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Part One

March 11, 1998

Dear Norman,

Thanks for making available your levelheaded civilized account of philosophical thuggery. I wish I could be as charitable towards other areas of study. The most savage, blood-and-guts sessions I have ever attended were some postgrad seminars in ethology conducted at Oxford many years back by Desmond Morris (after he'd struck it rich). Students were to present progress reports on their research, and their fellow students were to decimate without mercy. Morris officiated. I must say, I found English philosophers genteel by comparison and thought how tough it must be to cut the mustard as a zoologist. I've witnessed similar approaches amongst economists and other social scientists. (Could these be philosophers – by proxy?) On the far end, the very most genteel gathering I attended was one session of the American Musicological Association. In question period, there were no questions. People stood up and, after honorific praise of the presenter, proceeded to deliver mini-speeches of their own in which they recounted their research. It was effusive with a kind of doting quality which made me hanker after a bit of the slash-and-burn woodsmoke of a philosophy seminar. As for philosophers, didn't we get it from emulating Socrates who, after all, often won through ridicule?

Best wishes,

Stan Godlovitch
Lincoln University
P.O. Box 84
New Zealand

Work: (64)(3) 325-2811 X:8971
Fax: (64)(3) 325-3857
Home: (64)(3) 325-3121

Part Two

March 12, 1998

[Yesterday] I didn't raise the matter of referees' reports, but I agree with you utterly. Whenever I've been asked to referee I always make it very clear to the editor that all my comments are to go to the contributor along with my name and address. I have general moral concerns about the cloak of confidentiality which, I think, generates far more harm and encourages far more vice than whatever benefits are meant to follow from it. Indeed, I think such use of confidentiality can, and occasionally does, degenerate into a badge of simple cowardice. But that's another issue.

Best wishes,


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