A PhD graduate student in political theory writes:
I'm an avid reader of your Leiter Reports blog, and I thought I'd contact you with a question closely related to some posts from several years back (though you may have added some updates more recently). You've posted several times in response to questions from prospective graduate students deciding between political philosophy and political theory; I'd be curious, by contrast, to hear your or other philosophers' opinions about switching from political theory to philosophy, or alternatively, completing an additional philosophy Ph.D. after the political science doctorate. To describe my situation briefly: I was accepted to both philosophy and political science programs coming out of my undergrad and opted to go into political theory largely because of my predominant interests in continental thought and the chance to work with [name omitted]. However, now that I'm well into a dissertation, I find my interests have moved much further away from the more institutional considerations of political theorists into deeper questions in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. My question is whether you're familiar with any situations similar to mine and whether, in your view, it is generally feasible for people to make the move to philosophy from other programs. I imagine, for example, that it may not be uncommon for people to come into philosophy after completing degree programs in cognitive or computer science, but in other situations would the prior doctoral work seem like an upside or a downside, an advantageous background or a lack of commitment?
I would think such a move is feasible, and that for the right philosophy department, the background in political theory (at a leading poli sci department) would be an asset. But what do readers think?