A propos this item, philosopher Kimberly Brownlee (Warwick) writes:
I’m writing on behalf of the British Philosophical Association Exec. Committee about your post this week on journal submission data. At the last BPA Exec. meeting, the committee agreed that we’d like to gather this kind of data from journal editors, as it will be useful for early career researchers deciding where to send their work and for faculty applying for promotion.
We hope to collaborate with the APA to set up a webpage that will make this information publicly available. We’ll keep you informed as this initiative develops.
A philosopher in Europe writes:
Recently I have talked to a number of philosophers about the practice of giving honoraria to speakers for department talks. The practices differ from country to country, and department to department. It has struck me that opinions on best practices are correspondingly diverse, with some (especially junior people) quite strongly opposed to the practice. Reasons vary, but many of those who are opposed to the practice focus on what they argue are more deserving ways to direct the resources—more speakers, speakers from more diverse places, more funding for graduate interactions with the speakers, etc. Some have also mentioned that if honoraria are perceived to be the norm, departments will be under pressure to provide them as tokens of gratitude or respect even if neither the department nor the visitor herself supports the practice more generally. It occurs to me that this might make for an interesting topic for discussion on your blog, and that such a discussion might be of value to the profession.
The "more deserving ways to direct the resources" argument seems to me odd: surely there are more "deserving ways" to direct the travel costs of visiting speakers, indeed the salaries of most philosophers, and so on. (If we are tallying up "deserving" ways to spend resources, it seems to me extraordinary to think that "more speakers" would loom large.) If honoraria turn on a general theory of desert, and deserving causes, then most philosophers may be out of work.
The case for honoraria is fairly simple: a visiting speaker works, and the honorarium recognizes her work. The case against is probably equally simple: the work a visiting speaker does enriches her own research, she doesn't need to be paid for it as well.
What do readers think? What are the norms in your department/region of the world?
Two sobering charts. Assuming philosophy isn't an outlier among humanities fields (in either direction), this would suggest that a program placing about 65% of its graduates in tenure-track jobs is about average (recall the earlier chart).
(Thanks to John Doris for the pointer.)
UPDATE: An alert reader points out that the employed figure (roughly 65%) is not necessarily all tenure-stream employment, so the data is sobering indeed.
Philipp Blum, editor of dialectica, writes:
I think it would be very helpful if philosophy journals would make publicly available much more information on acceptance rates and submission statistics. At dialectica, we have been doing this for the last 14 years:
The main points are:
- The acceptance rate over the last ten years is 8.36% (2320 submissions, of which 194 were accepted).
- In 2013, we published 28 articles and a total of 611 pages (549 excluding commissioned book reviews). Of 298 articles submitted in 2013,
34 were accepted.
- Our turn-around time is reasonably quick (median of 3 months) and our backlog is small (currently accepted papers are published in 4/2014).
- Between 2007 and 2013, 28% of our submissions came from people working in the US, 20% from the UK, 6% from both Germany and Canada, 5% from Italy, 4% from Spain, and 3% from each of Australia, Spain and Switzerland. 12% of the submissions came from Asia (mostly Israel, China, Iran and Hong Kong) and only 1% from Africa.
- Currently, about 12% of our submissions are authored by women. This has been constant over the last 14 years and is surprising, given that about a third of PhDs and a quarter of jobs in philosophy are (held) by women. The acceptance rate of female submissions (16%) is higher than the one of male submissions (14%).
The only other two bits of information I know of are:
- AJP: around 600 submissions a year - cf.
- Mind: around 350 submissions a year, cf. http://mind.oxfordjournals.org/ Does anyone know about others? I have heard that the Philosophy Documentation Center has information on acceptance rates, but my institution is not subscribed to it. Does anyone know whether that information is in the public domain? If so, I'd be very interested.
An APA Code might sensibly counsel against some of the conduct alleged here.
(Thanks to Michael Swanson for the pointer.)
UPDATE: This story suggests it is the medical school.
ANOTHER: Robert Talisse, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Vanderbilt, confirms that this lawsuit does not involve his Department.
Filippo Contesi asked me to share the following message:
To interested academic philosophers in the UK:
In order to examine and address issues of participation faced by minority and underrepresented groups in academic philosophy (e.g. gender, race, native-language, sexual orientation, class, and disability minorities), a number of UK departments have recently started to build a UK network of chapters of MAP ( www.mapforthegap.com ).
With 24 active chapters to date, MAP (Minorities And Philosophy) is already a successful and widespread organization in the US and elsewhere. If you would like to have a MAP chapter at your own institution, this Call For Collaborators is for you. MAP chapters are generally run by graduate students (typically 3 or 4 per department), with some help from academic staff members; undergraduate participation is also encouraged.
At this stage we would be happy to hear especially from graduate students (groups or individuals) at UK Philosophy departments as well as from UK Philosophy academic staff who would like to coordinate graduate student interest in their institutions. Please contact Filippo Contesi ( email@example.com ).
Yena Lee (MAP Director) & Filippo Contesi (MAP UK Director)
MOVING TO FRONT FROM JULY 7: SEE UPDATE
Commentary this time from a philosophy graduate student at Colorado. I'm curious what readers make of this. I will permit anonymous comments, but I ask that you choose a stable handle (e.g., "PhD student in the Midwest" or "Untenured faculty, SLAC") and stick with it. Unlike many blogs, I will adhere to my usual policy of not permitting anonymity to serve as a cover for defamation, irrelevant personal abuse, and the like. Stick to the substance, pro or con, and feel free to be critical in either direction, subject to the constraints noted.
UPDATE: Mr. Case's essay has generated a lively discussion, and he indicates in the comments, below, that he will reply to some of the objections. Meanwhile, Sophia Huerter, another graduate student at Colorado, has posted her own extended response to her classmate's perspective on the situation at Colorado. I commend both Ms. Huerter and Mr. Case for their serious (and courageous) contributions to this debate, and I invite further (civilized) discussion in the comment section here. (Since these are both students, not faculty, "civilized" means be kind, and the more critical you want to be, the more likely it is I will require a name attached to the criticisms. Ms. Huerter and Mr. Case have attached theirs.)
ANOTHER: Mr. Case sends a long a link to his second essay, replying to some of the original criticisms. He also writes:
One...wrinkle was ironed out for the benefit of the popular audience. The article states that conscious, demographic-based discrimination in teacher-student relationships is “clearly wrong.” My own view is more nuanced. I’d rather say “It’s a wrong-making feature” or “it’s prima facie wrong” or something like that. But that kind of language sounds like nails on chalkboards to folks in the journalism business who want it to be quick and punchy.
My column doesn’t address Sofia Huerter’s concerns about affirmative action. I didn’t know she had posted one until after I’d sent this to the editors. It will take me a separate column to do justice to it, and I may write one in the near future.
Interesting e-mail from a senior philosopher who earned a PhD at a top 50 department:
One thing that bothers me about the analysis that CDJ [Carolyn Dicey Jennings] presents, and I agree with you that it doesn't make a lot of sense, is that unlike the PGR which is just about faculty quality as it guides placement, placement itself is about candidate quality. Sometimes well trained candidates are just bad interviews. Sometimes people decide they don't want to do philosophy after graduate school. Sometimes people get married and don't want to live in another region of the country. Some people don't want to risk a wandering life on the job market. Lots of things happen that are beyond the control of the program. And after doing an adjunct search this year, those are not unreasonable things to think as a candidate (from a marginal program at least). The pool of candidates for our shitty 4/4 low paying job in the middle of nowhere was amazing.
When I was a graduate student at [school name omitted], we hired a Ph.D. [from a top five department] and she told me once there that you aren't allowed to drop out of the program. She said that they will give you every opportunity to get your life together and to get the degree done. I'll never forget what she said: "Quitting and not completing the program reflects poorly on their judgment, and for that reason they want everyone to stay and finish."
CDJ is well meaning, but her analysis leaves a lot to be desired. People from great programs have great training and get jobs. People from less great programs have adequate training and often get jobs, but often they don't. And for good reasons. Programs at the bottom of the PGR have poor placement for lots of reasons (the lower you go, the more likely other things will push you out of the profession). But the kind of correlation CDJ is trying to force really isn't useful in any way. Ultimately it doesn't take into account candidate factors when trying to correlate with PGR quality rankings. And that's one thing that no one in this business wants to tell people. Sometimes it's the candidate and not the program.
These are interesting points, and, of course, given the small numbers, a couple of people who fall into some of these categories could make a significant difference. As longtime readers know, I have occasionally linked to other efforts to aggregate placement data that were more sensible than CDJ's, though in one case the underlying data turned out to be sufficiently unsound that I withdrew that link. I think the model I provided yesterday is a good one to follow for anyone who wants to pursue this. But I also think it is very important to emphasize that, as with mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future success, and prospective students should scrutinize with care not just the on-line placement data at each program, but also the results for individual faculty. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for doing this as part of the search process for a graduate program (assuming your goal is academic employment); even rankings of placement that aren't nonsensical are no substitute for doing this.
UPDATE: [The misrepresentations to which I had responded have been removed, so I am removing the original update.]
Philosopher Jonathan Cohen (UC San Diego) invited me to share a rather odd solicitation, which other Southern California philosophers may have received; Prof. Cohen's (apt) response follows the solicitation:
Dear Prof. Cohen,
My name is Dr. Darren Iammarino and I was formerly a lecturer at SDSU and currently I am working at Claremont School of Theology. I am writing to you today to present a unique win-win opportunity that will make you anywhere between 500 and 3,000 dollars per semester. My colleague Chad Tuthill and I, create educational audio podcasts (digital audio files available for download) that specifically discuss the Western and Eastern philosophical traditions in detail. Each podcast is between 45 minutes and one hour long, and they serve as a powerful tool to reinforce the learning week-by-week.
Student evaluations prove that the podcasts are not only well-liked, but also raise the overall GPA of each student. In addition, utilizing ed-tech materials helps to create job security and looks great on peer evaluations, as it will serve to separate you from other faculty members who are not on board with emerging technologies.
The proposition is this: we provide you with a full album of materia l covering all of the major philosophers/philosophical schools and *we will pay you 45 percent of the profit from your students*. In addition, we will give you a bank of test questions for all of the podcasts. The deal is you get 45 percent, we get 45 percent, and 10 percent goes to tech support for our website where the podcasts reside.
What this means is that you do not need to do anything other than assign the material on your syllabus and create an assignment like a quiz or online discussion question that requires the podcasts *on the first week of class*. If you structure it this way we have found that there is a 90-95 percent purchasing rate from the students. The podcasts only cost $24.99 for the whole 16 week album. You can use your current projected enrollments to calculate what that would come out to for your 45 percent. However, on average the pay is around $1,000 dollars per semester based on a class of 85 students, so with two sections it can really add up.
In the end, it truly is a win-win situation because it benefits the students to reinforce the material via a mixed media format, and it benefits you financially as well as pedagogically. We are more than happy to meet with you during your office hours/Skype or elsewhere to discuss the details, but truthfully, it is quite straightforward and a simple way to help boost the income of underpaid and under-appreciated faculty.
Thank you for your consideration. Please visit [link omitted] to hear sample clips of the podcasts.
Darren Iammarino, PhD (Philosophy of Religion)
Chad Tuthill (Audio Engineer/Production)
------- begin response from JC
So let me see if I've got this right. Your idea of a "win-win opportunity" is that I should use my position as a professor at my university to require that my students buy your product (which obviously is completely unrelated in intellectual terms to any course I teach) so you can profit, and in return I get a financial kickback?
I would call that not a win-win opportunity, but a cynical attempt to get me to exploit my position and my students so as to line your own pockets.
That you offer to share the profits with me makes things worse rather than better. While there can be situations in which professors appropriately assign materials that earn them (e.g., royalty) income, these situations are defensible only if (unlike the situation here) there is a plausible intellectual case for the particular materials chosen. And, if anything, the justificatory bar should be higher than usual in such cases. By offering a payoff to the instructor, you are positively inviting instructors to make choices for the wrong sorts of reasons (viz., non-intellectual ones), at the direct financial and intellectual expense of the very students placed in our care.
What you propose is avaricious, intellectually irresponsible, and a fundamental abuse of our role as instructors and scholars. No thanks.
I have unfortunately come to expect the level of cynicism and exploitation you exhibit from a commercial press, but am esp disappointed that a scholar/teacher would stoop to this level.
UPDATE: Prof. Peter Atterton, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at San Diego State University, e-mails to point out that Mr. Iammarino "used to teach in the Dept. of Religious Studies and also in Classics and Humanities at SDSU, not in the Dept. of Philosophy."
Philosopher Anthony Dardis (Hofstra) invited me to share his reactions to Professor Brewer's earlier piece; I'm opening this for discussion as well.
I'm uncomfortable with the contrast Brewer draws between "busyness" and "scholia", between thought constrained by lack and want and the need to survive, and thought "that does not take direction from anything alien to itself"; or the contrast between servile and liberal thought. I think that's actually the wrong idea, and it gives obvious ammunition to those on the other side.
Here's how I see it. There is a continuum, from the need to respond immediately to a threat, to a need to apply a skill, to the need to learn a skill, to the need to step back and think about what exactly one is doing, to the possibility of taking the time to get a clear view of what we are doing, and (in yet further stages, but for my purposes finally) the possibility of devoting much or most of one's intellectual energies to something like the pure consideration of the problems involved in getting a clear view: philosophy, mathematics, theoretical physics, basic research in any of the disciplines.
Some business school professors, and some business school students, perhaps dismiss the more abstract stages of this continuum. This is not unlike the scientists who think philosophy is a positive waste of time. It's not. If Alan Turing hadn't been interested in the question of what is computable, we might not have computers. If Hobbes and Locke hadn't been interested in justifying the scope and limits of legitimate government, we might not have our Constitution.
But a lot of business school profs, and a lot of businesses, don't take such a parochial view of the value of forms of intellectual labor. I would be surprised if UVA's business school faculty at the Darden school thought it was obvious that UVA should shift resources to on-line, etc., as fast as Dragas thought they should.
Putting the contrast in terms of activities that are merely instrumentally valuable because they allow you to survive or make money, and activities that are genuinely valuable in themselves, invites crude skepticism about the latter and comments about navel-gazing.
Similarly Brewer's positive recommendation: that the humanities, and our liberal arts institutions, encourage “a form of reflective self-cultivation that can and ought to be a continuous life activity”. There's a way this fits with what I said above: the humanities, and our universities, help people think about (as Douglas Adams put it) life, the universe and everything, in a way not forced by immediate contingencies. You could call that self-cultivation, since as you change your views about the big picture, your view of yourself, and hence you yourself, will change. But if we put it in terms of self-cultivation, again we're inviting the charge of a crude sort of elitism.
Take a hypothetical student. She gets to take the long view at college. This puts her in a position to be an effective innovator in some market today, say some sort of tech or media thing. Should we think of this as a kind of self-cultivation? She's cultivating her response to the world around her, and that is of course cultivating herself. But her focus isn't on herself; it's on the world around her. My hope as a philosopher would be to help her and encourage her to think at all levels of abstraction: how to solve this immediate problem in her business plan, but also to see clearly (to think clearly about, to formulate a clear understanding of) what she's doing in the world, in relation to the markets, to other people, to what she thinks is valuable.
I picked three departments which provide good information on-line and which had fairly stable PGR ranks over the last dozen years or so. One, NYU, I singled out, recently and correctly, for having an excellent placement record; NYU has also been ranked #1 in the PGR for over a decade now. The second, at my university, has been solidly top 20, though not top 15, during this period. The third, Boston University, has had a PhD program for a long time and has been in the top 50 of the PGR (but not the top 40) for over a decade as well. Let's look at graduates from 2005-2010: this will get out of the mix those who haven't yet been on the academic market, or who have only been on once or twice and so might still be in temporary positions and may yet secure TT positions. In short, this will give us an idea of how many graduates of these programs are getting tenure-track jobs and what kind of tenure-track jobs. (In a few cases, the information on-line turned out to be out-of-date, so I updated it for purposes of the below.)
Let's start with NYU. During this time period we have 23 graduates. 20 of 23 have tenure-track jobs: 87%. 14 have tenure-track jobs at ranked PhD-granting programs (61%). 11 of 23 have tenure-track job at top 20 PhD programs (48%). 19 have tenure-track jobs at research universities (some in fields outside philosophy), and one is at a selective liberal arts college (83%). Of the three graduates not currently in tenure-track jobs, one went back to medical school (so may yet end up in academia), one took a non-academic job in the region where her spouse (also an NYU philosophy PhD) had a tenure-track job, and one graduate clearly had other events going on in her life, about which she has written. 83% placement at research universities and selective liberal arts colleges is remarkable.
Now let's look at the University of Chicago, another strong program but not as strong as NYU. Here we have 30 graduates, of which 23 have tenure-track jobs (77%). 5 of 30 have tenure-track jobs at ranked PhD-granting programs (17%). 2 of 30 have jobs at top 20 PhD programs (7%). 13 of 30 have jobs at research universities or selective liberal arts colleges (43%). Of the graduates not currently in tenure-track jobs, some have taken jobs outside academia, some are in adjunct positions or post-docs, and some are unaccounted for altogether.
And now Boston University. During this time period, 2005-2010, we have 35 graduates. 22 secured tenure-track positions (63%). 1 of 35 has a tenure-track job at a ranked PhD program (3%). None of have tenure-track jobs at top 20 PhD programs. 7 of 35 have tenure-track jobs at research universities or selective liberal arts colleges (20%). Of the graduates not currently in tenure-track jobs, some are in adjunct or non-tenure-stream positions, and some are unaccounted for altogether.
Here's a table summarizing the findings for graduates 2005-2010 from programs whose PGR rank has been fairly stable over the last dozen years:
2011 PGR Rank
% in TT jobs
% in TT jobs at ranked PhD programs
% in TT jobs at top 20 programs
% in TT jobs at research universities and SLACs
New York University
University of Chicago
This little exercise took about one hour to compile. I have no doubt that anyone could replicate this data for more departments, if their intention was to provide helpful information to prospective students. I am sure someone will.
This is an interesting (and nicely written) piece; from the conclusion:
Is this the way the world ends? When groups that share common cause, utopian dreams and a joined mission find fault with each other instead of tearing down the banks and the bankers, the politicians and the parliaments, the university presidents and the CEOs? Instead of realizing, as Moten and Hearny put it in The Undercommons, that “we owe each other everything,” we enact punishments on one another and stalk away from projects that should unite us, and huddle in small groups feeling erotically bonded through our self-righteousness.
I want to call for a time of accountability and specificity: not all LGBT youth are suicidal, not all LGBT people are subject to violence and bullying, and indeed class and race remain much more vital factors in accounting for vulnerability to violence, police brutality, social baiting and reduced access to education and career opportunities. Let’s call an end to the finger snapping moralism, let’s question contemporary desires for immediately consumable messages of progress, development and access; let’s all take a hard long look at the privileges that often prop up public performances of grief and outrage....
A philosopher writes:
I work at a small liberal arts college. Several of us in the philosophy department are working this summer on developing a set of strategies to increase the number of women in our classes and our major. Over the summer, we’re reading literature (both published and unpublished) on the subject and will soon turn to develop a set of best practices, directed at both the classroom and departmental levels.
I was wondering whether you'd be willing to open a thread that asks your readers about their own experiences recruiting and retaining undergraduate women in the major. While we've had luck finding some great papers that speak to the topic, we’d love to hear what others have found helpful, both in terms of reading material and (and perhaps especially) practical suggestions. Your comment threads are vibrant and often touch on these sorts of questions and we’re hoping that a thread devoted to this topic could be helpful both to our working group and to others in the discipline who are, I’d imagine, addressing this same issue in their own departments.
Comments are open for suggestions.
Legal philosopher Luís Duarte d'Almeida (Edinburgh) writes:
Colleagues from Portugal are trying to draw international attention to recent unwelcome developments regarding research funding in Portugal. The situation affects many areas, including philosophy. I am forwarding a text in English, written by a philosopher friend, describing some of reasons for concern; the text is already up online on a Portuguese blog run by academics (http://dererummundi.blogspot.co.uk/). Would you consider drawing attention to this on your blog? Many thanks.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
The Portuguese Science Foundation, FCT, i.e. the Portuguese governmental agency responsible for the funding and assessment of national research, has recently announced the results of the last evaluation of the national research units in all scientific areas. Research funding in Portugal, even in the humanities, comes under the heading "science". In a shift from previous reviews, FCT appointed the European Science Foundation, ESF, for this review. ESF has been, in their own words, "focusing on the responsible winding down of its traditional research instruments and the transfer of policy activities to Science Europe." From now on, ESF will be dedicated to "science management" and to "quality peer review". It is unclear, from their site, whether ESF will continue to exist after 2015.
ESF was founded in 1974 and played an important role in the promotion of research in all academic areas across Europe, promoting collaborative research for instance through European collaborative projects (EUROCORES projects, involving researchers from at least 4 European countries), exploratory workshops (to support research into new lines of inquiry), and also conducted peer review. In the past, ESF has allowed researchers to define their own research questions, and apply for funding for self-defined projects. Now, however, this is coming to an end.
Miguel Seabra, the president of the Portuguese FCT, is also the new president of Science Europe, a new distinct organization dedicated to lobbying for science in the European research area. Since Miguel Seabra took office as president of FCT in 2012, there were drastic changes to the funding of research in Portugal. For instance, there were dramatic cuts to the number of PhD grants, post-doctoral fellowships, and 5-year research contracts. This took place in spite of the fact that, as the Portuguese minister for Science and Education, Nuno Crato, claims, the funds available at FCT have not decreased. In the humanities, the cuts in number of grants and fellowships were around 35% for doctoral grants and 65% for postdoctoral grants (The Conselho Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia issued a statement of concern after this -- the official link to the statement in the site of the Portuguese government has been deleted). This overturns a continued investment in science and research in Portugal in the past 20 years (or more) that had brought the percentage of PhD's in Portugal closer to the European average, and drastically increased the number of Portuguese international publications, number of citations and patents. As an illustration, in the last call for individual PhD grants, only 5 were granted to philosophy PhD candidates in the whole country.
...some thought will need to be given to what such a code should encompass. The original impetus for this was, of course, the repeated incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct that appeared in the news over the last year or so, and so one issue on which the Committee will have to decide is whether the APA should take a stand on such issues as: (1) whether to recommned that faculty and students never date (some universities already have such policies), and (2) whether to recommend sanctions for sexual harassment.
On the other hand, some blogospheric blather suggests that some people think "professionalism" standards should reach further. (Caution is required here: calling someone's conduct "unprofessional" can be defamatory per se, insofar as it suggests they are unfit to practice their profession; "unethical" might be better, since as the blogosphere testifies every day, "ethical" has no cognitive content, it simply designates whatever often arbitrary norm the speaker likes). I'm not sure the APA is well-situated to draft an "Emily Post" set of guidelines, though there is plenty of arguably unprofessional and certainly juvenile conduct by philosophers out there--e.g., using blogs to solicit anonymous attacks on other philosophers; threatening other philosophers with shaming and harassment; insisting that others conform to the speaker's standards of politeness (and then threatening them with shaming and harassment if they don't), and so on--but the standards and remedies for such misconduct probably should be informal, rather than codified. The APA, of course, has no enforcement powers, and were it try to enforce such standards, they would run afoul of a variety of legal and sometimes constitutional protections.
My hope is that the APA Committee will focus on recommending general expectations for faculty-student relations. Those might have some influence on departmental and perhaps university policies.
UPDATE: Should the APA Code, several readers wonder, address questions about racist and sexist speech? I don't have the sense this is a major issue in the profession, by comparison to problems of, for example, sexual harassment. But even if it were, how would an APA code work?
Consider a recent case that came to my attention: a senior female philosopher, who objected to my criticism of Prof. Jennings, declared on a very public Facebook page that, "We can't let 'boys will be boys' be an excuse anymore." A typical definition of "boys will be boys" is that it is "used to express the view that mischievous or childish behavior is typical of boys or young men and should not cause surprise when it occurs." This is, obviously, remarkably sexist and demeaning when applied to a 51-year-old man, a professional lawyer and philosopher, who has never pulled punches about anything or anyone and who believes strongly in plain and direct speech. Instead of acknowledging, accurately, that the speaker disagrees with my critical approach, it erases my agency and demeans me as merely "mischievous" and "childish," someone whose behavior might be, at best, "excused," instead of recognized, correctly, as a reasonable, but differing, approach to public debate.
Should the APA sanction this kind of irresponsible, demeaning, and sexist abuse? I don't think so: first, the APA, as noted above, has no way to do so that would survive legal challenge; and second, the APA is ill-equipped to police the boundaries of proper discourse, which are themselves contested, notwithstanding the efforts of various blogospheric pontificators to pronounce otherwise. (It's always been striking to me that the kind of sanctimonious idiocy that periodically grips a minority of mostly younger philosophers rarely crops up among my colleagues in the legal academy, where people recognize that professionals have differing views about the norms of public discourse. There's clearly a failure of adult and professional socialization going on in academic philosophy--the sexual harassment crisis is the most notorious evidence of that--but how it is to be remedied is a topic for another day.)
A number of readers and friends have expressed puzzlement about how Ludlow can sue a colleague and a student for defamation regarding statements they made reporting alleged sexual harassment and related wrongdoing by Ludlow. In cyberspace, I've seen a number of people assert that such statements are "privileged," and so the makers of those statements can't be sued. Alas, the matter is somewhat more complicated than that. Several correspondents asked that I explain on the blog what I have told them individually. So here goes (with the caveat that I am not an expert on these matters, but am reasonably confident I understand the legal issues. This, by the way, is a pretty solid overview of Illinois defamation law for those who are interested. And none of what follows constitutes legal advice!)
There are two kinds of "privileges" that can attach with respect to false statements that are defamatory. The "absolute privilege" attaches to statements made in judicial proceedings (e.g., any statements made by a witness, whether in court or in a deposition or in an affidavit) and "quasi-judicial" proceedings (e.g., in Illinois, a complaint filed with the disciplinary commission of the State Bar alleging misconduct by an attorney enjoys an "absolute privilege"). In these cases, the maker of the statement can not be sued for defamation, even if the maker of the statement acted maliciously or recklessly (e.g., made the statements knowing they were false).
One important threshold issue in the Ludlow case is whether the proceedings of a university's sexual harassment office constitute a "quasi-judicial proceeding" under Illinois law. My guess is they do not (if I'm mistaken, please e-mail me any relevant case law). So, for example, in the course of finding that an arbitration proceeding was a quasi-judicial proceeding, an Illinois court said:
Under Illinois law, a tribunal is quasi-judicial when its possesses powers and duties to (1) exercise judgment and discretion; (2) hear and determine or ascertain facts and decide; (3) make binding orders and judgments; (4) affect the personal or property rights of private persons; (5) examine witnesses, compel the attendance of witnesses, and hear the litigation of issues on a hearing; and (6) enforce decisions or impose penalties [citations omitted]. A quasi-judicial body need not possess all six powers; however, the more powers it possesses, the more likely the body is acting in a quasi-judicial manner.
University sexual harassment offices lack #5, and have quite attenuated versions of #2, #3, #4 and #6 (attenuated because, among other things, their decisions are not binding on actual judicial proceedings).
Even if that is correct, statements made to a university's sexual harassment officer clearly enjoy what is called a "qualified privilege," since there is a strong public interest in preventing and punishing sexual harassment as reflected, for example, in the fact that faculty who learn of sexual harassment have a legal obligation to report it to appropriate university officials. The crucial difference with a "qualified privilege" is that if it is abused, it does not apply. So if Jane Doe reports what she sincerely believed to be conduct by Prof. John Smith constituting sexual harassment to an appropriate Dean, she can not be sued by Prof. Smith even if it turns our her report of the conduct is inaccurate. But if Jane Doe acts recklessly or maliciously, then she can be sued: for example, if Jane Doe reports Prof. Smith to the Dean, even though she knows full well that Prof. Smith did not act as she claims, she can be sued for defamation.
Even if Jane Doe enjoys the qualified privilege if she non-maliciously reports the alleged misconduct to the appropriate university official, she does not enjoy even the qualified privilege if she makes those statements to others who have no connection to enforcing the university's sexual harasssment policies. So, for example, if she tells fellow students or friends at other universities that Prof. Smith sexually harassed her, and that is false, she can be sued for defamation for those statements.
The crucial allegations in Ludlow's complaint in this regard are paragraphs 58-60.
Paragraph 58 alleges that the "false statements during the 2014 investigation impute to Plaintiff a want of integrity in the discharge of his duties, criminal conduct and prejudice Plaintiff and impute a lack of ability in his trade." Translation: the statements, if false, are defamatory per se, that is, damage is presumed. (It is hard to prevail in any defamation action, but if you also have to prove how the false statements harmed you, the plaintiff's burden can be impossibly high.)
Paragraph 59 alleges that the defendants "publicized these statements without privilege." Translation: they made these false statements to others not involved with the process (so no qualified privilege) or they made these statements maliciously or recklessly, so lost the qualified privilege.
Paragraph 60 alleges that the defendants "made these statements knowing they were false." Translation: they acted maliciously, so enjoy no qualified privilege.
I assume that, among other things, some of the defendants will move to dismiss the complaint on grounds that the statements were, in fact, privileged. Whether they are privileged will be a question for the court. If these allegations survive a motion to dismiss, then the plaintiff, Ludlow, will be entitled to discovery to determine, e.g., to whom the allegedly false statements were made and what the makers of the statements knew at the time they made them.
Another issue lurking in the background here is also whether Ludlow is a "public figure" or "limited purpose public figure" for purposes of defamation. My guess is that with respect to the allegations of sexual harassment and related misconduct, he is not. If, by contrast, he were suing defendants who made allegedly false statements regarding his cyber-activism, then he would almost certainly count as a public figure. The significance of this in American law is very substantial, since the burdens on a public figure plaintiff to recover for defamation are much higher (see this earlier discussion).
A propos our topic du jour, philosopher Mark Couch (Seton Hall) writes:
This report from Georgetown on salaries and majors breaks down the categories somewhat. Click on the section called "Humanities and Liberal Arts."
Philosophy and Religious Studies, $48,000.
Theology and Religious Vocations, $38,000.
Philosopher Kathleen Wallace (Hofstra) calls my attention to this unfortunate item which lumps philosophy majors with religion majors, and then claims that they have poor employment outcomes during the recession. As Professor Wallace writes:
The graphic lumps philosophy and religion majors together, and shows them as doing the very worst of all the majors included in the graphic. However, other sources, in which philosophy majors are separated out from religion majors indicate that philosophy majors do considerably better than religion majors.
For example, The Wall Street Journal recently published an article based on payscale.com data (which does separate philosophy majors from religion majors) that showed that midcareer salaries for philosophy majors were actually quite a bit better than many majors, including ones that are presented here as doing much better than philosophy. The results for mid-career salaries could, of course, be different from at study looking at the specific issue of graduating into a recession. My only point is that philosophy looked at independently of religion might tell a rather different story.
No other majors in the graphic are lumped together like that (except for Music & Drama, but I can't speak to the appropriateness or not of that pairing). Most philosophy training and programs now, at least at secular institutions, are so different from religion programs that to lump them together is an anachronism.
I've written to the authors of the (unpublished) study to ask if they couldn't do a more refined study with philosophy majors separated out from religion.
UPDATE: Professor Wallace wrote to the authors, and Professor Joseph Altonji, an economist at Yale, kindly gave his permission to share his reply:
Dear Professor Wallace,
Thank you for your email.
We work with multiple data sets and are constrained in how much we can disaggregate fields of study by the fact that most of them do not provide detailed college major. (We use 50 or so majors). The aggregate called "philosophy and religious studies" combines philosophy, religious studies, theology, and religious vocations. It is almost certainly the case that philosophy majors earn more than those in a religion or theology major that is oriented toward career as a cleric. I don't have a clear sense of whether philosophy majors do better than "arts and sciences" religious studies majors.
I have taken the liberty of attaching a 2012 paper that I wrote with Erica Blom and Costas Meghir that sheds some light on this issue. In that paper we report results separately for "philosophy and religious studies" and "theology and religious vocations" using a data set called the 2009 American Community Survey. The group at Geogetown headed by Anthony Carnevale has also made use of this data. It is one of several date sets that Lisa Kahn, Jamin Speer, and I use, and it has more detailed major categories. Unfortunately, it does not separate philosophy and religious studies. Supplemental Table 3 reports regression estimates of the relationship between the natural logarithm of the hourly wage and college major, with controls for whether the person has obtained an advanced degree and a few demographic variables. The coefficients on the majors are relative to a "general education" major---not the average major. Results are reported seperately for women and men. For women, the coefficient of 0.08 on Philosophy and Religious studies implies an 8% advantage over general education majors. The coefficient on Theology and religious vocations is much lower-- -0.242. The corresponding coefficients for men are -.003 and -.304. The numbers imply that men who major earning in "Philosophy and Religious Studies" earn about the same as general education majors, while men who earn major in Theology and religious vocations earn about 25% less. These results strongly suggest that combining philosophy majors with the other majors leads to an understatement of the labor market prospects of philosophy majors.
Kahn, Speer, and I are in the process of revising our paper for publication. We can't disaggregate further by college major, but will make sure that the label we give to the category containing philosophy indicates that it is a broad category. We should also probably avoid that category when illustrating our results.
Finally, you mention the Paycheck website. It is an interesting data source, but at this point, it is hard to know what population that site represents.
Thanks again for you email.
Thomas DeWitt Cuyler Professor of Economics
I get reports intermittently of department homepages that list retired and departed faculty many months (sometimes longer) after their departure. Most of these cases are probably just cases of inefficiency, but in the Internet age, students depend on on-line information and departments ought to make sure that their on-line information is accurate and not out of date.
...for defamation (and related tortious wrongdoing) and (in the case of the University) gender discrimination in violation of Title IX. A copy of the complaint, with the names of students (and other information identifying them) removed, is here: Download Complaint Stamped some names removed
Note that some formatting may be a bit off, due to conversion from a PDF to a format in which student names could be removed.
If and when the Answer of defendants is available, I will post that as well.
Here. If enough philososophers contribute, it could be useful. (Thanks to Kalle Grill for the pointer.)
Philosopher Colin Marshall (Washington) writes:
Almost every department I know of gives the job talk a central role in hiring decisions, but I'm wondering whether the traditional job talk really deserves to be sacred while other aspects of the hiring process are changing.
My main reason for skepticism is that I know a number of young philosophers who are (a) great researchers, (b) great teachers, (c) great members of the profession, and (d) great departmental citizens, but who, for various reasons, aren't great at presenting their research to a room full of judgmental strangers, most of whom are non-specialists. The latter skill isn't a bad one to have, but it's surely much less important than (a)-(d). Yet in the traditional job talk, this latter skill is what's privileged, and often used to make judgments about (a)-(d). That seems like a recipe for false negatives.
So here's my question: what alternatives to the job talk have hiring departments tried for campus visits, and are there un-tried alternatives we should consider? I have a hunch that our profession could do much better. [There is the further question of whether we should have campus visits at all, but I'm hoping to bracket that.]
This is a sensible analysis, and this point is particularly important:
PTSD is a disability; as with all disabilities, students and faculty deserve to have effective resources provided by independent campus offices that handle documentation, certification, and accommodation plans rather than by faculty proceeding on an ad hoc basis.
We touched on this issue a few years ago (and Prof. Cohen reported a dramatic change in referee behavior shortly thereafter), but it is apparently time for another friendly reminder of how important it is for solicited referees to suggest alternates when they can't do the job. Stewart Cohen (Arizona), the editor of Philosophical Studies, writes:
At Phil Studies, it is not uncommon for 5 or 6 (or more) people to decline invitations to review prior to someone accepting. I assume the same is true for other journals. Given that there can be a one or two week turnaround time, the process of finding a referee can add considerably to the time from submission to decision. Of course we understand that people have good reasons for declining. But it would be of great assistance to us (and I assume to other journals) if people who decline would make some recommendations for alternative reviewers. The people we ask to referee are experts on the specific topic of the paper under consideration and so presumably in a good position to help us find other experts. While many do this, a significant number do not. We all have an interest in supporting journals in their efforts to provide authors with timely decisions on their submissions. So next time you decline to review a paper for a journal, I strongly urge you to help out by providing some recommendations for reviewers.
The Columbia student newspaper dismissed a reporter after an "anonymous" accusation of sexual wrongdoing. Unless there's more to the story, the editors responsible for this decision should themselves be dismissed. (IHE uses, aptly, the "vigilante" word to decribe what's going on.)
A self-identified "analytic" philosopher in a non-English speaking country writes:
I was wondering if you could ask the question below in your blog. The topic is very important to professional philosophers from outside the English-speaking world and they will most likely benefit from the comments of your readers.
In ‘The Language of Publication of "Analytic" Philosophy’, Rodriguez-Pereyra argued that original research in analytical philosophy should be published exclusively in English. Assuming he is right, analytical philosophers from non-English speaking countries should stop publishing research in their native languages and start publishing in English. Assuming also that those analytical philosophers would be willing to give a fair visibility to their work, they should try to publish their research if not in top journals, at least in well-recognized ones. What happens is that if the task of publishing in well-recognized journals is difficult for philosophers from the best departments of the English-speaking world, it is even more difficult for those philosophers from outside this circle. Apart from the difficulties that stem from the very fact of writing in a non-native language, I think there are two main problems.
The first was pointed out by by Gualtiero Piccinini. He mentioned that given “the difficulty of publishing in good journals, this system actually creates incentives against publishing in good, international journals: other things being equal, those who devote their efforts to publishing in international journals will publish less than those who publish in local journals, and then they will be at a disadvantage”.
The second problem is the lack of feedback that philosophers from outside the English-speaking countries have. The rationale for this is quite simple: If one needs to publish in a well-recognized journal, one will need to have a paper worthy of it. It means one has to have a paper comparable with those produced by the best philosophers from the best departments. Those philosophers normally receive tons of feedback from colleagues and colloquia before submitting the paper. This just does not happen in (at least) some countries where people do not simply know how to give good feedback and colloquia are mostly “praise time” with no criticism allowed. The only way out is trying to get feedback from abroad. And this is just a very hard thing to get.
The natural way to do this is via e-mail: I have a draft and send an e-mail to someone who I know is interested in the topic of my paper. Well, it may be me, but most of the time I get no answers. But I can imagine what can be the common reasons: First, professional philosophers are too busy. They have their own work to manage, and are loaded with papers from their colleagues and students that they are expected to give feedback. Second, receiving such an e-mail may be a little unpleasant and invasive. So, my question is: What is the best way to ask for feedback for those who are outside the main circles of philosophy? I think a similar problem may happen with those philosophers who despite being in English-speaking countries come from small universities.
I believe "Lisbeth" (whose real identity I know) deserves an opportunity to have her claims formally adjudicated and to that end I have contributed towards her hiring a necessary expert witness. I would urge readers to consider doing the same. I note that a number of senior philosophers have already done so, including Joshua Cohen, Dan Sperber, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Otsuka, and Ruth Chang, among others. (I express no opinion about Emma Sloan's allegations.)
David Velleman (NYU) writes:
The live-blogging of Martha Nussbaum's Locke lectures would be a good occasion for a discussion of the professional ethics of this practice. The lectures have not been published. Copies of the lectures are accessible online to Oxford students and faculty, and others can request them with an online application, but they are not otherwise available. In any case, I am raising the question not only about this particular instance, in which there is limited distribution of the lectures, but also about cases in which material presented in person has not been distributed in writing at all. Is it ethical to publish someone's ideas before he or she has published them, without obtaining permission and granting an opportunity for correction? Is it no longer possible to present work in progress without having someone else's version of it published before one has had a chance to revise and publish it oneself?
Thoughts from readers?
Prof. Otávio Bueno, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami, writes:
The faculty and graduate students of the philosophy department at the University of Miami would like to thank the members of the site visit team dispatched by the APA Committee on the Status of Women as part of their Site Visit Program. The team’s visit to our campus (March 2014) was a highly positive experience for the department and we received a very constructive and helpful report. We expect to make a number of changes in our customary practices and departmental policies based on its recommendations. We strongly endorse both the goals and methods of the Site Visit Program and recommend it to other departments that aim to assess and improve climate issues.
Nearly 3000 votes were cast, and 95% of respondents preferred footnotes, with the remaining 5% either indifferent or preferring endnotes. The results are hardly surprising to any reader, but they are surprising when one realizes how the major academic publishers have all shifted to endnotes. I gather the main explanation for this shift--since it has nothing to do with reader preferences--are primarily logistical and financial: type-setting costs, the ease of converting to an electronic format, and the like. But since I suspect the preferences of philosophy readers are little different from the preferences of other academic readers, there is a clear opportunity here for a publisher to lead the way. I for one would give preference to a publisher that maintained a commitment to footnotes. What do others think? What explains the demise of footnotes? Are there other considerations at work?
The CHE story (behind a paywall) is here; an excerpt:
"Professor McGinn harassed, stalked, and preyed upon" the student, the summary of the complaint says. The professor touched her hands and feet, told her "you are mine," and proposed they have sex, the document says. The student, it continues, felt "hounded, suffocated, and trapped by his constant barrage of communications and need."
Officials at Miami ignored the student’s complaints and charged Mr. McGinn with violating its relationship policy as a way to get him out the door fast and to avoid further fallout, the summary of the complaint says. In that way, it says, officials "hijacked" the grievance process "to save UM a public scandal, rather than provide a fair accounting of Professor McGinn’s misconduct."
Michael Tooley (Colorado) asked me to share this link. He makes some sound points, some less sound ones, or so it seems to me. Readers will judge for themselves.
A philosophy PhD student writes:
I host a few of my papers on a personal website, mainly as a convenient way to share them with friends and colleagues. Lately, a few people have found my papers through search engines and emailed me for permission to cite them. I'm not sure how I should respond to this. None of these papers are currently published, although they are all pieces I would consider preparing for publication. Are there significant risks involved in allowing unpublished work to be cited? Given that these papers are evidently being read already, I worry that refusing permission now would just lead to my work being used without credit. Do others have experience with this kind of situation? What is the best thing to do at this stage?
I would appreciate your advice or that of your readers.
We touched on this seven years ago, and a current grad student, Sean, asked that I re-open it for discussion about what changes, if any, have take place in the intervening years. Thoughts from readers?
(Thanks to a former Colorado grad student, who did not want to be identified, for the links.)