MOVING TO FRONT FROM DECEMBER 28, 2012
Since antiquity, philosophy has been centrally concerned with what we usually call metaphysics and epistemology (what exists, and what can we know about what exists?), and the theory of value (how should we live and what should we value?). Because our predecessors answered these questions often more profoundly and more perspiculously than us, the history of philosophy is central to our discipline (though probably not as central as it should be). Because in the wake of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, the sciences, including mathematics, emerged as powerful guides to the metaphysics and epistemology, reflection on those disciplines has also become central to philosophy. Unsurprisingly, then, the very best departments are excellent in all these areas of our discipline. NYU emerged about a dozen years ago as the best department in the Anglophone world because it brought together not only many of the leading figures in metaphysics and epistemology, broadly construed, as well as the philosophy of the sciences and mathematics, but because it also invested heavily in value theory and--in a way some other leading departments have not--in the history of philosophy, including leading scholars of modern philosophy (Don Garrett), Kant and post-Kantian philosophy (Beatrice Longuenesse), and later 19th- and 20th-century Continental philosophy (John Richardson [a long-time member of the department], Tamsin Shaw).
There is a myth afoot, especially in cyberspace, that strength in the Continental traditions in philosophy does not help a school's ranking in the PGR. But as far as I can tell from years of doing these surveys, the opposite is the case. That is, hold constant strength in the other areas of philosophy, those who come out on top have excellent scholar(s) of the Continental traditions on the faculty. NYU's dominance over Rutgers is almost entirely traceable to that fact, and such examples could be easily multiplied (e.g., Yale vs. North Carolina; Stanford vs. UCLA and Southern California; Columbia vs. Arizona and CUNY; Chicago vs. Wisconsin and Duke; UC Riverside vs. Virginia and UC Santa Barbara). Given the financial pressures on philosophy departments these days, and the tremendous undergraduate interest in the post-Kantian traditions in European philosophy, I expect one of the "growth" areas in philosophy hiring over the next decade to be in scholars of the Continental traditions.