We do apologize for the compressed schedule in this iteration--in the past, the survey has usually run for at least three weeks, and sometimes more (and it has usually not taken place entirely during term time). Thanks to all those who have already turned in their evaluations.
A brief account here. Just to be clear (given the the number of legal actions growing out of this affair), this lawsuit was an action solely against the university alleging failure to comply with Title IX in its handling of the student's initial complaint about Professor Ludlow. The student has also sued Ludlow personally, and Ludlow has sued the student and the University--those matters are still pending to the best of my knowledge.
...as he now threatens the University of Wisconsin (Madison) for cancelling classes during President Obama's visit to campus. How could such a malevolent neanderthal be elected in the formerly progressive state of Wisconsin?
(Thanks to David Lay Williams for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Larry Shapiro points out, correctly, that this is past michief from Representative Vos, not current.)
As many evaluators have asked, we are going to give a short extension on the PGR: you will have until Monday, November 17 at noon Easter Standard Time (so that would be around 6 or 7 pm in Europe, 11 am in Chicago, and 9 am in California). This is already the shortest evaluation period for a PGR in any of the last several iterations, but hopefully an extra weekend will help some of those Brit and I have heard from who are struggling with other obligations. Thanks to those who have already completed the surveys.
My spouse and I are on the market together this year, and I have heard quite a bit about "line-sharing" (spouses sharing a position) without any details about how common the practice is. I was wondering if readers could weigh in on whether their department would be open to this, if so, when might be a good time to bring it up, if it is even possible given institutional constraints, how this works with tenure decisions, etc
My spouse and I work in different areas and so it might be beneficial for a department, a small department especially, as they would get two philosophers (with non-overlapping areas of expertise) for the price of one, so to speak. But we aren't applying to the same jobs, unless they are open/open.
Faculty or job seekers with pertinent experience or knowledge, please weigh in.
I agree with Jennifer Lackey that universities which really want complainants about sexual harassment and misconduct to come forward should, as a matter of course, indemnify them for subsequent legal risks, but I did think this proposal was rather startling and dangerous, as did others (complete with the overused word "bullying"!).
This is a lightly revised version of a paper I gave last week at a very enjoyable conference on "Philosophy in the Public Sphere" at the Jindal Global University in Sonipat, India, near Delhi; the abstract:
The idea of “public philosophy”—that is, philosophy as contributing to questions of moral and political urgency in the community in which it is located—is paradoxical for two reasons. The first is that normative philosophy has no well-established substantive conclusions about the right and the good. Thus, philosophers enter into moral and political debate purporting to offer some kind of expertise, but the expertise they offer can not consist in any credible claim to know what is good, right, valuable, or any other substantive normative proposition that might be decisive in practical affairs. But philosophers—at least those in the broadly Socratic traditions--do bring to debate a method or way of thinking about contested normative questions: they are good at parsing arguments, clarifying the concepts at play in a debate, teasing out the dialectical entailments of suppositions and claims, and so on: Socratic philosophers are, in short, purveyors of what I call “discursive hygiene.” This brings us to the second paradox: although philosophers can contribute no substantive knowledge about the good and the right, they can contribute discursive hygiene. But discursive hygiene plays almost no role in public life, and an only erratic, and highly contingent, role in how people form beliefs about matters of moral and political urgency. I call attention to the role of two factors in moral judgment: non-rational emotional responses and “Tribalism,” the tendency to favor members of one “tribe” at the expense of others. The prevalence of emotional responses, especially tribalist ones, undermines the efficacy of discursive hygiene in public life.
I conclude that the role for public philosophy is quite circumscribed, though public philosophers should learn from their cousins, the lawyers, who appreciate the role that rhetoric, beyond discursive hygiene, plays in changing moral attitudes and affecting action. Along the way, I discuss Stevenson’s emotivism, what we can learn from Peter Singer’s schizophrenic role as a public philosopher (lauded for his defense of animal rights, pilloried for his defense of killing defective humans), evolutionary explanations of tribalism, the lessons of American Legal Realism for the possible relevance of discursive hygiene, and Marx and Nietzsche as "public" philosophers.
Here; indviidual winners are Helen Nissenbaum (Media, NYU) for the Barwise Prize; Christopher (Kit) Wellman (Wash U/St. Louis), the Berger Memorial Prize; and Carol Hay (U Mass, Lowell), the Kavka/UC Irvine Prize in Political Philosophy.
A longtime member of the faculty at the University of Glasgow, Professor Knowles was well-known for his work in political philosophy and on Hegel. I will add links to memorial notices when they appear.
A longtime member of the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, where he was Professor Emeritus and where there is an annual lecture in his honor, Professor Magnus was a leading Anglophone scholar of Nietzsche and of Heidegger. I will add links to memorial notices as they appear.
ADDENDUM: John Martin Fischer reports there will be a memorial service at Temple Beth-El in Riverside on November 10 at noon.
Yesterday, my co-editor Brit Brogaard sent out a reminder notice to PGR evaluators that the surveys are set to close this Friday, November 14 at 5 pm. We are negotiating with Wiley-Blackwell about how much time they will need, once we have processed the results, to get it on-line--we'd like to have the PGR out by early December for the benefit of students in this admissions cycle. It's possible we may be able to extend the deadline a bit, as many evaluators have asked. I'll post an update here later in the week if that is possible. Many thanks to the roughly 170 evaluators so far, including Aldo Antonelli, Anne Margaret Baxley, Jose Bermudez, Cristina Bicchieri, Lee Braver, Lara Buchak, Peter Carruthers, Stephen Darwall, Lisa Downing, James Dreier, Julia Driver, Gail Fine, John Martin Fischer, Johann Frick, Daniel Garber, Robert Gooding-Williams, Gary Gutting, Paul Guyer, Volker Halbach, Robert Hopkins, Terence Irwin, Jenann Ismael, Sean Kelly, Michelle Kosch, Marc Lange, Brian Leftow, Jeff McMahan, Cheryl Misak, Jennifer Nagel, Bence Nanay, Ram Neta, Jill North, John Norton, Samir Okasha, Laurie Paul, Derk Pereboom, Huw Price, Michael Rosen, Alex Rosenberg, Ian Rumfitt, Carolina Sartorio, Mark Schroeder, Russ Shafer-Landau, Lawrence Sklar, Brian Skyrms, Scott Soames, Ernest Sosa, Eleonore Stump, Peter Vallentyne, Eric Watkins, Allen Wood, Christian Wurhrich, and Naomi Zack, among many others. (A full list of all evaluators will appear with the published report, of course.) If you were nominated as an evaluator, please try to make time between now and Friday to join this distinguished group of philosophers in contributing to the 2014-15 PGR.
Philosopher Andrew Levine (emeritus, Wisconsin) comments:
Nowaday...all we hear about, in liberal circles especially, is civility. It is a virtue not much practiced, but extravagantly praised.
The idea that civility should be maintained at all times – in politics especially — is a conceit of recent vintage. Perhaps, in a different possible world, some good could come of it. In the actual world, it is more likely to be disabling than constructive.
A wiser principle would be to accord civility only where civility is due — to persons and opinions that, right or wrong, really do merit respect.
This standard would rule out capitalist predators.
But class hatred is hard to maintain towards a few very conspicuous late model capitalists: the kind behind iPhones and Google searches and social media. They seem too hip to hate...
Yes, they are the modern day counterparts of the tycoons workers used to hate, but who can hate tycoons who provide consumers with harmless, well-designed and eminently useful deli.ghts; and who offer user-friendly services that nearly everyone these days finds indispensable.
Could it be that they are the vanguard of a friendlier, hipper – nicer – capitalism? It appears so.
The Republican agenda for next year also includes several changes for the University of Wisconsin, according to Vos. He said that he wants to ensure that faculty spend more time teaching, and that research is geared toward helping the state's economy.
“Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever,” said Vos. “So we want to try to have priorities that are focused on growing our economy.”
Vos and Joint Finance Committee Chairman John Nygren were asked whether they were open to a budget request by the UW that would increase funding for the System by $95 million dollars. Nygren called that a “tough sell,” saying he didn't think the state should make up for funding the System lost as part of a mandatory tuition freeze.
A leading Hume scholar, Professor Norton was emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University. A brief memorial notice from the Hume Society is here. (Thanks to Rico Vitz for the pointer.) I will add links to other memorial notices when they appear.
The surveys will close on November 14 at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time. We are under a tight deadline if Wiley-Blackwell is to get the results on-line in time to help students in the process of applying. We may be able to give a short extension, but at this point, please do not count on it.
A nice aspect of the briefly overboard smear campaign back in September was that I got tons of e-mails from friends, colleagues, students, former students and former colleagues offering sympathy, praise, words of appreciation, and so on. But one theme that came up a lot was the alleged similarities between the (partially successful) campaign to oust me from the PGR and what the University of Illinois did to Steven Salaita. At first, I didn't give this much thought, because of the two obvious differences: Salaita lost his livelihood, whereas the smear campaigners targetted only my editing the PGR, not my livelihood; and Salaita's "offensive" speech was on matters of public concern, whereas mine was not. But as more correspondents raised it, it did seem to me there were some moderately interesting similarities: first, the critics of both Salaita and of me were convinced of the utter rectitude of their objections to the "offensive" speech; and second, the critics were not content simply to criticize and denounce, they wanted to exact a tangible "punishment," or what they perceived to be such a punishment. The combination of sanctimonious rectitude and a desire to exact punishment for offensive speech makes a dangerous brew, far more dangerous in the Salaita case obviously.
A video of the event is here; Professor Siegel offers the following remarks about their discussion:
We were asked to discuss the roles of the sciences and the humanities in the study of the mind. Pinker went first. His own approach to studying to social phenomena (such as violence and gender roles) is evolutionary psychology. His intellectual hero is the sociobiologist E.O. Wilson. That comes through in his comments. But his main focus is on the respective roles of the sciences in general and the humanities. You could have guessed it in advance: Pinker chides 'the Humanities' for their 'anti-scientism' and for being insulated from the sciences (he makes an exception for philosophy, which he thinks - wrongly - is thoroughly and heavily informed by psychology), but he seems deaf to huge swathes of research in politics, literature, and social history which isn't and couldn't productively be informed by any 'science of the mind' of the sort he envisions.
My goal in my comments was to exhibit some of these areas of the Humanities. Our main disagreement is about what's continuous and what's discontinuous between the sciences and the humanities.
I find continuity in the modes of inquiry between the sciences and the humanities, because science is more than just confirming hypotheses. It includes the analysis of problems and to some extent (e.g. in certain types of case studies) detailed descriptions of experiences. The discontinuity is in the subject-matter. I identified three examples in my talk. One of them is about evidentialism and beliefs about social inequality. In another example I mention Chris Lebron's work on the long strand of American literature aimed at exposing the 'vast experiential gulf' between Americans. (I'm thankful to Chris for getting me to read Mat Johnson's novel *Pym*.)
Pinker thinks the sciences have superior methods, and that those methods can be applied widely in the humanities. So he thinks there ought to be continuity in the subject matter, and that to the extent that actual modes of inquiry are discontinuous, that's too bad for the humanities. (Philosophy is supposed to be a big hero here. He hasn't met the many non-naturalists that populate the field!)
I chose not to emphasize explicitly my biggest disagreement with Pinker's own political and psychological orientation. In a forum like this, that perspective is best met by exhibiting what it has to leave out. (It'd be different if we were charged with discussing sociobiology per se, in which case the perspective Pinker likes could be the main subject of discussion).
I also chose not to emphasize our biggest agreement, which is that philosophy - especially philosophy of mind, but also epistemology - is indeed often better when not conducted in complete intellectual isolation from the sciences. What would be the point of our spending all our time agreeing about that? It would have made the topic too narrow, and obscured the most important differences.
Final point: When you put together Pinker's own orientation as the intellectual heir to EO Wilson, with his interesting suggestions about reorganizing the university, it's easy to get the impression that he would in an imperialist manner impose sociobiology on the humanities. That is silly. He's serious about exploring other ways for the university to be organized, such as getting rid of disciplines altogether. He's not against fiction or philosophy. (He is after all the husband of the brilliant Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher and novelist). He says he didn't disagree with anything I said, though when push came to shove, he said we don't get any deep general or causal explanation of social phenomena or of the mind from the work in literature or history that I mentioned. He says causal generalizations can't be gotten from 'mere' descriptions. --But here's the part of his suggestion I think is very bad: he suggests selling the Humanities to the highest bidder. He points out in his talk that many donors would fund the Humanities more if there were greater connections to science. That is a poor reason to reorganize the university. You wouldn't select which novels should be taught by consulting the NYTimes best-seller list either.
The survey has been running for almost a week, and we've already got about 100 evaluators participating in either the overall or specialty rankings, most in both, which is a bit ahead of where we thought we'd be, given that, in the past, the vast majority of evaluations are submitted in the final few days of the survey (which closes a week from Friday, November 14--if you can do it sooner, please do, as sometimes the server gets slow with a rush of evaluators near the end). One complication this year is that the timing coincides for a number of evaluators with the job season; we particularly appreciate those who have managed to make time to contribute despite these other obligations.
Local news story here (including the "Notice of Claim" letter from Barnett's lawyer, which is quite damning about the University's conduct if accurate). The response of the University official is quite snide, and fails to note that, in fact, Ward Churchill prevailed with a jury in his lawsuit against Colorado.
...due to increasingly unhinged comments I infer. Too bad, it was sometimes quite amusing as it ridiculed "the Daily Snooze," "NudeChapps," the"Feminist Philosophers" and me (no nickname stuck), but I'm not surprised it got out of control: the first law of cyberspace is: anonymity + no adult oversight=cyber-cesspool.
A couple of readers asked whether I was going to reply on the blog to any of the recent blog criticisms of the PGR. I am not, since there is almost nothing new in the criticisms that hasn't been addressed a hundred times, to no avail, since the critics have, with rare exceptions, other axes to grind. Faculty advise their students where to apply to graduate school based in significant measure on judgments of quality. The PGR aggregates a lot of those judgments, for the benefit of lots of students. This is obvious to most who participate in the surveys and use them. The strong response to the current surveys indicates that most professional philosophers know that the PGR does well what it does. Those interested in the merits of the surveys and the value of the results should consult the sociologist Kieran Healy's research on them (some of which you can read here.)
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)