Raymond B. Allen was the President of the University of Washington. As such, he had to deal with Howard Phillips, the philosopher whose case (together with that of Joseph Butterworth, a professor of old English) became the single most important academic freedom case of the entire McCarthy Era. It was what the German call maßgebend: it set the parameters, procedures, and rationales for how these cases were handled across the country. And it was up to Raymond B. Allen to articulate what those parameters, procedures, and rationales should be.
This was the case, by the way, in which the professorial investigating committee cited the opinion that Phillips, the philosopher, had the reverse burden of proof from Butterworth, his colleague in the English Department:
As a teacher of philosophy, it might be suggested that, without specific proof, his objectivity as a teacher would necessarily be impaired by his strong bias in favor of a doctrinaire political philosophy (see my Time in the Ditch p. 30).
According to Jane Sanders’ history of McCarthyism at the University of Washington, Cold War on the Campus, at one point no fewer than eight members of the tenure committee at the University of Washington voted in ways that defined academic incompetence as “unfitness in a faculty member’s field of scholarship and teaching” (pp. 54-55). This would keep academic freedom cases involving Communist Party members within the Departments and the appropriate faculty committees. Clearly, there was strong support for this at the University.
But President Allen could not allow it. Allen was a complex figure, more complex than he is portrayed in my history of the McCarthy Era’s effects on American philosophy, Time in the Ditch. Today it is hard not to see him as a right wing henchman, which is how I presented him in that book. But he saw himself as squarely in the center—and this view was plausible enough that at his last faculty meeting as President of the University, he was given a standing ovation (Sanders p. 95).
Allen in fact was trying to defend the University from all outside influences—Communist and McCarthyite alike. He believed that it was better for administrators to do this difficult job than to leave the faculty to fend for themselves. But in order to do it, he had to get academic freedom cases out of individual Departments. Allen therefore opposed the eight members of the University of Washington Tenure Committee.
His argument (Sanders pp. 54-55) was that there is a single set of rules for all inquiry, imposed by the very concept—the very unambiguous concept—of objective truth. Though central administrations and Boards of Regents do not have scholarly expertise in individual fields, that doesn't matter because the rules of rationality do not vary across disciplines; they are the same for everyone. Therefore, who should and should not be fired was best left up to central administrations and Boards of Regents, not to scholars in the appropriate field.
Fearful symmetries are in play here. On one side we have the Logical Empiricists, besieged in Vienna by anti-Semitic would-be tyrants, on the one hand, and ambivalent about the Ostjuden on the other. On the other side we have Raymond B. Allen, besieged by McCarthyite forces from outside the university on the one hand, but not wanting to defend the Communists within on the other.
For both, salvation lay in the idea that there could be only one set of rules for rational inquiry--a set empty enough to exclude anti-Semites, religious fundamentalists, McCarthyites, and Communists as need be. For both, too, the uniqueness of that set of rules was absolutely central, and needed to be fought for tooth and nail.
And not only in Seattle and Vienna. News of the moves, countermoves, arguments, rationales, and rationalizations at the University of Washington went right across the country—as I have said, the case was maßgebend (cf. Sanders pp. 81-83). It must have gone into the office of the President of the University of Colorado. And when Morris Judd—in all innocence, in the belief that the quality of his arguments should actually matter—refused to answer the President’s questions, he sealed his fate.
For this President, like the other one, needed above all to get control of academic freedom cases, get them away from Departments and Tenure Committees and from everyone who believed that different disciplines have rules of their own. Rules that are distinctive and important enough that proper judgment of scholarly merit is properly located within the discipline of the person being judged—not with administrators and Regents.
So Morris Judd had to be fired—fired in order to defend the University against McCarthyite forces.
The whole thing at Washington played out with English professor Joseph Butterworth and Philosophy professor Herbert Phillips both getting fired. Butterworth spent the rest of his life working at odd jobs; Phillips eventually found work as a laborer (Sanders p. 97).
Allen left Washington in glory the following year, just ahead of major budget cuts, and eventually became the first Chancellor of UCLA. He arrived in Westwood just in time to sign off on the hiring of Rudolf Carnap.
And Morris Judd, whose fatal flaws were intelligence, honesty, moral sensitivity, and belief in reason--a man who exemplified everything philosophers should strive to be--went off to work in the junk yard.
He will not be forgotten.