Philosopher Peter Boghossian

A colleague and friend of mine at CUNY recently emailed out a link to a story by Roger Kimball in the New York Post, commending the recent “hoax” by Peter Boghossian, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University.  Boghossian and two confederates submitted twenty papers to postmodernist periodicals.  These however were not serious submissions.  Like the Sokal hoax in 1996, these submissions were undercover, sarcastic efforts to expose “shoddy methodologies,” “ideologically motivated qualitative analyses” and “claims not warranted by the data.” For this Boghossian is facing dismissal from his teaching position. (See “University professor facing sack over spoof academic papers.”)

But this post is not about the justice or injustice of the university’s response, and it’s not primarily about whether or not Professor Boghossian has a good point to make.  Much could be said about either of those issues, but my point here is a more general one — about the way these discussions often proceed in the popular media (even among academics), and the conclusions that more casual readers, who don’t follow the minutiae of these debates, are likely to draw from articles like Mr Kimball’s.Read More →