MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY--UPDATED
Following up on last week's post about the latest AAAS elections, I thought I'd take a look at the institutional affiliations of five years' worth of elections. A quick note about how the AAAS process works (I owe most of this to the late Ruth Marcus, perhaps things have changed a lot in the last few years, that I do not know, but I will surely be corrected if so). Briefly, only current members can nominate new candidates for membership; nominees are vetted by a selection committee for each sub-field, which consists of four or five current members; nominees are then submitted to the entire membership for a vote (this means, e.g., that those outside philosophy can vote for nominees in philosophy); voting is on a scale, and if one gives the lowest score to a nominee (as I imagine Ruth did more than once!), you have to submit a written explanation with the negative vote; the vote of the entire membership, however, is not binding on the selection committee, which based on the vote, recommends new members (there is always some negotiation about how many each field is allowed to recommend for final membership each year--philosophy usually has at least five). Because the members of the selection committee in a given year is not a matter of public record, and since their influence on the final outcome is enormous, there are sometimes surprises in the results. That being said, patterns do become clear: e.g., after X is elected one year, one or two of his prominent students are elected a year or two later; after Y is elected one year, one or two of her colleagues are elected in the next couple of years. I've seen clear patterns of elections over a period of a few years involving, e.g., Christian philosophers, Kant scholars and Kantian moral philosophers, epistemologists, philosophers of physics, members of a particular department, and so on. At the end of the day, the main fault of the AAAS tends to involve sins of omission rather than inclusion (more on that in another post).
Although the list of new members 2012-2016 by institutional affiliation correlates fairly well with a ranking of leading American research universities based on reputation surveys, there are clear outliers at both ends (e.g., NYU, Northwestern, Cal Tech, Michigan, Texas). In the case of NYU, the explanation is probably that they have recruited senior superstars in various fields, but with a handful of exceptions (like philosophy), they have mostly been superimposed upon otherwise weak departments. In other cases, it may be that the faculties are really stronger than given credit for in reputational surveys (esp. the shoddy ones conducted by U.S. News). Finally, in some cases I expect the 'friends-of-friends' aspect of the AAAS either helps or hinders the school's performance.
Finally, note that there are fields or "sections" of the AAAS that are specific for law, for engineering, and for medicine: any school with these fields will be at an advantage in terms of potential electees.
1. Harvard University (56)
2. Stanford University (43)
3. Massachusetts of Institute of Technology (42) (no medical or law school)
4. University of California, Berkeley (35) (no medical school)
4. Yale University (35)
6. Princeton University (33) (no medical or law school)
7. University of Chicago (29) (no engineering)
8. New York University (26)
8. Northwestern University (26)
10. University of California, Los Angeles (24)
11. Columbia University (22)
12. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (17)
13. University of Pennsylvania (15)
14. Cornell University (14)
15. University of California, San Diego (12) (no law school)
This is informative and, to the best of my knowledge, accurate, but if not, you can comment over there.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY
The petition is here. (Thanks to philosopher Joel Pust [Delaware] for organizing this.) The background statement hedges a bit more than is really necessary in my view, crediting claims by the college that are nonsensical and won't stand up in court. But the basic text of the statement is good and I urge all members of the academic community to sign the petition. Here's the key text:
We the undersigned, as members of the community of scholars, protest the apparent termination without due process by Dickinson College of Professor Crispin Sartwell, a TENURED associate professor of philosophy, contrary to Dickinson's own Academic Handbook, AAUP guidelines, and the customary standards of tenure.
Unless the College can produce a formal letter of resignation by Professor Sartwell or evidence that he accepted a separation agreement, we call for Professor Sartwell to be reinstated immediately and for the administration of Dickinson College to act in accordance with Dickinson's Academic Handbook and accepted AAUP standards in all subsequent dealings with Professor Sartwell.
Thanks also to the many readers who helped Prof. Sartwell meet the fundraising goal to help with his legal expenses.
UPDATE: The petition was released April 21, and garnered about 100 signatures in its first five days. In the last 24 hours, since this post went up, more than 80 additional philosophers and academics in other fields have signed--thank you! But I hope even more readers will join them as signatories. Ned Block, Jeff McMahan, John Gardner, Neil Tennant, Keith Whittington, Alex Byrne, Peter Vallentyne, Richard Moran, and C.D.C. Reeve are among the distinguished senior scholars who have signed in the last day: please join them! Colleges hate unfavorable attention to their bad behavior. Legal remedies are being sought, but the academic community can make known its concern with what has transpired.
This is amazing. We now have some actual empirical evidence that "diversifying" the syllabus does not affect female interest in continuing with philosophy, and yet this doesn't stop the APA blog. I hope that all philosophy teachers will prepare their syllabi with an eye to the intellectual content and pedagogical value of the material, and nothing else. That the APA Blog would promote any other approach is a "sign of the times," I guess. Re: "the times," see this earlier discussion.
UPDATE: A reader who teaches philosophy to undergraduates writes with two objections that deserve a response:
First, I detect from the tone of your post, perhaps wrongly, the implicit view that there is something crazy about undergrads giving professors advice about what to include on syllabi in the first place. If that's your view, I disagree. I think it's awesome for students to give respectful, constructive criticism to their teachers—and I think what Taylor writes certainly counts as that—as long as it's allowed to be a two-way conversation, and professors have the courage to defend what they teach, as well as of course the ultimate right to make the decisions. Would we really rather have students who always just passively accept our curricular choices? To me criticism can be a sign that students are taking responsibility for their own education. Our role should be to take their criticism seriously, help them to articulate it better, and then respectfully disagree—or, if appropriate, to take their advice! We should be trying to encourage this sort of conversation, rather than shut it down. If we were more committed to actually teaching students how to have this sort of debate well, maybe we would end up with (a) better, more interesting philosophy courses and (b) fewer puerile, easy-to-dismiss lists of demands. A win-win! (I certainly don't mean to lump Taylor's piece in with the latter category, by the way.)
Of course, we already have a way of getting feedback from undergraduates, namely, course evaluations, and student evaluations, at all levels, are useful I've found, especially if one pays attention to recurrent criticisms or worries. The value of feedback from undergraduates has nothing to do with whether a professional association's blog should provide a platform for advice that is based simply on speculation about the effects of "diversifying" the syllabus for which there is no known empirical support.
A prospective graduate student asked me to share her, shall we say, "unusual" experience during the recently concluded admissions cycle. Here's how it started (prior to April 15):
I am a prospective graduate student currently considering offers for the following academic year. It has come to my attention that, in an attempt to gage the interest of wait listed students, some institutions may be inadvertently violating the rules set out by the APA -- that students should have until April 15th to accept or reject financial offers. On your blog, you have encouraged prospective students to report these violations. I have sent a brief sketch of this situation to the APA, and I thought it could be helpful to discuss this in the philosophical community.
I experienced the following scenario this afternoon: I am wait listed at a highly ranked institution. The GDS called me and asked, "If I were to give you an offer right now, would you accept it?" I felt strongly that if I were to say yes, an offer would be given to me instantly, and I would be bound to accept it (on April 11th). However, this institution is not my first choice, and as a result I was put into the awkward position of rejecting what I perceived to be a conditional offer, the condition being my immediate acceptance. I would still like an offer from this institution, but I would also like the courtesy afforded to me by the APA, which is to have until the end of the 15th to decide. I am on other wait lists, and wish to see how that comes out before making a final decision. However, I worry that I may have lost out on an offer that would have been mine as a result of this exchange.
I think that this experience should perhaps encourage the APA to investigate this notion of a verbal offer—or the promise of one—conditioned on acceptance prior to April 15th. Does this seem to you as it does to me to be against the rules? Or do you think I'm reading too much into a DGS' attempt to gage interest in my likelihood of acceptance?
I think this kind of conditional offer violates the APA rules. It's one thing to ask a candidate about their level of interest, it's another to frame an inquiry as reported here. In the end, the student went elsewhere, but with yet another wrinkle:
Interestingly, before I declined, they placed me in yet another cart-before-the-horse situation. This program guarantees a semester of fellowship and I had been told so on multiple occasions. However, they provided me an offer without any, and when I asked about it I was told that they had sent out more offers than fellowships, and that they would give them to those who accepted the soonest while supplies last. Perhaps this is less worrying than the earlier issue, but it still seems fishy that they would require me to sign a contract of the offer *without* a fellowship listed in order to potentially obtain said fellowship. Again, it seems rather against the spirit, if not the letter, of the APA deadline to take away previously guaranteed fellowship to those who execute their right to wait until the end of the day on April 15th.
I sincerely hope this does not occur in the future to others. It makes this more difficult and stressful for all involved.
UPDATE: J.D. Trout, a distinguished philosopher of science at Loyola University, Chicago, writes:
When I was fresh out of graduate school and on the philosophy job market, I received a call from a dean at a small rural college where I had interviewed. After exchanging pleasantries, the dean explained that they wanted to make a hiring decision soon, that they had winnowed the list down to two candidates, and that I was their top choice. He then asked, “What would you say if I were to make you an offer?” implying that I would get the real offer if I said yes to the hypothetical one. I explained that I still didn’t know; he hadn’t made me an actual offer. I told him that I would think differently about the attractions of a job if I had an actual rather than an imaginary offer. At the time, I think I was mainly interested in letting the dean know that I recognized his question as a low-rent hustle; they didn’t want to waste time on a candidate’s offer that might not be accepted (potentially losing their other candidate in the process). The dean made an actual offer and told me I had four days to decide. I took another job.
I'm opening comments, since I'm now back in town.
(Under the circumstances, I will not acknowledge the reader, himself a job seeker, who called this development to my attention.)
One week ago, I received an email from APA Development Director Robert Audi asking me to donate to the APA, and I posted about it here. Commenting on that post, Joshua Smith, gave some reasonable and constructive advice on the APA’s email practices. Another commenter Curt as well as Brian Leiter made important comments to the APA about donation requests.
The email, which I will provide in full below the fold for context, had the subject line: Help Expand Philosophy’s Influence.
If you have been reading my guest posts, you will know that I am all about expanding the influence of philosophy. The problem I have with this email request from the Executive Director is that the email doesn’t explain what the funds are going to support or how it is going to expand philosophy’s influence. Supporting work that is relevant to philosophers and supporting the work of philosophers is not the same thing as expanding philosophy’s influence. I would suggest that no matter the development goal, tell people what that money is going to support. How are the funds going to “expand” philosophy’s influence or “represent” philosophy in the public arena? If it’s just to support another newsletter, conference, or maintain current activities, then that’s not enough of an explanation. It certainly doesn't justify a second request so soon after Audi's.
Is it too much to ask the Executive Director of the APA to provide a vision for expanding philosophy’s influence before asking for money? I don’t think so. Full letter below. Comments are open.
Prof. Ludlow's statement on the settlement is here: Download Ludlowstatement
Ms. Ha's statement (from last fall) is here: Download HaStatement
This post is strictly for those following the pathetic saga that began with the fall 2014 smear campaign to take down the PGR.
For nearly 17 months, we've been involved in an extended negotiation and appeals process, first with the University of British Columbia, now with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, regarding requests filed under Canada's version of a "freedom of information" act (hereafter, "FIPPA"). The UBC Privacy manager, after taking months and months of extensions in response to the original requests, released highly redacted materials, offering what was, in our view, an implausibly generous interpretation of FIPPA's exceptions. The Commissioner's Office, in turn, upheld some of these exceptions, but not others, but again with multiple extensions of time for response (when we challenged one of the extensions, we were informed that if we challenged the extension then they wouldn't continue reviewing the case at all!). We have only just gotten the additional unredacted material.
...thinks we could solve the sexual harassment problem in certain disciplines by "banning" independent studies between faculty and students. Her evidence consists of a few anecdotes. But that's enough to be published on the web. But there's an important epistemic question here: should the rantings of a failed academic (times are very tough, but all the evidence I've seen is that Schuman is not very able) be presented as though they were grown-up reflections on the academic job market?
...some of whom were involved in the disgraceful Kipnis affair (which they actually have the audacity to revisit and try to rationalize in this new letter--and see also). Here's the letter. I would guess from the content that one of the primary authors was the author of the FP blog post we discussed awhile back. (The letter even cites the FP blog post, and makes clear the author learned nothing from the discussion of it, which is part of what is quite alarming about these zealots.) This crowd has long made clear their contempt for fairness and due process, so their posture in this matter is hardly surprising. I assume the adults at the AAUP will ignore this.
MOVING TO FRONT--ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 9 (UPDATED, AND UPDATED AGAIN ON APRIL 12, APRIL 14)
Professor Sartwell reports this development on his blog, though he has also shared with me the documentation confirming that this is, indeed, what has transpired. (Our earlier coverage of his case.) I have assisted him in finding a suitable Pennsylvania lawyer to vindicate his contractual rights of tenure and academic freedom, which the College appears to have violated. Legal representation is expensive, and the College has all the advantages here. I urged Prof. Sartwell to create a "GoFundMe" page to assist with his legal expenses, and I have donated myself and urge others to do so. I can not emphasize enough how serious this incident is: a tenured professor, engaging in lawful extramural speech on his blog, was first removed from his classes mid-term and now informed that he is no longer an employee--without any process or hearings whatsoever. Prof. Sartwell is entitled to fair legal process to vindicate his contractual and other legal rights, and I hope the community will support him.
UPDATE: Philosopher Joel Pust (Delaware) kindly calls to my attention a highly selective account in the Dickinson newspaper about recent events. Basically, the College, after removing Sartwell involuntarily from his classes and from campus, is trying to treat statements by Prof. Sartwell on various social media as tantamount to his having resigned his position, even though the College had sent him a termination agreement, which he never signed and explicitly rejected. (Some of the statements, in context, were clearly assertions that the College planned to terminate him, an asessment that proved correct; others, in context, express Sartwell's anger about how he is being treated.) The fact remains that Sartwell was removed from his classes without any kind of hearing or process, and the College has now informed him that he is no longer a faculty member without any hearing or process, even though he declined to sign the proposed termination agreement and rejected its terms.
APRIL 12 UPDATE: The AAUP has now written to Dickinson College about the Sartwell case: Download AAUP Letter to President Roseman 4-12-16. I want to add two additional comments about some of the bizarre claims made by Dickinson and that I've even seen reiterated on social media by people clearly not very knowledgeable about law. First, posting a country music video, "Time to Get a Gun," a song which itself contains no death threats, is not itself a death threat. Making a death threat is a crime in most jurisdictions, and yet no criminal charges have been filed against Prof. Sartwell, and for obvious reasons: he committed no crime. Second, notice the hypocrisy in Dickinson's position in this matter: on the one hand, they demanded that Prof. Sartwell receive a psychiatric evaluation; on the other hand, they now want to assert that e-mails and social media comments by the person they deemed in need of psychiatric evaluation constitute resignation from the faculty, even though at the very same time he rejected, more than once, proposed termination agreements. The more I learn about this case, the more appalling Dickinson's behavior appears. Thank you to those who have donated in support of assisting Prof. Sartwell to get a fair hearing for his legal rights.
APRIL 14 UPDATE: Thanks to all those who have donated to Prof. Sartwell's legal fund. He's closing in on the $5,000 goal; I hope others will contribute. Small amounts matter too! It's important for Dickinson to see that the academic community objects to this treatment of a tenured faculty member.
Robert Audi, Chair of the the new APA Development Committee has sent out an email to APA members asking them to donate. As I have written on this blog before, I believe in development as a means for promoting philosophy. I hope that the development committee reaches out to groups and philosophy supporters other than its members as sources of development funding. I have included the full letter below the fold for those who are not current members of the APA who might want to donate. Comments are open for development suggestions.
UPDATE: Moving to the front as a reminder (and I've had some reports, from faculty and students, of schools trying to force earlier decisions)
A philosopher at a PhD program writes: "For the first time I'm involved with grad admissions, and we're already hearing from our candidates that we have waitlisted for fellowships that other schools are trying to impose deadlines for their fellowship offers in advance of the April 15 standard. (One offender is trying to impose a March 5 deadline.) Would you consider using your blog to let your grad school applicant readers know that they cannot be railroaded into a decision earlier than the April 15 standard?"
The American Philosophical Association's official position on offers of admission and aid is here:
Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution. In those instances in which a student accepts an offer before April 15, and subsequently desires to withdraw that acceptance, the student may submit in writing a resignation of the appointment at any time through April 15. However, an acceptance given or left in force after April 15 commits the student not to accept another offer without first obtaining a written release from the institution to which a commitment has been made. Similarly, an offer by an institution after April 15 is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. It is further agreed by the institutions and organizations subscribing to the above Resolution that a copy of this Resolution should accompany every scholarship, fellowship, traineeship, and assistantship offer.
IHE has the details of the latest AAUP survey. IHE also reports the ten highest paying private and public research universities:
Top Private University Faculty Salaries for Full Professors, 2015-16 (Average)
|2.||University of Chicago||$232,400|
|6.||New York University||$205,600|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|9.||University of Pennsylvania||$202,000|
|10.||Johns Hopkins University||$200,900|
Top Public University Faculty Salaries for Full Professors, 2015-16 (Average)
|1.||University of California at Los Angeles||$187,800|
|2.||University of California at Berkeley||$178,900|
|3.||Rutgers University at Newark||$170,000|
|4.||University of Michigan at Ann Arbor||$167,500|
|5.||University of Virginia||$164,900|
|6.||University of California at Santa Barbara||$161,300|
|7.||University of California at San Diego||$159,800|
|8.||University of California at Irvine||$159,400|
|9.||Rutgers University at New Brunswick||$158,800|
|10.||University of Maryland at Baltimore||$157,200|
It's very important to note that the average salary data includes law and business faculties, but not medical school faculties. That explains why, e.g., Rutgers-Newark (which has law and business schools) has higher average salaries than Rutgers-New Brunswick. Similarly, University of Maryland's law school is at Baltimore, not College Park. In the case of the private universities, Chicago's strong result is due entirely to the law and business schools, as I've been told by former high level administrators here (full professors in the humanities are not, alas, making on average $232,400). Princeton's strong showing is particularly notable given that it has neither a law school, nor a business school--but this should hardly be surprising given Princeton's extraordinary wealth.
A few involve faculty, most involve staff, all are on the spectrum from pathetic to creepy. What the heck is wrong with people that they behave in these ways in what is supposed to be a professional context?
ADDENDUM: On the Choudhry case (the former Law Dean at Berkeley), this is relevant. He plainly should have been removed from the Deanship, but at present, there is no case for removing him from his tenured faculty position.
One recent study found that adding more women to the syllabus didn't make much difference, which is what I would have expected. Anecdotally, I have had the impression that sexual harassment has been a major deterrent for female students, though lower levels of tolerance for this misconduct may help change that. But a senior female philosopher elsewhere writes with an interesting and different take:
My assessment of the undergrad women in philosophy thing: undergrad women get sick of being talked over and strawmanned by their peers in and out of the classroom, and get sick of classes where the male students endlessly hold forth about their own thoughts. Relatedly, they find many thought experiments overall less compelling perhaps because, (a) women may start out in philosophy feeling less impressed with a priori speculation in general, perhaps because of confidence issues and the topics, and more importantly (b) they are less able to receive credence for their thoughts about the thought experiments when they try to engage with their peers, and (c) a lot of it seems like just more blowhard bullshitting by a bunch of dudes, on esoteric topics that they aren’t really allowed to engage in fully (see (b)). (Metaphysics is really a lot like that. Trad epistemology too.)
I will say that over two decades of teaching, it has seemed to me that the students who speak out of proportion to what they have to say are overwhelmingly male. Maintaining control of the classroom, and creating a welcoming environment for all student contributions, can probably go some distance to rectifying this--but that, of course, supposes levels of pedagogical talent and sensitivity that many philosophy faculty probably lack. But I'm curious what readers make of this diagnosis.
An interesting development, one that could result in a case that ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SATURDAY (APRIL 2)
Brandeis's motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by a gay student found to have violated the school's sexual harassment policies was denied; an excerpt from the linked article (which includes further links to the opinion):
A judge rebuked Brandeis University for denying fundamental due process rights to a student who was found guilty of sexual misconduct for a variety of non-violent offenses: most notably, because he had awakened his then-boyfriend with nonconsensual kisses.
The process that Brandeis employed to investigate the matter was "essentially secret and inquisitorial," according to Dennis Saylor, a federal judge who ruled that the accused student's lawsuit against Brandeis should continue.
This is a significant victory for advocates of due process in campus sexual misconduct investigations. It's also an implicit skewering of affirmative consent as official policy. The accused, "John Doe," was found responsible for stolen kisses, suggestive touches, and a wandering eye—all within the context of an established sexual relationship. His former partner and accuser, J.C., did not file a complaint with the university until well after the incidents took place. In fact, J.C.'s participation in Brandeis' "sexual assault training" program caused him to re-evaluate the relationship.
The two began dating in the fall of 2011. They broke up in the summer of 2013. In January 2014, J.C. made a two-sentence accusation against Doe, who was not informed of the nature of the charges against him. He was also denied a lawyer, the opportunity to evaluate evidence against him, and the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, including his accuser. Brandeis uses the "special investigator" model to handle sexual assault disputes: a single administrator reviews the charges, investigates them, and makes a decision. There was no panel hearing. There was just one person's decision....
Interesting data via IHE. 75% of PhDs awarded in the U.S. are in the sciences and engineering! I was also surprised by the debt figures for humanities PhDs: that is not wise!
Jason Brennan (Georgetown) on his experience replying to critics (most recently, of his views about the adjunct problem):
The philosophy blogosphere has quite a few people, writing anonymously, who write nasty, angry, and dishonest invective against others, but then faint and cry if anyone says anything back to them in response, even if the responses are moderate.
There's a lively debate in the comments between Jamie Dreier and others regarding the standard of proof question at the FP blog. I linked in my original piece to the arguments of my colleague Geoffrey Stone, but let me quote his analysis here, since I think it states the case clearly and thus identifies the issues those on the other side of the question need to dispute:
To justify its insistence on the preponderance of the evidence standard, the Department of Education draws an analogy to civil actions in court. In the typical civil law suit for damages, whether the issue is a car accident, a breach of contract, or an assault, the standard is preponderance of the evidence. But this is a bad analogy.
For a college or university to expel a student for sexual assault is a matter of grave consequence both for the institution and for the student. Such an expulsion will haunt the students for the rest of his days, especially in the world of the Internet. Indeed, it may well destroy his chosen career prospects. This is especially likely, for example, for law students.
Moreover, the procedures used in these disciplinary hearings do not come close to those employed in civil actions, which involve judges, juries, rules of evidence, lawyers, discovery, and a host of other procedural protections designed to enhance the reliability of the proceedings. Even at their best, college and university disciplinary proceedings are a far cry from civil actions in terms of fairness to the accused.
Thus, although the Department of Education may well be right that “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” is unnecessary in these circumstances because there is no risk of imprisonment or a formal criminal record, it is completely unfair, in my judgment, for a college or university to suspend or expel a student on the ground that he committed a sexual assault if the institution is only 51 percent confident that he did so.
In talking with the CHE reporter for the article about Penn State, one question that came up was how seriously philosophy of race was taken at top PhD programs. (This did not make it into the article, alas, but it is perhaps of interest, since Penn State churning out PhDs in the area is not going to have the same impact as top PhD programs investing in the area.) I did a little investigating, and was struck by the fact of how many top PhD programs have added senior faculty in philosophy of race over the last decade: NYU, for example, appointed Anthony Appiah from Princeton; Michigan hired Derrick Darby from the University of Kansas; Harvard Philosophy cross-appointed Tommie Shelby from its African and African-American Studies Department; Columbia hired Robert Gooding-Williams from the Political Science Department here at Chicago; the CUNY Graduate Center hired Charles Mills from Northwestern (Mills also had an offer from Yale) (Hunter College also appointed Linda Alcoff, who works partly in philosophy of race, from Syracuse, and she also now as an appointment at the Graduate Center); and Wash U/St. Louis added Ron Mallon from Utah. A number of PGR-ranked PhD programs also added junior faculty who work in whole or in part in philosophy of race during this period. Prior to this investment, there was relatively little work being done in philosophy of race at top PhD programs: Howard McGary at Rutgers, Bernard Boxill at North Carolina (now retired), Appiah at Princeton, Sally Haslanger at MIT, Michael Hardimon at UC San Diego, and I think that was it.
We may now be at the point where philosophy of race is better-represented at the leading PhD programs in the U.S. than feminist philosophy (let alone Marxist philosophy, itself very telling), an interesting development. Of course, philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and Marxist philosophy are all dwarfed by the investment of leading PhD programs in, for example, metaphysics! I suspect that, given the shape of the job market, and where the jobs are, that approach is going to prove unsustainable.
ADDENDUM: Elliott Sober (Wisconsin) writes with "an additional detail about philosophy of race": "Many philosophers of biology, myself included, include a discussion of race in their classes on philosophy of biology."
The article is here. As often happens, it doesn't quite record what I said accurately. I pointed out that a lot of scholarship has been done on the racism of the canonical philosophers, but the value of doing that, which is clear, is a different issue from whether an undergraduate class should spend time on Kant's racism or his views about masturbation: it's the latter that is obviously an absurd waste of pedagogical time. Kant is not worth reading because of his racism or his views on masturbation, and classroom time should be devoted to the aspects of an author's work that make the author worth engaging.
A senior philosopher elsewhere writes:
Like many readers of this blog, I am frequently asked to referee journal submissions. Though I recommend acceptance only very rarely, I feel duty-bound to work as hard on something I agree to referee as I would on something I read for my own scholarship, trying to puzzle through the details of the central arguments and to figure out exactly where those arguments go wrong (when they do). As a result, I would guess that I usually spend 3 hours on a paper I'm refereeing, though often enough it is more than that, and I generally find myself with about two single-spaced pages worth of comments. I have never served on an editorial board, and so I have never been in a position to see a large number of referee reports. Reports that I've received on my own submissions suggest a wide variation in the time and effort other people put into refereeing. I'd be interested to hear from journal editors and other readers about what they think constitutes a conscientious effort.
My sense is this sounds like a responsible refereeing effort. But it would be useful to hear what others think.
The full document is available here, though the Executive Summary is quite accurate as to the contents. Apart from a largely irrelevant fixation on the "corporate university," it's an informative report, one that makes clear how the Assistant Secretaries for Civil Rights in the Department of Education have badly overreached their authority since 2011. The report argues, correctly in my judgment, that the OCR had no authority to simply change the standard of proof from "clear and convincing evidence" to "preponderance of evidence." (Note that the latter is the standard of proof in civil litigation, and also in the Title VII employment discrimination context. But without going through the normal "notice and comment" process for substantive changes to administrative regulations, the OCR should not have altered the standard unilaterally. Since findings of fault for sexual harassment and related misconduct is much more like findings of criminal liability, the standard of proof should not have been lowered in my view--especially given that the investigative and adjudication procedures are largely amateur affairs to begin with.)
The other important point the report makes is that the OCR has demonstrated a shocking indifference to First Amendment and academic freedom values in its promulgation of regulations and enforcement actions. We saw this most clearly, of course, in the disgraceful Kipnis affair at Northwestern.
Some of you may remember that when I blogged here last fall, I ruffled some feathers with my women and philosophy post. My primary criticism was that the discipline isn't doing a good job of reaching out to and encouraging young girls and women who may be interested in studying philosophy.
But, rather than having that discussion all over again, I'd like to share a 1.5 minute video I created that promotes philosophy to girls and young women.
One thing to keep in mind with these promo videos is that they're not designed to teach philosophy, so it's a good idea to make the content a bit more user-friendly. If you want to give it a try on your own, here are two quick tips:(1) shorter is almost always better and (2) stick with a limited color and style palette. Also, consider tossing around ideas with a non-philosopher and have them review your videos--a lay person's perspective will more closely match that of your intended audience.
As with the two videos I posted earlier this week:
As I mentioned in the last post, I'm willing to donate my time to help anyone interested in creating some cool 30-second promos. You can reach out to me directly at the following email address: mycoffeepotproductions at gmail dot com. If you don't want to email me, but you have some ideas to share, use the comments!
I don't plan on getting into the habit of following the lead of the APA, but I've heard now from several graduate students and junior faculty that they've been bullied and harassed by philosopher Mark Lance (Georgetown) on various social media platforms, especially Facebook, that I thought it was time to raise the issue in public. He apparently has a particularly bad habit of intimidating vulnerable people (students, untenured faculty) if they happen to post a link to something on this blog. If you've been a victim of Lance's bullying, please take a screen shot and pass it on me, I'll prepare a dossier perhaps for future publication here (I'm happy to remove identifying information, of course).
UPDATE: Several readers have pointed out that philosopher Rebecca Kukla--Lance's colleague, co-author and friend--assured others on Facebook that the reports of Lance bullying and harassing junior faculty and grad students on social media were not true--though she then admitted that "Mark can argue hard and come down harshly or even dismissively at times." Alas, sometimes the targets experience that as bullying, especially when the "hard" and "harsh" arguer is a tenured full professor. Unsurprisingly, the bully's friends didn't notice.
ANOTHER: Professor Kukla writes: "I agree that what is experienced as bullying is partly a subjective affair that can't be fully determined from the outside, and I don't wish to make any statements about Mark's capacity to bully. What I specifically found absurd, knowing him, was the idea that he picked junior 'targets' or that he especially had it out for people who sent things to your blog." Almost all of this is consistent with my initial post: it is quite possible that Lance is not conscious of the pattern or of his bullying behavior. However, as anyone who has encountered Lance on social media knows, he is quite clearly obsessed with me, and never misses an opportunity to insult or defame, also doing the same to those who do not share his view.
AND YET ANOTHER: An alert reader points out that before I posted either update, above, Prof. Kukla had already responded to the initial post on Facebook as follows:
Rebecca Kukla My new plan is to bombard him with screenshot after screenshot of me typing things like go fuck yourself Brian and mind your own fucking business Brian and what the ever-living fuck are you even talking about Brian.
Goodness, such tough and scary talk; so surprising that the e-mail she sent me, by contrast, was so benign. I'm sure the APA ombudsperson will get on this abuse and harassment right away.
BEYOND PARODY: Apparently some anonymous person somewhere in cyberspace made vulgar sexist remarks about Prof. Kukla after she posted in defense of Lance on Facebook. According to the moral genius Mark Lance, this is my fault. Really. Let me quote the explanation: "Leiter, of course, knew that this was the predictable reaction...just as Trump knows perfectly well what the results of his incitements will be." You can see examples of Trump inciting violence here (it starts at about 3:40). And after viewing them, you will see that "obviously" the post, above, is exactly analogous. Really. His Holiness Monsignor Lance said so.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) requires that state universities report annually on what used to be called “low productivity programs” in compliance with the Illinois Public Act 097-0610. They then use this information to determine if the contribution of each program is “educationally and economically justified.” The IBHE has no regulatory authority over universities to tell them what programs to offer or eliminate, but the IBHE does make budget recommendations. So university administrators want to appease them.
You might be wondering what constitutes a “low producing” program in Illinois. Here are the IBHE standards (from page 8 of the October 2015 report):
Associate’s Degrees: 12 graduates
Bachelor’s Degrees: 6 graduates (25 enrolled majors)
Master’s Degrees: 5 graduates (10 enrolled majors)
Doctoral Degrees: 1 graduates (5 enrolled majors)
So if a program doesn’t have these averages for enrolled students and graduates over a rolling five-year period, it is considered low producing. When that happens, the IBHE recommends the following actions:
...but this seems to me an unlikely explanation, because it isn't how work is actually evaluated (at least not in the fields I've worked in over the years). Armchair speculation like this, unhinged from actual evidence, and especially when circulated in the popular media which thrives on nonsense like this, doesn't seem very helpful for the field in terms of remeding the situation. This is also relevant, though not philosophy-specific.
The American Philosophical Association (APA) has taken a beating the last few years in the philosophy blogosphere for a variety of reasons. In particular, there have been lots of objections and concerns about the role, influence, experience, and priorities of the current APA leadership.
As the new President of the Illinois Philosophical Association (IPA), I want to shift the discussion and talk about the role of state and regional philosophical associations. Particularly I want us to discuss expanding the role of these groups beyond just organizing conferences to promoting the interests of philosophy and philosophers in our particular states and regions. Additionally these state and regional organizations can play a bigger part in informing and reporting to the APA what the state and regional members need from the national organization.
I want to begin by thanking Professor Leiter for letting me blog on his platform, and as I did in the fall, I will entertain discussions. I finished last fall with two posts and said there would be a third. I’ll get into some topics later this week that will explain why my attention was diverted away from this third post until now.
If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 of this series, I recommend you get started there. In this post, I am going to discuss ways we can grow the philosophy profession: lobbying/advocacy, public relations/advertising, cultural influence ideas, and using philosophy allies.
(4) Lobbying and Advocacy
The APA needs to have a lobbyist (or lobbying firm) to promote the professional interest of APA members both in federal and state government, but also to lobby university and college accrediting agencies for philosophy related concerns. See this IHE story on accreditation and assessment if you haven’t already done so. At the state level promoting philosophy in high schools as part of the common core solution for college and career readiness is one idea. Promoting the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO) and groups like Sphere is another. Promoting philosophy is one major reason why development (as discussed in Part 1) and maintaining an active APA membership base is so important—MONEY!
Story at IHE. The responses quoted in the story there are a bit feeble, I'm sure philosophers can do better. Head over to the comments!
MOVING TO FRONT FROM LAST YEAR (SINCE TIMELY AGAIN--originanlly posted March 6, 2009)
Applicants to PhD and MA programs are now receiving offers of admission and, if they are lucky, are beginning to weigh choices between different departments. I want to reiterate a point made in the PGR, namely, that students are well-advised to talk to current students at the programs they are considering. There are often things you will want to know that you won't glean from familiarity with the excellence of the faculty's work, even if that remains the most important, if defeasible, reason for choosing a particular department. Here are some examples of information that no ranking, no departmental brochure, and no "official" departmental representive will tell you about; all of these are drawn from stories I've heard from students over the last few years about ranked departments (the departments will remain unnamed, obviously). You can think of them as representing "types" of problems you should be aware of before enrolling. I've tweaked some of the details to protect identities.
The Absent Faculty: Are the faculty who look so good on paper actually around and interested in working with students? I heard a story about a key senior person in one department who is an alcoholic, and who simply ignored his students. In another department, almost all the graduate students had to sign an open letter to the faculty a number of years ago protesting the failure of faculty to return graded papers and their general lack of interest in mentoring the students. In yet another department, a well-known senior member of the faculty spent so much time travelling and lecturing around the world, that he rarely had time to review or discuss work carefully with students.
The Sexual Predator Faculty: Are women treated as young philosophers and aspiring professionals, or do faculty regularly view them as a potential source for dates and sexual liasons? It's a bit shocking to realize that this is still a live issue in some departments, but, sadly, it is. Are faculty-student sexual relations common in the department? What happens when the relations end? Are there repeated cases of sexual harassment complaints against faculty in the department? Do they ever result in discipline? I suppose it is possible this could be an issue for male students, but all the reports I've gotten over the years have been from women victimized by male faculty.
The Nasty Faculty: Talented philosophers and scholars often differ, dramatically, in how pleasant they are personally and professionally. I recall the story of one department where a member of the faculty was known to reduce students to tears in seminar. In another department, a faculty member regularly refuses to work with students, even those interested in his areas; he works only with those he deems "worthy," and there are not many of them! In another department, faculty openly express doubts about the competence of the graduate students and their ability. Make sure the philosophers who seem most interesting to you don't fall into these categories!
The Factionalized Faculty: Many faculties are "factionalized," in the sense that there are sub-groups that rarely see "eye to eye" about departmental issues, from appointments to admissions. Where this becomes worrisome, though, for a prospective student is when certain members of the faculty who share interests and approaches control all the key resources--fellowships, resources for speakers etc.--and use that control to define "in" and "out" groups of faculty and students: students with the "wrong" philosophical interests or who express an interest in the "wrong" faculty members are denied access to important perks and support. This kind of ugly factionalization is less common, but it exists.
I wish it were possible to meaningfuly measure and evaluate faculties along these important dimensions, but, alas, it is not. I have no doubt there are many programs that are really exceptional for how pleasant they are as places to do graduate study, and the way for a prospective student to discover them is to talk to lots of current students.
Good luck with your decisions!
I had withdrawn my original post about this from several days ago, because many details were unclear, and there was a risk then, I was led to believe, that publicity would adversely affect the interests of Prof. Sartwell and perhaps others. But now I am persuaded that the matter warrants public scrutiny, and I hope reporters from CHE or IHE will investigate what is going on.
Here, briefly, is what is now a matter of public record.
Prof. Sartwell, on his blog, accused two philosophers, Alexander Nehamas (Princeton) and Linda Zagbeski (Oklahoma) of plagiarism of different aspects of his work; both denied the allegation, and I have no reason to think the allegations are true since I have not investigated them for myself. It also does not matter. As a matter of academic freedom, Prof. Sartwell has a right to accuse other professors of plagiarism; if the allegations are not true, he should be sued for libel. It is not for Dickinson College to discipline him.
In complaining about Prof. Zagbeski's alleged plagiarism, he concluded by posting a country-music video by a singer named Melissa Lambert called "Time to Get a Gun." Prof. Sartwell writes about country music, and posts lots of music videos. Prof. Sartwell denies making any threats, and if, on the basis only of the original blog posting, Professors Riggs and Zagzebski from the University of Oklahoma actually reported him to the police, as alleged, they acted wrongfully. And, worse, if Dickinson College, put Prof. Sartwell on a temporary leave on the basis of this blog post, the College also acted wrongfully. (I have experience with mentally ill cyber-stalkers posting apparently threatening messages; I have never, however, reported them to the police, but I have taken prudent measures to investigate what's going on. The behavior in question was quite a bit more serious than posting a music video.)
Prof. Sartwell has now been put into the unpleasant position of having to defend his sanity--his defense of it seems quite sane to me. He is apparently negotiating with Dickinson about a severance package. There are allegations in the student newspaper that he has been targeted for his political views. This may have no merit, I do not know.
But the matter deserves scrutiny from journalists who cover higher education. It may be that there are other factors that explain both the behavior of the philosophers at Oklahoma and the behavior of Dickinson College. But the academic community deserves to know at this point, since what is public so far is alarming and suggests a possibly serious breach of academic freedom and the rights of tenured faculty.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM LAST YEAR, SINCE TIMELY AGAIN (originally posted two years ago):
Students admitted to graduate school have until April 15 to respond. You can't be made to respond sooner--let me know of schools violating that rule!--but if you can respond sooner that helps a lot of people! Philosopher Kristen Inglis (Pittsburgh), for example, writes:
Because many prospective philosophy graduate programs read this blog, I’d like to reiterate Anthony Laden’s and Keith DeRose’s suggestions that prospective graduate students aim to decline admissions offers in a timely way. As the chair of an Admissions committee, I agree with DeRose that nearly every program appreciates knowing as early as possible that an admitted student is declining an offer. Most importantly, declining an offer early greatly helps waitlisted students who are otherwise in the tricky position of having to decide whether to accept an offer or to wait to get off the waitlist at a better program.
Of course, no one is suggesting that prospective students decline offers before they’ve had the chance to gather the relevant information, think the decision through, and discuss the decision with their advisors. Still, if one knows before April 15 (most schools’ decision deadline) that she will decline an offer from school X, then she can do a good service by declining the offer from X before April 15.
Here. It's worth noting that the allegations against Marcy, the astronomist at Berkeley, were much more serious than the allegations against the Law School Dean.
Not a philosopher, but a law professor! As I said to a CHE reporter a little while ago, I can think of only two other law school deans even accused of sexual harassment--and one was also at Berkeley! The complaint in the case alleges that the current Dean, who took office in July 2014, had not completed mandatory sexual harassment training by April 2015, after the alleged harassment had been on-going for some time (though when you see the allegations, you'll see one didn't need much training to think twice about what he was doing).
...in this New York Times piece by a female scientist. Potential sexual harassers, read this article and then remember: Don't do this! Don't even think of doing this! If you find yourself attracted to someone towards whom you have professional obligations, honor your professional obligations, period.
Philosopher Alastair Norcross (Colorado) writes:
I have a rather unusual request. One of our graduate students suffered a quite serious injury (through no fault of his own) recently, and is facing considerable out-of-pocket medical bills (the health insurance for our graduate students is fairly paltry). David Boonin has set up a gofundme page on his behalf (and with his consent). I wonder whether you would consider posting a link to it on your blog? I’ll understand, if you don’t think it’s appropriate, but if you do, I’m sure it would help a lot. Here’s the link:
A philosophy professor and a female doctoral student he is supervising got into a fight in class, and the police were summoned! There is a brief account in Dutch, which was described to me by a correspondent, and which Google translate adequately conveys. Anyone know what's going on? Very bizarre.
UPDATE: Philosopher Andreas De Block, Vice-Dean of the Institute of Philosophy at Leuven, writes: