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(Though I would recommend reading this excellent review by Catherine Wilson.) The circulation of these passages, rather, presents an opportunity to discuss some of the disputes over romantic or sexual relations between professors and students.
I’ll raise just two here: (1) arguments over blanket policies that some schools have adopted banning any such relationships, and (2) arguments concerning the treatment of philosophers who’ve engaged in such relationships.
(1) Blanket Relationship Bans One consideration relevant to relationship bans arises in another passage of Honderich’s book that was part of the Twitter discussion: Feminism had begun, with books and marches, but it did not include the charge of harassment by teachers.
Harassment there certainly was, once by me in at least one mind.
So I would have said in setting out to defend myself.
In fact, in these buoyant times, I did not reflect a lot on my actions and my moral standing, or suffer guilt, partly because of the optimistic feeling that if I worked at a defence, a confident one might be constructed. (pp.128-29) This passage and related ones were brought to my attention by Joshua Habgood-Coote (Bristol), who discussed them on Twitter.
(p.136) (See below for a criticism of Mc Arthur’s intepretation and use of some of this data.) Part of Mc Arthur’s argument against blanket bans is that enforcing them well would be problematic and difficult.
Last year, philosopher Neil Mc Arthur (Manitoba) published an article, “piece).
Mc Arthur acknowledges that “romances between faculty and students are minefields, both emotionally and ethically, and they should be approached with the utmost care and trepidation.” However, “such matters are far too complex for the blunt tool provided by outright prohibitions, and that such prohibitions cannot be justified” (p.138).
Many universities now have policies that prohibit such relationships (or, in cases in which the lines of institutional authority are less clear, policies that require disclosure of the relationship to the relevant administrators).
On the other side of the debate over blanket bans are the goods of romantic or sexual relationships and sexual liberty.
So a context in which such attempts are not discouraged is one which may lead to more sexual harassment (this sounds plausible but is ultimately an empirical question so if you know of work on this feel free to share it).