Tad Schmaltz (early modern philosophy) at Duke University has a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Students interested in this area weighing Michigan and Duke will want to keep an eye on what happens.
Michele Moody-Adams (moral and political philosophy) at Cornell University has accepted appointment as Dean of Columbia College at Columbia University. It's not clear from this announcement how much she will be involved with philosophy teaching in her new role at Columbia.
The petition is here. Its arguments were addressed in the earlier thread, but this has made no impact on these philosophers. I applaud them, though, for signing their their names to this, rather than "signing" anonymously (which is tantamount to not signing--the same person could "sign anonymously" 200 times). So far it has 39 actual signatures; I shall be interested to see how it fares over the coming weeks. (The original petition now has over 1200 signatures; I am surprised, frankly, that it does not have more, given how reasonable its position is: the APA should either enforce its non-discrimination policy, or abandon it. If this involved racial discrimination, no one [one hopes!] would hestitate in the least just because some religious traditions sanctioned such discrimination.)
Comments on the merits of the new petition are welcome. Signed comments only, and keep it substantive.
UPDATE: I realize this petition is highly offensive to many people, but I would really urge folks not to post 'fake' signatures. I am genuinely curious to see which philosophy professors are willing to sign their name to this. The enterprise ought to proceed without Cyber-vandalism.
ADDDENDUM: May I ask that the jackass who keeps adding my name to this petition stop this childish vandalism. No one believes I would sign it, so you are just wasting the time of the petition organizers, who have to then remove my name.
A number of readers have asked me about this (admittedly opinionated) account of the session, since the account mentions the fact that I was in attendance. I did stay for about 20-25 minutes of Plantinga's presentation, but it was sufficiently bad (in part because repetitive of arguments previously, and rather decisively, criticized), that I left and so did not see Dennett's reply. (What Mike Almeida [UT San Antonio] says in the comments about Dennett's reply strikes me as credible, given what I know about Dennett's views.) Plantinga's presentation, like all his writing, was certainly methodical and clear, but it seemed to go out of its way not to join obvious issues and rejoinders, and his invocation of Michael Behe's work was, in particular, quite shocking (and not redeemed by Plantinga's concession that he is not a scientist). I did not, however, take notes and didn't even get a copy of his handout, so I can't offer any detail; so take this impressionistic recall of the event for whatever it's worth (maybe not much). You can join a discussion of the event at the Prosblogion blog, linked above.
Daniel Jacobson (ethics, metaethics, aesthetics), Professor of Philosophy at Bowling Green State University, has turned down the senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at San Diego. That's a major retention coup for Bowling Green!
I write to correct some serious misinformation that Charles Hermes’s post of February 12, 2009 contained about Belmont University. I am Chair of Belmont University’s Department of Philosophy, I placed its most recent ad in JFP, and together with one of my colleagues, I interviewed 28 fine young scholars at the 2007 APA meeting in Baltimore. I have no idea what the sexual preference of any of them is. I’m quite sure that all those candidates, even though only one of them was hired, would readily testify that the interview was completely about philosophical scholarship and classroom excellence. Charles’s post implies that Belmont is grouped with schools such as Wheaton that require prospective faculty to sign a statement of faith, dogma, or creed. Belmont does not have any such requirement and never has. Moreover, by quoting the Wheaton statement containing a comment disapproving of homosexuality, and then associating Belmont and other schools with it, Charles does all of the Leiter Report readers a disservice. Belmont has no statement of this sort about homosexuality. Consideration of sexual preference is not a part of the process of hiring philosophers (or other faculty) at Belmont University. Based on my almost 25 years of service at Belmont as a faculty member, administrator, and chair of committees concerned with promotion, tenure, salary increases and the like, I’m quite sure that the university has never discharged a faculty member for his or her sexual preference, denied any promotion, tenure, or salary increase on such grounds, and even that this aspect of a faculty member’s life is never a target of interest for any university decision. Belmont is concerned with the advancing scholarship of its faculty, and the highest quality of undergraduate education of its students, not with anyone’s sexual preference. Belmont is in total compliance with the APA Nondiscrimination statement (as Charles quotes it), and I happily affirmed this when I placed the ad in JFP.
Meanwhile, in the comments, Professor Beckwith explains that opposition to discrimination against gay men and women can be "blamed" on the PGR and the fact that this blog reports news about faculty hires:
This, by the way, is what happens when a profession, once dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom, gets hijacked by those who treat its membership and its departments as so many stories on an academic Entertainment Tonight. The Philosophers' Gourmet could use a dash of hemlock, if you can find its mouth.
I'll assume that this isn't actually a proposal that I commit suicide or be murdered. But then what does it mean?
UPDATE: It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry when someone with Beckwith's track record of underhanded conduct (follow the links above) lectures others about character. He, of course, omits the links to the evidence in support of my claim about his notoriety and his sleaziness, and for obvious reasons. (And I won't even go into the other evidence of Beckwith's petty vindictiveness that's come to my attention over the years, ever since I first wrote about his creationism crusade.) If, as he claims, he's given up lying about science and trying to wreck science education in the public schools, I'm delighted. The fact remains that he was a Fellow of the Discovery [sic] Institute for a long time and for a good reason, as anyone familiar with his work knows. Indeed, I first heard of him when he appeared on Texas public radio doing exactly what I said: shilling for Intelligent Design during State Board of Education hearings about biology textbooks.
What a tiresome display.
A FINAL ADDENDUM (FEBRUARY 27): A couple of readers have now pointed out that in comments at the link, above, Steve Burton, with whom I attended grad school at Michigan twenty years ago, surfaces to vent his bile and resentment towards me, as he has done on more than one occasion in the blog era. (Burton is a regular contributor to Beckwith's "bizarro world" of a blog [to borrow Professor Norcross's appellation].) In order to bolster the credibility of his lies, he makes the remarkable claim to have been my "best friend" in grad school; since he knows my best friends in grad school, folks I am still friendly with now, I'm not sure whether this is just a rhetorical ploy or sad delusion on his part. (And what's next? Someone will surface who says, "I went to junior high school with Brian, and I'll tell you what he said then....") I liked Steve, and used to consider him a friend, though even in grad school, he was a nasty piece of work, but his acerbic wit was entertaining. But he was smart and interested in Nietzsche and fun to talk with. His politics were a bit peculiar even then, but I never dreamed that someone who has been an openly gay man his entire adult life would, twenty years later, be reduced to smearing his former friends on a blog apparently full of right-wing Christian bigots who loathe his sexuality. Steve says he's changed, and in one sense he has: he's nastier now than he was then. The whole spectacle is sad.
Several folks have notified me that the specialty ranking links in the prior PGR now go to the 2009 PGR results, instead of the results from the prior exercise. I've notified Blackwell, and hopefully this will be fixed in the next day or so. Thanks for the heads up--and since many people have spotted this one, I thought I'd flag it here as well.
...now on-line. Past experience suggests there will be various typos and other errors (e.g., broken links) discovered during the week; please e-mail me if you spot one. (Please include in your e-mail the URL of the page where the error occurs.) My thanks again to the members of the Advisory Board and the close to 300 philosophers who participated in the surveys.
UPDATE: Please note that in the specialty rankingsschools are ranked into groups based on their mean score rounded to the nearest .5 (that appears next to the "Group 2," "Group 3" etc.). The numbers next to the name of the schools in that group are the median and the mode, not the mean score. Perhaps it would be helpful to quote this material from the introduction to the specialty rankings to clarify their interpretation:
Next to each grouping, you will find the rounded mean for that group; next to the name of each program within that group you will find the median score for that faculty in parentheses, and then the mode score: where the mode and median are higher or lower than the mean, it is probably safe to assume that there was some notable divergence of opinion among evaluators. (Where there was more than one mode, only the average of the two is listed, to simplify the presentation.) Within a grouping, programs are listed alphabetically. Only programs with a rounded mean of “3” (meaning “Good”) or higher are so grouped. (In order to increase the pool of faculties a student should consider, any school with a mean of 2.5 or higher and either a median or mode of 3 was also rounded up to “3” and listed.)
The Advisory Board has added to the specialty rankings two categories of programs. Faculties ranked in 2004 or 2006, but not included in the 2008 survey, are marked with an #. Faculties not rated in 2004 or 2006, but deemed by the Board strong in an area, are marked with an *.
The purpose of the specialty rankings is to identify programs in particular fields that a student should investigate for himself or herself. Because of the relatively small number of raters in each specialization, students are urged not to assign much weight at all to small differences (e.g., being in Group 2 versus Group 3). More evaluators in the pool might well have resulted in changes of .5 in rounded mean in either direction; this is especially likely where the median score is either above or below the norm for the grouping. Also bear in mind that (1) programs with more faculty specializing in an area tended to be rated more highly than those with just one philosopher in the field; and (2) programs with specialists on the regular full-time faculty rather than “cognates” or part-time faculty tend to be rated more highly in the field.
With a new PGR imminent, I ought to return to a topic about which I get asked periodically. For example, several months ago, a graduate student in art history wrote:
I have been an interested reader of the Philosophical Gourmet Report for several years. As an undergraduate art history major applying to graduate school, I wished that such a report existed for art history. Now I am about to finish my PhD, and I still wish that such a report existed for art history!
Right now I’m mainly worried about my own career. But if, in a few years, I have a good tenured job and there is still no Art Historical Gourmet report, I will want to create one.
I wanted to ask if you would consider posting a list of “advice for those considering starting reports on other disciplines,” or perhaps you have already done so and I missed it. I’m sure that there is a lot of work involved and a lot of potential pitfalls.
In the meantime, thanks for your work on the PGR.
Over the years, I've certainly heard similar sentiments from many grad students or aspiring grad students in history, political science, and other fields. More recently, I've learned of efforts by a grad student and some supportive faculty in classics to set up such a report in that field. It is hardly surprising that such reports do not exist--for reasons I'll make clear, below--but perhaps with the success of the PGR, others will be inspired to undertake the task in other fields, where it would no doubt help students. The benefit for students are obvious and legion: those "out of the loop" of leading departments can find out what leading scholars, senior and junior, think about the best programs, and those attending undergrad at leading departments can get some perspective on the opinions offered by their faculty advisors. That such a report has an obvious value for students is, alas, no obstacle to its reception among academics. More on that in a moment.
My correspondent is obviously right to think about an Art History Gourmet Report as a post-tenure endeavor. Systematically evaluating your professional colleagues is not a ticket to career advancement! The work involved in the PGR in the form it has assumed over the last decade is, indeed, substantial: identifying evaluators, collecting information on their educational backgrounds and specialties, entering this into spreadsheets, creating the on-line survey, and then processing, transcribing and double-checking the results. Many of the pitfalls of the undertaking only became apparent over time. The PGR, as longtime readers will know, emerged as the force it is in academic philosophy through a serious of accidental accretions of influence (there is a decent account here, though you can see my cantekerous gripes about some inaccuracies in this account here). When I first started doing a simple version of it in 1989 and subsequent years, circulating it to a few friends, who circulated it to theirs, I never anticipated where it would be twenty years later. Entry on to the Internet in 1996 increased the PGR's influence, and made necessary more systematic methods of evaluation, which has been all too the good.
But the "pitfalls" for such an enterprise are, alas, many. Human beings are often vain, academics especially so, and people's self-image is, not surprisingly, usually out of sync (in part always, sometimes in whole) with the perception of others. Rankings therefore are guaranteed to make some people angry. (If you want to be universally loved, or are particularly sensitive to what people think of you, producing rankings is not the way to go!) Some academics are "control freaks" and are furious when their ability to indoctrinate their students with a particular vision of the field is contradicted by a very public resource, which represents the input of hundreds of equally or more distinguished philosophers. Many academics--maybe this is especially true of philosophers--seem to be in denial as to the fact that theirs is a profession, with hierarchies and a complicated sociology of institutional status and chains of influence, all of which it behooves students to be aware of. All faculty, of course, profess an interest in the well-being of students, but the human capacity for self-deception is quite substantial. The vain, the control freaks, and others will never cast their objections to an evaluation effort candidly, needless to say. I have yet to encounter a critic of the PGR who has subsequently done anything constructive to help prospective students. The best suggestions and constructive criticism will usually come from those who participate in the evaluation process, since they are the ones who see some value in collecting and aggregating expert assessments, and so have an interest in improving the procedures. I would attend to that advice especially carefully. But even those disengaged from the process sometimes raise interesting isssues (I'll discuss an example next week).
There is one genuine danger associated with any evaluation enterprise if that enterprise is as successful and influential as the PGR has been. People undoubtedly adjust their behavior in reponse to evaluation metrics, and it is important to make sure that the incentives created by such metrics encourage constructive adjustments. Producing both overall and specialty rankings ensures that there are many different benchmarks on which faculties can improve their standing. Including in the evaluator pool senior and junior scholars, and scholars from a diverse array of sub-specialties, ensures that no one vision of the field dominates. (Although in the current iteration of the PGR, coming out on Monday, specialists in Continental philosophy are probably slightly over-represented relative to their numbers in the profession, this will not, I am sure, cause even the slightest hesitation by certain marginalized cliques from misrepresenting the PGR, as they always do. Any field with a noisy minority faction will be impossible to satisfy in any serious evaluation effort.) How to deal with the self-reflexive character of a regular evaluation exercise is a topic on which I continue to welcome input and advice.
I have to confess that sometimes I'm not sure I would have undertaken the efforts in the beginning if I had realized how disgracefully alleged professionals and adults would have behaved over the years. Don't misunderstand: I am both glad and proud to have helped so many students who shared my own enthusiasm for philosophy, and I do appreciate the many hundreds of e-mails students have sent me over the years, and the tremendous support and encouragement from hundreds of professional philosophers as well. I am glad that leading PhD programs now provide unusually detailed information about job placement, something I forced them to do with the threat of embarrassment by calling attention to their secrecy (this, of course, led to much indignation including, memorably, by a leading Kantian moral philosopher: obviously it violates the categorical imperative to let prospective students know if PhD graduates from a school are getting jobs!). I am pleased to have broken the mindless focus on pedigree that predated the PGR, in which "Ivy League" or "Berkeley" or "Chicago" were arbiters of excellence, without any regard for the quality of the faculties at these institutions. But the costs--in terms of having to defend the enterprise again and again (rarely against meritorious criticism), and to suffer at times mindless abuse and defamation--have sometimes been quite tiresome. Being above average in pugnacity, needless to say, is also a useful attribute in this kind of undertaking, since the more successful it is, the more often it will be attacked.
I have not seen it myself or checked the numbers, but a job seeker writes:
The new jfp came out. Last year the february jfp had 73 openings. This year it has 23. But then there are the "web only" ads also posted, and on the same day as the "print" version of the jfp. Last year there were 90 openings in the web only section. This year, it's 34.
In sum: 106 fewer openings posted in this year's february jfp than last year's february jfp.
This is bad, but not unexpected. Corrections to these numbers can be posted in the comments.
...through the lens of discussions with University of Chicago faculty and students. (To see the picture, you may need to "x" out the box to the right of the screen, depending on your browser.) Much of the program is in English, with Dutch subtitles. Martha Nussbaum (at roughly 37 minutes and thereafter) and myself (25-30 minutes in roughly), plus several Chicago philosophy graduate students (throughout the show), as well as a number of my law school colleagues (Douglas Baird, Todd Henderson, Eric Posner, David Weisbach) and law students are among the discussants.
At the usual site. Various items are still being proofed, and we decided it is better to go live Monday, so that any remaining errors can be corrected quickly (Blackwell technical staff won't be available during the weekend to fix problems). Thanks to all for your patience.
Joshua Knobe, currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who is moving to a tenure-stream position in the Department of Philosophy and Cognitive Science Program at Yale University for the fall, has won this year's Stanton Prize given by the Society for Philosophy & Psychology which "is given to a scholar in Philosophy or Psychology who has begun making significant contributions to interdisciplinary research and has been active in the SPP."
Past winners of the Stanton include Kathleen Akins (Philosophy, Simon Fraser), Paul Bloom (Psychology, Yale), David Chalmers (Philosophy, ANU), John Doris (Philosophy, Wash U/St. Louis), Shaun Nichols (Philosophy, Arizona), and Jesse Prinz (Philosophy, CUNY).
UPDATE: There is a complete list of past winners here. (Thanks to Tamar Gendler for the link.)
The situation seems bad, but I've heard relatively little about how it is affecting particular University of California or California State University campuses and departments. First-hand reports, links, information?
MOVING TO FRONT FROM FEB. 13: In the first 60+ hours, the petition has garnered some 750 signatures, which is great, esp. since it went on-line just as the weekend was starting. I would hope the petition should garner a couple of thousand signatures from philosophers in the end, given how reasonable the demand it makes on the APA is.
Professor Hermes has created a petition here. I hope many readers will join me in signing. You may also want to review the discussion of the topic here.
Marilyn Adams (medieval philosophy, philosophy of religion) and Robert Adams (metaphysics, ethics, early modern philosophy, philosophy of religion), both leading figures in their fields at Oxford University (and previously at Yale, UCLA, and Michigan), have accepted senior offers from the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill starting this fall.
UPDATE: Well, I've now received lots of invitations to join other philosophers on Facebook as "friends," so that's at least part of the "what"! Thanks for the invites. I've also gotten invites from some people I don't know. Perhaps one of my new Facebook friends will write on my "wall" explaining the protocols of this to me.
Nathan Salmon (philosophy of language, metaphysics) will be a Visiting Professor teaching at the City University of New York Graduate Center each fall for the next three years.
UPDATE: CUNY was the source of my original information, but I have since heard from Professor Salmon who reports that he will be at CUNY for just seven weeks, doing a compressed seminar (one that meets twice per week); he will thus be at UC Santa Barbara from mid-October through the rest of the academic year. In the categorizations we have ordinarily used in the PGR, this would make him something like quarter-time at CUNY for the next three years.
Two years ago I filed a complaint with the APA regarding institutions that violate its anti-discrimination policy.The original complaint was posted on this website.
Many universities that advertise in Jobs for Philosophers require applicants to sign statements of ‘faith’ which discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.One of the offending universities cited in the original complaint to the APA was Wheaton College.
Wheaton College requires its applicants to sign a form with the following statement. “We believe that these Christian standards will show themselves in a distinctly Christian way of life, an approach to living we expect of ourselves and one another. This lifestyle involves practicing those attitudes and actions the Bible portrays as virtuous and avoiding those the Bible portrays as sinful…Scripture condemns the following:…homosexual behavior” A version of this form can be found here.
While this complaint addressed an advertisement in the 2006-2007 JFP, Wheaton College also advertised in the 2007-2008 JFP.Further, while some universities are listed as censored universities, Wheaton is not.Azusa Pacific University, Belmont University, Biola University, Calvin College, Malone College, and Pepperdine University all advertised in the 2007-2008 or 2008-2009 JFP.None of these programs are listed as censored universities.Nevertheless, all of these programs possess ‘ethics’ requirements that prohibit homosexual activity.This is especially troubling given that the APA claims to endorse the following anti-discrimination policy
Further, The American Philosophical Association rejects as unethical all forms of discrimination based on race, color, religion, political convictions, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or age, whether in graduate admissions, appointments, retention, promotion and tenure, manuscript evaluation, salary determination, or other professional activities in which APA members characteristically participate. At the same time, the APA recognizes the special commitments and roles of institutions with a religious affiliation; it is not inconsistent with the APA's position against discrimination to adopt religious affiliation as a criterion in graduate admissions or employment policies when this is directly related to the school's religious affiliation or purpose, so long as these policies are made known to members of the philosophical community and so long as the criteria for such religious affiliations do not discriminate against persons according to the other attributes listed in this statement. Advertisers in Jobs for Philosophers are expected to comply with this fundamental commitment of the APA, which is not to be taken to preclude explicitly stated affirmative action initiatives. The APA Board of Officers expects that all those who use the APA Placement Service will comply with the letter and spirit of all applicable regulations concerning non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.
Members of the APA should either convince the APA to enforce its policy or abandon it. Pretending to be an enlightened organization that cares about defending the rights of our colleagues is counterproductive if the APA refuses to act upon its fundamental commitments.
Comments are open; signed comments are far more likely to appear.
Over the last 12 months, a number of folks have tried to reach "Brian Leiter" via a LinkedIn site I'd created ages ago--unfortunately, I then forgot the password. But I've now re-established access to it, for those for whom that might be relevant. I apologize for not replying to those who had tried to contact me that way.
Daniel Jacobson (ethics, metaethics, aesthetics) at Bowling Green State University has a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at San Diego. Students thinking about UCSD or Bowling Green will want to keep an eye on what happens here. (Jacobson, by the way, is writing the volume on Mill in the Routledge Philosophers series, building on a series of important articles on Mill he has written over the past decade or so. I am sure this will be a volume of great interest to scholars and to students.)
Here. Arizona will also impose one-week 'furloughs' in the coming fiscal year, in addition to a host of other cut-backs. As the linked statement makes clear, students and the community will feel the effect of these cuts.
Readers have been asking for awhile that I run some more "hot topics" threads, like the earlier ones on ethics and epistemology. I apologize for not running these more frequently, and will plan on running more of these in 2009. So what are some of the hot topics in "metaphysics"? The specialty as a whole seems to be thriving (much to the distress of Quineans and retrograde positivists!). All the classic topics (time, persistence, identity et al.) seem to have received significant recent discussion, and the metaphysics of causation also seems to have returned to center stage in the last ten years. Post your comments, below, and the more detail the better. Also feel free to post links to on-line resources (papers, blog discussions, etc.). Post only once; comments may take awhile to appear.
Spinoza is at once an excellent introduction to Spinoza's philosophy and a major contribution to Spinoza scholarship. The book's central theme, the prominence and systematic importance of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) in Spinoza’s thought, contributes to both of these qualities. For undergraduate philosophy students it serves as a working interpretative thesis through which some of the most difficult claims of Spinoza's philosophy -- for example, that self-destruction is impossible, or that conceptual dependence just is causal dependence -- may be evaluated and understood. For Spinoza scholars, Della Rocca's claim that Spinoza is driven to a particular kind of argument by the demand for explanation and a concomitant rejection of brute facts offers an appealing, unifying interpretation of the Ethics and elements of Spinoza's political philosophy. Rigorous treatments of Spinoza's philosophy, either because they tend to tackle the difficult claims of the Ethics in isolation from one another or because they devote themselves to one subject while bracketing others, tend to de-emphasize an important test for the plausibility of an interpretation of one of Spinoza's positions: its consistency with other positions in the book and its usefulness as a tool in helping us to understand those positions. Della Rocca's emphasis on the PSR reverses this trend. On Della Rocca's account, Spinoza's insistence that absolutely everything is intelligible explains important elements of his metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, political theory and eschatology. Spinoza will challenge scholars who disagree with Della Rocca to develop equally clear and well-grounded alternative accounts of what is characteristic of Spinozism, a formidable task.
Spinoza emphasizes some aspects of Spinoza's thought and de-emphasizes others, as any introduction must. However, Della Rocca captures perhaps the central theme of Spinoza's philosophy, his rationalism, in a clear and powerful way. Spinoza offers highly original, often brilliant scholarship and will be an indispensable resource for undergraduates.
Obama's pick as head of the NLRB is a supporter of your right to organize unions. Grad students at the University of Michigan were unionized when I was there, and I can recall that our terms of employment and benefits were far better than our peers at many private institutions.
Which is obviously good, since, as one blogger recently noted, the Republican Party is "populated and led by miserable, repellent sociopaths who have managed, in eight miserable years, to wreck this country and effectively obliterate another." On the other hand, let's not get too cheery: the Democratic party is still far to the right of every social democratic party in the civilized world, and so in that very important respect, the reactionary turn in American political life that began with Reagan remains firmly with us. The real question is whether Obama will really reverse that trend: certainly the political demographics give him the opportunity, if he can really lead.
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)