Professor Faye Gale, Vice Chancellor
c/- Ms Kerry Evans
Academic Staff Association
University of Western Australia
Nedlands, WA, Australia
FAX: 09 ----------
Dear Professor Gale:
I am writing in support of Dr David Rindos' application for tenure at your University. I am a senior Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Melbourne. Our Department includes Social Theory and Anthropology. Although my own research extends into other areas, my teaching is primarily in the Philosophy of Science. I work on evolutionary biology and regularly correspond with David by electronic mail about our common interests in evolutionary theory. I have been following the developments in his tenure decision with amazement and increasing dismay. Recent statements from Senior Academics at your University have shocked me.
As you are likely aware, Dr Rindos was one of the foundation members of the International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology, a professional group in which I am very active. When he was resident in the United States he attended our biennial meetings, and his professional work attempting to bring evolutionary theory to bear upon cultural behaviour has occasioned no small interest among philosophers of biology. I am certain that the inability of your university to supply him with either proper recognition of his accomplishments or a proper working environment will not go unnoticed by the members of this international body.
I would also like to note that over the past year or so I have read some of David's material that he has not been able to publish due to the extremely poor working conditions he has endured. In my opinion, the material is definitely publishable once the author has had time to revise it. His draft paper "Language, Selection and the Evolution of Ethical Systems" is an original and interesting contribution to the field. I have written four articles and review papers in this area, and I have also referred articles in the area for Biology and Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, two of the leading journals that publish material in evolutionary ethics I have also given a number of invited talks to both philosophers and scientists on evolutionary theory and evolutionary ethics in particular. In my opinion, David's paper is on a par with some of the best in the field.
I have also previewed a set of David's lecture notes, which he sent me over a year ago for comment. These notes show originality ad care, and also great insight into the fundamental issues underlying the subject matter. I understand that Princeton University Press is interested in publishing a version of these notes. I expect that if David has the time to revise his notes for publication that they would be published. I have a good idea of the standards expected by major university presses. I have not refereed books for Princeton, but I have judged books for Chicago University Press, Oxford University Press, University of Calgary Press, SUNY Press and MIT Press.
I think that a negative decision on Dr Rindos' tenure would be most unfortunate. Given the events that surrounded it, it would be remembered widely for years, both in Australia and internationally.
Dr John Collier
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
The University of Melbourne.