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May 29, 2003


To the editor:

We, the graduate students in the Department of Philosophy, are writing regarding the May 1 cover story, “Grünbaum resigns his position in philosophy.” We are dismayed by the University Times’ use of a letter we wrote to the philosophy faculty. Our letter is quoted at length, and in such a way as to suggest that we share Professor Grünbaum’s assessment of the department. We do not. The article implies that our letter supports or endorses the claim that there are “festering ills” seriously undermining the health of the department. It does not. No graduate student was contacted for comment on this article. Our words were written in a context of good faith and mutual understanding with the faculty, with the sole purpose of initiating a constructive internal dialogue. The article takes them out of that context and thereby misrepresents our beliefs. We are writing now in the hopes of correcting that misrepresentation.

Ben Laurence, president


Greg Gates, secretary

Philosophers in Graduate School

(Editor’s note: Philosophers in Graduate School (PGS) is an organization made up of the graduate students in the philosophy department. Greg Gates said that of the 33 PSG members voting, 30 approved submitting this letter for publication.)

Bruce Steele replies:

It was philosophy department chairperson Stephen Engstrom who (as quoted in my story) noted that some of Adolf Grünbaum’s criticisms dovetailed with those expressed by philosophy graduate students in their Jan. 22 open letter to department faculty.

The story included two, one-sentence quotations from the students’ letter, plus an additional four sentences paraphrasing the letter. These six sentences dealt with students’ concerns about department class sizes, students’ funding, an alleged lack of regular interaction between students and faculty, and the time it takes to complete the doctoral program.

The story clearly spelled out what Grünbaum’s concerns were and what the students’ concerns were. The two sets of concerns were linked only in as much as they concerned the philosophy department.

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