I see that Professor Peter H. Irons has written a letter in which he is critical of my dissertation and how it was approved.
In reading the letter, I became fascinated by the professor’s peculiar sense of scholarly ethics. For example, in stark contrast to Professor Irons, I can say that I personally would never do any of the following:
1. Question the process by which another scholar's dissertation was approved even though I had no knowledge of that process.
2. Publicly criticize that scholar's work despite not having any expertise in the area myself.
3. Structure my critique as just a restatement of what the author supposedly wrote, trusting my audience to agree that all of it is self-evidently wrong.
4. Not bother to restate the dissertation's arguments in a way that could be considered even remotely fair to the author.
5. Make blatantly false statements, such as claiming the dissertation "included no original research."
As a scholar I would never do these things. Then again, Professor Irons is more than four decades older than me. Maybe ethical standards were just different in his time.
Response to Peter H. Irons
Just before Harvard's graduation day back in June, a retired professor from California published a tendentious attack on my dissertation in the Harvard Crimson. I submitted a letter to the editor in response, but the Crimson did not run it. Here is that letter: