Michael Dummett: A Bumbling Anti-Racist – When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics – Neven Sesardic
Trigger warning: – antirazzismo a scrocco – antirazzismo da operetta – dogmi come se piovesse – compagnie imbarazzanti –
Michael Dummett was Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford and Fellow of All Souls College. He is one of the most celebrated philosophers of the twentieth century,
Paid by Oxford to Do Research, Does Politics Instead
Dummett was knighted in 1999 for “services to philosophy and racial justice,” but his contributions to these two areas were not always in perfect harmony.
Note:FILOSOFIA E ANTI RAZZISMO
An Oxford philosophy professor admits he “abandoned all attempt at creative work in philosophy” and “gave no more time to thinking about philosophy” for a full four years
Note:QUATTRO ANNI A UFO
Dummett’s way of waging a battle against racism had itself many strange and illogical aspects.
Note:FINANZIARE LA LOTTA POLITICA
Upon receiving the information that someone has been refused by immigration officers, Dummett “dash[ed] to the airport as quickly as possible,” and it is only then and there (at the airport) that he “had to find out what [he] could about the case and say whatever [he] could on the refused person’s behalf.” This means Dummett went to the airport with the intention of defending someone’s right to stay in the United Kingdom without knowing the background facts of this person’s case at all.
Note:MODALITÀ DI AZIONE
A Logician’s Strange Route to Empirical Truth
even beliefs “conforming to a palpably powerful prejudice” may in fact be (strongly) supported by evidence.
Note:L’ IQ DEI NERI MANDA IN CONFUSIONE DUMMETT
Later Dummett tried again, but in a different way, to show that the possibility of a significant genetically based IQ difference between racial groups can be dismissed a priori.
Note:DIFFERENZA IMPOSSIBILITA’ A PRIORI
Although Dummett insisted than no one can rationally think that the great majority of members of any racial group are intellectually inferior to the great majority of members of some other group, some scholars doing research on these issues have thought exactly this (and offered a rationale for their view).
Dummett was clearly wrong in his resolute claim about what “no one can rationally think.”
One does not expect this kind of misjudgment about elementary statistics from someone who received the prestigious Lakatos Award in the philosophy of science (which, as noted, Dummett did in 1994).
A Pimp, a Criminal, and a Racist Invited to Talk at All Souls College
Another troubling feature of Dummett’s political activism is the company he (occasionally) kept.
A ludicrous but menacing local figure had named himself “Michael X” in the hope of attracting some cross-Atlantic street cred: as a Trinidadian pimp and hustler called Michael de Freitas he had won notoriety as an especially nasty enforcer of evictions for a rack-rent landlord named, in one of those Dickensian coincidences, Mr. Rachman. The soi-disant X had a group—actually a gang—called RAAS. The letters were supposed to stand for Racial Adjustment Action Society and some white liberal clergymen and similar dupes were induced to take it seriously, but in Caribbean patois, as one soon discovered, a “raas” was a used tampon. . . . At Oxford in my first term, a rather silly Catholic bleeding-heart don named Michael Dummett managed to use his privileges to get X to speak in the All Souls dining room.
Note:HITCHENS SPIETATO SU DUMMETT
Michael X was not just a criminal but a vocal and notorious racist too.
MX IL RAZZISTA VIOLENTO
If you ever see a white man laying hands on a black woman, kill him immediately. . . . Whitey is a vicious, nasty person.
Note:UNO STRALCIO DEI SUOI DISCORSI
For these statements he was later convicted of inciting racial hatred and spent eight months in jail.
If despite all those red flags Dummett was still willing to lend support and respectability to a thug, pimp, and racist, this raises another worry about his judgment.
Note:DUMMETT EDOTTO DI TUTTO
A Sham Engagement with Philosophy
Could we imagine, by way of analogy, a surgeon who became upset about some social injustice and who, although continuing to work at the hospital, devoted every moment he could spare to his noble political cause and gave no more time to thinking about medicine for years? Hardly, because his lack of dedication to his profession would be soon detected by his patients, colleagues, and administrators, and he could not hope to keep his job with such an attitude. It is a sad testimony to how irrelevant and dispensable philosophical activity has become