Talk:Brian Leiter/Archive 1

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PLease delete "right wing causes" from the description of what Leiter attacks. Intelligent design is not "right wing", and nor necessarily is the Iraq War. Michael Ignatieff supports the Iraq War -- is he a "right winger"? I think not. It is plainly editorialzing to agree that whatever Leiter calls a "right wing cause" necessarily is one.

And of course, to call Keith Burgess Jackson "mentally ill" is not appropriate here, no more than it would be to apply similar characterizations to Leiter himself.

Leiter attacks right-wing causes; it goes without saying that these are causes he deems to be right-wing, and his characterization is perfectly plausible. Your repeated re-writing of this sentence just makes it awkward. No one on the left supports Intelligent Design and Ignatieff is widely considered to be on the right.

Calling Keith Burgess Jackson "mentally ill" is rude, but so is calling Leiter a "thug." As this blogger notes Burgess Jackson comes across as mentally ill when he sets up a whole blog devoted to complaining that leiter isn't nice to right-wingers like him.

Wikipedia adheres to the principle of NPOV, Burgess-Jackson on his blog clearly does not. It is preposterous to compare the two! As for Burgess-Jackson calling Leiter names, Leiter does just as bad, if not worse, with others himself. And it is better for a sentence to be somewhat "awkward" than it is for it to be inaccurate and not NPOV.

There is no need to make a judgement about whether the "causes" attacked by Leiter are "right wing" or not. This is quite debatable. It is clear he opposes what he thinks to be "right wing", so it is fine to record that. But it is debateable whether Intelligent Design or the War in Iraq are "right wing" or not. Actually, I don't think it is debatable whether Intelligent Design is "right wing" -- clearly it is not. There is nothing to stop a very left wing person from being very religious in a traditional sense. A person who is religious is a traditional sense is very likely to believe God played a detectable role in the creation of what we see around us. That's Intelligent Design.

Of course, in the current "political climate" those who are mouthing off about "intelligent design" are almost all conservative Christians which tends also to imply being "right wing" (although not necessarily). But I would suggest you read Thomas Nagel's latest paper for clear indication of the conceptual separation between Intelligent Design and the "right wing". Nagel's defense of a more polite attitude toward those accepting Intelligent Design is based entirely upon the theological position of such people and not their political attitude. See his "Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament" at For example:

"Although I seem to be constitutionally incapable of religious belief, I find the contemptuous attitude toward it on the part of prominent secular defenders of evolutionary naturalism intellectually unreasonable. Unless one rules out the idea of divine intervention a priori (and setting aside the problem of evil), some version of the argument from design seems to me a perfectly respectable reason for taking that alternative seriously – no less so now that Darwinian theory has been elaborated through the great discoveries of molecular biology.

"To a Christian, the possibility of divine intervention in the natural order is not ruled out in advance. Therefore the fact that such intervention would render certain observed facts probable is evidence in its favor, and it becomes one of the possible explanations of facts that might also be explained naturalistically, but that are by no means rendered more probable by the assumption of pure mechanism than they would be by purposive intervention. Perhaps on Christian assumptions it is a question left open by the available evidence, but it will certainly not be reasonable to think, as atheists naturally do, that there must be a purely mechanistic explanation of the origin and development of life."

As for Ignattief, I believe he is a liberal, strong on a wider reading of human rights, and supports a state with an amount of redistribution for the less-well off that would be considered excessive by any typical right-winger. I suppose Rawls is also right-wing? Rawls is indeed considered right wing by extreme leftists...

Can we reach any consensus re

An anonymous user of a computer named (located in or near Austin, Texas) has removed all mention of this blog from the article. The edit summary was "It's not a 'major' site, it's a personal vendetta by a crazy man. It has no relevant information."

(I had just changed the description from "An attack blog by Keith Burgess-Jackson, an associate professor of philosophy at the Arlington campus of the University of Texas System" to "A blog which attacks Leiter, mostly by quoting from his own attacks on various people", on the grounds that what this blog is about is more relevant than who runs it.)

I would argue that this blog provides substantive, relevant criticisms of Prof Leiter largely using his own words, and therefore should be mentioned in the article (but only briefly). Clearly at least some Wikipedia editors will disagree. I would appreciate it if people would record their opinions here, preferably signed.

Chris Chittleborough 15:49, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree fully that it is the blog that counts, not the author of the blog. And the blog simply provides good evidence to support the comments made in the text of the article itself about how his "style" has won detractors as well as fans, by providing an example, a major example which when one Googles for "Brian Leiter", appears in position eight of the results. I would say that its claim that it criticizes Leither "largely using his own words" is a bit of an exaggeration, but not all that much. Note that the apparent Austin resident, also associated with the law school, does not really understand or care for NPOV. (At one point he argued that it made sense for the wikipedia text to attack Burgess-Jackson simply because Burgess-Jackson attacks Leiter!) Wikipedia articles are not supposed to be hagiographies. The preceding unsigned comment was added by User: before the words "preferably signed" were added above.
Having revisited the blog, I agree that "using his own words" is wrong. How about "An anti-Leiter blog which often discusses Leiter's attacks on people"? (Also, BTW, the host has only been used for one anonymous contribution to Wikipedia.) Chris Chittleborough
Yes, I'm a law student at UT, but why does that matter? (I have also not edited this thread previously, contrary to the comment above.) Burgess-Jackson's attack blog (that's what it is from a NPOV) is just a personal vendetta because Leiter finally criticized him here after Burgess Jackson had been abusing Leiter for two years. The attack blog barely quotes Leiter at all, it mostly misrepresents him (see dangerousidea.blogspot) or makes crazy comments like "When we're done with this sorry excuse for a human being, he'll be crying" (see It currently shows up on Google because everyone ahs been laughing at it or noticing that Burgess-Jackson is a nut. A few examples (from different ends of the political spectrum, found with Technorati):
Does Wiki include a link to any site set up by a random nut?The preceding unsigned comment was added by User: at host after the words "preferably signed" were added above.
Of course lots of Leiter's friends and admirers have attacked KBJ since he started this blog. (Has Leiter done so?) My position is that we should decide whether to link to this blog on the basis of the (contents of the) blog itself, not the blogger. I've just skimmed the blog posts; the earlier ones seem quite substantial but the last few are less impressive. "Wait and see" seems like a good policy. On the other hand, I did find some links which I will now add to the article. Chris Chittleborough 15:36, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Having waited some more, I don't see it as "encyclopedic" to mention this blog. Chris Chittleborough 10:02, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

More Discussion of "Other Links"

One commenter said: "deleted link to grad student "response" because no evidence it actually involved Leiter)."

This is incorrect. For no reason other than that the grad student in question criticized Brian Leiter's co-bloggers, Brian Leiter himself left a comment on that student's blog reading: "So a rude, reactionary and not very bright Emory grad student will be attending conferences in Madison this weekend. I’ll have to ask my friends to look for you, you are a piece of work." This is typical behavior on Leiter's part -- indeed, it's just the kind of uncivil behavior that Leiter brags about (see his "On Civility" post).

—This unsigned comment was added by User: (talkcontribs) on March 9th.

Someone said, "no evidence that Brian Leiter actually posted this comment; a comment on a blog is not encyclopedic anyway."

I don't think there's any serious question that Brian Leiter posted that comment threatening the graduate student's career. Nonetheless, I deleted it. But no one doubts that Brian Leiter posted those comments on "Right Reason." To refer to his comments there is every bit as "encyclopedic" as to refer to "no bullshit" blogging on "Insta-Ignorance." What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, after all. If this encyclopedic entry is to list a representative blog post wherein Leiter criticizes other people, it is only fair to list a representative blog comment showing how Leiter reacts when his own words are -- for effect -- aimed in his direction (which was the case in that Right Reason post). In this case, of course, Leiter's reaction doesn't paint him in a good light: His response was to sneer that Steve Burton's gay ex-lover was always the nice one, and to express faux regret that Steve Burton hadn't managed to find employment as a philosopher. But that's the typical way that Leiter responds to criticism.

What's the point of this Wiki entry, after all? Leiter worship? If you don't like purely factual references to Leiter's online patterns of behavior, then delete the reference to Leiter's own blogging (which is currently described in much more opinionated terms than I have used).

—This unsigned comment was added by User: (talkcontribs) on March 10th.

Reply: Every time Krazy Keith ( links to this entry to complain that no one shares his nutty view of Leiter, right-wing weirdos show up here to post attacks on Leiter. Let me see if I understand this latest one. Some conservative bloggers attack Leiter and his co-bloggers as idiots and jerks, and Leiter allegedly responds in kind in brief COMMENTS on their blog. How is this relevant to an encyclopedia entry? And PLEASE cut the crap about "threatening" a student's career, there was no threat. (Since Krazy Keith has been the one calling attention to this comment, I'd bet he's the one who posted it in the first place under BL's name, just so he'd have something new to rant about.) As to the other post, I guess I'd say Steve Burton acts like an asshole. And the fact that Leiter is pissy in response is no proof at all of "the typical way Leiter responds to criticism." Wouldn't evidence of typical responses to criticism be things like replies in journals? The point of a Wiki entry isn't to create a permanent record of all the trivia on the Internet. And the point also isn't for Krazy Keith and his 2 or 3 "friends" in Cyberspace to attack someone for political reasons (or for reasons of mental imbalance:

You would think a guy who can't get promoted to full professor after a dozen years as an associate, and who teaches in a state where tenured faculty get reviewed every few years, would have better things to do than make up crap to abuse his more successful colleagues. Judging from this post tenure review won't go too well for KBJ.

—This unsigned comment was added by User: (talkcontribs) on March 17.

After adding the preceding comment, User: (using a computer named in Austin, Texas) deleted some material from the article:

  • His blogging style has been dubbed "the no bullshit" approach, which has won him both fans and detractors, usually lining up along political lines.
  • A sample of Leiter's "no bullshit" blogging with attacks on "Insta-Ignorance" (Glenn Reynolds) and other "moral cretins and self-important poseurs".
  • A blog post wherein Leiter responds to criticism.

I have reverted the article to the previous version. Leiter is controversial; we should say something about that, and give some examples. Incidentally, Wikipedia's guideline on sourcing material allows blog posts (and, I presume, comments on blog posts) as primary sources but not secondary sources.

Requests/Hints for anonymous contributors: If you wish to edit Wikipedia anonymously, create an account. Wikipedia has a strong privacy policy but most of it only applies to logged-in users. (But see also WP:Vanity.) Even if you continue to edit without logging in, please put four tildes ("~~~~") after your comments in "talk" pages such as this one; the software will automagically replace them with your username and a timestamp when you "Show preview" or "Save Page".

Chris Chittleborough 07:55, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Link to Burton/Leiter Blog Item

User: added a good link to a blog posting by Steve Burton, who got a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Michigan at the same as as BL did. The post is an over-the-top attack on BL; at the end, Burton reveals that "nearly all of [the attack was] cut and pasted from Leiter's blog, minimally altered to fit the present case", then suggests that BL should tone down his habitual superciliousness. In the first comment on the post, BL outs Burton. A vigorous exchange between Burton, BL and other commenters ensues, including a (qualified) apology from BL (timestamped "July 12, 2005 07:35 PM").

Why is this a good link?

  1. The post itself criticizes BL's writing style, not BL himself. (I'm sure we could find lots of attacks on Leiter and/or his politics; this is much more relevant to our article.) Moreover, Burton used BL's own words to make his point.
  2. BL participated in the discussion, writing several comments.

Now we need to work out how to describe it in the article. Here's the last few descriptions:

  1. A conservative blogger attacks Leiter.
  2. A libertarian blogger mocks and criticizes Leiter's aggressive style; in response, Leiter outs him and declares their friendship over.
  3. A libertarian blogger attkcs Leiter and Leiter responds.


  • Burton is libertarian, not conservative.
  • That the linked post attacks BL's writing rather than BL himself is important.
  • When replacing #2 (my wording) above with #3, User: said "obviously not NPOV to adopt Burton's characterization of Leiter's response". (I had assumed from that apology that BL had accepted that characterization. What do other people think?)
  • I see it as important to mention that Leiter participates in the comments.
  • I don't see why Burton's political orientation is relevant.

I have therefore changed the description to

A blogger mocks and criticizes Leiter's hostile style and Leiter strikes back (in the comments).

I'm not real happy with "strikes back". Can someone else do better? (Please discuss your edits here. Also, please use "~~~~" as discussed above.)

Chris Chittleborough 10:12, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm replacing "strikes back" (which now annoys me) with "argues with him". Feel free to edit me. —Chris Chittleborough 06:51, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

"no bullshit" blogging style

User: removed the sentence

His blogging style has been dubbed "the no bullshit" approach, which has won him both fans and detractors, usually lining up along political lines.

I've replaced it with

His "no bullshit" blogging style[1] has been controversial.

and added a link to, in which BL explains the reasons for his approach in some detail. I've also split the "Other Links" section into "Publications Edited" (is that the right wording?) and "Blogs and Blogging".

My interpretation of the 2 BL blog posts linked above is that he accepts (actually, delights in) the description "no bullshit blogging". If anyone has evidence to the contrary, we'll need to do some more editing.

Chris Chittleborough 07:25, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Chris C. is very biased against Prof. Leiter and should stop editing this thread. Chris, you are not a lawyer, not a law student, not a philosopher, or philosophy student. You are a right wing blogger which seems to be your main source of interest and which would explain your bias. One sign of bias is that you at one point took seriously Krazy Keith's blog, which no one in their right mind does, no matter how often Krazy Keith pretends people are writing to thank him. (Some people are reading for sure--it's like having a window into a psych ward. But notice he has no counter on the site. You can guess why.) I give you credit, though, for coming around on that subject. But your bias shines through again with regard to the Burton attack on Leiter. You basically accept all of Burton's claims, like his attack on Leiter was just "cut and pasted from Leiter's blog" and that Leiter "outed" Burton. I have read Leiter's blog for a long time, and while some words sound familiar from stuff on Leiter, the context is totally different. And Leiter and others posting comments deny there was any outing. Here's what one wrote:

You guys think you caught him in some type of 'blunder' but you haven't. YOU are the ones equating an offhand mention of his ex's name, from which one could infer that he's gay, with using the writer's sexual orientation against him. Please understand that most of us do not see homosexuality as a sinful secret, and it wouldn't even occur to us to "use" it against someone. You may consider pointing out that someone is gay to be an insult. Normal people do not. By the way, the fact that a gay man is posting on a right-wing website IS a notable fact in and of itself, considering the right's tendency to inflame anti-gay bigotry. I don't know about you, but I'd find it notable if a black man joined the Klan, too.

Posted by: J. at July 11, 2005 04:41 AM

So your reasons for saying this is a "good link" just reflect your bias against Leiter and that you have adopted this nasty guy Burton's interpretation of the whole event. (You even insist that libertarians aren't conservatives, and apparently know Burton well enough to know which he is.) None of this is worthy of Wiki. The only justification for mentioning blogging was the line that you or someone else removed, and which I'm restoring. It's all right wing bloggers, like Burton and you, who attack Leiter, and that line should be in there.

But really Chris, I think you should stop editing this entry. You are biased against Leiter and apparently want to smear him. That's not NPOV and not what Wiki is about--a UT law student.