Philosopher Paul Boghossian (NYU) gave me permission to post his comments in support of boycotting Illinois over the Salaita scandal:
We have an important moral issue before us. Academic freedom is endangered. A person, who had resigned his job on the promise of another one, is about to have his life ruined, on the basis of 140 character tweets. Administrators looking on are about to conclude that they can blithely overturn the recommendations of their own rigorous procedures for personal or political gain. Those who want to foster a culture of intimidation about sensitive world issues are about to conclude that their tactics are working. This is a time for clear-minded, assertive moral protest; not for fussing with a thousand little distinctions that no one cares about. We need to speak with a strong voice now and put a stop to this now. We don't want to have to deal with a multitude of similar cases in the near future. And how much of a 'punishment' on our colleagues at Illinois is it anyway? There are so many alternative ways of ensuring philosophical interaction with them, if that's what people really were worried about. And do you think anyone will mind if, in a few years, a signer were to say: Given this or that development, I have decided to abandon my boycott of UIUC? Time to get real, here.
Prof. Boghossian's comments, together with several instructive comments on the earlier thread (including from Illinois faculty), persuade me to revise my original stance. I will join the boycott until such time as the University of Illinois makes things right. I encourage other philosophers to do the same.
Philosopher Sally Haslanger (MIT) writes: "It is crucial to the success of the journal that it represent research done by the many different intellectual constituencies of the APA."
That seems to me the primary danger for the journal, not what is crucial to its success. Only if one thought every intellectual constituency within the APA produced good philosophical work could this possibly be a desideratum: but does anyone really believe that? (One need only look at the MIT faculty to see that no one there does.) As I wrote previously in refereeing the JAPA proposal for another press:
I am skeptical whether the APA is well-positioned to produce the high quality journal it envisions, the one that combines “diversity” with “quality.” The APA’s “pluralistic consitutencies” (as the proposal calls them) are potentially a source of significant difficulty for this project, not an asset. The worry is that the APA is supposed to represent everyone in the philosophy profession, regardless of the quality of their work or approach. When the proposal describes Continental Philosophy Review, for example, as a “top field" journal,” it is quite clear that it is pandering to interest groups within the APA, not philosophical standards of excellence. (Some good work occasionally appears in CPR, but the idea that the best work in Continental philosophy appears there is ludicrous and indefensible; the use of this example suggests the process has already been ‘captured’ in part by those with other agendas.)
We have seen this pattern repeatedly within the APA. The Eastern Division represents the extreme of this phenomenon, with the result that many philosophers no longer participate there because for the sake of alleged “inclusiveness” and “diversity”—meaning neither racial nor ethnic diversity, nor even philosophical diversity, but simply pandering to organized interest groups—the program is no longer very good. As I understand it, The Journal of Philosophy stopped publishing papers from the Eastern because of this problem many years ago. The Central and Pacific have avoided the fate of the Eastern, which gives some reason for hope if they take the lead on the JAPA project. But surely the prospect of an APA-approved journal will bring out “special interest” lobbying in its worst forms. I see no reason to be optimistic that the contemplated journal will not simply be captured by certain groups looking to leverage their position in the field by capturing editorial control of portions of the journal, without regard to quality.
The initial choice of editor and editorial board gives us some reason to be more hopeful. But what will actually be crucial to the success of JAPA is that it publish high quality work, not that it represents every "constituency". I certainly share Prof. Haslanger's hope that JAPA publishes high quality work in many areas, including work on the post-Kantian Continental traditions in philosophy, as well as the other areas Prof. Haslanger mentions.
UPDATE: Comments were closed at the FP blog, based on a concern that the comments could get "ugly." To be clear, the "ugly" comment that prompted this decision was a content-free ageist and gendered smear of me. The author of that unfortunate comment had the courtesy, however, to e-mail me a retraction and apology for it.
Joshua Smart, a PhD student at the University of Missouri, invited me to share with readers this interesting new service he created:
While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach or have a different focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can increase creativity. Virtual Dissertation Groups are a way to capture some of these benefits.
Here’s the basic setup. Interested students can fill out the contact form below, and at the beginning of each semester participants will receive the information for their three-membered group. Each full month of the semester, one member of the group will submit some of their in-progress dissertation work to the others. Those other members will then email comments in response, hopefully generating some fun exchanges in the process. I’ll send out email reminders when it’s time to circulate work and return comments.
Editors: Patrick Grim, Paul Boswell, Daniel Drucker & Sydney Keough
Nominating Editors: Rachel Barney, J.C. Beall, Ned Block, Ben Bradley, Tyler Burge, David Chalmers, Andrew Chignell, David Christensen, Gregory Currie, David Danks, Keith DeRose, Cian Dorr, Lisa Downing, Julia Driver, Adam Elga, Branden Fitelson, Owen Flanagan, Stacie Friend, Tamar Szabo Gendler, Ned Hall, Elizabeth Harman, Verity Harte, Gary Hatfield, Benj Hellie, Christopher Hitchcock, Des Hogan, Brad Inwood, Simon Keller, Tom Kelly, Josh Knobe, Jonathan Kvanvig, Marc Lange, Brian Leiter, Neil Levy, Martin Lin, Peter Ludlow, Ishani Maitra, Shaun Nichols, Paul Noordhof, Derk Pereboom, Jim Pryor, Greg Restall, Geoff Sayre-McCord, Richard Scheines, Mark Schroeder, Laura Schroeter, Ted Sider, Michael Slote, Scott Soames, Roy Sorensen, Peter Spirtes, Johan van Benthem, Mark van Roojen, Peter Vranas, Ted Warfield, Eric Watkins, Sam Wheeler, Jim Woodward, Gideon Yaffe.
[BL comment: I was pleased that two papers I nominated [Neuhouser, Ypi] were chosen! Congratulations to all the philosophers whose work was recognized.]
ADDENDUM: Author affiliations are R.M. Adams (emeritus, UCLA, Yale, and UNC-Chapel Hill; currently part-time at Rutgers); A. Bacon (Southern California); JC Beall (U Conn); M. Caie (Pittsburgh); K. Fine (NYU); M. Kotzen (UNC-Chapel Hill); M. Lange (UNC-Chapel Hill); F. Neuhouser (Barnard/Columbia); I. Phillips (UCL); L. Ypi (LSE).
ANOTHER: This seems a bit myopic; there are many areas underrepresented in the PA, especially relative to their importance in the discipline--history of philosophy, most obviously, though PA has gotten a bit better on that score over time; aesthetics; philosophy of law; and so on. Obviously if you pick just ten articles, you miss a lot. Historically, as I've noted before, PA has a pretty good track record of picking significant articles (look back twenty years, and scroll through the choices), but it is inevitable the picks will be under-inclusive with respect to important articles across multiple fields.
CHE account here. CHE quotes philosopher Hilde Lindemann (Michigan State) as follows:
Hilde Lindemann, a professor at Michigan State University who heads the philosophical association’s Committee on the Status of Women, says professors at East Carolina should have taken the charges into consideration, even though Mr. McGinn wasn’t found responsible for sexual harassment.
"It does seem there is a preponderance of evidence that suggests Colin McGinn is not trustworthy around women who have less power than he does," says Ms. Lindemann. "The fact that nothing has been proved, if anyone thinks that means the evidence should be discounted, then I would respectfully disagree."
She adds: "Until we can fix the climate so that it becomes unthinkable to harass a grad student, we will end up with more departments like East Carolina who feel unless you can prove this sinner has sinned, we’re going to hire him."
I am curious what other philosophers think about this. I would prefer signed comments, but at a minimum comments must have a valid e-mail address. Keep them substantive.
This is the penultimate draft of faculty lists to be used in the 2014 PGR evaluations (that will take place this fall); thanks to all those who gave feedback on the earlier drafts: Download PGR Faculty Lists 2014-15_doc
I have hopefully incorporated, accurately, all prior corrections; if not, please let me know.
The faculty lists are looking ahead to 2015-16, so faculty retiring in 2015 are omitted; those phasing into retirement by 2016 or after are so listed.
Here are the faculties that are included in this draft:
U.S. departments (top 50 will be ranked): Arizona, Arizona State, Berkeley, Brown, Boston Univ., Chicago, Cincinnati, Carnegie-Mellon, Colorado, Columbia, Connecticut, Cornell, CUNY Grad Center, Duke, Emory, Florida State, Georgetown, Harvard, Illinois/Chicago, Illinois/Urbana, Indiana, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, MIT, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Ohio State, Penn, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Purdue, Rice, Rochester, Rutgers, Saint Louis, Southern California, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, U Mass/Amherst, Utah, Virginia, Washington/Seattle, Wash U/St. Louis, Wisconsin, Yale
U.K. departments (top 15 will be ranked): Aberdeen, Birkbeck, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, King's College London, Leeds, LSE, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield, St. Andrews/Stirling, UCL, Warwick, York.
Canadian departments (top 5 will be ranked): Alberta, British Columbia, Calgary, McGill, Queen's, Toronto, Waterloo, Western Ontario
Australasian departments (top 5 will be ranked): ANU, Auckland, Melbourne, Monash, National University of Singapore, Otago, Sydney, Victoria/Wellington
Now the important stuff:
1. Comments are open for corrections. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO SHOULD POST CORRECTIONS are the faculty members themselves (who are incorrectly listed, omitted etc.) or the Chair or other responsible administrative person in an affected department. I STRONGLY PREFER THAT CORRECTIONS BE POSTED HERE, SO AS NOT TO DUPLICATE EFFORTS. But if a matter is sensitive, e-mail me at bleiter-at-uchicago-dot-edu.
2. "Cognate faculty" means faculty in other units who are willing and available to work with philosophy PhD students. (For more, see here.)
Remember that departments not included in the surveys can still be ranked in the specialty areas; that determination will be made by the Advisory Board.
So with not quite 2,000 votes, 9% of readers thought feminist philosophy a "central, foundational part of the discipline," while another 20% deemed it a "major area of research," and a further 26% thought it "useful when integrated wiht traditional philosophical questioins in epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, etc."--so 55% of readers chose the most favorable options. Another 15% thought it a "minor area of research," while 30% chose the most dismissive option, making feminist philosophy better liked than X-Phil, but almost as disliked as metaphysics. It's worth noting that more than two-thirds of the readership recognized feminist philosophy as a legitimate area of research in our discipline, something I doubt would have been true in a similar, and more representative, poll 15 or 20 years ago.
Interesting piece, from the preface to a forthcoming Chinese edition of his 1981 book The Idea of a Critical Theory; an excerpt:
The academic reflection of the massive social and economic changes that took place between 1970 and 1981 could be seen in the gradual marginalization of serious social theory and political philosophy—and of “leftist” thought in particular. The usual story told about the history of “political philosophy” since World War II holds that political philosophy was “dead” until it was revived by John Rawls, whose Theory of Justice appeared in 1971. This seems to me seriously misleading. The Forties, Fifties and Sixties, after all, saw the elaboration of major work by the Frankfurt School (including Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man), a rediscovery of Gramsci, various essays and books by Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty, Debord’s La Société du Spectacle, early pieces by Foucault—all works roughly speaking “on the Left.” Meanwhile, Popper, Hayek, Leo Strauss and Oakeshott (to name only a few) were active “on the Right.” If Anglophones took no notice of this material it was not because serious work in political philosophy failed to exist, but for some other reason. To those engaged (in 1971) in the various and diverse forms of intense political activity which now collectively go under the title of “the Sixties,” Rawls’s Theory of Justice seemed an irrelevance. I completed and defended my doctoral dissertation in the spring of 1971, and I recall my doctoral supervisor, who was a man of the Left but also an established figure and full professor at Columbia University in New York, mentioning to me that there was a new book out by Rawls. In the same breath, he told me that no one would need to read it because it was of merely academic interest—an exercise in trying to mobilize some half-understood fragments of Kant to give a better foundation to American ideology than utilitarianism had been able to provide. Many will think that that was a misjudgment, but I think it was prescient. I cite it in any case to give contemporary readers a sense of the tenor of the 1970s.
Rawls did in fact eventually establish a well-functioning academic industry which was quickly routinized and which preempted much of the space that might have been used for original political thinking. He was one of the forerunners of the great countermovement, proleptically outlining a philosophical version of what came to be known as the “trickle-down” theory. Crudely speaking, this theory eventually takes this form: “Value” is overwhelmingly produced by especially gifted individuals, and the creation of such value benefits society as a whole. Those who are now rich are well-off because they have contributed to the creation of “value” in the past. For the well-off to continue to benefit society, however, they need to be motivated, to be given an incentive. Full egalitarianism will destroy the necessary incentive structure and thus close the taps from which prosperity flows. So inequality can actually be in the interest of the poor because only if the rich are differentially better-off than others will they create value at all—some of which will then “trickle down” or be redistributed to the less well-off. Rawls allows people who observe great inequality in their societies to continue to feel good about themselves, provided that they support some cosmetic forms of redistribution of the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich and powerful. The apparent gap which many people think exists between the views of Rawls and, say, Ayn Rand is less important than the deep similarity in their basic views. A prison warden may put on a benevolent smile (Rawls) or a grim scowl (Ayn Rand), but that is a mere result of temperament, mood, calculation and the demands of the immediate situation: the fact remains that he is the warden of the prison, and, more importantly, that the prison is a prison. To shift attention from the reality of the prison to the morality, the ideals and the beliefs of the warden is an archetypical instance of an ideological effect. The same holds not just for wardens, but for bankers, politicians, voters, investors, bureaucrats, factory workers, consumers, advisers, social workers, even the unemployed—and, of course, for academics.
The journal Criminal Law & Philosophy kindly organized a symposium on my book, with essays by F. Boucher (Montreal) & C. Laborde (UCL), F. Schauer (Virginia), C. Brettschneider (Brown) and P. Jones (Newcaslte). A draft of my reply is here.
A number of fields, including philosophy, are organizing lists of signatories who will boycott the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign until the contract with Salaita is honored and the Chancellor reverses herself. I'm of two minds about this: on the one hand, the public threat to boycott the university might have some influence; on the other hand, it seems manifestly unfair to punish colleagues there who might want my contributions to a scholarly event, as they have in the past. (Many of these colleagues are as appalled as everyone else by the craven cowardice of the Chancellor in this matter.) Those colleagues, and their students, did not engage in any wrongdoing, yet the burden would fall on them for the Chancellor's misconduct if the signatories make good on the threat to boycott the university.
I'll open comments on this for arguments on either side of this question, but I want full names in the signature line and valid e-mail addresses (the latter will not appear).
1. New York University (570 citations, 14 faculty)
2. Princeton University (378 citations, 9 faculty)
3. City University of New York Graduate Center (292 citations, 6 faculty)
4. University of Pittsburgh (208 citations, 5 faculty)
5. Columbia University (202 citations, 4 faculty)
6. University of Texas, Austin (187 citations, 6 faculty)
7. Yale University (185 citations, 6 faculty)
8. Rutgers University, New Brunswick (176 citations, 5 faculty)
9. Oxford University (167 citations, 4 faculty)
10. Massachussetts Institute of Technology (163 citations, 4 faculty)
11. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (160 citations, 4 faculty)
12. Harvard University (153 citations, 3 faculty)
13. University of Southern California (150 citations, 4 faculty)
14. Stanford University (142 citations, 4 faculty)
15. University of Notre Dame (137 citations, 3 faculty)
16. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (128 citations, 3 faculty)
17. University of California, Berkeley (117 citations, 2 faculty)
18. Australian National University (110 citations, 3 faculty)
19. Duke University (102 citations, 2 faculty)
19. University of California, Los Angeles (102 citations, 2 faculty)
What this means, I don't really know. Certain areas are high-citation areas in SEP because of large numbers of entries: e.g., Language/Mind/M&E, Logic, Feminist Philosophy. Others seem to be less so. Kripke accounts for about 40% of the CUNY cites, but even noting that, CUNY still does really well thanks to Devitt, Priest, Godfrey-Smith, Papineau, and Prinz. Some departments would no doubt have made the list if Schwitzgebel had counted beyond the top 266. At Chicago, Martha Nussbaum, with 94 citations is almost in the top 20 all by herself, but after her the most cited Chicago faculty (using Schwitzgebel's methodology) did not make the top 266 (J. Lear with 16, Leiter with 11, and Pippin with 9). If we credited departments for smaller fractional appointment than half-time, NYU, Rutgers and Harvard would all get a Parfit boost, and UCSD, with N. Cartwright (who is there one quarter per year), would have made the top 20 (along with cites to Brink and Arneson).
Here. If "analytic" philosophers (let alone physicists) knew more about intellectual history, they'd realize this whole "debate" (such as it is) is just a re-play of one in the 19th-century, spearheaded by Ludwig Büchner, the 19th-century apostle of "philosophy is dead, long live science." His Kraft und Stoff is still a very entertaining read, and was, reportedly, the best-selling book in 19th-century Europe after the Bible!
Here. (Thanks to Lorna Finlayson for the pointer.)
My own view is that it is not reasonable, or desirable, to expect Israeli academic institutions to adopt positions on questions of national policy (the boycott calls for a "refusal to associate with Israeli academic institutions that have not explicitly condemned the occupation"); the same is true in the U.S. What is known as "the Kalven Report" from 1967, after its lead author, Harry Kalven, a prominent First Amendment scholar at Chicago, got it right:
The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic. It is, to go back once again to the classic phrase, a community of scholars. To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community. It is a community but only for the limited, albeit great, purposes of teaching and research. It is not a club, it is not a trade association, it is not a lobby.
Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness. There is no mechanism by which it can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives. It cannot insist that all of its members favor a given view of social policy; if it takes collective action, therefore, it does so at the price of censuring any minority who do not agree with the view adopted. In brief, it is a community which cannot resort to majority vote to reach positions on public issues.
Unfortunately, then, this call for boycott seems to me misconceived, at least as regards academic institutions. The case for an economic boycott of Israel for its crimes is as strong as it has ever been, and only an economic boycott endorsed by significant trading partners will have the desired effects.
Well-above average for a journalist. The only bit that seems to me clearly wrong is that any of this shows the U.S. is "weak"; the U.S. doesn't care (about the suffering in Gaza, about Ukraine etc.), if there were political will to restrain Israel, the U.S. could accomplish it instantly. But otherwise, this piece makes a number of striking points.
I'm applying to doctorate programs this year and before all its controversy Boulder had a lot of appeal given its areas of strength and location. I've read anything I could find and have reached out to people there to try and create as informed an opinion as possible on what it would be like to study there amidst so much drama, but what concerns me now is that even if I am able to find upstanding people to study with there (something I'm sure I can do), I will be associated with its bad reputation afterwards. More than one adviser cringed after seeing Boulder on my list of potential schools, and I worry that one might wonder why I (a male) chose to go there given its reputation. I'm curious if your readers feel it's worth the risk and if they would be suspicious of someone who would go there given its current climate.
I should note, to start, that it's not clear yet whether Colorado will be accepting new PhD students this fall. But assuming the Department is, any new students will be finishing five to seven years hence. All indications are that the University and the Department are moving aggressively to rectify whatever problems there were--the fact that the female PhD student who recently settled a retaliation claim with the university will continue her PhD studies at Colorado is one indication of that. So my inclination is to think that prospective students should consider Colorado on the merits; and that if they are admitted, they should visit with current students and faculty about the current mood of the program and their feelings about the future.
With over 1400 votes cast in our most recent poll on phenomenology, 12% thought it a "central, foundational part of the discipline," 17% deemed it "a major area of research," and 27% agreed it was "useful when integrated with mainstream philosophy of mind and cognitive science"--so a majority chose the most positive options. Another 27% though it a "minor area of research," while 23% went with the dismissive Deleuzian option, deeming it "modern scholasticism" and "pointless attention to trivialities."
Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside) sends along his latest interesting data compilation: most cited authors born after 1900 in SEP. Take note of his methodology before e-mailing him with alleged corrections! It would be interesting to know how SEP articles divide up in terms of coverage, which might explain some of the surprising results. (Eric may undertake that, in which case I'll post a link.)
...not for sexual harassment, but for allegedly retaliating against a graduate student who complained another student had sexually assaulted her. I know nothing more than what is in this article; if there is more information, I will update this post or post about it separately.
UPDATE: Please note that there are two individuals named "David Barnett" in academic philosophy, both with a PhD from NYU as it happens. The David Barnett about whom this story is about teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder; the other David Barnett, about whom this story is not about, teaches at Union College.
ANOTHER: A related article says that the University has not yet officially specified the grounds for moving to terminate Prof. Barnett, so it may or may not be related to the alleged retaliation.
AND FURTHER: The Chancellor's video announcement certainly makes it sound like the move to dismiss is related to the alleged retaliation. It will also be used, I expect, by Barnett's attorney to make the case that Barnett is being "scapegoated."
I’m a prospective applicant from a non-English speaking country and I was wondering whether you could ask for input from your readers about GRE evaluation policies of students with background like mine. Perhaps a clearer question would be: how much of a drawback is to have a low GRE score and to come from an unknown university (which is usually the case for most non-English speaking international students)?
I know this issue about GRE has been raised in your blog before, but I thought it would be worth to ask about this particular case as I believe there might be some students out there with similar concerns.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)