College professors dating their students
But it was not easy to make clear sense of the charge.It was not as if my partners were reluctant, which they were not.Whether such relationships would involve a power imbalance that undermines the possibility of consent, I don’t know; I think the diversity of actual cases means that this is hard to generalize about.
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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.
A young woman of good family told me of her sad marriage to an Indian gentleman, I sympathized too much, and did get an idea in my head.
Something was said to Richard [Wollheim, then chair of the department] of this, and he found her another tutor. It preserved me from an undergraduate or two with the invigorating idea of an extra-curricular connection with their tutor.
Further, even if one thinks Honderich acted wrongly by engaging in those relations, whether and how he should be blamed or otherwise held responsible for them today is another matter.
(To be clear, it’s not that I’m endorsing relativism here; I am, however, saying that judgments about how to react to these kinds of cases are complicated by uncertainty and social and temporal distance.) I would add that Honderich’s personal life was widely discussed in reviews following the book’s publication, and we needn’t rehash all of that here.
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).
On whether such relationships are likely to be nonconsensual, Mc Arthur looks at some empirical work: In Glaser and Thorpe’s (1986, 49) survey of 464 former graduate students, all female, about their sexual involvement with professors, nearly all reported that they ‘felt no coercion or exploitation whatsoever.’ Bellas and Gossett (540) similarly found that, among those in their smaller survey, ‘none of the students felt coerced to initiate or to sustain their relationships …