Anna Christina Ribeiro (Texas Tech) argues that it is. (Thanks to Miguel Dos Santos for the pointer.) Lots of areas of philosophy are under-represented in the leading departments, of course, in the sense that many departments have no specialists. Examples woudl include philosophy of law, mathematical logic, medieval philosophy, philosophy of religion, and 19th-century European philsophy. The latter neglect strikes me as particularly appalling: this is a century that includes Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx, and Nietzsche, all major figures by almost anyone's accounting. Of the top ten departments (for 2011), Rutgers, MIT, and North Carolina have no one specializing in any of these figures; only NYU, Stanford, and perhaps Pittsburgh have specialists in at least two of these major 19th-century figures. Is that not as serious an omission? What do readers think? How do we evaluate the areas good philosophy departments must cover? Signed comments will be strongly preferred: full name and valid e-mail address.
The full list is here; philosophers recognized are Katherin Koslicki (Alberta) with a new Tier 1 Chair in "Epistemology and Metaphysics" and Margaret Cameron (Victoria) with renewal of her Tier 2 Chair in the "Aristotelian Tradition."
I haven't done one of these in several years--this is an aggregation of reputational surveys done by U.S. News on graduate programs, which tend to give decent, if imperfect, information (based on my conversations with scholars in various fields). The fields included here are from the Social Sciences & Humanities (Economics, English, History, Political Science, Psychology & Sociology, plus Philosophy from the 2011 PGR), the Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Math, Physics, Statistics), Law, and Medicine. Universities received 4 points for each program in the top five; 3 points for each additional program in the top ten; 2 points for each additional program in the top 15; 1 point for each additional program in the top 25; and .5 points for each additional programa in the top 35. Note that the following schools have neither a medical nor law school: Princeton, MIT, Cal Tech. The following schools lack either a law school or a medical school: Berkeley, UCSD, Brown, UT Austin, Johns Hopkins, Illinois/Urbana.
After each school name is the total number of points, the number of fields in which the school had a "top 25" program (maximum is 16), the number of fields in which the school had a top 35 program (if different), and the number of "top five" programs.
1. Stanford University (63 total, top 25/16 fields, 15 top five programs)
2. Harvard University (59 total, top 25/16 fields, 13 top five programs)
3. University of California, Berkeley (56 total, top 25/15 fields, 12 top five programs)
4. Princeton University (45 total, top 25/13 fields, 8 top five programs)
5. Yale University (43.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 4 top five programs)
6. Columbia University (43 total, top 25/16 fields, 3 top five programs)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (43 total, top 25/16 fields, 4 top five programs)
8. University of Chicago (40.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 5 top five programs)
9. Massachussetts Institute of Technology (37.5 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/11, 7 top five programs)
10. University of California, Los Angeles (34.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 1 top five program)
11. Cornell University (31 total, top 25/16 fields, 0 top five programs)
11. University of Pennsylvania (31 total, top 25/13 fields, top 35/15, 2 top five programs)
13. University of Wisconsin, Madison (29.5 total, top 25/15 fields, top 35/16, 1 top five program)
14. Duke University (25.5 total, top 25/13 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
15. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (23.5 total, top 25/11 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
16. California Institute of Technology (23 total, top 25/7 fields, 4 top five programs)
16. University of Texas, Austin (23 total, top 25/12 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
18. Johns Hopkins University (22 total, top 25/9 fields, top 35/13, 3 top five programs)
19. Northwestern University (21.5 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/15, 0 top five programs)
20. University of Washington, Seattle (20 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
21. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (19.5 total, top 25/8 fields, top 35/13, 1 top five program)
22. New York University (19 total, top 25/9 fields, top 35/11, 1 top five program)
22. University of California, San Diego (19 total, top 25/11 fields, top 35/13, 0 top five programs)
24. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (15 total, top 25/10 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
25. Washington University, St. Louis (14.5 total, top 25/6 fields, top 35/11, 1 top five program)
Brown University (12 total, top 25/8, top 35/12, 0 top five programs)
Ohio State University (11.5 total, top 25/6 fields, top 35/15, 0 top five programs)
University of Virginia (11 total, top 25/5 fields, top 35/11, 0 top five programs)
Other schools studied:
Pennsylvania State University (10 total, top 25/5 fields, top 35/11, 0 top five programs)
Carnegie-Mellon University (9.5 total, top 25/4 fields, top 35/5, 1 top five program)
University of California, Davis (9.5 total, top 25/5 fields, top 35/14, 0 top five programs)
Indiana University, Bloomington (9 total, top 25/6, top 35/10, 0 top five programs)
University of Maryland, College Park (8.5 total, top 25/5, top 35/8, 0 top five programs)
Rutgers University, New Brunswick (8 total, top 25/4, top 35/6, 1 top five program)
Addendum: We did look at some other schools--Southern California, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Emory, Purdue, Arizona, Colorado, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, CUNY, among others--but it was clear they would not come close to 8 points total, and so we did not finalize the scores.
This is well-said, by Scott Samuelson, who teaches philosophy at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa:
Thinking of the value of the humanities predominately in terms of earnings and employment is to miss the point. America should strive to be a society of free people deeply engaged in "the pursuit of happiness," not simply one of decently compensated and well-behaved employees.
A true liberal-arts education furnishes the mind with great art and ideas, empowers us to think for ourselves and appreciate the world in all its complexity and grandeur. Is there anyone who doesn't feel a pang of desire for a meaning that goes beyond work and politics, for a meaning that confronts the mysteries of life, love, suffering and death?
I once had a student, a factory worker, who read all of Schopenhauer just to find a few lines that I quoted in class. An ex-con wrote a searing essay for me about the injustice of mandatory minimum sentencing, arguing that it fails miserably to live up to either the retributive or utilitarian standards that he had studied in Introduction to Ethics. I watched a preschool music teacher light up at Plato's "Republic," a recovering alcoholic become obsessed by Stoicism, and a wayward vet fall in love with logic (he's now finishing law school at Berkeley). A Sudanese refugee asked me, trembling, if we could study arguments concerning religious freedom. Never more has John Locke—or, for that matter, the liberal arts—seemed so vital to me.
I'm glad that students who major in disciplines like philosophy may eventually make as much as or more than a business major. But that's far from the main reason I think we should invest in the humanities.
Vince Vitale teaches at the Center for Christian Apologetics at Oxford and is featured in this slightly ridiculous video. Is this what Christian Apologetics has become? Yikes!
(Thanks to Michael Lopresto for the pointer.)
UPDATE: A philosopher really at Oxford writes:
Your most recent blog post is a reminder quite how subtle “Oxford” is as a term. Vince Vitale, although described as “a philosopher teaching at Oxford University”, is not a member of the Oxford Philosophy Faculty and so far as I can ascertain is not employed by the University of Oxford. He is an employee of Wycliffe Hall, one of the “Permanent Private Halls” (PPHs) in Oxford, a collection of small, religious institutions in Oxford with a somewhat complicated relationship with the main University. The PPHs are licensed by the University to admit undergraduates and graduate students who can enter for Oxford degrees, but their staff are (by and large, and in the particular case of Dr. Vitale) not employed by the University and the University has no say in their appointment. (Dr. Vitale is affiliated to the Faculty of Theology, which is standard for academics in a given field appointed by a PPH or college, but (I believe) the Theology Faculty will have played no part in his appointment.) There is more information available about the PPHs in a recent Oxford University internal review at http://www.ox.ac.uk/gazette/2007-8/supps/1_vol138.pdf; see in particular pp.43-44 for discussion of Wycliffe Hall.
Similarly, the “Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics” is not part of Oxford University in any way, though it does have an affiliation with Wycliffe Hall (and though its website is a little coy on the matter).
None of this is intended to imply anything one way or another about Dr. Vitale – who I do not know - or his research (though I share your reservations about the video) but just to provide a bit of context.
While Prospect Magazinedoes its thing, I thought it might be interesting to ask readers of this blog to vote on the same question concerning only philosophers, namely which ones are "engaging most originally and profoundly with the central questions of the world today." You can vote here.
I've included all those Prospect included, and a bunch of others, no doubt omitting some sensible choices, but also including some that Prospect inexplicably omitted. I've included plenty whom I manifestly do not think are meritorious, but others may disagree!
UPDATE: Whoops, Charles Taylor a (now obvious) omission from my list!
AND MORE: Another reader suggests Thomas Pogge. And yet another points out that Nick Bostrom was on the Prospect list, but I apparently missed it.
Philosopher Barbara Montero at the City University of New York writes:
Some of my undergraduates are interested in engaging in online philosophy discussions and would like a recommendation as to where to go. As I am untraveled in the blogosphere, I was wondering if you might post a request for recommendations.
Comments are open for suggestions--please say a bit about the websites suggested.
Professor Bacon worked primarily in logic, philosophy of language and ontology, and taught for many years at the University of Sydney and, most recently, at the University of Toledo, where he was emeritus. There is a brief obituary here.
From PKP's press release (which does not appear to be on-lline yet):
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jonathan Schaffer and Jessica Wilson are the 2014 honorees of the Martin R. Lebowitz and Eve Lewellis Lebowitz Prizes for Philosophical Achievement and Contribution for their symposium titled “Grounding in Metaphysics.”
The Lebowitz Prizes offer significant, tangible recognition for excellence in philosophical thought. An honorarium of $30,000 will be awarded to each winner.
Both of the honorees are celebrated philosophers and published authors in the field. Schaffer, a professor at Rutgers University, defends a distinctive posit of grounding as needed to characterize metaphysical dependence, while Wilson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, argues that ordinary metaphysical relations are better suited for this work.
As part of the award, Schaffer and Wilson will present their work highlighting contrasting viewpoints on grounding in metaphysics. Their symposium will take place at the Eastern Division American Philosophical Association meeting December 27-30 in Philadelphia, PA. Awarded by the Phi Beta Kappa Society in conjunction with the American Philosophical Association, the Lebowitz Prizes are made possible by a generous bequest from Eve Lewellis Lebowitz, honoring her late husband, Martin R. Lebowitz.
I knew Ms Charlotte Coursier, formerly Ms Charlotte Marklew, since 2008 at the University of Edinburgh. In June 2011, on graduation, she emailed me, “you are still the person who saved my life and my degree!". I applied to Oxford in 2011, she in 2012. During her time in Oxford, concerns about her welfare were reported to the Faculty, but, as far I as know, were ignored. Following her suicide in June 2013 after her boyfriend ended their relationship, Oxford conducted an inquiry into her death which concluded in October 2013. At that time the University told my College that my involvement in the matter was a minor affair, and the Coroner's office had provided repeated assurances (until a week before the inquest) that my name would not be mentioned.
However, behind the scenes a group of graduate students, including some of the signatories of the Open Letter of 5 March 2014 [link added by BL], had been campaigning the University to have my contact with students suspended and me fired. My supervisions were reassigned, my seminars were postponed and then reassigned to my College, with the lead author of the Open Letter boasting about this on Facebook. My wife complained to a College Principal about the distress and intimidation she felt her family were being subjected to.
From late 2013, Oxford proceeded with a prosecution, involving failures of due process and proportionality, despite the support I received from my College and several members of the Faculty. The prosecution ignored my evidence, detailed email documentation, a police incident note concerning an assault against me, application records, and eleven witness statements, covering the period November 2008 up to the present. As of mid April 2014, I am terminated from Oxford. The reasons stated amount to this: that I told a student to stay away from me and then responded to her refusal to do so; that I pointed out to a witness at Oxford her harassment of me while it was happening; and that I complained to Oxford of false allegations being made against me.
For the time being, I do not intend to comment further on the case.
I will post statements from others who have information about or care to comment about this matter.
UPDATE: An Oxford philosopher writes:
I'm writing to you about the statement you've just posted by Jeff Ketland. I want really seriously to urge you to reconsider your decision to "post statements from others who have information about or care to comment on this matter." I'm concerned that this is a very bad idea. I'm someone who could post a response; so are various grad students, including the ones he accuses of smearing him here. If we don't respond, the implication may be that his side of the story is the whole truth. If we do, I just honestly can't see any good coming of it - just a horrible public mud-slinging session that will surely lead to further demoralizing the students involved.
I say this obviously partly based on my knowledge of the case, but I think I'd say the same a priori. I very much respect you using your blog to discuss questions of policy, due process, etc, in harassment cases but I am not at all convinced that it's a good forum for a battle over the facts of a case.
In the course of talking with each other about our experiences with journals, a few other junior faculty members and I have noticed the following happening to each of us a few times: after e-mailing the editor asking about the status of a submission, we then receive, within a very short period of time (e.g. 24 hours) a rejection based on no referee reports, or only one. In a number of these cases, the author knew that more referees had been asked (e.g. in response to a previous inquiry the editor indicated that they were waiting on a second referee). Question for journal editors (particularly top-4 journals, the source of all of these anecdotes): does it ever happen that a paper is rejected as a result of a status inquiry? Some of my friends are now refraining from asking about the status of a paper out of a concern that doing so may increase the chances of immediate rejection. Can journal editors speak to this? Is it advisable for authors to refrain from making such inquiries, if their goal is to maximize the chances of ultimate acceptance?
Readers? Signed comments preferred, especially from any journal editors who care to comment.
Berit Brogaard tells me she is also leaving, following on the heels of other contributors, including Eric Schliesser and Mohan Matthen. What started as a fairly interesting philosophy blog has pretty much devolved into endless scolding and finger-wagging, plus lame apologetics for crap philosophy. Alas.
Amy Ferrer, Executive Director, has an informative post here. They include one Dave Chalmers told me about awhile back, namely, that PhilJobs, which partners with the APA, will soon start collecting systematic hiring data, including demographics on those hired. I've given Dave permission to incorporate the material already here into the new database. Depending on reader interest, and how comprehensive the PhilJobs initiative is, I may or may not continue to run the annual tenure-track hiring thread.
MOVING TO FRONT: COMMENTS ARE NOW OPEN--SIGNED COMMENTS WILL BE PREFERRED
Some excellent advice from philosopher Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame), who kindly invited me to share it:
It is Prospective Visit season at PhD programs, and I know many prospective students are a bit unclear about how they ought to approach these visits. There are also, unfortunately, lots of rumors floating around about different departments that can have an undue influence on one's decisions. I thought it might be nice to open a thread (as there has been in years past) on particular pieces of advice for students going on these visits. Here are my five, for what they are worth:
(1) Be sure to talk to a broad sample of faculty, graduate students, and even spouses and partners of faculty and graduate students. Get a very broad sample of data. Don't be afraid to email faculty or graduate students to get answers to your questions.
(2) Ask them how they like being a member of the department and how they view social aspects of departmental life. But ALSO be sure to ask them somewhat specific and probing questions about department and the graduate training it provides.
For faculty some questions like this might be: How much time do they spend advising PhD students on a given week? What is the typical structure of dissertation advising with that faculty member? How do they typically get matched with advisees? What graduate courses have they recently taught and what are they planning to teach? What do they see as strengths and weaknesses of the graduate program? How do faculty spend their time when they are not working with graduate students? (What you should look for: faculty who are highly active in the field, but still able to meet regularly with students, provide advice on research topics, and---for dissertation students---provide useful feedback on written work.)
For graduate students the questions might be: How much time do they spend on coursework in a given week? (I think it should, in a good department, closely resemble the workload of a fulltime job). How far does their funding stretch in the city where the grad program is located? If they are at qualifying exam or dissertation phase: how did they pick their advisors/committee? How often do they meet with advisors/committee? What typically happens at a meeting?
(3) Ask about placement. And be a little bit near-biased. In the past five years, how many students have been placed in TT jobs or long-term postdocs? Where were those jobs? What were the AOSes of students placed in those jobs? Who was on their committee? How long did it take them to finish the PhD? What is the department's placement process like? What is their long-term strategy for making sure their PhDs are successful at finding employment? (You should be looking for a program that has a clear plan for getting students through the PhD and good recent track record of placement in the areas of philosophy you anticipate working in. )
(4) Look closely at current and past course offerings in the department. Will this program support and nurture the areas of philosophy that interest you? (Realizing that your interests might change quite a bit in the course of your PhD, and that can be a good thing!)
(5) Be kind, polite, and professional to everyone in the department, but especially the admin assistants, director of graduate studies and the graduate students working to coordinate your visit. People have put a lot of work into the admissions and recruitment process. And one way or another, all of these men and women are going to be your colleagues now that you are entering this field. Treat this visit like your first professional activity.
I'm on the road right now, so can't moderate comments, but I think all of this advice is very good and wanted to get it out there while it is still timely.
Berit Brogaard (philosophy of mind, psychology & language), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, has been offered a senior position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami. Students thinking about either program will want to keep an eye on what happens; hopefully, it will be resolved before April 15.
UPDATE: Professor Brogaard has accepted the offer from Miami, to start this August. Miami may also be making another senior offer before long. (The Department clearly continues to enjoy strong administrative support.)
Sigrún Svavarsdóttir (ethics, metaethics, moral psychology), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ohio State University has accepted appointment as Associate Professor of Philosophy (also with tenure) at Tufts University, starting this fall.
This is really quite remarkable ("it's OK, we always new he was a Catholic reactionary bigot"), and especially this:
Modernity is synonymous with subversion, since with its universalist ideologies (liberalism, democracy, communism) it destroys the communitarian and traditional bonds that unite the members of a given people and separates this same people from its territory and history. Inevitably, the critique of modernity ends up also concerning Jews. The black notebooks confirm this: present in many countries and attached to urban rather than rural life, Jews are the incarnation of "rootlessness", "distance from the soil" and thus subversion. And again, this attitude is far from surprising to the Heidegger scholar: the 2 October 1929 letter in which the philosopher emphasises the need to oppose "growing Judaisation within German spiritual life", reinforcing this by rooting it in authentically German forces, is already well-known. [bold added]
"Inevitably"? And then there's this:
The outcry over the black notebooks is thus unjustified, but it would be all the more unjustified to imagine a mythical, eternally irredeemable Germany, ignoring the historical context in which Heidegger's life and work were situated. His Judeophobia came at a moment when across the west as a whole, on both sides of the Atlantic, there was a widespread view that the true culprits for the October Revolution were Jews. Indeed, in 1920 car tycoon Henry Ford wrote that this event had a racial and not political origin, and, though making use of humanitarian and socialist language, it in fact expressed the Jewish race's aspiration for world domination. It is worth noting that it was Ford's picture that had pride of place in Hitler's study and not Heidegger's: the origins of nazism and the ideological motives inspiring it were not exclusively German.
Certainly anti-semitism was more widespread before Hitler than after, but the suggestion that Heidegger's view were simply the norm is false, as this apologist must surely know. Indeed, although his piece concludes with the defamatory association of Nietzsche with Heidegger and Schmitt, any actual reader of Nietzsche knows that his hatred of anti-semitism (and of German nationalism) was decidedly not part of the temper of his times. Great philosophers don't typically need the excuse that car manufacturers shared their petty prejudices.
(Thanks to Michael Swanson for the pointer to this piece.)
Is there more merit to this piece than it appears? I'll permit signed comments only: full name, valid e-mail address.
Douglas Lavin (ethics, history of ethics, philosophy of action), presently an untenured Associate Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, has accepted a permanent post as Lecturer in Philosophy at University College London, to begin this fall.
...for arguing that funding misinformation about climate change should give rise to charges of criminal negligence. That isn't the law at present, and there are a number of reasons why it probably shouldn't be the law, but Professor Torcello's essay raises some interesting points about the harms of misinformation campaigns and whether they are legally cognizable. (If the real target is those who knowingly fund misinformation for private gain, then "negligence" would be the wrong legal standard. The issues here, it seems to me, are closer to those regarding the regulation of "hate speech" and other speech that causes harm.)
Alas, climate change is one of those hot button issues for the far right, which quickly swung into action, starting with misrepresenting Professor Torcello as calling for climate scientists who dispute the consensus to be put in jail. That soon turned into a campaign to get the Rochester Institute of Technology to punish Professor Torcello for his constitutionally protected speech, and speech that falls well within his contractual right to academic freedom. The hysteria and misrepresentations made its way into all the usual far right venues, including Fox News. Professor Torcello made a brief statement in response to the craziness here. RIT made what is, to my mind, a tepid statement about the matter, but one that at least affirms his right to have views of which others disapprove.
I sent the following e-mail to President Destler, cc'ing Provost Haefner and Dean Winebrake; I encourage readers to send the same or similar messages (the e-mail addresses appear below). This kind of organized harassment of faculty by the far right happens too often, and universities should be encouraged to take a stronger stand against this malevolent behavior.
Young people on the job market spend a lot of time worrying about their own behavior, their own performance, their own competitiveness and so on. Having recently come off the job market myself, I feel that there are aspects of the behavior of search committees that also need to be addressed. I recently heard back from a search committee that interviewed me at the APA. This was the first I had heard from them since I walked out of the interview in December. From December until mid-March, I did not hear a word. A second search committee wrote to me in late January with an email that struck me as so close to dishonest that I wasn't sure how I was supposed to reply - a friend received the same email and felt the same way. This particular search committee wrote to me to tell me that, as it turned out, it was all going to be more difficult than they anticipated and that they would not have *any* further information for me until later in the year. What they neglected to mention in that email was that they had, in fact, scheduled campus interviews, but they had not decided to give me one. With websites such as this one - http://phylo.info/jobs - Facebook, and the increasingly international nature of the discipline, it is not hard to find information on who has scheduled interviews and who hasn't.
In my case, I had other possibilities in the pipeline which meant I could just watch this strange behavior and smile. Had I not had other things in the pipeline, however, I would surely have been climbing the walls. I had several friends who were also party to less than transparent emails, or complete silence, throughout this process as well. And those people were climbing the walls because, as is so often the case, their hopes for any kind of academic future were pinned on the tiny number of places that they made it to the interview stage at. I even had one friend who wrote to a department out of desperation for news on the scheduling of campus interviews only to receive a waffly reply about not yet having made any decisions. He found out later that day that not only had that search committee scheduled campus interviews, they had offered the job to someone else.
I understand that the hiring process is complex, and that departments might need to hold their cards close to their chests, as it were, but this process is difficult for *everyone* involved. I don't think it is alright to leave people hanging for months. Nor do I think it is alright to send out emails that, perhaps even subtly, misrepresent the stage of the process a search committee is at. With a timely email to the effect that 'whilst your application is still active, we regret to inform you that you have not been selected for a campus interview', everyone can get on with their lives.
This makes it vivid. Part of the problem, unnoted in the linked article, is the ease with which so many U.S. states, including California, grant "exemptions" to supposedly mandatory vaccination schemes based on "religious" or "philosophical" objections. (Having a "philosophical" objection requires checking a box, not giving an argument, in the California system.)
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)