It starts here, and continues here, and receives scathing commentary here. For the life of me, I can't even figure out what the purportedly offending passage even means: its English is barely intelligible. Synthese should be embarrassed to have published this on the latter ground alone. What do readers think of all this?
Lots of sensible stuff here, and much of it amusing too. Krugman's anti-Sanders commentary, in particular, is a disgrace; the awfulness of Bush redeemed Krugman, but in the beginning he was a tiresome apologist for the status quo, and he's come back home to his true calling now that the 36th year of Ronald Reagan's Presidency may actually come to an end.
Not a philosopher per se, but a philosophically minded biologist; as Michael Weisberg (Penn) wrote to me, "Along with Dick Lewontin and Stephen Jay Gould, he was one of the most influential evolutionary biologists on philosophers." There's an obituary here.
The petition is here. Briefly: Prof. Yancy wrote about racism at the New York Times blog, and has since been subjected to disgusting racist abuse and threats through e-mail and other social media. I gather the APA is going to issue a statement of support. I confess I'm not really sure what the point is here. Every civilized person is appalled at the outbursts of racist, misogynistic and/or criminal abuse that follow any public statement that offends some segment of the deranged population. Anyone who airs such views in cyberspace has been a victim of this kind of abuse, though the worst is typically reserved for women and minorities in my experience. As I advised elsewhere, Prof. Yancy, like anyone else targeted by such garbage, should report criminal threats to law enforcement (I always do, and the University of Chicago police have often been helpful, usually in confirming that the threats are the idle malice of irrelevant cranks). But I confess I'm at a loss as to the point of an APA statement on the matter: the vile and often sociopathic people who send these hateful messages are not going to be at all affected by an APA statement, if they even learn of it. There are many ways to express solidarity and sympathy with Prof. Yancy's predicament, quite apart from the APA statement. Unlike the situation in Turkey, in which the state is the malevolent actor but also sensitive to reputational costs, it's just not clear to me what will be accomplished by an APA statement in this instance. Since this is another issue pertaining to the role of the APA, I wonder what readers think?
The APSA's letter to the Turkish President is here. Given that a number of philosophers have been targeted, I would hope the APA will come to life on this issue. The Turkish government, I am told, may in fact be very sensitive to adverse international publicity in this case.
Marvin Krislov, the president, said that while some of the demands "resonate with me and many members of our community, including our trustees," he would not respond directly to the proposals from black students, which were termed non-negotiable.
"[S]ome of the solutions it proposes are deeply troubling," Krislov wrote in a response posted on Oberlin's website. "I will not respond directly to any document that explicitly rejects the notion of collaborative engagement. Many of its demands contravene principles of shared governance. And it contains personal attacks on a number of faculty and staff members who are dedicated and valued members of this community."
The 14-page list of demands at Oberlin was detailed and contained many controversial items. Among other things, it demanded the immediate firing of some Oberlin employees, the immediate tenuring of some faculty members, specific curricular changes, a review and possible revision of the grading system (to be overseen by students), the creation of "safe spaces" for black students in at least three buildings on campus, the creation of a program to enroll recently released prisoners from a nearby prison as undergraduates, divestment from Israel, and a requirement that black student leaders be paid $8.20 an hour for their organizing efforts.
The students also demanded changes at Oberlin's noted conservatory. For instance, the list of demands said that students should not be required to take "heavily based classical courses that have minimal relevance to their jazz interests." Stating that classical music students are not required to study jazz, the list of demands says that students of jazz "should not be forced to take courses rooted in whiteness."
As we noted in December, the Oberlin student "demands" set a new low for their unreasonableness, demanding actions that were plainly illegal. It's a oood thing the President drew a firm line on this nonsense.
MOVING TO FRONT--SOME INTERESTING DISCUSSION, BELOW, MORE WELCOME
The full list. Although only two are listed under the heading "Diversity and Inclusiveness," four of the others arguably are in that category as well. In dollar terms, $26,500 has gone to programs related to the racial and gender diversity of philosophy, while $18,187 has gone to other programs. Apart from the grant to the very talented John Corvino to increase philosophy's YouTube presence, I see very little here that would address such issues as philosophy's presence in the broader culture, the dismal job market, and so on. I wonder if anyone can clarify how these priorities were arrived at and what readers think about how the APA is spending the money collected in dues and from conference registrations? I am not an APA member, so perhaps missed a vote by the APA membership on these issues.
(Thanks to Mike Morris at the APA for forwarding this information.)
Contra Rupert Murdoch’s assertion about Trump having crossover appeal, Trump is extraordinarily unpopular with independent voters and Democrats. Gallup polling conducted over the past six weeks found Trump with a -27-percentage-point net favorability rating among independent voters, and a -70-point net rating among Democrats; both marks are easily the worst in the GOP field. (Trump also has less-than-spectacular favorable ratings among his fellow Republicans.)...
We’ve got an unpopular set of presidential candidates this year– Bernie Sanders is the only candidate in either party with a net-positive favorability rating — but Trump is the most unpopular of all. His favorability rating is 33 percent, as compared with an unfavorable rating of 58 percent, for a net rating of -25 percentage points. By comparison Hillary Clinton, whose favorability ratings are notoriously poor, has a 42 percent favorable rating against a 50 percent unfavorable rating, for a net of -8 points. Those are bad numbers, but nowhere near as bad as Trump’s.
This is not just a recent phenomenon; Trump’s favorability ratings have been consistently poor. It’s true that his favorability numbers improved quite a bit among Republicans once he began running for president. But those gains were almost exactly offset by declines among independents and Democrats. In fact, his overall favorability ratings have been just about unchanged since he began running for president in June.
UPDATE: Speaking of those with an "unfavorable" view of Trump, this seems right.
1. Jerry Fodor (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Daniel Dennett loses to Jerry Fodor by 123–93
3. Hilary Putnam loses to Jerry Fodor by 137–85, loses to Daniel Dennett by 117–110
4. David Chalmers loses to Jerry Fodor by 143–92, loses to Hilary Putnam by 124–112
5. Donald Davidson loses to Jerry Fodor by 141–72, loses to David Chalmers by 132–98
6. Gilbert Ryle loses to Jerry Fodor by 157–69, loses to Donald Davidson by 103–100
7. Thomas Nagel loses to Jerry Fodor by 153–65, loses to Gilbert Ryle by 108–101
8. John Searle loses to Jerry Fodor by 162–56, loses to Thomas Nagel by 109–95
9. Ned Block loses to Jerry Fodor by 167–44, loses to John Searle by 113–93
10. Noam Chomsky loses to Jerry Fodor by 156–55, loses to Ned Block by 102–99
11. David K. Lewis loses to Jerry Fodor by 160–47, loses to Noam Chomsky by 101–93
12. Fred Dretske loses to Jerry Fodor by 171–37, loses to David K. Lewis by 95–90
13. Jaegwon Kim loses to Jerry Fodor by 170–39, loses to Fred Dretske by 92–84
14. Frank Jackson loses to Jerry Fodor by 171–36, loses to Jaegwon Kim by 91–82
15. Tyler Burge loses to Jerry Fodor by 173–36, loses to Frank Jackson by 90–86
16. David Armstrong loses to Jerry Fodor by 171–36, loses to Tyler Burge by 93–75
17. Paul Churchland loses to Jerry Fodor by 181–30, loses to David Armstrong by 88–85
18. Wilfrid Sellars loses to Jerry Fodor by 172–37, loses to Paul Churchland by 93–83
19. G.E.M. Anscombe loses to Jerry Fodor by 166–48, loses to Wilfrid Sellars by 93–75
20. Patricia Churchland loses to Jerry Fodor by 179–34, loses to G.E.M. Anscombe by 99–93
The top ten still living philosophers of mind from this poll are Fodor, Dennett, Putnam, Chalmers, Nagel, Searle, Block, Chomsky, Kim, and Jackson, and Burge.
I confess to being surprised that Ruth Millikan and Stephen Stich were not in the "top 20," they were just a bit outside. I would not have expected such a strong showing for Ryle, whose views, I thought, had aged badly.
Thoughts from readers about what this reveals about the sociology of the profession and/or the philosophical interst of the results?
MOVING TO FRONT FROM JANUARY 17--THE POLL WILL RUN FOR ABOUT ANOTHER 24 HOURS
Here's a new poll for your amusement. I used age 50 as the cut-off for living philosophers of mind. I checked various sources, including SEP, to make sure I had a reasonably complete list. There is obviously some line-drawing between philosophy of mind and language, and I realize not all the choices are obvious. Have fun!
UPDATE: Three unfortunate omissions from the poll: Akeel Bilgrami, Alvin Goldman, Evan Thompson.
Jenny Saul (Sheffield) declared Prof. Jennings "a professional data guru." How professional? This exchange between her and David Wallace (Oxford) is instructive. Prof. Wallace starts by quoting Jennings's attempt to attack me with her data:
It's MLK day in America, so to mark the occasion, let's remember this fine speech. There is no one on the public stage today in this benighted country who can match his rhetorical and oratorical skill.
...but in keeping with the juvenile dishonesty and dissembling with which we've all grown familiar in the philosophy blogosphere, Jenny Saul (Sheffield) and Justin Weinberg (South Carolina)both frames it that way (Saul, of course, without posting a link to the actual discussionsabout PhD programs that should probably close, since that degree of courtesy and honesty would be too difficult). Their purported source is Carolyn Dicey Jennings (UC Merced), who both links to my discussion and makes clear that her "provocative" question was not my question:
"How many of the programs" show up? Ironically, of the 40 programs she lists based on percentage of non-white graduates, just three were on the lists of PhD programs whose rationale for existing I queried, while of the 41 programs she listed based on percentage of female graduates, only seven were on my list. The fact that some mediocre PhD programs enroll significant numbers of women and minorities ought, in a rational world, be all the more reason to be concerned, since to "better serve" underrepresented populations it is not enough to enroll them, one must give them good educations and launch them on the path to securing the gainful academic employment that the vast majority of them no doubt seek. So the answer to Prof. Jennings's "provocative" question is easy: PhD programs that actually "better serve" their students, including women and minorities, should not be closed, but there's no evidence any of the programs on her list are such programs.
What does all this tell us? It tells us, of course, that discussing the fact that there are too many PhD programs in philosophy in the U.S. touches a nerve, so much so that certain people will seize the opportunity to distort the discussion in any way possible.
UPDATE: David Wallace (Oxford) called out Saul's slimy dishonesty in the first comment, and she has now made a slight edit to the original misleading framing.
Professor Wolff has posted the first two of these newly recorded lectures, here and here. The focus of the first lecture is primarily Mannheim, though with a nice transition towards Marx in the final part. I have not yet viewed the second lecture. I can report that the lecture is quite accessible to non-philosophers.
Unless some political leaders call a stop to this madness--"investigating" faculty, calling for them to "resign" because they signed a petition!--the damage to the international reputation of Turkish academia will be irreparable for a generation or more. Where are the voices of sanity in Turkey?
Comments are open for links and further information, including suggestions for how the international academic community should respond.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM JANUARY 13--LOTS OF INTERESTING COMMENTS, MORE WELCOME
Almost everyone agrees there are too many PhD programs in philosophy in the Anglophone world, and perhaps especially in the United States. In a prior post, we mentioned nine programs whose offering a PhD didn't seem to make much sense: three used to be very good terminal MA programs that converted to PhD programs (Arizona State, South Carolina, Texas A&M); the six others mentioned were Kansas, Michigan State, Tulane, Emory, Oregon, and Villanova. Faculty from Arizona State and Tulane responded constructively to the questions raised, making a fair case for their programs. A graduate of one of the programs mentioned (not Arizona State or Tulane) made a particularly striking comment on the earlier thread (I verified the identity of the commenter and all of his/her claims are accurate):
As a recent graduate of one of the programs called out by name, I would like to add my (quick) thoughts. First, Brian is correct to call it out: outside of one specialized area, no one other than myself has achieved a TT job in years. Had I understood the terrible placement track record and the way in which the school is assessed by other philosophers, I would have left after the MA. And I have a TT job!
The difficulty of seeing your program called out is nothing compared to that of watching talented colleagues struggle year after year to get an academic job. Attempting to overcome a program's negative reputation is nearly futile given how many other candidates are on the market. And, one should question the amount of job-search support you'll get from a program that is so accustomed to not placing students (and of covering over that information).
Here are some other PhD programs whose existence, again, seems hard to justify in current conditions. The State University of New York system offers four different PhD programs: at Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook. Buffalo and Stony Brook each have a niche to fill: Buffalo with its more clearly "analytic" orientation and a number of strong faculty, Stony Brook with its niche in the SPEP universe of departments. Albany used to have a terminal MA program, and one recommended in past iterations of the PGR; it is not clear that they should be offering a PhD. Binghamton, despite having hired a number of good younger faculty in recent years, also seems ill-suited to offering a competitive PhD.
So with not quite 400 votes in the poll, here are the "top 26" (after #26, rather than #20, there was a bigger drop-off in the votes):
1.W.V.O. Quine (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Alvin Goldman loses to W.V.O. Quine by 131–100
3. Roderick Chisholm loses to W.V.O. Quine by 145–90, loses to Alvin Goldman by 117–90
4. Wilfrid Sellars loses to W.V.O. Quine by 142–80, loses to Roderick Chisholm by 110–106
5. Timothy Williamson loses to W.V.O. Quine by 148–100, loses to Wilfrid Sellars by 122–118
6. Ernest Sosa loses to W.V.O. Quine by 152–95, loses to Timothy Williamson by 123–107
7.Tied: Fred Dretske loses to W.V.O. Quine by 156–78, loses to Ernest Sosa by 121–90 Edmund Gettier loses to W.V.O. Quine by 160–78, loses to Ernest Sosa by 114–105
9. Donald Davidson loses to W.V.O. Quine by 158–53, loses to Fred Dretske by 120–93
10. William Alston loses to W.V.O. Quine by 164–70, loses to Donald Davidson by 99–96
11.Tied: Laurence BonJour loses to W.V.O. Quine by 164–64, loses to William Alston by 88–82 Nelson Goodman loses to W.V.O. Quine by 163–50, loses to William Alston by 98–96
13. Robert Nozick loses to W.V.O. Quine by 169–52, loses to Laurence BonJour by 102–90
14. Gilbert Harman loses to W.V.O. Quine by 176–41, loses to Robert Nozick by 94–90
15. John McDowell loses to W.V.O. Quine by 168–58, loses to Gilbert Harman by 95–89
16. Tyler Burge loses to W.V.O. Quine by 170–49, loses to John McDowell by 91–88
17. Alvin Plantinga loses to W.V.O. Quine by 173–62, loses to Tyler Burge by 99–73
18. Barry Stroud loses to W.V.O. Quine by 173–39, loses to Alvin Plantinga by 95–78
19. Keith Lehrer loses to W.V.O. Quine by 175–42, loses to Barry Stroud by 81–78
20. Crispin Wright loses to W.V.O. Quine by 183–34, loses to Keith Lehrer by 84–76
21. Keith DeRose loses to W.V.O. Quine by 179–41, loses to Crispin Wright by 82–78
22. Robert Audi loses to W.V.O. Quine by 176–42, loses to Keith DeRose by 81–72
23. David Armstrong loses to W.V.O. Quine by 179–28, loses to Robert Audi by 70–67
24. Paul Boghossian loses to W.V.O. Quine by 179–40, loses to David Armstrong by 74–66
25. Richard Feldman loses to W.V.O. Quine by 175–47, loses to Paul Boghossian by 75–72
26. Philip Kitcher loses to W.V.O. Quine by 176–33, loses to Richard Feldman by 74–72
Hilary Kornblith, Susan Haack, and Richard Jeffrey were not that far off the "top 26."
As with the earlier poll on moral & political philosophers, the poll has mainly sociological--and only partly philosophical--interest. On the one hand, it seems to me clearly right that Alvin Goldman is the preeminent living epistemologist, though I, personally, would have ranked him ahead of Quine, whose strong showing can't be based on the wide influence of his conception of "naturalized epistemology" except as a target that others attack! The strong showing of Chisholm, Sellars, Sosa, Williamson, Gettier, and Dretske is also what I would have, more or less, expected. After that, I'm too uninformed to have a strong view either way.
Alas, there were some omissions from the pool. Carnap's contributions to what is now known as formal epistemology were in the post-WWII period (I failed to realize that), though in general poll responents didn't favor formal epistemology (Jeffrey got the most votes, and did not make the "top 26"). The youthful-looking John Hawthorne is, in fact, over 50, and he likely would have made the top 20 had he been included. (Yale's Keith DeRose did the best of younger philosophers over 50 included in the poll.) A couple of readers pointed out that David Lewis's "Elusive Knowledge" was an important paper in stimulating contextualism, and that he also wrote significant papers for the development of formal epistemology. This is indeed true, but it is fair to say that Lewis was not "primarily" an epistemologist, and there is always a risk that "David Lewis" (like "W.V.O. Quine" perhaps) would simply rise to the top in virtue of his singular importance in Anglophone philosophy of the post-war period.
Comments are open for comments on the sociological and philosophical aspects of the results.
Matthew Boyle, a philosopher of mind at Harvard with substantial interests as well in Kant and German Idealism, has accepted a senior offer from the Department of Philosophy here at Chicago; this should push Chicago squarely back into the U.S. overall top 20.
It is no laughing matter for the United States, and especially for the rest of the world, that one of the two viable political parties, the Republicans, do not have a single plausible candidate who isn't a threat to civilization. But do not worry! I stand by my earlier prediction that Ted Cruz will win Iowa (by a big margin) and South Carolina. Trump will probably win New Hampshire, but not my the margins the polls predict. Various other Repug candidates will drop out, Trump will go increasingly ballistic, and Cruz, a madman with slightly more self-control, will cruise to the nomination. Cruz is Trump with some self-restraint, and, in fact, he's far to the right of Trump, who is an opportunistic posturer, whereas Cruz is genuinely committed to his reactionary views. Either guarantees a Democratic victory. Meanwhile, the only candidate in the race who actually is focused on substance, Bernie Sanders, is, despite the concerted opposition of the prudent wing of the ruling class party (commonly known as the Democrats) is poised to upset things even more: if Sanders wins Iowa (which he could) and wins New Hampshire (which he will, even if he loses Iowa), then the braindead media will have to start covering him as much as they cover the fascist clown show called "Donald Trump." And then all bets are off, since large numbers of ordinary Republican voters will support Sanders on the substance of the issues he is running on. If Sanders then makes an early announcement of a female running mate, well, who knows, America might even rejoin the league of civilized countries? One can dream...
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)