UPDATE: Fritz Allhoff (Western Michigan) points to some additional context here, and notes that the full review is available here (at least right now, I'm not certain whether this posting doesn't violate the copyright).
John Symons (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Kansas, effective this fall.
Gideon Yaffe, Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Southern California has accepted a senior offer from Yale Law School, effective July 1. Professor Yaffe has been a leading contributor to philosophy of action, and, more recently, philosophy of criminal law. He has also written on early modern philosophy.
As a graduate student preparing for the academic job market, I've noticed that a significant number of my peers maintain personal webpages, where others can view their CV's, teaching portfolio documents, and perhaps even draft copies of their publications. I've also noticed that some people include family photos and other personal anecdotes, which strikes me as unnecessary, and perhaps a bad idea to boot. My questions about this, for your blog readers if possible, are:
-How helpful or important are personal websites to job market success?
-What sort of content should be on one's personal website?
-What sort of content should be avoided, aside from the obvious?
Building and maintaining a personal website is quite a bit of work, so it would be helpful for me, and I imagine other graduate students who are about to enter the market, to know how to approach the question of whether to have a personal website, and especially how much energy to devote to it.
Thoughts from readers welcome--both students/job seekers with experience, and faculty who have been involved in searches and perhaps had occasion to look at student homepages?
MOVING TO THE FRONT FROM MAY 18 GIVEN THE LIVELY AND INFORMATIVE DISCUSSION
This week I've gotten questions from three different graduate students (not here at Chicago) related to publications, so I thought I'd bundle them for discussion. Here they are:
(1) I am a doctoral student in a top-25 ranked program and it has been made extremely clear to us grads that publications are one of the strongest predictors of job market success. Recently, I have written several very short papers (around 1,000 words) that I am proud of. I think it would be a waste of space to flesh them out to a standard article length, but I have also been told there are several journals that will publish short "notes" in these cases. However, it's been hard for me to find a list of such journals in my area (besides, say, Analysis). I'm interested in journals that would publish notes in history, religion, and ethics, although I'm sure your readers would also be interested in publishing notes in other fields. Is there any chance you could create an open thread to solicit recommendations from the brain trust for journals that publish shorter papers?
(2) Recently I have received conflicting advice on best strategies for publishing papers as a PhD student if one plans to seek academic employment. On the one hand, I have been told that having one or two strong full-length publications in good journals is better than having the same plus one of two solid, but shorter and less exciting, reply pieces. On the other hand, I have also been told that additional reply pieces will only add value. I (and I expect others) would be interested to hear what your readers think about this issue in particular, and the broader issue of just what publishing strategies are optimal for graduate students (e.g. is it better to try to get multiple good, but not great, articles out there, or is it better to try for one standout piece?)
(3) I hope that you might publish my question anonymously on your blog. I am wondering how wise it is for graduate students to submit to new journals? I was particularly curious about Thought. The editorial board is impressive and a journal that competes with Analysis is long overdue, but I fear that submitting here will be at best a wasted paper and meaningless line on my CV, and at worst a wasted paper and a stain on my CV.
On (1), I'm not sure, but hopefully readers will have ideas. On (2), I have a few thoughts: first, don't spend time on publications that could be spent on the dissertation; second, publications generally help the vast majority of candidates for the vast majority of jobs; third, a reply piece in J.Phil., say, is, all else being equal, going to be worth more than a full-length article in a relatively weak journal; fourth, when things aren't equal, go with the real article, not the reply piece. On (3), one certainly gets more mileage out of publishing in established fora over new ones, but a journal that has a distinguished editorial board is likely to get off the ground quickly--Philosopher's Imprint, for example, in a decade has managed to crack roughly the "top ten" in the polls we've run here in the past. The distinguished editorial board helped bring in high-quality contributions, and those in turn have turned the journal into a desirable place to publish for both junior and senior scholars. PI, to be sure, had two advantages: being on-line, thus guaranteeing wide visibility for its publications, and also publishing across a wide range of sub-fields, including history. Thought enters a field already overloaded with journals publishing in what appear to be its main areas, though as I understand it much or all of the content will be free on-line initially.
Comments welcome--faculty must sign their name, students may post anonymous, but have to include a valid e-mail address (which will not appear).
Via Mark Lance, I learn that the APA has strengthened its stance against institutions that discriminate based on sexual orientation, and will now decline to run job ads from institutions that do not affirm compliace with the anti-discrimination policy. (The move to address discrimination based on sexual orientation began with an initiative by philosopher Charles Hermes posted on this blog in 2009.) Given that such discrimination is widely sanctioned by many religious denominations, and thus probably infects hiring at institutions affiliated with those denominations, this seems certain to exclude some non-trivial number of schools from advertising through JFP. Am I wrong? Comments from faculty at institutions likely to be affected would be welcome. As usual, signed comments will be very strongly preferred.
Dan Kaufman is a philosopher at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Daniel Kaufman is a philosopher at Missouri State University. Both have been kind enough to post comments on this blog on many occasions. The former signs his posts as dankaufman!, while the latter signs them as Dan Kaufman or Daniel Kaufman. Please take note!
Professor Clarke, a longtime member of the Berkeley faculty, died in February. There is a brief notice on the Berkeley departmental homepage. I will add links to longer notices if and when they appear.
I'm currently a sophomore student of philosophy at a European university, and I'm hoping to go to grad school in some other country once I'm done with my bachelor (3 years/180 ECTS degree). I'm worried because philosophy is a single subject degree here, which means that all of my courses will be in philosophy (including logic). I have come to understand that most universities expect their students and grad school applicants to have a broader undergraduate background. (Or a more modest background in philosophy; I'm not quite sure which one is to be emphasized.)
So what I would like to hear is what admission commitees in other places – especially in the US and the UK – think of applicants with this kind of narrow (or deep?) training. I myself will have ¼ of my courses in logic and the other ¾ in philosophy (and a thesis). But I wont have anything else. If this is seen as something bad, is there anything I could do to improve my chances?
My impression is that many American PhD programs generally appreciate the more intensive training undergraduates get in other countries, and that lack of a "broader" background rarely counts against them. But what do other readers think? Signed entries will be preferred.
IHE story here, which, unfortunately, implies (falsely) that most philosophy courses are taught via the Socratic method.
ADDENDUM: Manyul Im (Fairfield) writes: "I'd be interested in what people think about an online degree in philosophy, having taught a few online courses myself and still trying to sort out the issues in my own mind. I expect there's hearty disagreements among philosophers." I've opened this for comments from readers.
A recent study found that a 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate (say from 8 to 8.8 percent) would increase the suicide rate for males by 1.47 percent. This is not a small effect. Assuming a link of that scale, the increase in unemployment would lead to an additional 128 suicides per month in the United States. The picture for the long-term unemployed is especially disturbing. The duration of unemployment is the dominant force in the relationship between joblessness and the risk of suicide.
Joblessness is also associated with some serious illnesses, although the causal links are poorly understood. Studies have found strong links between unemployment and cancer, with unemployed men facing a 25 percent higher risk of dying of the disease. Similarly higher risks have been found for heart disease and psychiatric problems.
The physical and psychological consequences of unemployment are significant enough to affect family members. The economists Kerwin Charles and Melvin Stephens recently found an 18 percent increase in the probability of divorce following a husband’s job loss and 13 percent after a wife’s. Unemployment of parents also has a negative impact on achievement of their children. In the long run, children whose fathers lose a job when they are kids have reduced earnings as adults — about 9 percent lower annually than children whose fathers do not experience unemployment.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MAY 9--I HOPE MORE READERS MIGHT COMMENT ON THESE QUESTIONS
Philosopher Peter Vallentyne (Missouri) writes:
How important do hiring departments treat the following:
(1) solid evidence that the dissertation completed by December,
(2) solid evidence that the dissertation will be completed by May 15,
(3) solid evidence that the dissertation will be completed by Aug. 15?
I’ve tended to assume that Aug. 15 was good enough for most departments, but some have suggested that earlier completion is important for many departments. The most useful information would be from people reporting the hiring practices in their own departments, ideally identifying what the highest degree they offer in philosophy (B.A., MA, Ph.D.)
I suspect the answer may vary depending on how many years the student has been in graduate school: my impression is that a candidate who has been in grad school for eight or more years ought to be on track to defend by December of the year on the market at the latest. But comments are open, and must be signed. I am sure this information will be very useful for both job seekers and their advisors, so I encourage as many readers with hiring experience to report the local norms where they work.
Strauss was at best a mediocre scholar whose thought expressed a confused bipolarity between a very German and ahistorical Grecophilia on the one hand and a scattered, dogmatic, and unsophisticated apology for an American version of liberal universalism on the other. Amongst prominent European philosophers, Strauss was taken seriously only by Hans-Georg Gadamer, until Gadamer concluded that Strauss was a crank, and by Alexandre Kojève, whose work reads today as if it were a parody of trendy French Marxism. In Britain, neither Strauss nor the Straussians have ever been taken seriously.
Strauss’s argument about esotericism is both historically and philosophically incoherent and useless in any methodological sense. It calls to mind something that Umberto Eco called cogito interruptus:
"cogito interruptus is typical of those who see the world inhabited by symbols or symptoms. Like someone who, for example, points to the little box of matches, stares hard into your eyes, and says, ‘You see, there are seven…,’ then gives you a meaningful look, waiting for you to perceive the meaning concealed in that unmistakable sign."
Finally, regarding the phenomenon of Straussianism, the cult took hold here for the same reasons that cults generally succeed in the U.S.: ignorance, inexperience, and a desire to have a simple answer to complex problems.
Increasingly, manuscriptcentral invites submitters to suggest referees for one's paper. I cannot help thinking this is, overall, a bad thing. Pros for it would be that it is often difficult to find a referee, and journals need all the help they can get. (Of course, journals wouldn't be bound by the submitter's suggestion.) However, surely the handling editor is going to be an expert in the field, and should, independently, be well-positioned to know who would be appropriate to approach for refereeing the paper. Cons are fairly obvious: It does seem a corruption of blind review. I can suggest someone I've discussed the paper with and know to be sympathetic to the paper. Even more insidiously, I could set up a deal with my suggested referee: You review my paper favourably (if the journal approaches you), and in return name me as a suggested referee for your upcoming submission and (if the journal approaches me) I'll review your paper favourably. Thoughts?
What do readers think? Is this increasingly common? Is it problematic or not? Signed comments will be preferred.
My colleague Judge Posner (and a former guest-blogger here) has a striking item on the topic du jour, which is of some significance I think. I don't quite agree with his framework of analysis, but I think the significance of his way of looking at this, and his influence on the non-religious right, can not be overlooked, and bodes well for the future.
UPDATE: Also a good sign. On the other hand, anything that would hasten the demise of the modern Republican Party should ordinarily be welcomed.
...but I've been worse than usual lately at responding to e-mail correspondence, due to a number of pressing personal and professional matters. I usually try to respond to e-mail inquiries from faculty and students I do not know, but I have not been able to do so lately.
This may be the most important fact about the future of higher education in the United States. If the federal government were to stop guaranteeing student loans or significantly raise the interest rates, the effects on higher education in the U.S. would be dramatic, and probably far more severe than the effects of the crisis of capitalism since 2008.
The Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham has made two new appointments: Maja Spener (philosophy of mind and psychology, epistemology), currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp and previously Faculty Lecturer and Junior Research Fellow at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, will join Birmingham as Lecturer; and Scott Sturgeon (epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind), currently Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University, will take a Professorial position. The Administration at Birmingham has committed to an expansion of the Department of Philosophy, so further appointments at various levels are likely in the near future. In the wake of the double loss of two Professors (Beebee to Manchester, and Miller to Otago), things are now looking very promising at Birmingham.
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)