The Honor Roll: American Philosophers
Professionally Injured During the McCarthy Era

The thirteen philosophers named here would correspond to about 78 in today's profession, which is roughly six times as large as it was in those days. None of them, to my knowledge, has ever been commemorated in any way by the American philosophical profession.

John McCumber

I. Albert Blumberg, Johns Hopkins; philosopher of science and editor of Philosophy of Science; spent ten years in the middle of his career working on a bookstore (personal statements from colleagues in the profession). Later employed at Rutgers.

II. Robert Colodny earned a doctorate in history and philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950. According to George Reisch, he worked primarily in technical philosophy of science. In 1961, while he was in the History Department at the University of Pittsburgh, Colodny was accused by a State Representative of being a Communist sympathizer. He was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), where he testified that he had been misquoted and was not a Communist. The committee took no action against him. Pitt's administration then conducted its own six-month inquiry, and cleared him again. Colodny taught at Pitt 25 more years. In 1970, he wrote: "A university can never be more certain that it is properly functioning than when its faculty is accused of subversion, because then some entrenched idea is under assault and some traditional holder of power feels the tempest of new and renewing ideas." (I am including Colodny here, even though he was in a history department, because I realized that that any reason for not considering him a philosopher would also apply to me.)

III. Irving Copilowish concealed his previous membership in a Trotskyist group when he was hired at Michigan in 1948. Upon realizing that his deception would be discovered, Copilowish confessed to his colleagues. William Frankena, Chair of the Department, then certified that Copilowish, as a logician, was "free of Marxist bias" in both his life and his ideas. Copilowish changed his name to "Copi" and wrote a standard logic textbook (Hollinger 178-179).

IV. Barrows Dunham, chair of the philosophy department at Temple University, was subpoenaed by HUAC in February, 1953. Though the Temple administration encouraged him to cooperate with the Committee, he gave only his name, age, and home address before taking the Fifth Amendment. He was tried for this, and was acquitted in 1955. But Temple had already fired him, in September 1953. His position was restored-in 1981 (Schrecker 209-212).

V. David Hawkins, a philosopher of science at the University of Colorado, was summoned before HUAC late in 1950; he talked about himself (though not about others), and had tenure. He therefore kept his job; but the University Board of Regents ordered an investigation into the entire Philosophy department, which ended the career of Morris Judd (q.v.; Schrecker 249f).

VI. Morris Judd was an untenured professor at the University of Colorado. He told investigators hired by the Board of Regents (see above, "David Hawkins") that he was not a Communist, but refused to further discuss his politics. He was fired over the protests of the Philosophy Department, which considered him its most promising instructor. Judd spent his working life managing the office in his family's junkyard. The Regents refused to make the report against him public until May, 2002. At that time Judd finally saw the testimony that had ended his career fifty years before. The chief witnesses were identified as "A" and "B." (Schrecker 250, personal correspondence)

VII. Jacob Loewenberg, a Berkeley Hegel scholar, was fired after 35 years of service because he refused to take the California loyalty oath apparently the only philosopher there to be so dismissed. Eventually, having reached retirement age, Loewenberg was given emeritus status (Gardner 229, 268).

VIII. V. J. McGill was fired from Hunter College and moved to San Francisco, where he spent his career as a lecturer in philosophy at San Francisco State. During the student revolt of 1968, Sidney Hook contacted newly appointed Chancellor S. I. Hayakawa and attempted to get McGill fired from his lectureship (personal interview with colleagues).

IX. Stanley Moore had joined the philosophy department at Reed College in Oregon after a job offer from Brooklyn College was rescinded because one of his letters of recommendation called him "a fanatical Marxist, both in theory and in practice." He thought that Reed's reputation for tolerance would help him when he appeared before HUAC in June, 1954. But the toleration was extended, it turned out, only by the faculty; Moore was fired by the Board of Trustees in August. The Board of Trustees admitted that its action with respect to Moore had been wrong in 1978 (Schrecker 236-240).

X. William Parry, of the University of Buffalo, appeared before HUAC in May of 1953. He had already stated publicly that while he was willing to talk about himself, he would not give the names of other people. The only way to accomplish this without being cited for contempt was to take the Fifth Amendment, which he did. This unfortunately violated the University's policy-issued on the very day Parry received his subpoena-that faculty members should "testify fully and frankly" if called upon by a legislative committee. Parry managed to keep his job, but his tenure was revoked the next month (Schrecker 205-207). It was later restored (personal testimony from colleague).

XI. Herbert Phillips was fired from the Philosophy Department at the University of Washington in January 1950, in what Schrecker calls "in many ways the most important academic freedom case of the entire cold war" (Schrecker 94-108, 320). University President Raymond B. Allen wrote that Phillips and his colleague Joseph Butterworth, an English professor, "by reason of their admitted membership in the Communist Party . . . (were) incompetent, intellectually dishonest, and derelict in their duty to find and teach the truth" (CAF p. 40). As a result of this case, Allen became a national spokesman for academic Red hunting. Phillips spent the rest of his life working as a ship's scaler on the Seattle waterfront (Schrecker 44f, 104; also see

XII. Melvin Rader, a philosophy professor at the University of Washington, denied ever having joined the Party, though he had worked on behalf of the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War. While being investigated by the State of Washington's Canwell Committee (the state "Un-American Activities Committee"), he discovered that the committee had suppressed exonerating evidence, and that one of the witnesses against him given perjured testimony. Though the State of Washington then attempted to extradite the witness, George Hewitt, from his home in New York, the attempt failed (Schrecker, 38, 96).

XIII. Forrest Wiggins, the first African-American to become a tenure-track professor in a major research program (at the University of Minnesota), was fired in December, 1951. When asked by his Dean how his views differed from those of the Communist Party, Wiggins replied that since he was not a Communist he did not know what the Party's views were. In spite of the strenuous efforts of the Philosophy department and the student body, the Board of Regents refused to reconsider the matter (Jonas, 260-264).


Communism and Academic Freedom: The Record of the Tenure Cases at the University of Washington. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1949 (cited as "CAF").

David P. Gardner, The California Oath Controversy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.

David Hollinger "Religion, Ethnicity, and Politics in "American Philosophy: Reflections on McCumber's Time in the Ditch," Philosophical Studies 102 (2002) pp. 173-181.

Gilbert Jonas, One Shining Moment: A Short History of the Student World Federalist Movement, 1942-1953. San Jose: iUniverse, 2001.

Ellen Schrecker. No Ivory Tower. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

NB: Please feel free to circulate this on the Internet, but if you do I ask you to include these introductory comments. This is what I know so far. Though I have sources and have cited them, future corrections to some of this information are likely. Addition of further names is even more so. . . . Pacific Division, APA, attempted to organize a session at its 2003 meetings [to commemorate these victims], but invitations were declined because of difficulty of travel.

© 2003 John McCumber

Vienna Circle, Karl Popper, Frankfurt School, Marxism, McCarthyism & American Philosophy: Selected Bibliography

American Philosophy Study Guide


The African American Philosopher:
The Missing Chapter in McCumber on McCarthyism

by John H. McClendon III

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