...in order to cut costs, dodge the faculty union, etc. The University of Warwick has one of the best philosophy departments in the UK. A move like this will so damage the university's reputation it seems it could only have been cooked up by clueless bureaucrats. (Thanks to the several readers who forwarded this in the last 24 hours.)
Do any readers know more about this? Is there any explanation for why the University would do this that does not reflect poorly on its motives? Comments are open.
A student investigating terminal MA programs writes:
At Ohio University every student does a thesis (there is no non-thesis track). Texas A&M almost every student does the thesis track over non-thesis; Western Michigan is the opposite with almost all students doing non-thesis track. Texas Tech less than half do the thesis track, the rest do a non-thesis track and are examined on their best term paper. I am unsure about the programs at Brandeis, Tufts, Georgia State, and others.
They all boast placement with funding in PGR-ranked top 20 schools. What surprises me is that though their tracks differ quite widely, they all have very similar placement records -- in no way predictable on the basis of how they structure their tracks.
Given that some admissions committees do not necessarily even give preference to MA over students applying straight out of undergrad, I am doubtful the difference between MA tracks is significant.
What are your thoughts? Perhaps you could ask this question on your blog?
It would be interesting to hear from faculty at the MA programs, faculty who have recently done PhD admissions and had experience with terminal MA programs, and graduates of MA programs about their experiences.
Periodically, readers call my attention to the bizarre Wikipedia page on Critchley, which if he didn't write it himself, must have been written by his research assistants or students. (He links to it from his homepage, a giveaway.) There are serious philosophers profiled on Wikipedia (see, e.g., Quine or Adorno), and their entries do not contain summaries of all their books, as Critchley's does, as though they were significant works of philosophy. Nothing is included that would indicate his actual reputation as a lightweight hack, even among scholars of the Continental traditions. Wikipedia is often a disaster when it comes to profiles of living people, but this is really an embarrassment. (I should note that his Wikipedia entry was first called to my attention long before his drinking buddy at the New York Times brought him on as "moderator" of The Stone blog. It has been this ridiculous for awhile.)
Western culture as a whole has become an increasingly reactionary mob of self-centered narcissists who all have their own personal lines drawn in the sand. A comedian is fine unless he crosses their particular line, which, of course, in the mind of a self-centered narcissist, is the only line that matters.
Of course, there are things that genuinely warrant moral outrage, but the coin of outrage has been cheapened by overuse.
A bill is introduced to require all professors to teach eight courses per year (rather than four). This would, among other things, involve a massive breach of contract, I expect, and it would, within a year, destroy the university as faculty fled. But since the legislators who propose measures like this have no conception of what research is, or what a scholarly reputation is, they may not care.
Disgraceful, if accurate. IHE reports that the University is denying they are cancelling the conference. My guess is that the University is overstating the safety/security issues (and understating its ability to address them) in order to make it appear that the organizers pulled the plug.
The larger issue, of course, is why some supporters of Israel feel the need to shut down critical speech.
(Thanks to Taylor Carman for the pointer to the first item.)
As a grad student trying to publish before I get my PhD, I've noticed something strange that happens every time I submit a paper to a journal. Every time I submit, I get a hit on academia.edu that day. My academia.edu profile is pretty sparse and seldom gets hits, so this could be a coincidence, but that seems unlikely. I also tend to get hits shortly after my paper changes from "Submission Approved" to "Editor Assigned." It's possible that this is mere paranoia on my part, but it also seems possible that some of the journals I'm submitting to (about six or so) aren't as blind as they claim to be.
This isn't something that an established philosopher would necessarily notice, as I'm sure you guys get hits all the time. But I'm wondering if other grad students and junior philosophers have noticed this phenomenon. It would be interesting to see if my guess has any merit.
Readers? Have others have had similar experiences?
...as pointed out by a commentator on the open thread. I'm reading the two articles on Continental figures (one on Nietzsche, one on Heidegger), and will have more to say in due course. Other comments about the first issue may be posted at the open thread.
Philosopher Allen Hazen (formerly Melbourne, now teaching at Alberta) writes:
It is perhaps worth noting that Leigh Cauman (under her maiden name, Steinhardt) was Quine's first Ph.D. supervisee (at "Radcliffe College," Harvard University in those days not giving degrees under its own name to women), in 1940. Her dissertation was about "the variable" and semantics-- I think that Quine's well-known emphasis on the analogy between variables and pronouns was something she also stressed. I am sure that student learned from teacher and also teacher from student: I have no idea to what, if any, degree Quine's ideas should be attributed to "Miss Steinhardt," who is credited in footnotes with a few minor improvements to his "Mathematical Logic."
Mrs. Cauman believed that a male philosopher writing a thesis under Quine would have had more opportunities for a (non-adjunct, non-editorial) academic career than she had: doubtless wanting to live in the same city as her husband (who was, I think, an art historian, though I am not sure of that) limited her ability to seek teaching appointments.
I was never officially affiliated with the Columbia philosophy department, but often called on it when visiting family in the neighborhood. My sense is that Leigh's general friendliness and generosity contributed a great deal to the sense of a philosophy "community" there.
I was corresponding with a philosopher elsewhere about yet another cyber-example of the pathetic identity politics/language police, whom my correspondent described as an SJW, or "social justice warrior." I had not heard the term before, but my correspondent's explanation of it is worth sharing:
Functionally defined, "SJW" designates someone who monitors cyberspace for slights or miscues that reveal bias, and then exploits the various tools of social media to shame the offender, express outrage, and summon the digital mob, whilst achieving for themselves a righteous fame that ties their identities and their actions to the heroes and achievements of the civil rights movement, the landmark moments of which preceded their adulthood. SJWs divide the world, GWB-like, into the evildoers ("shitlords") and the oppressed, with the possible, but problematic remainder, being allies, whose status is ever tenuous and usually collapses into shitlord. SJWs do not distinguish between major and minor offenses -- unintentionally using "transgender-ed" instead of "transgender" is as unforgivable as any other act of oppression -- nor do they distinguish repeat and systematic from first-time offenders. They employ a principle of interpretation that is something like the opposite of charity. (If the utterance gives offense under one interpretation, that interpretation is correct.) It is a harsh "justice".
Indeed, it's unclear whether SJWs do not fully grasp the cruelty and inhumanity of their cybermob shame tactics, the anguish it causes, typically to the socially clueless and ASD spectrum types (itself a form of ableism), or just people with older, less plastic, brains, who are unable to keep pace with the rapidly shifting pronoun and non-slur requirements, or whether this is fully grasped, and indeed the retributive point of the exercise. In any case, the SJW hallmark is cruelty in the name of compassion. (And creating incredibly dangerous environments in the name of "safe space".)
Well, as a Nietzsche scholar, I can hardly tell you anything you don't already see better here. The difference between the Christian slave revolt and this one is that with Christianity at least, there is forgiveness.
The irony, of course, is that the SJW squanders his or her efforts on matters that rarely have anything to do with justice.
ADDENDUM: A reader in the UK writes:
I wanted to send you a quick note with regard to your most recent post on "social justice warriors". Whilst I am entirely sympathetic to your criticisms of the online mobs, vague identity politics, etc. I thought that seeing as you hadn't heard the term before you might want to be made aware that it originated and still continues to be used almost exclusively (to the best of my knowledge) as a pejorative by so-called 'Men's Rights Activists' (read: genuinely horrible and regressive misogynists) to describe anyone with a liberal or progressive disposition. Without impugning your correspondent, I am immediately suspicious when the term is used as it suggests (and originated from) an entirely different and also toxic version of identity politics. I think the most mainstream use of the term so far has been in the 'Gamergate' movement, which many (myself included) think was a thinly veiled attempt by the same misogynists to create an aura of legitimacy around their sending of rape and death threats to relatively benign (if sometimes mistaken) critics of video game tropes/culture.
Anyway, given the amount of baggage the term carries, I worry that you might (unintentionally) be, or be seen to be, lumping yourself in with a line of thought that is altogether more horrible than your actual political and moral beliefs. A google search of social justice warrior, or especially SJW, will demonstrate that its still very much the preserve of a nasty sort.
Though of course you could still agree with the definition given by your correspondent without necessarily endorsing all the horribleness associated with the term, I think there are some worrying signs in the definition itself (like the move towards claiming victimhood on neurosciencey terms) which are suggestive of additional beliefs on your correspondent's side, and of course the term itself is still used exclusively as a slur by a particular sort.
All news to me (I had never even heard of "Gamergate," though have now looked it up)! I'm quite sure my correspondent had nothing to do with any of this, far far from it in fact. It still seems to me an apt term for describing a kind of facile and superficial cyber-posturing.
ANOTHER: Some readers disputed the genealogy of the SJW term, though I don't think its etiology matters. See also this comment just submitted to the open thread.
Dr. Cauman was Managing Editor of the Journal of Philosophy from 1962 to 1987, and also taught logic in the School of General Studies at Columbia University. Professor Charles Parsons, now Emeritus at Harvard, but who taught at Columbia for many years as well, informed me of her passing and noted that, "She was greatly respected in these roles and others she assumed in the university community."
UPDAE: Philosopher Laura Franklin-Hall (NYU, though she did her PhD at Columbia) kindly passed along information about a memorial service:
With decision time coming for PhD applicants, here is a summary of lateral moves with tenure since the fall PGR:
Jonathan Kvanvig (epistemology, philosophy of religion) from Baylor University (where he was undoubtedly Baylor's leading senior figure) to Washington University, St. Louis.
Tristram McPherson (ethics, metaethics) from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University to Ohio State University.
Alyssa Ney (metaphysics, philosophy of mind) from University of Rochester to the University of California, Davis.
Jill North (philosophy of physics) from Cornell University to Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
Russ Shafer-Landau (ethics, metaethics) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Ted Sider (metaphysics) from Cornell University to Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
David Wallace (philosophy of physics) from Oxford University to the University of Southern California.
Jennifer Whiting (ancient philosophy) from the University of Toronto to the University of Pittsburgh.
In addition to affecting the programs involved in the specialty area rankings, these moves would likely have some effects on the "overall" rankings: Rutgers, I would expect, to be at #2 by itself, rather than tied with Princeton; Cornell would likely drop out of the top 20 (but will remain in the top 25 and will still be strong in metaphysics); the hiring of Wallace will solidify USC's "top 10" status; Wash U will move closer to the top 20; among others.
In addition, Chicago has voted out senior offers to Matthew Boyle (philosophy of mind and action, Kant) from Harvard University and Clinton Tolley (Kant, German Idealism, history and philosophy of mathematics and logic, history of analytic philosophy) from the University of California, San Diego (Tolley is a Chicago PhD). If these offers are accepted, that would almost certainly push Chicago back into the U.S. top 20.
On a different note, I have extended an offer to another philosopher to take over as co-editor of the PGR with Brit going forward; I hope we'll have an announcement about that soon.
----at PhilJobs. (And special congratulations to Nir Ben-Moshe, the first of the PhD students I've had the privilege of working with here to go on the job market; he will start in a tenure-track position at Illinois/Urbana-Champaign!)
...you've no doubt come across the legions of law school bashers in cyberspace, most rather badly informed and not too sharp. (I used to engage this "law school is a scam" crowd, for which my reward was mountains of vile and often defamatory abuse and campaigns of character assassination--they're a charming crowd.) There are real issues about legal education prospective students should consider, but for a more sober perspective I commend the work on the labor economics of legal markets by Michael Simkovic at Seton Hall University; he has posted discussions and summaries of much of it at my law blog.
ADDENDUM: A reader sends along this sophomoric prattle; The Monist must have fallen on hard times to be publishing material like this. The abstract alone will probably be enough for most readers, but do press on, it gives one real insight into the nether regions of the 'profession' where no actual intellectual standards prevail. Imagine, an entire paper organized around an alleged "conflation" that any smart undergraduate would avoid!
I'm sending this email anonymously since, nowadays, being linked to even the mild views that I wish to get your opinion on is grounds for being tossed in the dustbin of "bigotry."
I've seen professional philosophers hint that they have these views, the ones I'm about to express, in places on your blog, but I'm hoping to get them conceretely addressed here.
I fear that the modern left has lost any sense of appropriate boundaries for moral concern and suffers from an obsession with identity recognition that's rapidly undoing the reasonable hierarchy of moral priorities that leftists once had. As this worry implies, I count myself, firmly, among the left. But I can't endorse the shrill, self-destructive ethos rapidly proliferating on this side of the political fence, which might well be an expression of the "Generation Wuss" mentality that you've gestured to at times.
Let me illustrate with an example. I recently read of a stranger's experience, in a Twitter thread that has since been deleted, with a transsexual friend. Having no malicious intent whatsoever, this former individual casually addressed a group of friends, of which the latter person was a part, with the word "guys." His transsexual friend (a woman) informed him sometime later that hearing the word "guys" "triggered" her, induced serious psychological distress, by way of a gender identity conflict that this word brought about. In recounting this story on the internet, the person with the transsexuxal friend stated that he wasn't interested in maintaining a relationship with this person, since he wasn't willing to "walk on eggshells" and self-police his language to accommodate what he perceived to be unreasonable fragility on the part of his transsexual friend. Unsurprisingly, the individual recounting this story was incessantly berated by victim-mongering identity politickers on Twitter, who suggested that he's an "evil bigot" with virtual unanimity.
The belief presumably animating such sickening moralizing strikes me as utterly perverse, where, by "belief", I mean the view that those who cause any offense to some vulnerable individual are morally required to take every step necessary to rectify the caused--and, in the future, avoid causing--offense. Is there no obligation on the part of "offended" persons to accept that not everything they hear will reflect the reality that they desire, and to develop some, dare I say, resilience in the face of this reality? And where will it end? Are we all to avoid speaking in public about the persons we find physically attractive, for fear that some self-aware, unattractive person will be psychologically traumatized by the experience? Though I've asked many people those questions, I'm yet to encounter a principled reason to care so deeply for the offense of "misgendering" transsexual people, while caring not at all for the exclusion that is part and parcel of recognizing that some are beautiful and others ugly. The "reasons" offered typically amount to nothing more than handwaving about how gender "matters more", as if identity politickers can, absent contradiction, merely put aside the social harm and isolation that follow from linguistic practices that establish aesthetic pecking orders, while frothing about "misgendering" and demanding radical revision of the features of language thought to be harmful to certain groups, because the latter "matters more." By that logic, it could be argued that we should dismiss (something, by the way, that I do not want to do) trans issues entirely, since trans folk constitute such a small minority of the population and, as such, the harm to them from misgendering is less serious than the harm to black people from racism. Clearly the former (the respose of identity politickers to my question about inclusion of the ugly) is to do with quality of harm while the latter (about racism) is to do with quantity, but the spirit of the notions is the same.
My correspondent gave permission to open this for general discussion. I agree with the main themes of this e-mail, though less so with the last, long paragraph, which I don't entirely understand. The hyper-sensitivity of coddled narcissists masquerading as moral righteousness is, indeed, tiresome, and it also does an injustice to those who actually suffer from PTSD who are entitled, including legally, to accommodation. But what do readers think?
Professor Pessin compared Gazan Palestinians to “rabid pit bulls” who need to be caged. He described the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a cycle of letting the “snarling dogs” out of their “cage” and then beating them back into it. One person named Nicole commented on the post suggesting the “dogs” be put down. Professor Pessin responded, “I agree.” Professor Pessin directly condoned the extermination of a people. A member of our community has called for the systematic abuse, killing, and hate of another people.
(Thanks to Lukas Slothuus for alerting me to this story.)
ADDENDUM: Prof. Pessin offers an "apology" here, though, oddly, without clearly renouncing the view that Palestinians are "dogs."
UPDATE: IHE now has an informative item on this affair. Prof. Pessin thinks it is a defense of his slurs to report that they were only aimed at Hamas, the elected representative of the Palestinians in Gaza. He also makes the ludicrous claim that this is all an attempt to silence him, an outspoken proponent of Israel (when has an outspoken proponent of Israel ever been silenced in the United States?). On the other hand, students asking the Administration to denounce Prof. Pessin's remarks are wrong to do so: it is not the job of a college administration to police or editorialize about faculty speech.
Grant Ramsey (philosophy of biology, philosophy of science), currently Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, has accepted appointment as BOFZAP Research Professor at KU Leuven, effective July 2016.
Rightly so, do read the whole thing. From the conclusion:
In my view, in this book Fuller lends support to some dicey propositions, including creationism and intelligent design, the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, neurotheology, and transhumanism, not to mention an epistemology of divine psychology. By itself that would not trouble me. What troubles me -- I should say, annoys me -- is that he just avers these things. There is very little argument in this book. In place of it are obsessive self-citations to the author's other publications. That annoyed me because I had time and occasion to read his new book, only to find out that I cannot understand it without reading twenty others by the same author, including maybe even his dissertation. Without studying the earlier books, I can't understand the point of this one, yet nothing in this one makes me want to read those others.
One does begin to wonder whether Fuller is really bonkers, or whether this is all simply to be chalked up to narcissistic stupidity.
Within two decades, we will have almost unlimited energy, food, and clean water; advances in medicine will allow us to live longer and healthier lives; robots will drive our cars, manufacture our goods, and do our chores.
There won’t be much work for human beings. Self-driving cars will be commercially available by the end of this decade and will eventually displace human drivers—just as automobiles displaced the horse and buggy—and will eliminate the jobs of taxi, bus, and truck drivers. Drones will take the jobs of postmen and delivery people....
Robots are already replacing manufacturing workers. Industrial robots have advanced to the point at which they can do the same physical work as human beings. The operating cost of some robots is now less than the salary of an average Chinese worker. And, unlike human beings, robots don’t complain, join labor unions, or get distracted. They readily work 24 hours a day and require minimal maintenance. Robots will also take the jobs of farmers, pharmacists, and grocery clerks.
Medical sensors in our smartphones, clothing, and bathrooms will soon be monitoring our health on a minute-to-minute basis. Combined with electronic medical records and genetic and lifestyle data, these will provide enough information for physicians to focus on preventing disease rather than on curing it....
The writing is clearly on the wall about what lies ahead. Yet even the most brilliant economists—and futurists—don’t know what to do about it....
[A]t best we have another 10 to 15 years in which there is a role for humans. The number of available jobs will actually increase in the U.S. and Europe before it decreases. China is out of time because it has a manufacturing-based economy, and those jobs are already disappearing. Ironically, China is accelerating this demise by embracing robotics and 3D printing. As manufacturing comes back to the U.S., new factories need to be built, robots need to be programmed, and new infrastructure needs to be developed. To install new hardware and software on existing cars to make them self-driving, we will need many new auto mechanics. We need to manufacture the new medical sensors, install increasingly efficient solar panels, and write new automation software.
And see also this. Unless the productive forces of the world are used for common support, the future will be grim indeed.
UPDATE: See also this essay by sociologist Randall Collins, which starts at p. 27 in the linked volume. (Thanks to Benj Hellie for the pointer.)
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)