwitz at domain: Drop me a line!

Bryan said...

Interesting posting and comments (as always)!

I wonder what we would find if we looked into the opposition or support of American philosophers for McCarthyism in the 1950s or slavery pre Civil War?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

That would be very interesting, Bryan! In fact, in a recent article Leaman suggested the value of looking at McCarthyism. As far as I know, nobody has studied either issue systematically and quantitatively, with a focus on philosophers.

Slavery is especially appealing for its huge moral importance and retrospective obviousness. One tricky issue, though, is that the category "philosopher" may have been a bit amorphous in U.S. academia at the time (e.g., with Emerson and Thoreau only on the fringes of academia). One would need clean criteria that don't turn on subsequent fame (which might be conflated with our esteem for their work and thus with their opposition to slavery).

Bryan said...

Eric -- Thanks for the reference to Leaman. And a good point about slavery and professional philosophers.

Let me muddy the waters even more. What if it turns out that exposure to the philosophical study of ethics (whatever that means) makes people marginally MORE ethical all else being equal; however, being the kind of person who succeeds at professional philosophy makes one LESS likely to experience this positive effect from exposure to ethics. By way of analogy, if it turned out that professional athletes have shorter lifespans on average than non-athletes (perhaps because they are more likely to take steroids during their careers), this would not show that athletic activity is, all else being equal, bad for you. :)

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

@ Bryan: Definitely a possibility. One prediction of this might be that philosophy *students* would behave morally better than either the non-students or the professors. I do have a wee bit of unpublished data on this: Philosophy majors at Zurich are, of all the large majors, the most likely to donate to the student charities. However, their propensity to donate does not increase over time (in fact, trends toward decreasing), suggesting that it is something in their earlier background rather than in the university education that explains that tendency.

Eric Kaplan said...

you are assuming that Nazis are bad.
I mean you're right but since I went to grad school I feel like I should mention that!
How's life been, Schwitzgebel?

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Hi Eric! Thanks are going well. How's life in show biz? Students have been telling me I need to watch Futurama. I didn't realize you were involved with it until just now (having Googled you). Additional reason to watch!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I was wondering if your conclusion that "Philosophy professors were not forced to join the Nazi party." is a bit too quick. Here's why: you contrast Voluntary Joiners with Gliders, assuming both had similar options: Join or"Join" (i.e. offer token commitments).

But suppose the Nazis went about capturing academic disciplines by forcing a certain percentage of the professoriate to join - say 65% (or whatever) - and then allowing the rest to offer token commitments - after you've got the lion's share of philosophy, or history, or whatever, why bother with the stragglers?

This would allow the Gliders to free-ride, so to speak, on the forced choice of the Joiners. If this is the case, then it may be just that the difference between a Joiner and a Glider is a matter of luck - perhaps a matter of having to decide before, rather than after, the rest of one's colleagues - rather than a matter of actual commitment.

Any thoughts?


Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Very interesting thought, Anon! I have been familiarizing myself with the history and my sense is that your proposed interpretation doesn't work. But I'm not sure how to establish that more quantitatively and less impressionistically.

One possibility: If your interpretation is correct, then we should expect that the difference between "Nazis" and "gliders" in my database would line up poorly with general political worldview, reflecting instead incidental differences affecting the timing of the decision to join the NSDAP. However, my sense is that the NSDAP members were, as a whole, considerably more active on the political right than were the "gliders", both before and after 1933 (albeit with some notable exceptions).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply, those were certainly the pieces of evidence I had in mind.

Bryan said...

Thanks for the thoughtful response! Your comment about the Swiss students gave me much to think about and inspired some reflections. (Sorry they are so long-winded!)

Consider what Plato, Aristotle and Confucius would say about the environment in which students learn in philosophy classes in the U.S. today.

Aristotle would say that benefiting from the theoretical study of philosophy is possible only after good habituation in youth, and our classrooms do not screen for this. In addition, 18-22 year-olds are far too young to have the life experience to benefit from studying ethics.

Plato would say that ethical education is a long-term and "multi-dimensional" process, in the sense that students are shaped using a variety of methods (phys ed, music, etc.), all of which are focused on a particular goal. Our classes have students for a few hours a week, and can only "educate" them in one way. Outside of class, they are subject to a variety of other influences, many of them hostile to moral development.

Confucius would, I think, say many things similar to the preceding. He would add that a teacher must have the freedom to critique a student's character and personal life. In addition, a student has to make a sincere personal commitment to ethical improvement. Because of the preceding factors, a teacher must have the right to refuse to accept someone as a student or to eject someone from the course of study (even if they are turning in factually accurate and nicely worded essays). None of these conditions obtains in our contemporary philosophy classrooms.

In short, these three advocates of ethical education would be surprised if students in contemporary philosophy classrooms DID turn out to be more ethical than a control group.

I'm honestly not sure how much effect ethical education has, can have, or should have in a pluralistic educational environment like the one we currently (in theory) have. But I thought it was worth highlighting the preceding points. :)

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Bryan! I don't disagree with your interpretations of Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius, except on one point: Although all of them say, or would say, that studying philosophy is not *sufficient* to generate moral improvement, it of course does not follow from that that studying philosophy does not *on average* lead to moral improvement. If studying philosophy *sometimes* leads to moral improvement for college students (or for professors themselves), as I think they would all tend to acknowledge, then that would seem to imply that people who study philosophy should on average as a group move at least subtly toward behaving morally better than they otherwise would -- unless there is some countervailing force in the other direction, such as a tendency for an equal number of students to be morally harmed by studying philosophy or a tendency for studying philosophy to lead to more association with noxious influences outside of philosophy.

The Confucians have a ready answer here, I think, in that they can point to the noxious influence of studying philosophy with Yangists or Mohists, so that maybe on average studying philosophy leads to worse moral outcomes even if studying Confucianism is morally improving. But that then, too, is an empirically testable claim....

Unknown said...

This was very interesting. I like your "empiric" approach to philosophy. It is refreshing.

If I may add one element into the equation - I would argue that you should be looking more carefully into the dynamics. As far as I recall, Heidegger was disillusioned by the Nazis (as was, for another example of a prominent intellectual, the Spanish Miguel De Unamuno with Franco). So - assuming that philosophers can err just like any other human being, what I would ask is this - how many of them got disillusioned, and how quickly?

Bryan said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the reply!

We may not really disagree about anything here, but I wanted to highlight one point.

Suppose that the academic study of ethics in conjunction with other sorts of practice has an ethically edifying effect. It would not follow from this that the academic study of ethics in isolation has even a marginally positive edifying effect. By way of analogy, consuming table salt is essential for human life. However, it does not follow from this that we find a positive correlation between living and consuming sodium (or chlorine) in isolation.

Thank you for stimulating my mind so much! I need it during my sojourn in "the cave" as chair!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, Bryan and Mousomer! Mouse: Yes, I have thought about that a bit. It's hard to quantify, in part because such people rarely went so far as to resign Nazi party membership. My *impression* is that Heidegger was somewhat typical in having his enthusiasm fade as the 30's wore on.

Bryan: I agree it does not strictly follow, only ceteris paribus and on certain defeasible background assumptions. What I hope to achieve with this series of work is not a definitive answer but rather a prod to helping us think our way through what is likely, at root, a very complicated issue, largely empirically unexplored -- the effects of philosophical moral reflection on real-world moral behavior.

Dave Santos said...

What a vitally important and timely discussion, as the PhD class has become so instrumentalized by new power-elites.
The emergent meta-context is Climate Crisis. Ecofascism was clearly identified in the 1960s, not yet fully developed as a Theory. Based on the National Socialism case, a quarter to a third of of academics may passively comply or actively support what Computer Science AI pioneer, Prof John McCarthy, called "Green Hitler". Such a figure or movement would be anything but Green, that would just be a "Big Lie" for authoritarian domination. Actual Greens and indigenous populations would be targeted for removal.
That is why Critical Theory continues so urgent, to ensure "Never Again".