C. Kenneth Waters, a leading figure in philosophy of biology at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis-St. Paul, has accepted a Canada Research Chair in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary (effective July 2014), a department which already boasts two philosophers of biology, Marc Ereschefsky and Megan Delehanty.
This is likely to move Calgary into the top half-dozen or so programs for philosophy of biology when we next do PGR surveys.
What are the criteria for co-authorship in philosophy? What level of contribution to a philosophy paper merits being named co-author,and what level of contribution do you assume named authors on philosophical papers to have made?
Lee Braver (19th- and 20th-century Continental philosophy, metaphysics, Wittgenstein), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hiram College, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of South Florida. South Florida has had a strong commitment to history of philosophy, including the post-Kantian Continental traditions.
Another one for our on-going catalogue of wicked book reviews; from the conclusion: "This book should not have been published because it adds nothing to the literature. It is difficult to imagine a Kant specialist recommending its publication."
Here, with quotes from the head of Edwin Mellen Press, who seems to be in denial at what a catastrophe this has become. I imagine hundreds of academic librarians throughout the Anglophone world have already checked to see what, if anything, they are buying from Edwin Mellen Press and are rethinking their plans as this unfolds.
Mitchell Green (philosophy of language and mind), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where he will begin this fall. U Conn has been doing a lot of hiring lately, and apparently has other senior offers outstanding.
Or at least his intellectul biographer. Comte was a hugely influential "public intellectual" (as we would say now) through much of the 19th-century and into the early 20th-century. (This Google N-Gram of books in English will give you a sense of how large he loomed on the intellectual landscape.)
This will be significant for PhD students interested in the Continental traditions in philosophy: Iain Thomson, a leading Heidegger scholar at the University of New Mexico, has a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of South Florida. Students considering either program will want to keep an eye on what happens.
UPDATED: Thomson has accepted a retention offer from New Mexico, and declined the South Florida offer.
My institution is considering changing our faculty handbook to make available to faculty coming up for tenure the letters of evaluation submitted by external reviewers. My sense is that at most better institutions, these letters are kept anonymous in order to ensure the candor (and therefore the helpfulness) of the reviewer's letter. Am I correct in assuming that this is, in fact, the case? And: would you be less likely to participate in a tenure review if you knew that the institution for which you were providing the review did not guarantee anonymity?
It is certainly my impression that tenure letters are treated as confidential, and I imagine an explicit policy of not treating the as confidential would affect the willingness of referees to participate. What do readers think?
Professor Dworkin, who was on the faculty at NYU Law School and Emeritus at both Oxford and University College London, was a prolific contributor to political and legal philosophy. I will post links to memorial notices as they appear.
UPDATE: There's a short AP obituary here, which is actually pretty good on the substance of his views. (Thanks to Les Green for the pointer.)
ANOTHER: The Guardian obituary is a bit hyperbolic, and contains some factual errors (e.g., Dworkin's daughter was a PhD candidate in philosophy at Cornell, not a philosophy professor there). But it also gives a fuller portrait than the short AP obituary.
AND ANOTHER: For more on the substance of Dworkin's jurisprudential views, and questions that have been raised about them, see my review essay of one of his recent books and a book of essays about his work.
SPIRITED PHILOSOPHICAL POLEMICS: Dworkin had many lively debates (with Richard Posner, G.A. Cohen, H.L.A. Hart, and others), but this famous one is on-line: Blackburn vs. Dworkin on the objectivity of ethics.
AS A LECTURER: Dworkin was famed for his skill as an extemporaneous speaker, and YouTube offers many fine examples. Here is but one example, a brief talk on equality at the Carnegie Council. But there are many others.
WIKIPEDIA DISASTER: Someone just called my attention to Dworkin's entry, which is pretty poor, even by Wikipedia standards for philosophy. Its description of his views ranges from partly accurate to inaccurate, and it is woefully incomplete in terms of the range of his work. Maybe some ambitious person can fix it up!
ANOTHER MEMORIAL NOTICE from the Oxford law faculty. The quote from John Gardner, the current Professor of Jurisprudence, is a classic of implicature!
Some of us are hearty and confident and think we are almost there [in explaining life]. Others think there is still a revolution in our future if we are to make sense of intelligence, or of life, as a genuinely natural phenomenon.
What kind of disagreement is this? To my mind it is foolish to cast it as a standoff between those who embrace science and admit its stunning achievements and those who reject the project of natural science itself. It is not a conflict between those who know and those who are confused.
Certainly how such a description looks may depend on which side of the standoff one is on. But Michael Weisberg (Penn) and I continue to be puzzled by Noe's position, both in his original quasi-defense of Nagel and this new piece. Michael gave me permission to post his response:
All parties agree that we don't know how life got started, but most scientists, contra Noe, see this as a problem of historical reconstruction. The event in question was almost 4 billion years ago, and since the historical record is so limited, we have to construct plausible hypotheses about what happened. There are plausible mechanisms for each major step in the origin of life (including inorganic molecules to organic molecules, achiral to chiral molecules, chiral molecules to self-replicating systems, cellular encapsulation, RNA to DNA, etc.) The real problem is not having a plausible account, it is knowing which plausible account is correct since more than one is consistent with the data. We might never be in a better epistemic situation, but I don't understand why we would need dramatic theoretical innovation as opposed to more data.
It is also strange that Noe thinks we are very far from making life in a test tube. We can already construct novel DNA-like systems from scratch. Synthetic DNA has been inserted into cells. We seem to be close to making the first artificial cells (all the parts have been made, but functional integration is still an obstacle). If we put all these pieces together, will we not have life in a test tube?
In sum, this does seem to be in part a "conflict between those who know and those who are confused," at least about some important aspects of the science.
I don't know this guy or whether there is anything to his predictions, or he's just another pseudo-expert. But I imagine some readers are well-informed, so please share your knowledge. Does this guy have a sound analytical framework? What do you make of his prognosis? Signed comments will be strongly preferred.
It includes an explanation from the librarian's lawyer of Canadian libel law, which explains why Mellen did not bother to sue Kansas State University, the libarian's employer at the time of the original blog posting at issue. Canadian libel law is a bit closer to the insane British model than I had realized, for example, in putting the onus on the defendant to establish the truth of the facts asserted and the reasonableness of his opinions.
ANOTHER: CHE also has a story, which points out that in October 2012, Mellen Press called on its authors to defend the publisher's reputation at various on-line fora. As opposed to suing critics, that seems like a quite sensible and constructive response! I'm still mystified, though, how the Press could think suing a librarian, and thus bringing the wrath of all the world's academic librarians down on you, was a smart strategy. I also think that a sensible public relations person would advise the Press to withdraw the suit and do a mea culpa, at the same time defending the quality of its catalogue against the criticisms. (There is apparently a separate libel suit by the individual who founded Mellen Press, Herbert Richardson, against the same librarian for a different set of comments about Mr. Ricahrdson's prior professional career. If, in fact, the statements in question are false, that separate suit might have merit.)
AND YET ANOTHER: This story has some bearing on Mr. Richardson's personal suit agains the librarian, and sugests the allegations there are also, alas, without merit.
A well-known philosopher at a ranked PhD program writes:
I thought you might like to draw attention on your blog to a scam that Springer seems to have going. One of my graduate students submitted a (quite good) paper to the Journal of Ethics, which I had thought was a pretty good journal. He got a rejection six days later, with a suggestion that he send his paper to SpringerPlus, which is an open access journal, which charges a processing fee of 850 euros. The paper was clearly not refereed in that short a time. He has since received three emails from SpringerPlus encouraging him to submit his article to them. Graduate students are a particularly vulnerable target for this sort of thing. They need publications, and they are short of money. Charging over a thousand dollars to publish an article in such a venue seems egregious to me. The journal itself doesn't even appear to be a philosophy journal. I've pasted below the latest email he received, with his name removed:
Subject: Invitation to transfer your manuscript to SpringerPlus
Dear Mr. ,
Recently you submitted your manuscript to a Springer journal. At that time the Editor-in-chief indicated that your manuscript unfortunately could not be published in his journal, but they considered it very well suited for publication in the new Open Access journal SpringerPlus: www.springerplus.com.
Benefits of transferring your manuscript to SpringerPlus may include:
• Easier publication and dissemination of your work, saving you the task of finding and submitting to an alternative publisher;
• Faster publication, we will transfer your details, manuscript and reviewer comments to SpringerPlus for you;
• Reaching the right audience for your work.
Please note: SpringerPlus articles are free to read, an Open Access article processing fee (APC) of €850 is charged to cover all the costs associated with the publication of your article. If you would like to know more about this APC and the waivers we offer, please visit our website at: https://www.springerplus.com/about/apcfaq. Your institution may be a registered member of SpringerOpen or Biomed Central. This should entitle you to a partial or full discount of this APC. For more information, please check https://www.springerplus.com/about/apcfaq/automaticwaivers or ask the information services at your institution.
All you need to do to initiate the transfer of your manuscript is to follow these easy steps:
1. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org in the next 4 weeks and please list the following; All author names and emails addresses,original manuscript number, original journal name and manuscript title – we will then transfer your manuscript for you. Please do not resubmit your manuscript yourself!
2. You will receive a message when the transfer is complete. At this stage you will have an opportunity to make any necessary changes to the manuscripts before confirming your re-submission to SpringerPlus.
We would be delighted to consider your article for publication in SpringerPlus. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
With kind regards,
Editorial Assistant | Springer London
I'm opening this for discussion for signed comments only: full name, valid e-mail address. Maybe there is an explanation for what's going on here, but it does, as my correspondent suggested, look suspicious.
You can see the actual allegations in the "notice of action" here. It is, as Professor Green noted, "threadbare." If they filed such an action in the United States, they would be lucky to escape only with sanctions imposed upon them by the court. I do not know enough about Canadian libel law to comment on how they will fare there, but I am told that Canada, while not as speech-protective as the U.S., is not as libel-friendly as Britain, and that the action will fail there as well. (Many libel judgments in Britain are not enforceable in the U.S., because of the free speech implications.) Because Mellen's aim is clearly to discourage critical comment about the press, I think it is imperative that other blogs call attention to this sordid affair. Whatever the merits of their scholarly catalogue, the press does itself no favors by responding to fair critical comment this way. Indeed, they would help heal their image if they promptly withdrew the lawsuit, and simply issued a press release explaining why they think the criticisms unfair.
So Princeton University Press tells me they have ordered a new printing of 1,000 more copies of Why Tolerate Religion?, in addition to the 2,000 initial run from October--so while I won't be retiring on the royalties, I must say it's quite a remarkable experience to be on the verge of selling 3,000 hardcover copies of an academic book! Thanks to those of you out there who have bought a copy!
In addition to the event in DC in April, I'll be doing something similar for the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles in early October; more details on that to come.