Mark Murphy has put forward a draft letter to the APA critical of Charles Hermes’ petition, though for reasons different from (though not incompatible with) the reasons put forward in the counter-petition several philosophers (including me) put together in response.
In commenting on Murphy’s letter, Brian Leiter wrote:
“The quality of argument and reasoning here is certainly more substantial than in the counterpetition--not surprising, giving that Murphy is a very good philosopher (and lightyears more able than cranks like Ed Feser, author of the counterpetition [Professor Feser has been denying, by the way, that he is the sole author, but, oddly, hasn't been able to name any other authors]) -- though, for reasons addressed by others responding to Professor Murphy here, not particularly compelling.”
Or at least, that’s what he wrote earlier today. The relevant post has since been altered and the words in boldface consigned to the memory hole (though they are, for the moment anyway, still available in Google’s cache).
Why the change? Did Leiter decide that calling me a crank and (in effect) a liar would perhaps not reflect well on the cause of Hermes’ petition (which he has done more than anyone other than Hermes to promote)?
Did it occur to him that his readers might reasonably infer from his intemperate language that he also regards the other authors of the counter-petition – and perhaps all the signers of the counter-petition as well (268 of them as I write, including Alasdair MacIntyre, Roger Scruton, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Peter van Inwagen, and many other well-known philosophers) – as “cranks”?
Did someone who actually knows the facts of the case inform Leiter that I am not lying, and that several other people were involved in writing the counter-petition? Did his lawyer’s conscience kick in for a moment on reconsidering his libelous insinuation?
It’s the other authors’ business, by the way, whether they want to identify themselves, not mine. Of course, doing so will just open them up too to Leiter’s standard ad hominem way of dealing with people he disagrees with – as Leiter well knows.
In any event, the petition speaks for itself.
As do Leiter’s actions.