Continental philosophy has a tradition of interest in ethics, and Penn State has its share of philosophers who claim ethics as a specialty or sub-specialty. The phrase in Philosophy departments is “area of competence.” Someone might have expected some of these Penn State philosophers to have taken the lead on some ethical statement about what has been happening at their university (Robert Bernasconi, Dennis Schmidt, Jennifer Mensch, for example), but as far as I can tell, the response has been crickets. Some of the philosophers claim expertise in applied ethics, and what has taken place at Penn State would seem to call out, perhaps in a Heideggerian way (if that helps the Penn Staters) for application. Have I missed the philosophers’ articles or op-ed pieces? Some of the faculty members in the Philosophy Department there already have had to spend energies explaining their allegiances to the politics and ethics of Heidegger and Gadamer, and perhaps one or more could appeal to the title of one of Gadamer’s essays entitled “The Political Incompetence of Philosophy.” The area of competence for some of the philosophers might indeed be incompetence of that sort, and then perhaps we should welcome crickets.
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