David Owens (epistemology, metaphysics, ethics), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Reading, to start this fall. That's a major pick-up for Reading, which already has one of the top U.K. departments.
And it's the Philosophy Department. What could be the explanation for this bizarre decision? Thoughts from readers. Signed comments strongly preferred.
UPDATE: This blog has a series of posts with information about protests, administrators involved in this fiasco, and other pertinent links. The pseudo-business blather from the Dean noted here might suggest why he would be unsympathetic to a department with a strong commitment to Marxist and critical theory.
Hannes Leitgeb, professor of philosophy and mathematics at the University of Bristol, has turned down the other senior offers reported last fall and accepted a Chair and an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship at the Ludwig Maximilians University at Munich, where he will also direct a new Center for Mathematical Philosophy.
Perhaps, in light of the economic crisis, the bleak job market, the hiring freezes across the country, and the backlog of recent PhD's waiting for tenure-track jobs to open up (and so available for TA-ships and lecturing), Departments across the profession should agree to self-impose a one-year freeze in admissions to PhD programs?
Thoughts from readers? Signed comments strongly preferred.
The full list of 2010 winners is here. The philosophers who won support for their work are Philip Pettit (Princeton) for a projet on "A Civi Republican Theory of Democracy" and R. Jay Wallace (Berkeley) for a project on "The Moral Nexus."
The story in today's NY Times about Islamic fanatics terrorizing professors at the University of the Punjab, Pakistan's leading institution of higher education, led me to look up the University's Department of Philosophy. The faculty profiles are interesting--where there isn't a short introductory profile or "message", click on the CV--many of the CVs contain narratives but the faculty member's work and interests. Here, by way of example, is the "message" from the Chair of the Department:
Unlike the positivistic-scientific methodological principles of knowledge and development which display murderous cultural arrogance and cognitive disrespect for people, a number of renowned scholars and writers have begun to understand what traditional wisdom has always known, namely, that holistic posture must be founded on reverence for the universe and for living beings within it. This means in effect that a metaphysical world-view and teleological resolutions of life are not to be taken as a challenge to the technology and progress necessary to cope with the continuation of the developmental impulse.
I have to say this sounds oddly like Bruce Wilshire!
UPDATE: My friend Nadeem Hussain, a philosopher at Stanford who is part-Pakistani and has spent considerable time there, writes:
Just thought I'd point out that the Pakistani intelligentsia, intellectual elite, ruling class etc. do not have much respect for Punjab University in general. There once was a time, but that was long ago.
LUMS is really the only university with a humanities program that is at all respected. Their philosophy page is here.
None of this is to endorse the terrorizing of professors anywhere of course!!
Jessica Moss (Oxford) writes with an excellent suggestion (sorry I didn't think of this sooner):
I'm writing to suggest that you might use your blog to let philosophers stranded by the volcano find or offer places to stay - I'm stuck in the US and have an empty apartment in Oxford that I'd be happy to give to someone stuck in the UK until things clear up. (E-mail Jessica if you're interested.)
If you've had your travel plans disrupted by the volcanic ash that has disrupted so much air travel to and from Europe, please feel free to post your information in the comment section.
An internationally distinguished scholar of ancient Greek philosophy, Professor Brunschwig taught for many years at the University of Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne), where he was an emeritus professor. I will post links to memorial notices as they appear.
UPDATE: A short obituary in Le Monde. (Thanks to David Wood for the pointer.)
The complete listings are here. Five philosophers were elected in the Philosophy section: J. Michael Dunn (Indiana, emeritus); Don Garrett (NYU); Grigori Mints (Stanford); Christopher Peacocke (Columbia); and Scott Soames (Southern California). In addition, Seana Shiffrin (UCLA) was elected in the Law section.
UPDATE: Turns out I missed one: philosopher John Jenkins, who is President of the University of Notre Dame, was also elected in the Educational Administration section.
Professor Sobel, a longtime member of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, passed away last month. He was well-known for his work at the intersection of decision theory and value theory. There are more details here.
The full list of winners in the latest competition for doctoral fellowship support from the National Science Foundation is here; those studying philosophy of science who won support are: Julia Bursten (University of Pittsburgh); Samuel Fletcher (University of California, Irvine); and Charles Sebens (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).
All six of us junior members of the department felt the same irritation at [Richard] McKeon's oppressive influence.We wanted to bring the department into the new era of analytic philosophy, and our older colleagues, thoroughly under McKeon's sway, clung to his antiquated notions of an Aristotelian organization of the academic disciplines, with all the dead weight that went with it.Our situation was made even more frustrating by the fact that our students revered McKeon as, in their eyes, the most important figure in American philosophy.We protested that McKeon was a nobody, an old-timer whom no one in the real world of philosophy paid any attention to.They just thought we were rebellious young men, and though they loved us for it, they didn't believe us for a minute.For two years, we labored in our classes and personal conversations to convince them that when you got more than twenty miles away from Hyde Park [something that certain senior professors had in fact never yet done], McKeon was a nonentity.We were beginning to make some headway when disaster struck.The American Philosophical Association conferred upon McKeon its highest honor -- an invitation to deliver something called The Paul Carus Lectures."There," our students said, "you see?"We gave up, defeated.
As the years passed, and I began to give talks at colleges around the country, I found that my Chicago experience was by no means unique.There are a great number of philosophical enclaves in America in which some local hero figures prominently, even though he [almost always he, by the way] never quite makes it big on the national stage.Each of these philosophers, if I may cannibalize a famous line from Mel Brooks' wonderful remake, To Be Or Not To Be, is world famous in Poland.
I remember my astonishment upon arriving at UT Austin in the mid-1990s, and finding so many students working with Ed Allaire, whose charismatic presence often seduced them into dissertation work under his supervision. Some of these students were very gifted, but they invariably faced difficulty on the job market because they didn't realize his local stature bore no relationship to his professional reputation outside Austin.
James Woodward (philosophy of science), a longtime member of the philosophy faculty at the California Institute of Technology, who may be best-known for his work on causation, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. That's the second major senior hire in the general area by Pitt in recent months.
He's obviously not wrong about the rhetoric and the socio-economic parallels. As we noted awhile back: "Germany was in the throes of economic castrophe when Hitler assumed absolute power, a fact that must go some distance to explaining the ease of the transition. (See this vivid account by a Welsh journalist just six months after Hitler took power.) There is obviously potential for such an economic catastrophe in the U.S.--especially given the gross mismanagement of economic affairs, even by capitalist standards, the last few years--and that may pose the greatest threat to democratic stability." In this regard, it is probably also important that Obama has done almost nothing to put checks on the massive expansion of executive power put in place during the Bush Administration. Ergo, if Obama loses in 2012....
*MOVING TO THE FRONT FOR THE LAST TIME THIS HIRING SEASON*
*Placement directors may now also post their results for the year*
It's that time of year again...I am opening comments on this thread for people to post news about junior, tenure-track hires in philosophy departments, i.e., hires made during this year of new assistant professors who will be starting in fall 2010 (or thereafter). (For schools outside the US, please list new Lecturers who are on presumptively permanent appointments--not temporary lecturers.) As in prior years, you may also post information about post-doc appointments, since there are an increasing number of those in philosophy, many quite attractive. No anonymous posts will be allowed. (Please e-mail me about any errors.)
The format of the postings should be as follows: candidate's name (name of PhD-granting school) hired by [name of school]. AOS: ________; any prior positions (e.g., a postdoc, a lectureship, a visiting asst prof position). In the case of a post-doc, it should say not 'hired by' but 'post-doc at' [name of school].
Here's an example (fictional):
John Smith (Chicago) hired by Kenyon College. AOS: 19th-Century Philosophy. Previously Visiting Assistant Professor at Marquette University.
Remember: tenure-track jobs and postdocs only. Please submit information only once; postings should appear within 24 hours.
A new website compiles all the key materials on the continuing assault on academic freedom in the wake of a conference on a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that came under attack from the Zionist right. This nonsense happens all the time in the U.S., where adult discussion of Israel is obviously impermissible; the website documents that this infantilism has moved north and is poisoning academic life in Canada as well. A reader might start with the account here (and follow the links to some of the remarkable e-mails) documenting the interference by administrators and other non-academics in the conference.
Joshua Gert (ethics), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University, has accepted a tenured offer from the Department of Philosophy at College of William & Mary, where he will start this fall.
I'll be talking about this subject tomorrow (Sunday) with Jack Weinstein (North Dakota) on his "Why Radio" show, that we've noted before. You can listen on-line at the site, and you can also submit questions via e-mail. I'm grateful to Professor Weinstein for the opportunity to talk about this subject, and I imagine we'll touch on some of the issues that we've recently been discussing here, such as philosophy's relationship to the humanities, the state of the job market, and so on. (Note that next month, on May 9, my colleague Martha Nussbaum will be talking about themes from her latest book on the show. Again, you can listen in via the Internet and submit questions via e-mail.)
UPDATE: Alas, there were big technical problems--the phone lines went down at the radio station, and the tech person who came to my office had the wrong wires for a suitable Internet connection (not her fault, she got the wrong instructions). In any case, the show will be on-line later in the evening on 4/11; I finally made it on about 35 minutes in, so Professor Weinstein and I at least got to chat a bit.
ANOTHER: For those who are interested, the recorded episode is here.
Carrie Jenkins (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, logic, and math), Reader in Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, has accepted appointment as Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, to begin in fall 2011.
Here. Chapter 4 includes details of Rogers Albritton's job talk at Harvard in the 1950s, and recollections of Charles Parsons, Dudley Shapere, Roderick Firth, and others. Unlike Quine's dreary autobiography, Wolff's memoirs are very well-written, evocative, and entertaining. Any readers who grew up in New York in the 1930s and 1940s (or whose parents did) will also enjoy Chapter 1.
UPDATE: My friend Scott Shapiro reports to me Sidney Morgenbesser's quip about Quine's autography The Time of My Life: "This is my life at time t1, this is my life at time t2, ...."
The jobs hole – and the decades-long stagnation in real wages -- are the source of the anger that echoes across our political landscape. People are incensed by the government’s inability to halt massive job loss and declining living standards, on the one hand, and the comparative ease with which government led by both parties has made the world safe again for JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, on the other hand.
Rescuing the big banks hasn’t done much for Main Street. The very same financial institutions that got bailed out have not only cut way back on lending to business, they have never stopped foreclosing on American families’ homes.
The fact is that for a generation we have built our economy on a lie—that we can have a low-wage, high-consumption society and paper over the contradiction with cheap credit funded by our foreign trading partners and financial sector profits made by taking a cut of the flow of cheap credit.
So now a lot of Americans are angry. And we should be angry. And just as we have seen throughout history, there are plenty of purveyors of hate and division looking to profit from our hurt and our anger.
I am a student of history, and now is the time to remember our history as a nation. Remember that when President Franklin Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” other voices were on the radio, voices saying that what we really needed to fear was each other – voices preaching anti-Semitism and Nazi-style racial hatred.
Remember that when President John F. Kennedy stepped off the plane in Dallas on November 22, 1963, radio voices were calling for violence against the President of the United States. And the violence came—and took John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers and so many others.
But in the United States, we chose to turn away from the voices of hatred at those critical moments in the twentieth century. In much of Europe, racial hatred and political violence prevailed in response to the mass unemployment of the Great Depression. And in the end, we had to rescue those countries from fascism-- from the horrible consequences of the failure of their societies to speak to the pain and anger bred by mass unemployment.
Why did our democracy endure through the Great Depression? Because working people discovered it was possible to elect leaders who would fight for them and not for the financial barons who had brought on the catastrophe. Because our politics offered a real choice besides greed and hatred. Because our leaders inspired the confidence to reject hate and charted a path to higher ground through broadly shared prosperity.
This is a similar moment. Our politics have been dominated by greed and the forces of money for a generation. Now, amid the wreckage that came from that experiment, we hear the voices of hatred, of racism and homophobia.
At this moment of economic pain and anger, political intellectuals face a great choice—whether to be servants or critics of economic privilege. And I think this is an important point to make here at Harvard. The economic elites at JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and the other big Wall Street banks are happy to hire intellectual servants wherever they can find them. But the stronger the alliance between intellectuals and economic elites, the more the forces of hatred—of anti-intellectualism—will grow. If you want to fight the forces of hatred, you have to help empower the forces of righteous anger.
And at this moment, the labor movement is working to give voice to the justified anger of the American people. We need help. We need public intellectuals who will help design the policies that will replace the bubble economy with a real, sustainable economy that works for all of us....
Government that acted in the interests of the majority of Americans has produced our greatest achievements. The New Deal. The Great Society and the Civil Rights movement -- Social Security, Medicare, the minimum wage and the forty-hour work week, and the Voting Rights Act. This is what made the United States a beacon of hope in a confused and divided world. In the end, I believe the health care bill signed into law last month is an achievement on this order, one we can continue to improve upon to secure health care for all.
But too many thought leaders have become the servants of a different kind of politics—a politics that sees middle-class Americans as overpaid and underworked. That sees Social Security as a problem rather than the only piece of our retirement system that actually works. A mentality that feels sorry for homeless people, but fails to see the connections between downsizing, outsourcing, inequality and homelessness. A mentality that sees mass unemployment as something that will take care of itself, eventually.
We need to return to a different vision....
President Obama said in his inaugural address, “The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.” Now is the time to make good on these words – for Congress, for President Obama and for the American people.
These are big challenges. But it is long past time to take them on. If you are worried about the anger in our country, if you don’t want the forces of hatred to grow, be a part of the fight for economic justice and a new economic foundation for America. Be a critic of power and privilege, not its servant.
Be the source of the ideas that can rebuild our economy and restore confidence in government. As students, as teachers, as workers—all of us can play a role in this great effort. Whether here within the university, at think tanks, in the government, in the press, or even working with us in the labor movement, working people need the help of engaged policy intellectuals if we are together going to build an economy that works for all.
Great stories (here and here) courtesy of Robert Paul Wolff, then a recent Harvard PhD and junior faculty member there. And, unrelatedly, do see his comments on Obama's important change to U.S. nuclear policy, which is the best thing I've seen on the topic (the opening lines are priceless).
UPDATE: And also see these memories of Thompson Clarke, Stanley Cavell, and even David Souter. On Cavell and Rogers Albritton: "All of us looked forward with a slightly malicious anticipation to the moment when he and Rogers Albritton would first meet.They were equally brilliant, equally tortured and complicated, equally incapable of adopting or stating a philosophical position straight out, without doubling back on it, viewing it from an ironic distance, undercutting it, and then reaffirming it.But it was as though Rogers was Stanley turned inside out.The more Stanley expanded to fill all the available ego space, the more Rogers shrank into himself.It was a little as though Walt Whitman were to encounter Emily Dickinson."
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)