A philosophy graduate student at a mid-ranked PhD program writes:
I've been reading with interest the comments on your post aboutgraduate admissions yield. It strikes me that it might also beinteresting to discuss the way that admitted prospective students aretreated on their campus visits. A couple of issues are important:
1) Different schools do their visits differently: some have a group visit, where all admitted applicants are invited to visit at the same time, while others invite the candidates to come individually. Both models have their merits and their disadvantages. Group visits, it seems to me, obscure the way that the department actually runs on a day-to-day basis. Individual visits, though much better at revealing the department as it actually is, have the unfortunate disadvantage of giving students the impression that the department is less ambitious(or less attentive, or - even worse - poorer) than other departments to which they've been admitted. While I doubt this is generally the case, impressions matter.
2) This is related to a second issue: the behavior of students on group visits. In my program - and I suspect this is true of many programs -the other offers our admitted students have received are wildly different. Some have been admitted to the very best programs, while for others our very good department's is the best offer they have received. This disparity, it seems to me, leads to some extraordinarily infantile behavior on group visits. Those admitted to the top programs seem interested in little more than letting others know. And I fear that they poison the well: those who have no real intention of coming are able to influence others who have more meager options. I am confident in claiming that my department has lost a couple of prospective graduate students for whom our department was a terrific fit because of the ways in which one or two higher-profile admitted students laughingly compared our department to other, higher-ranked places.
All of this is encouraged, I think, by the recruiting process: we treat admitted applicants like rock stars. We throw them parties and takethem out to (sometimes quite expensive) dinners. We buy them plane tickets. And while they're around, we go out of our way to impress them at every moment. Every admitted applicant, no matter how arrogant, will presumably be put in his or her place in the very first week of a proseminar wherever they end up. But the disparity between what will happen when one arrives at a program and what faculty and graduate students put themselves through to get the students there in the first place is enormous and, to me, alarming.
All of this is just to say that I'd be interested to see if others havethe same impression I do. If you have the inclination, perhaps you'd start a thread on this topic.
Post only once; as long as an identifying e-mail is visible when you submit the comment (it won't appear), you need not post using your full name.
The 2008 electees for Philosophy are Elizabeth Anderson (Michigan), Nuel Belnap (Pittsburgh), and Calvin Normore (UCLA, moving to McGill). Two Foreign Honorary Members were also elected: David Armstrong (Emeritus, Sydney) and Simon Blackburn (Cambridge University, who is also now a part-time Research Professor at North Carolina).
Nathan Salmon (philosophy of language, metaphysics) at the University of California at Santa Barbara has a senior offer from the University of Southern California, where he will visit next fall. Salmon--who has in the past turned down offers from Michigan and Yale, among other places--would help restore USC's position as one of the top two or three departments for philosophy of language in the U.S.
How could someone who knows so little philosophy and is so bad at the philosophy he does know conjure up the arrogance required to make embarrassingly misinformed, sweeping generalizations about it?....I think I found the answer in an old Sam Tanenhaus profile of the pompous fraud:
A prestigious Kellett fellowship took Wieseltier to Oxford in the fall of 1974 to study philosophy, but when he got there ''philosophy at Oxford was in transports of logical notation,'' he remembers. ''I had no interest in studying mathematical logic or the logical analysis of language.''
Allow me to translate that: Real philosophy is hard, so rather than even try to do it, Wieseltier spent his fellowship sucking up to Isaiah Berlin and quit grad school a few years later, at a time when it was still possible to become a celebrated public intellectual without having expertise in anything. Over the next thirty some-odd years, having turned enough clever phrases and misappropriated enough philosophical concepts to secure a reputation among easily deceived people as a learned man...Wieseltier came to believe his own delusional self-flattery.
Colleagues in other fields are often impressed by how much information about job placement philosophy departments now make available on their web sites. It was not always that way, alas. About six years ago, I used the Update Service to the PGR--which reached several thousand philosophers--to suggest that departments be more forthcoming about this information, citing some models and indicating that in future editions of the PGR I would call attention to departments that were not providing such information, since that should surely be a warning to prospective students. Departments, for the most part, reacted constructively and did the right thing, posting information about recent job placement on the web. (One philosopher--a Kantian moral philosopher no less--objected to my "bullying" departments that perhaps preferred to keep the information secret. There are, I suspect, many lessons to be learned about Kantian ethics from this example, but I'll save that for another day.)
Of course, the quality of information departments provide varies quite a bit in quality, reliability and informativeness. I have mentioned, in the past, that the Michigan site is a real model of disclosure and detail, while the Texas site, among many others, is at the opposite end of the spectrum (even though, I should add, Texas job placement has improved markedly in recent years, but the site is both relatively uninformative and not entirely accurate). It is in this context that I wanted to share an e-mail from philosopher Miriam Solomon at Temple University:
Recently, I compiled my department's placement statistics.
In doing so, I consulted the placement statistics that other departments have posted, and found considerable variability in reporting, which may lead to misleading comparisons.
For example, some departments just list those PhD graduates who have gone on to academic jobs and leave off the ones who dropped out; some departments omit those PhD graduates who "did not seek a job" or "went on the job market with geographic restrictions"; some departments list only the first placement, which may be temporary; some departments list job offers received and others job offers accepted; one department actually counts MD/PhDs as having "tenure-track"
jobs if they have a medical residency. In my opinion, the best information comes from those departments that list all their PhDs (by dissertation title) with full employment records.
May I propose that we have some standardization in compiling statistics here? If, as we recommend, students should take placement record into account in selecting graduate programs, we should provide them with the most usable, impartial, data as we can.
So what do readers think are model placement sites? What information should be standard? What presentation is most conducive to informing students while respecting the legitimate privacy interests of, for example, unsuccessful job seekers? No anonymous postings; post only once.
At the start of the year, I expressed the worry that, against Barack Obama, the Republicans will "lock up the racist (and racially uneasy) vote by calling attention to the Church to which Senator Obama belongs in Chicago." Last month, as U.S. readers will know, videos of the colorful and scathing pastor of Obama's Church were all over the airwaves in the US--here's a sample. (And here's how the right-wing slime-and-smear machine is going to use this material and here is a sample of Republican gloating about it. And here's what a so-called "reputable" journalist[i.e., one who is less obviously a right-wing shill] is doing with this material.) I am actually now more keen on Senator Obama--whose mealy-mouthed rhetoric I find tiresome--now that I've heard his pastor, but some reasonable person might worry that I am not the average American voter. But I confess I am also beginning to share the Clintons' suspicion that Obama is going to get cut to pieces by the Republicans. Here's yet another example of what the right-wing slime-and-smear machine has in store for Senator Obama. The unknown is whether this kind of stuff has any effect on anyone who is not already a member of the crypto-fascist right. Senator Obama has the Reagan gift of demeanor and delivery that is reassuring and tranquilizing, and so he may well just sail on through the choppy seas. And at some point one expects the "mushy middle" of the electorate will realize that Senator McCain is the candidate of perpetual war, and that fact, together with the latest economic downturn, will insure Republican defeat, even if Senator Obama picks Congressman Kucinich as his running-mate (one can dream, can't one?). Then President-elect Obama can name Prof. Dohrn Attorney General and Rev. Wright Secretary of State, and then there really will be "change" in Washington!
I have professional engagements this summer in Northern Italy and Spain, and was hoping to spend some time between events with my family at some appealing place (nice beach, good swimming, great food) on the Italian or French Riviera (i.e., inbetween the Italian and Spanish engagements). I would be grateful for suggestions! Many thanks.
I am asked periodically for cites in support of the familiar claims that philosophy majors outperform others on standardized tests. Philosopher Steve McKay at Sherbrooke kindly flagged two sources, courtesy of the Department of Philosophy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis: how aspiring philosophers perform on the GRE (the Graduate Record Exam, required by most PhD programs in the US) and how they perform on the LSAT (the Law School Admissions Test, required by all U.S. and, I believe, all English-language Canadian law schools). I suspect the LSAT result is dragged down by the fact that Philosophy is lumped in with Religion, which is almost always a rather different kind of major!
Some of these impressive results, one suspects, must be credited to self-selection, but some surely reflect the intellectual rigor and demands of philosophical study.
A philosopher on the earlier thread about admissions posted a comment raising issues that deserve separate attention. She writes:
I don't want to start a wave of paranoia, but I think it might be worth it for the profession to start some long term planning in grad admissions. It is my understanding that in about a decade (ie not long after the incoming grad class finishes their dissertations), the college age population is going to drop somewhat dramatically. The statistic I have heard floated is that this year's kindergarten class is the smallest since WWII. With about half as many students as are currently enrolled in college to teach, I suspect that universities will be cutting the number of faculty. What this likely means is no retirement replacements. Rather than create another situation like that of the late 80s and early 90s, the profession might well want to begin thinking now about how to handle these demographic changes. Grad admissions might be a clear area to strategize around. Another area might be the inclusion of philosophy into HS curricula (so there is a non-university arena for job-seekers). And while I never thought about these issues as a grad student (I didn't even know they existed), it might well be some handy information for grad students to have as they think about getting through their programs in a timely manner.
My impression of the demographics (at least for the US) is similar to this philosopher's. References to data or trends, analyses of the implications of demographic shifts, and what the profession should be doing about all this are welcome in the comments. Usual commenting rules apply: post only once, non-anonymous preferred, etc.
We are a mid-ranking graduate program. In previous years we have
normally finished up making about 15 offers to get an intake of half a
dozen students, going two or three deep into our wait list following an
initial set of dozen offers. This year, however, our experience has
been quite different. We had to go much deeper into our wait
list, and finished up making nearly 30 offers overall. An informal
inquiry to one other program suggests that they had a similar
experience. I wonder if there is some general trend here. Are students
becoming much more cautions, making more applications overall, and
making more "back up" applications than they previously would have done?
Usual commenting rules apply, though as long as I can verify your identity from your e-mail address (which will not appear), you don't need to post under your full name.
A young philosopher at a top research university writes:
"The thing that always astonishes me is that they [bloggers, journalists etc.] put
on this air of pained affront if an academic gets short with them - 'I
don't expect this tone from an educator' and all that jazz. Jesus, they
should have been in a room with Jerry 'I just have one question; was your paper a joke?' Fodor, or Kim 'but there's no fucking evidence for that!' Sterelny.
Or most of the economists I know. Where do so many people get this idea
that academic discourse is conducted by people wondering if they could
regretfully venture to take issue with distinguished colleagues who are
respectfully suggesting an emendation?"
UPDATE: Philosopher Tad Brennan at Cornell writes with an explanation:
Journalists are surprised that academics can be short with them because they last met academics in the classroom, and most professors are kind and generous when dealing with students. Serious academics save their scathing put-downs for colleagues and equals--I doubt that those quotes from Fodor and Sterelny document interactions with students.
Instead of feeling pained and affronted, the bloggers and journalists should take it as a compliment: 'hey, those academics are treating me like an equal!' That can help to salve the bruises, anyhow. And it also shows why a sharp-tongued critique directed at a non-student is no betrayal of the "tone" appropriate to an "educator". If you are my student, then I have an obligation to be your educator; if not, not.
That certainly describes my own sentiments (and practices) exactly.
ONE MORE: This is also amusingly apt (and timely), referring as it does both to Professor Sterelny and Professor Sarkar's latest takedown of the creationists. As the author notes: "anyone who thinks...bloggers should be treated with respect by academics,
simply doesn't know shit about academe, and particularly philosophy."
Gary Watson (ethics, philosophy of action) at the University of California at Riverside will take emeritus status there and take up a full-time post in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, where, with Kadri Vihvelin, George Wilson and Gideon Yaffe, he will help give USC one of the strongest philosophy of action cohorts in the U.S. Even with Watson's retirement, UCR's other strong appointments this year still make a strong top 30 (perhaps top 25) showing in next fall's reputational surveys extremely likely. (With John Martin Fischer remaining, UCR will, of course, remain a top choice for those interested in philosophy of action as well.)
To have lived this long in admiration of children authors of the book of
laughter cartographers of the map of solutions whose commentary can
always be trusted
To have lived this long in fealty to women without understanding them yet
knowing their value as they melt or harden with the changing seasons
To have lived this long scowling at the genuflectors the cringers the
clingers the gossips especially the barren patriots
To have lived this long among these barbarians even perhaps to have
supported them by inaction to have tutted and tsked but not to have
risked my body
To have lived this long clinging to this fractured bone yard into which I
mumble even to think it worthy to lave it stuff it wrap it in cloth guard
it from its just deserts
To have lived this long disguised as human as man as poet as comrade as
lover as culture-carrier all these but masks of my strident my querulous
To have lived this long tried by the body's ailments the mind's enigmas
squirreled beneath shame's bravado the vulnerability of this sack of
sorrow that bears my name
To have lived this long vain as any carrion humbled yet arrogant stumbling
yet upright doomed yet in denial sitting here near noon forgetful of
food of water of tasks of trials dumbly tapping out a poem: madness ecstasy affluence
The Department of Philosophy at the University of California at Davis, which has had significant turnover lately, has now made four senior hires. Starting this fall: Aldo Antonelli (logic) from the University of California at Irvine, and Elaine Landry (philosophy of mathematics and science) from the University of Calgary; and starting in fall 2009: David Copp (ethics) and Marina Oshana (ethics, philosophy of action), both currently at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Since the time of the fall 2006 surveys (when Davis ranked 35th overall), Davis lost Jonathan Vogel (epistemology) back to Amherst, and Paul Teller (philosophy of physics) retired. This major set of new hires will clearly keep Davis safely in the top 40, perhaps propel it back to the top 30.
Here, courtesy of philosophers at the University of Aberdeen. I realize some of you are thinking, "The entire blogosphere is the journal of half-baked, often raw, ideas, so why create a special journal?" Well, this one is a bit different.
The Department of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego has voted out a senior offer to John Doris, who has been a leader in developing work at the intersection of moral philosophy and empirical psychology, at Washington University in St. Louis.
I and some of my colleagues have the sense that we could do a better job helping our grads apply for jobs where the emphasis lies on teaching. I would appreciate any advice from people who have served on Search Committees seeking to fill such jobs. In particular, what are the elements of a really stand-out dossier, and a fantastic initial APA or phone interview?
Usual commenting rules apply, though as long as you have an e-mail that confirms your identity, it is not necessary to post your full name in the comments section. Post only once please! Comments may take awhile to appear.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM APRIL 11: Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication with CUNY regarding this appointment. Professor Priest writes with the following clarification: "I have accepted a full time position at CUNY, starting in September 2009. However, I will not be moving there full time immediately. For the years 2009-10 and 2010-11 I will work half the year at CUNY and half the year at Melbourne. Both institutions have agreed to the appropriate leave to make this possible. I intend to maintain my position at St Andrews, but the appropriate arrangements for these two years still need to be negotiated."
Graham Priest (logic, philosophical logic) at the University of Melbourne has accepted appointment as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, to start in September 2009. He will continue to be quarter-time at the Arche Center at the University of St. Andrews, but will be teaching both terms each year at CUNY.
The well-known legal and political philosopher Anthony D. Woozley was an emeritus University Professor at the University of Virginia, and also during his long career held the Chair in Moral Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews and taught legal philosophy at Oxford University. He and Tony Honore taught the first law and philosophy class at Oxford in 1951! The syllabus for that course is here.
A short memorial notice from a local paper is here. I will add links to other memorial notices as they appear.
UPDATE: The distinguished philosopher Cora Diamond, who is also the widow of Professor Woozley, writes with the following interesting bit of information (that I certainly did not know, and perhaps it will be news to others):
Woozley was the last surviving member of the original group of seven philosophers whose informal discussions from 1937-39 were the beginnings of Oxford ordinary language philosophy. There is an account of these original meetings in Isaiah Berlin's *Personal Impressions*, the chapter on J.L. Austin. Austin and Berlin organized the group; besides Austin, Woozley and Berlin, the members were A.J. Ayer, Stuart Hampshire, Donald Macnabb and Donald MacKinnon.
ANOTHER: Several more memorial notices have appeared: here, here, and here.
The details about this disgraceful attack on the academy and tenure are here. Professor Yoo holds morally reprehensible views and his legal work on the so-called "torture memos" was obviously shoddy. Neither consideration constitutes grounds for terminating the employment of a tenured law professor. Tenure, and academic freedom, would mean nothing if every professor with views deemed morally reprehensible or every professor who produced a shoddy piece of work--while inside or outside the academy--could be fired. I find it almost unbelievable that a group calling itself "American Freedom Campaign" does not understand this. (Have they already forgotten the case of Professor Churchill?) I had previously thought well of the work of the American Freedom Campaign, but this latest stunt is a disgrace and I am removing myself from its e-mail lists. Readers might e-mail them to protest this blatant attack on tenure and academic freedom.
UPDATE: Berkeley Dean Edley has issued a solid statement in defense of tenure and academic freedom. Marty Lederman, who has been a persistent and incisive legal critic of Yoo's work and the Administration's policies in the fake "war on terror," writes in reply to my comments above:
You write that "Tenure, and academic freedom,
would mean nothing if every professor with views deemed morally
reprehensible or every professor who produced a shoddy piece of
work--while inside or outside the academy--could be fired." That's
right, of course. But no one thinks a professor should be fired for
having views deemed morally reprehensible or for producing a shoddy piece of work. The claim here is that the morally reprehensible views, and
the shoddy work, in this case were put to use in official state conduct
that facilitated and immunized horrific crimes. And that makes the
question at least a bit more complicated, no?
No. First, we have certainly seen cases in which people think tenured faculty should be fired for having morally reprehensible views. Indeed, when I challenged the American Freedom Campaign about their stance on this matter, I got the following reply:
[T]his has nothing to do with
John Yoo espousing unpopular or controversial views; this is about John Yoo
twisting the law in order to encourage the use of torture by the Bush
administration. As an organization founded to restore the Constitution
and respect for the rule of law, we do not believe that a person with such a
fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law should be mentoring law
If Professor Yoo's arguments to "encourage the use of torture" and his "fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law" are the reasons he should be terminated, then he is to be terminated precisely for his "views", views which he has expressed in law reviews, as well as to Bush. Are we really to believe--fifty years after the McCarthyist witch hunts!--that academics should be punished because their bad ideas are then used by bad people to do bad things? Dean Edley's remarks on this score are pertinent:
As critical as I am of his analyses, no argument about what he did or
didn't facilitate, or about his special obligations as an attorney,
makes his conduct morally equivalent to that of his nominal clients,
Secretary Rumsfeld, et al., or comparable to the conduct of
interrogators distant in time, rank and place. Yes, it does matter that
Yoo was an adviser, but President Bush and his national security
appointees were the deciders.
As longtime readers of the blog know, I certainly think that Bush and his gang of war criminals deserve to have their status confirmed by a court of law. If Professor Yoo is convicted of a crime, then this would be a different case. But it is not even clear (for the reasons noted by Dean Edley) that he is guilty of any crime, and he has, quite plainly, not been convicted of any. Anyone calling for him to be fired is calling for him to be punished for his ideas, and nothing else. Attempts to claim it is more "complicated" are just attempts to rehabilitate the idea that having bad ideas, even bad ideas others act on, is a crime. (I am sure that is not Lederman's intent, but I am rather more confident that this is the endpoint of this dialectical trajectory.) That is not the law in the United States (except in rare circumstances involving a kind of immediacy and danger that have no bearing here), nor should it be for reasons that are familiar to anyone who has ever read John Stuart Mill.
Cian Dorr (metaphysics, philosophy of language), Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Jessica Moss (ancient philosophy), Assistant Professor of Philosophy, both at the University of Pittsburgh, have turned down the offers from Rutgers and accepted appointments at Oxford University, he with the title Senior Faculty Lecturer and she as Fellow of Balliol College.
Maudemarie Clark, the leading senior scholar in the field of Nietzsche studies, who is presently Carleton Professor of Philosophy at Colgate University, has accepted the senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside. With five distinguished tenured faculty working in and around Kant and post-Kantian Continental philosophy (besides Clark, they are Pierre Keller, Andrews Reath, Georgia Warnke, and Mark Wrathall), Riverside probably now ranks with Chicago as one of the top two choices for students interested in Continental philosophy in the U.S. The addition of Clark, on top of hires of Agnieszka Jaworska and John Perry, will probably also push UC Riverside into the overall top 25 in the U.S., if not higher. (This is on the assumption that they successfully retain one senior member of the Department being pursued by Southern California.)
Quassim Cassam (metaphysics, epistemology, Kant, philosophy of mind), who not long ago took up the Knightbridge Professorship at Cambridge, has now accepted a Professorship at the University of Warwick, effective January 1, 2009.
Warwick has been on an aggressive hiring spree over the last several years, adding, among others, Bill Brewer from Oxford, A.D. Smith from Sussex, and Andrew Williams from Reading. With continued excellence in Continental philosophy (Stephen Houlgate, Peter Poellner, and others--and now supplemented by Smith, who works on Husserl in addition to philosophy of mind), the new addition of Cassam on top of these other strong appointments will surely push Warwick into the top ranks of PhD programs in the UK.
The Cambridge Department, meanwhile, is facing some difficulties, with Simon Blackburn and Raymond Geuss approaching the mandatory retirement age in the next few years (and Blackburn also spending part of his time back at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and now Cassam departing after such a short tenure.
Ajume Wingo (social & political philosophy, African philosophy, aesthetics), currently at the University of Massachussetts at Boston, has accepted a tenured offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, to begin this fall.
A philosophy grad student at McGill points me to a web site with information about the situation for McGill TAs and the issues that prompted the strike. Since Canada has actual labor laws that protect the rights of workers to effective collective bargaining and actions, one may hope there will be a timely and fair resolution to the dispute.
Agnieszka Jaworska (ethics), currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University, has accepted a tenured offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside.
The distinguished philosopher John Perry--one of the leading contributors to philosophy of language and mind over the past thirty-five years--will retire from Stanford University effective September 1, 2008 (he turns 65 this year), and take up a half-time position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at Riverside, where he will teach two graduate seminars each year. That's a major coup for Riverside, since Perry has also been, throughout his career, an important mentor for young philosophers.
Perry will also be "called back" at Stanford, and so will continue teaching half-time there, although he will be officially emeritus.
Michael Otsuka (UCL) writes about bizarre new rules at UCL and how they would have applied if Professor Rawls had taught at London:
John Rawls managed to write at least one book that deserves to be placed alongside Hobbes's Leviathan, Locke's Second Treatise, and Rousseau's Social Contract. He also devoted himself to the careful supervision of the doctoral work of a stunning proportion of the next generation's best moral and political philosophers.
Under the new professorial banding criteria that the Provost at University College London has just approved, Rawls would, however, have been consigned to the lowest (full) professorial rank and therefore would not have advanced more than £10,000 beyond the (full) professorial minimum. This is because he did not put the writing of A Theory of Justice or Political Liberalism, or the supervision of his doctoral students, on hold in order to find the time to meet at least two of the following three criteria:
(i) ‘Substantial engagement with national or international partners [e.g., Government Departments, NGOs, or the Media] in the public dissemination of information to the benefit of the community, or the population at large or to the commercial sector’;
(ii) ‘Active, ongoing leadership of review (or development of) the curriculum or teaching/assessment methodologies or the management of teaching within’ his university;
(iii) ‘A successful and effective contribution to the achievement of [his university’s] strategic goals beyond the area of research and teaching (for example in widening participation, in implementing the International Strategy, furthering equality and diversity or [his university’s] Capital campaign internally to [his university] or through negotiating complex partnerships, representing [his university] on matters of key importance overseas or in the local community or through fundraising)’.
At Harvard, by contrast, Rawls was promoted to the highest academic rank -- that of University Professor (of which there were only eight such professorships at the time of his
promotion in 1979).
In fact, the vast majority of the world’s best philosophers would be placed in the lowest professorial band at University College London unless they devoted significantly less time to their research and teaching (as opposed to the review or management of teaching) and more time to management and popularizing for which they have no special aptitude.
At a meeting, the Provost justified these criteria as a means of ensuring that the ‘selfish researcher’ is not able to rise up the professorial ranks. I guess Rawls’s problem was that he was just too selfish. All he ever did was write great philosophy and form the next generation.
Whatever one's view of Rawls (there are, as we have noted, dissenters), it seems utterly mad to substitute PR showmanship for academic excellence as a criterion for promotion, at least at a serious university. What do readers, in the UK or elsewhere, make of this development? Is this kind of foolishness spreading to other schools in the UK?
William Demopoulos (logic, philosophy of mathematics, history of analytic philosophy) at the University of Western Ontario is the lone philosophy professor to win one of the prestigious Killam Research Fellowships in Canada this year. The Canadian Council of Arts news release is here. (A legal philosopher on the McGill law faculty also won: Stephen A. Smith, best-known for important work in philosophy of contract law.) Professor Demopoulos informs me that he will "be based at Western
during my tenure as a fellow, but will have only limited involvement
with the graduate program during this time and possibly for some time
thereafter." (He will be teaching a graduate seminar on topics related to the Fellowship in the fall, however.)
I am a philosophy student at [a university in Germany] and will start with my PhD thesis soon. Because I am contemplating heavily whether I should write it in English or not, I have the following question for the philosophical community - and I guess/hope that it will be of great interest for many of the Leiter Reports' readers outside the English-speaking world:
"Imagine your philosophy department - in the English-speaking world - has a free postdoctoral position and it is up to you to decide who will get the job. Do you take into account a candidate who has published in, say, German, French or Spanish? Do you hold in esteem a paper in the, e.g., "Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung" at all? Has a candidate who has written (and published) his PhD thesis in a foreign language any real chance to get the job? Thanks a lot for your comments!"
My guess is that a lot depends on the area of philosophy in which the student is writing. While historians of philosophy are often actively engaged with scholarship in languages other than English, this seems to me, at least anecdotally, to be much more rare among those working in various contemporary fields, from philosophy of language to ethics to epistemology. In consequence, a German student working in, say, philosophy of mind would probably encounter a very basic obstacle to being taken seriously in Anglophone departments, namely, the inability of most philosophers to read the work. What do others think? Usual rules on comments apply.
I have only just realized that Typepad automatically changed the formatting, limiting the number of posts per page, and the number of comments per page, with the result that these annoying little "next" lines appear at the bottom that you have to click on to continue. I've now adjusting the settings so that the maximum number of comments and posts appear on a single page, but the maximum isn't that high: the limit is 50. Obviously that is a headache for the tenure-track hiring thread, where there will likely be more than 100 comments soon. I will inquire with Typepad, since this latest "innovation" is clearly not a helpful one for our purposes. Anyway, my apologies to readers who are finding this a nuisance.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM NOVEMBER 12, 2007: Since decision time is coming for those prospective grad students fortunate to have multiple offers, I thought I'd move this to the front. (Students ought to scroll through the "Philosophy Updates" index as well to see what moves that might be relevant have transpired in the interim.) I would urge students *not* to obsess about small differences in the overall ranking of a department; that one department came out at 6 and another at 10 (or one at 20 and another at 26) is far less important than how well the program meets your needs, as well as all the 'intangible' but important factors, like faculty-student relations, quality of life given the financial aid available, the atmosphere for women in the department, and so on. I'll post more about those issues in the next day or two.
The summary of faculty changes since the fall 2006 survey has led various students to inquire about how these changes would affect the overall rankings. I'll just comment on the US, since I think I have a better sense of that scene. The first thing to say is that, in almost all cases, far more important than any change in "overall rank" is the way in which senior moves will affect the attractiveness of programs in various specialty areas--so with the senior moves and the tenurings, especially, take note of the areas those faculty work in. (Attend to the junior hirings, too, but as a PhD student, you will want to have a tenured faculty member as a supervisor of your thesis.)
Turning to the overall results, I would expect a new survey, reflecting last year's changes, to have NYU still on top (perhaps by a wider margin), then Rutgers, and then a gap before the Princeton/Pittsburgh/Michigan grouping (with Michigan probably now at the lower end of that cluster). That would be followed by a cluster of Stanford, Harvard, MIT, UCLA, North Carolina, and Columbia. The next cluster (programs ranked 12-15) would be Arizona, Berkeley, Notre Dame, and (a new arrival) Yale--and Yale could well be on the cusp of the next group. The "top 20" would be rounded out (in some order) by Brown, Texas, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, Cornell, Chicago, Southern California, and, maybe, CUNY. Outside the top 20, the biggest upward movement has surely been by Colorado (which ought to be solidly back in the top 30, I should think) and Northwestern (which ought to be solidly back in the top 50, perhaps higher), while UC Davis is at risk of dropping out of the top 40.
An undergraduate philosophy student in Canada writes:
I am wondering, if you have some time to answer, whether you can suggest ways undergraduate students can get involved in philosophy outside of their classroom. Since graduate programs have become so competitive, there is a lot of fear among my peers that we will not be admitted into our schools of choice, particularly since the school we are doing our BAs in is not very well regarded, and is by no means at the top.
I have approached professors, inquiring whether I may help them out, but if they do offer such an opportunity it never involves doing actual philosophy. How can students co-author papers in top journals; that is, how should we approach our professors so that they will give us such a chance? What should philosophy students do during the summers, when we are not taking classes? Aside from ensuring that we achieve top grades, what should we be doing to make ourselves attractive to prospective graduate schools? Also, how much do publications in undergraduate philosophy journals count?
Two quick thoughts: first, it is extraordinarily rare for faculty to co-author with undergraduates, so undergraduates should not waste time pursuing that possibility; second, publications in undergraduate philosophy journals are worthless as a credential. If it's a good piece of philosphical writing, great! That it appeared in an undergraduate philosophy journal counts for nought it seems to me, all that matters is the quality of the writing.
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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)