From the usually excellentNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews (which frequently falls short in this particular area, alas, I am guessing because one can't get serious philosophers to review stuff like this):
As the Anglophone reception and appreciation of François Laruelle's work grows, it is worth reminding ourselves of the radicality of its ambition to be a thoroughgoing non-representational style of theorising and thinking. Carried out in the name of the destruction of onto-theology, the overcoming of metaphysics, the excess of the Real, or the deconstruction of presence, the attempt to think outside of traditional representational categories and to do so by means of novel philosophical styles or gestures is, of course, typical of much twentieth-century European philosophy, particularly that coming out of France. It may be tempting, therefore, to view Laruelle's writing as simply one further, albeit idiosyncratic in the extreme, example of philosophical and stylistic invention that places its impossible object of thought in excess of thought itself. Yet, as Laruelle has consistently argued at least since the early 1980s, philosophy has never gone, nor can ever go, far enough in its suspension, destruction or deconstruction of representational thought. Notions of radically withdrawn, ungrounded Being, of transcendence or alterity that would be otherwise than Being, or of difference that would detach philosophy and ontology from all logic of foundation or totality and place the very notion of Being itself under erasure simply do not, for Laruelle, go far enough. For in the end such notions remain conceptual and representational if only because they represent being as withdrawn, as transcendence or alterity, or as difference in excess of ontological foundation or ground. For Laruelle, any kind of ontology, be it differential, negative, or given in the mode of an exacerbated apophasis, does not and cannot do justice to the radical immanence of the Real.
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.
PhilJobs seems to be collecting most of the tenure-track hires this year, and I encourage those who secured jobs to submit their information there. I still get occasional requests to post junior hiring information. Christopher Peacocke, the Chair at Columbia, for example, wrote to report two new tenure-track hires there:
Melissa Fusco (UC Berkeley) as Assistant Professor of Philosophy from July 1 2016
Una Stojnic (Rutgers) as Assistant Professor of Philosophy from July 1 2017.
Una Stojnic is deferring for a year to take up a Bersoff Postdoctoral Fellowship at NYU.
In the event, Department Chairs or Placement Chairs would like to post such information (often aggregated information from a single department is usueful), I'll leave comments open here. Otherwise, job seekers, please submit your information at PhilJobs.
Via Weinberg's "heap" comes this bizarre listing of philosophers with at least 1,000 followers on Twitter listed by how well their books have been selling on Amazon! I've no idea what this means; I'm guessing "nothing," though one must marvel at someone undertaking to compile this!
Sven Bernecker (epistemology), Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, has accepted a Humboldt Professorship at the University of Cologne, effective July 2016. Bernecker retains a fractional appointment at UC Irvine where he will spend one quarter each year.
McMahan makes a number of good points, and I am sympathetic to most of what he says in reply to John Gray and Martha Nussbaum; I'm friendlier than he is to Amia Srinivasan's complaints about EA. It seems to me the issue boils down to the issue aptly framed by McMahan as follows:
I am neither a community nor a state. I can determine only what I will do, not what my community or state will do. I can, of course, decide to concentrate my individual efforts on changing my state’s institutions, or indeed on trying to change global economic institutions, though the probability of my making a difference to the lives of badly off individuals may be substantially lower if I adopt this course than if I undertake more direct action, unmediated by the state.
The crucial word here is "may"; and what's missing, also, is that a genuine calculation has to factor in the magnitude of the possible effects. We may be highly confident that a charitable donation will affect the well-being of 1,000 people along some relevant dimension (though see below re: the economists), and be much less confident about our political activism or donations aimed at changing institutions and systems. But if there is an 80% chance of helping 1,000 slightly, and a 1% chance of helping one billion substantially, why should we think the former is the better course of action--and especially when the former itself may make systemic change less likely? As I've written elsewhere:
If harm to human well-being is primarily a product of systemic problems, as Marxists (correctly) believe, then focus on individual decision against a fixed systemic background will have pernicious consequences in both the long-term and even the medium short-term. Insofar as bourgeois moral philosophers like Singer are concerned with consequences (whether short- or long-term) they would have to acknowledge these possibilities. First, individual acts of charity encourage moral complacency about systemic harms to well-being among charitable givers, in large part because it obscures from serious consideration systemic causes of human misery. Second, those pernicious consequences are only enhanced when the capitalist media seize, as they predictably do, on instances of bourgeois morality as ideals to which others should aspire—for example, in the celebration of a young man who works in the “financial” industry and, influenced by Singer, gives half his income (US $100,000) to charities helping people in impoverished nations (Kristof 2015). Yet we know with certainty that a Wall Street youngster giving US $100,000 per year to various charities will not actually eliminate (or even significantly reduce) poverty, human misery, or suffering--in either the third world or in the first world. The actual effects on well-being of charitable giving are hotly contested by economists; but even when they make small short-term contributions to alleviating particular diseases or disabilities, we have little or no evidence that they actually contribute to flourishing human lives--primarily because those to whom aid is so often directed for discreet problems live under systemic conditions that thwart human flourishing along many other dimensions, to which charity is never responsive.
This is hopeful. To be sure, there will still be tens of millions of benighted Americans, their minds clouded by religion or simple ignorance, who will remain loyal to the crazed ideology that is the current Republican Party, but without a formal organization, they will become irrelevant to electoral outcomes. And then the U.S. might return to the league of civilized nations, with Clintonites playing the role of acceptable Republicans and Sanderites becoming the opposing social democrats.
Kevin Scharp (philosophy of language, philosophical logic, metaphysics, philosophy of science, history of analytic philosophy), Professor of Philosophy at Ohio State University, has accepted appointment as Reader in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews.
ADDENDUM: In addition, Prof. Scharp's partner, the philosopher Alison Duncan Kerr (philosophy of mind, moral psychology, metaethics), currently a Lecturer in Philosophy at Ohio State, will take up a post as Research Fellow in Philosophy at St. Andrews. Both she and Prof. Scharp will be members of Arche there.
...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.
Andrew Chignell (Kant, early modern philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of religion, aesthetics), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University, has senior offers from the Departments of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
There's still one top and one 2nd from the top spot available in May, as well as 3rd from the top spots ($700, $600, $500 respectively). Prospective advertisers can click on the "public stats" link (bottom of the left hand sidebar) to see the volume of traffic here, which has been averaging over 10,000 visits per day, and nearly 15,000 page views per day. I noticed, for example, that the APA blog is asking $750 for top ad spots, which is extraordinary given that I don't have the impression many people are reading it--in any case, the APA blog has no public traffic statistics, so caveat emptor.
I'll be doing less blogging in the summer, so will be offering reduced rates: $300 for the top, $250 for a 2nd, $200 for a 3rd. Some spots have already been reserved for the summer (and one for September even), but there is at least one top spot still available each month going forward. Contact me at bleiter-at-uchicago-dot-edu to reserve advertising.
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.
What follows is my best judgment as to how the faculty changes in the interim should lead prospective PhD students to think about the relevant hierarchy of PhD programs in the U.S. and elsewhere compared to the 2014 survey results. Rather than offer a guestimate about an ordinal rank, I put the PhD programs into "clusters" of what I think should reasonably be considered "peer" programs among which students should choose based on considerations other than "overall prestige." But I generally think it's reasonable to choose between programs in adjacent peer groups based on other considerations (financial aid, location, particular faculty, specialty strength etc.).
An * indicates a program that arguably belongs in the next highest peer grouping. There are one or two possible senior moves afoot that might affect some of these groupings, but my understanding is that the programs involved have been candid with prospectives.
Group 1 (1) Anglophone Programs outside the U.S.
New York University
Group 2 (2-7)
Princeton University *Oxford University
*Rutgers University, New Brunswick
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Pittsburgh
University of Southern California
Group 3 (8-15)
Columbia University University of Toronto
Massachussetts Institute of Technology
University of Arizona
*University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Group 4 (16-20)
Brown University Cambridge University
*City University of New York Graduate Center
University of Chicago
University of Notre Dame
University of Texas, Austin
Group 5 (21-27)
*Cornell University University of St. Andrews/University of Stirling Joint Program
Duke University University of Edinburgh
Indiana University, Bloomington King's College, London
University of California, Irvine University College London
*University of California, San Diego *Australian National University
For readers who don’t know why Illinois doesn’t have a budget 10 months into the fiscal year, it’s because the Illinois General Assembly won’t agree to Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” which aims in part to make Illinois a right to work state and weaken unions. This budget impasse has caused many of the state universities to resort to layoffs: Chicago State (900), Eastern Illinois (177), and WIU to name just a few.
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.
Paul Pietroski (philosophy of language), Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Maryland, College Park, has accepted appointment as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, effective fall 2017.
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)
University of Chicago
New York University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Pennsylvania
Johns Hopkins University
Top Public University Faculty Salaries for Full Professors, 2015-16 (Average)
University of California at Los Angeles
University of California at Berkeley
Rutgers University at Newark
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
University of Virginia
University of California at Santa Barbara
University of California at San Diego
University of California at Irvine
Rutgers University at New Brunswick
University of Maryland at Baltimore
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.
Shamik Dasgupta (metaphysics, philosophy of science), Associate Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, has accepted at tenured offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, where he will be moving (he reports) "this summer."
Your recent mention of "The Case of the Speluncean Explorers" (in the poll on philosophers of law) got me thinking about other "classic" legal papers. "Speluncean Explorers" strikes me as an unusually good example of a paper that has the ability to introduce undergraduate students to a lot of big ideas in the field (and it does so in an evocative way). In light of your background in the area, I would be interested in hearing what you and your readers consider to be similar papers, i.e., papers that might be used to flavor a broad array of undergraduate courses that touch upon the law. I have in mind things like "Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals" (Hart), "Positivism and Fidelity to Law" (Fuller), "The Punishment that Leaves Something to Chance" (David Lewis), "Persons and Punishment" (Herbert Morris), and so on.
Personally, I would not teach "Positivism and Fidelity to Law," since it's just a tissue of confusions that does nothing to illuminate legal positivism or relevant objections to it. In any case, this is open for reader suggestions. (Comments may take awhile to appear, please be patient.)
A nicely written essay by Zena Hitz (St. John's College, Annapolis). It offers an interesting defense of a decidedly Christian understanding of the "interiority" and "dignity" of humanistic reflection (also a Platonic one, though as Nietzsche said, "Christianity is Platonism for the people") against the neoliberal ("the humanities produce people who are useful for capitalism") and liberal ("the humanities make people good democratic citizens") defenses of humanistic study. As Nietzsche notes in the Genealogy, the "slave revolt" in morality made human beings interesting, giving them interior lives. And the humanities (here understood capaciously to include the cognitive sciences generally) are, when done well and seriously (e.g., not Badiou studies!), are precisely those that help one become a human being who is "interesting." That concern has no resonance for the neoliberal or liberal defenses of the humanities. Since our age is still neoliberal to its core, that means humanistic study is doomed in the neoliberal countries. But it will likely return elsewhere.
What do readers think of Prof. Hitz's interesting essay?
...which you can watch here. And if you'd like to know the truth about what's really going on with Supreme Court nomination battles, read this. (I'm not there, I'm at home working, since the faculty have been thrown out of their offices for the day!)
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)