...the downward trend in applications appears to be continuing, and while the top law schools will not see as big a drop, they will almost certainly be offering more "merit" aid, as they did last year.
Authors and/or publishers kindly sent me these new books this month:
Death & the Afterlife by Samuel Scheffler, edited by Niko Kolodny (Oxford University Press, 2013) [this volume also includes responses to Scheffler's Tanner Lectures by Harry Frankfurt, Kolodny, Seana Shiffrin, and Susan Wolf].
Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy by G.A. Cohen, edited by Jonathan Wolff (Princeton University Press, 2013).
The Oxford Handbook of Nietzsche edited by Ken Gemes & John Richardson (Oxford University Press, 2013). [I have an essay in this one, which is why I received a copy]
The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present by David Runciman (Princeton University Press, 2013).
Does God Exist? A Dialogue on the Proofs for God's Existence, 2nd edition, by Todd C. Moody (Hackett, 2013).
Aristotle's Modal Syllogistic by Marko Malink (Harvard University Press, 2013).
The Quotable Kierkegaard edited by Gordon Marino (Princeton University Press, 2014).
Confucian Reflections: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times by Philip J. Ivanhoe (Routledge, 2013).
Current Controversies in Philosophy of Mind edited by Uriah Kriegel (Routledge, 2014).
Authorities: Conflicts, Cooperation, and Transnational Legal Theory by Nicole Roughan (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Joint Commitment: How We Make the Social World by Margaret Gilbert (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Liberal Rights and Responsibilities: Essays on Citizenship and Sovereignty by Christopher Heath Wellman (Oxford University Press, 2014).
Minds, Brains, and Law: The Conceptual Foundations of Law and Neuroscience by Michael S. Pardo & Dennis Patterson (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Divine Fury: A History of Genius by Darrin M. McMahon (Basic Books, 2013). [This is an entertaining work of history, that was illuminating, for example, on the cult of Napoleon as a "genius" in the 19th-century].
During his long career at Columbia University, Professor Danto wrote very widely, including well-known books and articles on philosophy of action, philosophy of history, Nietzsche, and Sartre, though he became best-known outside the academy for his work in aesthetics and art criticism, including a long stint as the art critic for The Nation. I will add links to memorial notices as they appear.
I am writing to you at the suggestion of several professors of philosophy, who thought this might deserve the attention of the greater philosophical community. I am in the process of applying to graduate schools in philosophy for Fall 2014 (in the United States and Canada).
I am shocked that there are several institutions that do not offer need-based fee waivers for applications. Many top programs do offer waivers for those with demonstrated need or who qualify based on participation in specific programs, but several major programs (Harvard, UNC*, Toronto, etc.) do not.
Students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are already playing a game pitted against them. Besides those things which I surely do not need to repeat, but which are known to keep promising students out of undergraduate and graduate programs, applying to graduate school also means paying $165 for the GRE and $25 for each school a report is sent to.
Everyone is aware of how difficult it is to get into graduate school, and I have not met anyone that is applying to less than 10 schools. Even if half those schools waive their fees, that's $250 in GRE reports and probably close to $500 in the other application fees. With small chances of admittance for even highly-qualified candidates, it seems a poor investment to put in so much money when one is lucky if they have that much disposable money at all. For a student like me, there is no option but to remove my application. What was a small chance becomes no chance.
Schools that do not provide the fee waiver option send the message that they have no interest in students who cannot afford hundreds of dollars in application fees. Financially disadvantaged students are faced with a decision: do they use their limited funds to apply to the (likely higher-ranked and more competitive) program they would love to attend, or do they apply to the program they are more likely to be admitted to?
*At UNC, it's not possible if you had any period of time for which you weren't enrolled; a condition is "no breaks in enrollment from point of entry at the undergraduate level." This seems to target a particularly vulnerable group: people who took time off to work, either during or after undergraduate programs.
How widespread a problem is this? Please provide links to other examples. I assume these policies are overwhelmingly set by the central administration, not the philosophy departments. Do any departments have their own policies/procedures to waive fees based on economic need? Signed comments will be very strongly preferred.
A colleague at CUNY has sent to me the statement by the faculty union President, Barbara Bowen:
The CUNY Administration has developed a draft “Policy on Expressive Activity,” to be considered for adoption sometime after January 1 by the CUNY Board of Trustees. You can read it here. The draft policy proposes severe limitations on how the fundamental and distinct freedoms of speech and assembly may be exercised at the City University. Anyone who knows the importance of freedom of expression at CUNY or who understands the essential character of a university has a stake in whether the policy is adopted.
Proposed on the heels of faculty opposition to Pathways and student protests about tuition increases, the policy reads as an attempt to silence dissent and to stifle protest before it starts.
As drafted, the proposed “Policy on Expressive Activity” goes beyond existing regulations on individual and collective action at CUNY. It would ban demonstrations from the interior of CUNY buildings, forcing demonstrators into “designated areas”; it would require 24 hours’ advance notice of demonstrations involving as few as 25 people; it would limit the distribution of “materials” on campus to areas designated by the administration; and it would give college presidents or their designees the sole power to determine if a demonstration is “disruptive”—and to call the police onto campus to stop it. “Freedom of expression and assembly,” the proposed policy states, “are subject to the need to maintain safety and order.” The union takes extremely seriously the University’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment for those who work and study here. But safety is not the same as “order”; safety does not require repression.
Universities should uphold the highest standards for freedom of speech and assembly. As institutions devoted not just to the transmission of knowledge but to the production of new ideas, universities are inherently places of exploration, debate, dissent and, sometimes, protest. If CUNY is to be an intellectually vibrant university, it must recognize that “expressive activity” is a vital part of campus life, not a danger to be confined to narrow limits.
The PSC leadership believes it is important that every member of the faculty and staff have an opportunity to read the proposed policy, which we received informally this month—though not from CUNY. The draft, however, is dated June 27. The proposed policy potentially affects all of us, and our students. We urge you to discuss the draft policy in your union chapter meetings in preparation for further union action. The PSC leadership has begun to develop a comprehensive response to the proposed policy, using every possible means—including protest—to challenge it. On October 24, the union sent CUNY a formal demand to bargain on the policy, as we believe it would have an impact on the terms and conditions of employment of the faculty and staff we represent. Union officers are also in discussion with the University Faculty Senate leadership and have asked First Amendment lawyers for their review. The PSC’s executive council and delegate assembly will fully examine the draft policy and consider resolutions in response at their next meetings.
CUNY was founded in 1847 as the result of disruption and dissent; several of its colleges have been saved from closing during fiscal crises because of protest and assembly. Chilling restrictions on “expressive activity” have no place here. I welcome your comments on the proposed policy and will update you as the union continues to act in response.
I'm wondering if you could have a discussion for your website about manuscript referencing styles. Some journals, mostly European-based, require in-text citation referencing. My own work is usually written in the style typically seen in the top journals in my subfield (which involve the use of footnotes or endnotes), which happen to be American-based. I have found that if a paper of mine is rejected in these journals, I have difficulty getting them accepted for review at European journals; to my surprise, most seem to require manuscripts be submitted in their referencing style, which in some cases would require significant revision to meet (my work is footnote-heavy). I am wondering what philosophers think of this practice. It seems to me that journals should be willing to accept for review papers of any referencing style, and only later request the author to convert the paper to its style after it is accepted.
[Sara Rachel] Chant and her husband, Zachary Ernst, were recruited [to Missouri] in 2006 from two faculty jobs at Florida State University. The philosophy department here wooed them with higher salaries, they say. The department also paid to transport Ms. Chant's horses from Florida and agreed to allow her dog—Alexander, a Great Dane—to accompany her to the campus....
Mr. Ernst went up for tenure first, in 2008, and got it without a hitch. But when it was Ms. Chant's turn three years later, the department voted her down. Most of the other decision makers up the line, all the way to the university's chancellor, agreed with the department's decision. They said Ms. Chant had failed to design new courses, that her syllabi weren't detailed enough, and that she had cowritten too many publications with her husband rather than publishing articles she alone wrote in top journals, Ms. Chant says.
To complicate matters, a few years before Ms. Chant came up for tenure she had had an affair with a philosopher outside Missouri, and Mr. Ernst, who was crushed at the time, is said to have told a colleague here that he actually wrote most of his wife's work. Mr. Ernst now says that's something he never claimed, but Ms. Chant says she believes that it was a factor in her tenure proceedings.
By the height of Ms. Chant's tenure battle, a few years after the affair had ended, Mr. Ernst had become a more outspoken advocate for her case than she was herself. He accompanied her to administrators' offices to wage appeals. And he dashed off a treatise he put on Facebook, accusing the philosophy department of sexism.
Some blogs covered Mr. Ernst's accusations at the time, though not this one--as I suspected, there was a lot more to the story. (Ms. Chant did subsequently get tenure after appealing the decision.)
I have posted it here. This will be part of a wonderfully clever series that Topoi has run for a number of years, and which is explained here:
We take a classic of philosophy and ask an outstanding scholar in the same field to review it as if it had just been published. This implies that the classical work must be contrasted with both past and current literature and must be framed in the wider cultural context of the present day. The result is a litmus test for the work itself: Failure in accounting for relevant issues raised by contemporary literature reveals that, in those respects, our classic has indeed been outpaced by later works. On the other hand, any success in capturing core topics of current discussion, or even anticipating and clarifying issues not yet well brought into focus by contemporary scholars, is the strongest proof of the liveliness of the work, no matter how long ago it was written.
I have enjoyed reading some of the previous "Untimely Reviews," including for example Brandom on Hegel's Phenomenology (2008) and Leitgeb on Carnap's Aufbau (2009). Readers not familiar with the series should check it out.
(I should note that my "untimely review" will not include that many new ideas for those who have been reading some of my other Nietzsche essays of late--I've been working on, and writing about Twilight quite a bit over the last two years.)
You would think this came from a Sinclair Lewis novel, but it's for real:
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama sent a letter this week to Carol M. Watson, the acting chairwoman of the NEH, in which he demanded the agency explain its peer-review process for funding grants that explore “very indefinite” questions.
Sessions pointed to seven grants the NEH funded that seek to explore the following questions: “What is the meaning of life?”, “Why are we interested in the past?”, “What is the good life and how do I live it?”, “Why are bad people bad?”, “What is belief?”, “What is a monster?”, and “Why do humans write?”
While the vast majority of my students are perfectly happy to study philosophy in college and never crack open another book , I periodically meet with someone interested in pursuing graduate school. While these range from academically-inclined and hard-working students to those who clearly lack the academic credentials to be admitted anywhere, there are some for whom I just think graduate school would be a bad idea. I wonder if folks who’ve been in the profession longer have developed good strategies for talking to students who they wish to dissuade from pursuing a graduate career. Part of my concern is that such students may end up in poor PhD or expensive terminal MA programs that may result in great quantities of debt and few job prospects (I know that an MA can be a wonderful place to “try it out”, but in this economic climate, allowing students to accrue more debt seems morally troubling). I try to be as dire about the prospects for success in the profession as I can, but this doesn’t seem sufficient.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM OCT. 13--a couple more minor corrections.
These are the major changes at the (primarily) tenured faculty level since the fall 2011 surveys for programs ranked then or in 2009. I've generally omitted short-term part-time appointments. I try to always list areas of specialty under the appointing school's entry (sometimes under the school that lost the faculty member as well.) The list of tenurings since fall 2011 is probably incomplete, and I welcome corrections and additions. Just about all these changes can be expected to affect the specialty rankings, and some, due to their significance and/or number, might affect the overall results; I speculate at the end about that.
Australian National University: Appointed Victoria McGeer (philosophy of mind & cognitive science, moral psychology) and Philip Pettit (ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of mind & social science) half-time from Princeton. David Chalmers (philosophy of mind & language, metaphysics) has accepted a tenured appointment at NYU, but continues to be part-time at the ANU (details to be determined going forward).
Birkbeck College, University of London: Appointed Hallvard Lillehammer (ethics, political philosophy) from Cambridge. Lost Miranda Fricker (epistemology, ethics, feminist philosophy) to Sheffield and Ian Rumfitt (philosophy of language) to Birmingham.
Boston University: Jaakko Hintikka (logic, philosophy of language, logic, math & science) and Victor Kestenbaum (American philosophy) are retiring. Krzysztof Michalski (who was part-time) passed away.
Brown University: Appointed Paul Guyer (Kant, aesthetics) from Penn. Lost Richard Heck (philosophy of language, math & logic, history of analytic philosohy) to Rutgers and will lose Jaegwon Kim (metaphysics, philosophy of mind) to retirement at the end of this academic year. Joshua Schechter (epistemology) was tenured.
Cambridge University: Appointed Richard Holton (philosophy of action, ethics, philosophy of law) and Rae Langton (Kant, ethics, feminist philosophy) from MIT. Lost Fraser MacBride to Glasgow and Hallavard Lillehammer to Birkbeck.
City University of New York Graduate Center: Lost Alva Noe (philosophy of mind & cognitive science) back to Berkeley.
Cornell University: Lost Matti Eklund (metaphysics) to Uppsala. Nicholas Sturgeon (ethics) retired. Richard Boyd (philosophy of science, metaphysics) and Gail Fine (ancient philosophy) are on phased retirement. Nicholas Silins (epistemology, philosophy of mind) was tenured.
Duke University: Fred Dretske (epistemology, philosophy of mind), a part-time Research Professor, passed away. Peter van Inwagen (metaphysics, philosophy of religion) from Notre Dame will teach one graduate seminar each Spring for at the least the next three years.
Georgetown University: Patrick Heelan (phenomenology) retired. Bryce Huebner (philosophy of cognitive science, social science & mind) was tenured.
Harvard University: Appointed (jointly with Mathematics) W. Hugh Woodin (set theory, mathematical logic) from Berkeley. Jeffrey McDonough (early modern philosophy) and Bernhard Nickel (philosophy of language, also science & mind) were tenured.
Indiana University, Bloomington: Marcia Baron (ethics, Kant, philosophy of law) has accepted the Professorship in Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews, part-time to start, and full-time as of January 2014. Lost Karen Hanson (aesthetics, ethics, philosophy of mind) to Minnesota, where she is now Provost. Kate Abramson (Hume, ethics, early modern philosophy) was tenured.
King's College, London: Appointed Bill Brewer (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind) from Warwick and Nick Shea (philosophy of psychology, cognitive science, & mind) from Oxford.
London School of Economics: Appointed Michael Otsuka (political philosophy, ethics) from University College London. Lost Nancy Cartwright (philosophy of science) to Durham.
Massachussetts Institute of Technology: Appointed Kieran Setiya (ethics, epistemology) from Pittsburgh. Lost Richard Holton (philosophy of action, ethics, philosophy of law) and Rae Langton (Kant, ethics, feminist philosophy) to Cambridge University. Robert Stalnaker (philosophy of languagee, mind & logic) is on phased retirement, ending in 2016 (and visiting half the year at Columbia).
New York University: Appointed David Chalmers (philosophy of mind, language & cognitive science) from the ANU (though Chalmers continues to spend some time at ANU), Cian Dorr (metaphysics) from Oxford, and Jessica Moss (ancient philosophy) from Oxford. Robert Hopkins (aesthetics, philosophy of mind, Nietzsche) from Sheffield is currently visiting and has a permanent offer. Thomas Nagel (moral & political philosophy, philosophy of mind) has retired. Ronald Dworkin (political & legal philosophy), whose primary appointment was in the Law School, passed away.
Ohio State University: Appointed Chris Pincock (philosophy of math and science, history of analytic philosophy) from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Declan Smithies (epistemology, philosophy of mind) was tenured.
Oxford University: Appointed Susanne Bobzien (ancient, philosophy of language) from Yale, Karen Nielsen (ancient) from Western Ontario, Ian Phillips (philosophy of mind) from UCL, and Tom Porter (political philosophy) from Manchester. Lost Tim Bayne (philosophy of mind) to Manchester; Krister Bykvist (ethics) and Anandi Hattiangadi (philosophy of mind & language, metaphysics, epistemology), both to Stockholm; Cian Dorr (metaphysics) and Jessica Moss (ancient), both to NYU; Antony Eagle (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science & probability) to Adelaide; and Scott Sturgeon (epistemology) to Birmingham. David Charles (ancient) will leave for Yale in 2014 and John Hawthorne (metaphysics, epistemology) will leave for Southern California in 2015. Daniel Isaacson (philosophy of math, logic) retired.
Princeton University: Lost part-time faculty member John Hawthorne (metaphysics, epistemology) to Southern California. Victoria McGeer (philosophy of mind & cognitive science, moral psychology) and Philip Pettit (ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of mind & social science) will now be half-time at Princeton and half-time at the ANU. Sarah-Jane Leslie (philosophy of language) was tenured (and promoted to full professor at the same time!).
Rutgers University, New Brunswick: Appointed Elisabeth Camp (philosophy of language and mind, aesthetics) from Penn, Richard Heck (philosophy of language, math & logic; history of analytic philosophy) from Brown, and Peter Ludlow (philosophy of language, mind & cognitive science) from Northwestern. Lost Jason Stanley (philosophy of language, epistemology) to Yale.
Saint Louis University: Appointed Jason Turner (metaphysics) from Leeds.
Syracuse University: Appointed Janice Dowell (philosophy of language & mind, metaphysics, metaethics) and David Sobel (ethics, political philosophy), both from Nebraska.
University College London: Appointed Daniel Rothschild (philosophy of language) from a post-doc at Oxford (he was previously tenure-track at Columbia). Lost Michael Otsuka (political philosophy, ethics) to LSE and Ian Phillips (philosophy of mind) to Oxford.
University of Alberta: Appointed Katherin Koslicki (metaphysics, philosophy of language, ancient) from Colorado and Jack Zupko (medieval, metaphysics, philosophy of religion) from Winnipeg.
University of Birmingham: Appointed Ian Rumfitt (philosophy of language) from Birkbeck College, University of London and Scott Sturgeon (epistemology) from Oxford, as well as a number of prominent part-time visitors. Lost Helen Beebee (metaphysics) to Manchester, Alex Miller (philosophy of language, metaethics) to Otago, and Tom Sorell (ethics, applied ethics) to the Politics Department at Warwick.
University of British Columbia: Appointed Evan Thompson (philosophy of mind & cognitive science) from Toronto. Roberta Ballarin (metaphysics, philosophy of language & mind) and Matt Bedke (ethics, metaethics, political and legal philosophy) were both tenured.
University of Calgary: Appointed C. Kenneth Waters (philosophy of biology) from Minnesota.
University of California, Berkeley: Appointed Alva Noe (philosophy of mind & cognitive science) back from CUNY (after just a year away). Appointed Kwong-Loi Shun (Chinese philosophy) to a half-time position, beginning Spring 2014. Seth Yalcin (philosophy of language) was tenured.
University of California, Los Angeles: Joseph Almog and Terence Parsons (both philosophy of language) have both taken emeritus status.
University of Chicago: Lost Michael Forster (Kant, 19th-century German philosophy, ancient philosophy, philosophy of language, epistemology) to a Humboldt Professorship at Bonn (though Forster is still roughly quarter-time at Chicago, teaching most of each Winter Quarter). Tenured Kevin Davey (philosophy of physics) and Marko Malink (ancient philosophy).
University of Cincinnati: Appointed Tony Chemero (philosophy of cognitive science, mind & science) from Franklin & Marshall College and Heidi Maibom (philosophy of mind, psychology & cognitive science; moral psychology) from Carleton College. Angela Potochnik (philosophy of science, esp. biology) was tenured. In addition, Valerie Hardcastle (philosophy of mind & cognitive science) has left her administrative position and returned to full-time teaching and research (she is half in Philosophy, half in Psychology).
University of Colorado, Boulder: Lost Katherin Koslicki to Alberta. Chris Heathwood (ethics) was tenured.
University of Connecticut, Storrs: Appointed Dorit Bar-On (philosophy of language & mind, metaethics) and Keith Simmons (philosophy of language & logic), both from North Carolina; also appointed Lewis Gordon (Africana philosophy, phenomenology, existentialism) from Temple, Mitchell Green (philosophy of language & mind) from Virginia, and Susan Schneider (philosophy of mind & cognitive science, metaphysics) from a tenure-track position at Penn.
University of Durham: Appointed (half-time) Nancy Cartwright (philosophy of the sciences) from LSE (Cartwright continues to teach at UCSD as well). Also appointed Julian Reiss (philosophy of science & social science) from Erasmus. The Law School appointed Thom Brooks (political and legal philosophy) from Newcastle. Lost Nick Zangwill (ethics, metaethics, aesthetics) to Hull.
University of Glasgow: Appointed Campbell Brown (ethics) from Edinburgh and Fraser MacBride (metaphysics, philosophy of math, history of analytic) from Cambridge.
University of Illinois, Chicago: Walter Edelberg (philosophy of language & logic) and Neal Grossman (early modern philosophy) both retired.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Appointed Andrew Arana (logic, philosophy of mathematics) from Kansas State University and Colleen Murphy (political philosophy, applied ethics) from Texas A&M. Robert Cummins (philosophy of mind and cognitive science) retired. Tenured Kirk Sanders (ancient philosophy), Helga Varden (moral, political & legal philosophy, esp. Kant; feminist philosophy), and Jonathan Waskan (philosophy of cognitive science).
University of Leeds: Appointed Matthew Smith (etihcs, political) from a tenure-track position at Yale. Lost Jason Turner (metaphysics) to Saint Louis.
University of Miami: Colin McGinn (philosophy of mind & language) will resign at the end of 2013.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: Appointed (roughly .20 time) Timothy Williamson (philosophy of language & logic, epistemology, metaphysics) from Oxford. Kendall Walton (aesthetics) retired. Lost Matt Evans (ancient philosophy, ethics) to Texas. David Manley, Sarah Moss, and Eric Swanson were all tenured--they all work in various aspects of metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language.
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities: Appointed Karen Hanson (aesthetics, ethics, philosophy of mind) as Provost and Professor of Philosophy, from Indiana. Lost C. Kenneth Waters (philosophy of biology) to a Canada Research Chair at Calgary.
University of Nebraska, Lincoln: Lost Janice Dowell (philosophy of language & mind, metaphysics, metaethics) and David Sobel (ethics, political philosophy), both to Syracuse
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Lost Dorit Bar-On and Keith Simmons to Connecticut. Marilyn Adams (medieval, philosophy of religion) and Robert Adams (metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of religion, early modern philosophy) both retired. Matthew Kotzen (epistemology, philosophy of science) was tenured.
University of Notre Dame: Lost Marian David (philosophy of language, epistemology, history of analytic) to Graz. Peter van Inwagen is only teaching fall semesters for at least the next three years.
University of Nottingham: Lost Gregory Currie (aesthetics) to York.
Universiy of Otago: Appointed Alex Miller (philosophy of language, metaethics) from Birmingham, and Elisabeth Ellis (Kant, political philosophy) and Michael LeBuffe (early modern philosophy), both from Texas A&M University. Lost Peter Anstey (early modern) to Sydney.
University of Pennsylvania: Lost Elisabeth Camp (philosophy of language & mind, aesthetics) to Rutgers and Paul Guyer (Kant, aesthetics) to Brown; Charles Kahn (ancient philosophy) retired. Tenured Adrienne Martin (ethics).
University of Pittsburgh: Appointed to a tenure-track position Japa Pallikkathayil (ethics, political) from NYU. Lost James Allen (ancient philosophy) to Toronto and Kieran Setiya (ethics, epistemology) to MIT.
University of Reading: Appointed Gabriel Segal (philosophy of mind, psychology, language & linguistics) from King's College, London to a half-time post. Lost Bart Streumer (metaethics) to Groningen and Galen Strawson to Texas.
University of Sheffield: Appointed Miranda Fricker (epistemology, ethics, feminist philosophy) from Birkbeck.
University of South Florida: Appointed Lee Braver (Continental philosophy, metaphysics, Wittgenstein) from Hiram College.
University of Southern California: Appointed John Hawthorne (metaphysics, epistemology) to a roughly one-third time position from Oxford University, which will become full-time in 2015. Also appointed (full-time) Jonathan Quong (political philosophy) from Manchester. Lost Gideon Yaffe (philosophy of action, philosophy of criminal law, early modern philosophy) to Yale. George Wilson (philosophy of action, philosophy of film) retired.
University of St. Andrews: Appointed Marcia Baron (ethics, Kant, philosophy of law) from Indiana/Bloomington, full-time starting January 2014.
University of Sydney: Appointed Peter Anstey (early modern philosophy) from Otago.
University of Texas, Austin: Appointed Galen Strawson (philosophy of mind and action, metaphysics, early modern philosophy, Nietzsche) from Reading and Michelle Montague (metaphysics) from Bristol. Also appointed Matt Evans (ancient philosophy, ethics) from Michigan. Adam Pautz (philosophy of mind) was tenured. Nicholas Asher (philosophy of language) is no longer part-time at Texas (he is now full-time in France).
University of Toronto: Appointed James Allen (ancient philosophy) from Pittsburgh. Lost Evan Thompson (philosophy of mind & cognitive science) to British Columbia.
University of Warwick: Appointed Matthew Nudds (philosophy of mind) from Edinburgh. Lost Bill Brewer to King's College, London. Politics appointed Tom Sorell (ethics, applied ethics) from Birmingham.
University of Washington, Seattle: Laurence BonJour (epistemology) has retired. John Manchak (philosophy of physics) was tenured.
University of Western Ontario: Appointed Stathis Psillos (philosophy of science, metaphysics) from Athens to the Rotman Canada Research Chair. Also appointed Carl Hoefer (philosophy of science & physics) and Genoveva Marti (philosophy of language), both from Barcelona. Lost Karen Nielsen (ancient) to Oxford.
University of York: Appointed Gregory Currie (aesthetics) from Nottingham and Catherine Wilson (early modern philosophy, ethics) from Aberdeen.
Washington University, St. Louis: Appointed Anya Plutynski (history and philosophy of science, esp. biology) from Utah.
Yale University: Appointed David Charles (ancient philosophy) from Oxford (effective July 2014) and Jason Stanley (philosophy of language, epistemology) from Rutgers. The Law School hired Gideon Yaffe (philosphy of action, philosophy of criminal law, early modern philosophy) from Southern California, who has a secondary appointment in philosophy. George Bealer (metaphysics) will retire in 2014; Susanne Bobzien (ancient philosophy, philosophy of language) left for Oxford; and Jules Coleman (philosophy of law), with a primary appointment in the Law School, left for a senior administrative position at NYU.
Now some speculations about how these moves will affect the "overall" rankings from 2011. I'd expect to see noticeable bumps up for Berekeley, British Columbia, Western Ontario, Texas, Otago, Southern California, Connecticut, Durham, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Cambridge, Syracuse, York, and Glasgow, among others. I'd expect to see noticeable bumps down for Reading, MIT, Nebraska, Indiana, Penn, BU, and Cornell, among others. But I think in each case it's more relevant for the students to focus on the areas of specialty of the faculty appointed and lost. Bear in mind, too, that many of the schools that suffered significant losses, like MIT and Penn, will likely be making new appointments this year.
A student considering graduate school in philosophy writes:
I was hoping to receive comments on the attitude of admissions committee members towards the attempts of a letter-writer to defend a weak element of a student's packet. For example, when professor X vouches for student Y, despite Y having something like low GRE scores or a poor mark in a core philosophy course. If the letter-writer goes on to explain why such blemishes should not immediately disqualify an applicant, will committee members take such reassuring remarks seriously? That is, can such remarks really serve as justification for why a weak element of an application should be discarded? Or does skepticism about the potential of the applicant often creep into the picture in cases where the letter-writer has to defend the applicant in some way, shape, or form? Are committee members worried that the letter writer might be inflating a student's performance by downplaying a smudge on an application? Lastly, is it even appropriate to ask a professor to defend weaknesses in your application? Or should one simply let the rest of the application do the talking?
My own view is that such explanations are worth offering if there is something pertinent and substantive to say: e.g., "Y had the flu when he took the GRE," or "his grades last fall were anomalous, no doubt due to the death of his mother." Comments are open; what do readers think? (Signed comments strongly preferred; all comments must include a valid e-mail address, which will not appear.)
A longtime member of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Professor Gunderson was best-known for his work in philosophy of mind. A brief memorial notice is here.
The Black Bloc has
been in the news a fair bit over the last few years. They have made appearances at G5 meetings, at
the WTO meetings in Seatle, at the NATO meetings in Chicago, and currently they
are very much in the news here in Brazil.
The Black Bloc is, strictly speaking, a tactic. In protests, a horizontally organized group
of individuals will wear black and cover their faces, generally move about as a
unit and they may engage in some aspects of violence. In theory this is done to distract the
police -- ideally in a way that enables the free movement of the main protest
group. By dressing in black, they allow
other protestors to know who they are and to stay away from them if they choose
Chris Hedges recently wrote a piece calling the Black Bloc
“The Cancer in Occupy”. Hedges, like many others, believes that The Black Bloc is
not tactical, but involves “feral” acts of violence, is “adolescent,” scared
people away from Occupy, and made it easier for the State to demonize the
Graeber has responded to Hedges, arguing that Hedges has his facts wrong and
that in any case even Gandhi never renounced people who shared his cause -- even when they advocated violence.
Gandhi made it clear that while he was opposed to murder
under any circumstances, he also refused to denounce the murderer. This was a
man who was trying to do the right thing, to act against an historical
injustice, but did it in the wrong way because he was “drunk with a mad idea"…
Gandhi remained resolute. It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose
injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to
oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing
anything to oppose injustice at all.
The news media has been having a go at the Black Bloc’s
actions in the teacher protests in Brazil, and even publications like The Raw
Story seem to be painting the actions of the Black Bloc as senseless
violence. However, yesterday I was speaking to a teacher here in Rio – a woman in
her 50s – who said “no the Black Bloc was protecting us from the police!” So there is that.
I know some of you have views about this. Is Hedges right? Is The Black Bloc the cancer in occupy? Or is Graeber right. And what do you think of Graeber’s
interpretation of Gandhi here? Comments
Two years ago I took part in panel in a conference on progress in
philosophy. (The contributions of me,
Jennifer Nagel and Dave Chalmers are still online -- I had a tech fail in recording Pettit’s contribution). My view was and is that philosophical
progress is robust – the growth is Fibonacci (think of a tree branching). Just speaking from what I’ve seen in areas of
philosophy that I am familiar with, the grown and development has been astounding
over the last thirty years.
Fibonacci growth is impressive, but is it enough? The second part of my talk was that it is not
Many people are familiar with Kurzweil’s thesis about the
exponential growth in technology leading to a kind of technological
singularity. Singularity happens when you hit the elbow in
the exponential curve and the curve effectively shoot straight up (or appears
to). If that is right, then the
technological curve is pulling away from the philosophy curve very rapidly and
is about to leave it completely behind.
What that means is that our technology is going to leave our critical
thinking skills behind. You may think
that is already happening, and I agree: I’m just saying the problem is about to
get much worse.
It doesn’t have to get worse. The only reason that technology grows
exponentially is that we keep feeding it resources. The only reason philosophy doesn’t is that we
starve it for resources (we don’t have enough bodies to throw at philosophical
problems). I say we need to seriously
think about redistributing resources away from technological development and
into philosophy, and allow philosophy departments to grow new programs that
focus on new technologies and their development. Why would anyone do this? Well, someone needs to make vivid what can go
wrong if we don’t. One idea is that if
we don’t understand technology we become alienated from it – a view that I floated
So here are some questions for discussion. Is philosophy making the kind of progress I
believe it is? Is technology pulling
away from us as Kurzweil believes it is?
Is this a problem? Can we fix
it? If so, how?
David Papineau says yes in a TLS review of a new book on Ramsey (by Ramsey's sister no less).
I'll confess I'm among those who think Ramsey was possibly the greatest philospher of the 20th Century despite having died at 26. Any Ramsey fans out there want to back me and Papineau up on this? Anyone want to call BS on that? Comments are open...
Over the past year I have been involved in a couple of panels on Ted Kaczynski (aka, the Unabomber -- a serial killer, currently in a supermax prison, who in the 80s and 90s mailed bombs to persons involved with technology). Organized by Jeffrey
Young of the Chronicle of
Higher Education, the panels involved Dan Skrbina of UM Dearborn providing a
partial defense of the Unabomber and me offering a criticism. We’ve done the panel at Rutgers and at SXSW in Austin.
In my view the the "Unabomber manifesto" is a
smorgasbord of critical reasoning fails, and you could use it in a critical
reasoning course if you wanted to task introductory students with finding basic
fallacies in a written work (see my slides here). But I also have a positive thesis which is
related to my interest in hacking, but which so far as I know is not advocated
by anyone I know in the philosophy of technology.
The Unabomber believes that any post-hunter-gatherer
technology is alienating and dehumanizing.
But I believe that like bees and beavers and spiders and birds we are
technological creatures. In my view,
alienation comes not from technology (any more than a beaver can be alienated
from its dam or a bird from its nest) but rather comes out when technology is
“jailed” and we can’t tear apart the object and see what makes it tick. So it isn’t technology that alienates us, but
corporate control of technology – for example Apple, when it makes it difficult
for us to reprogram our iPhones.
This is the point where hacking becomes important. Hacking is fundamentally about our having the
right and responsibility to open up the technologies of our everyday lives,
learn how they work, repurpose those technologies.
Before I start reinventing wheels here, does anyone know of
people in the philosophy of technology who have articulated such a view? Beyond that, any comments and criticism?
The U.S. Government keeps claiming “wins” in the “war
against terror,” but who are these alleged terrorists? In the case of the Cleveland 4, it seems the
FBI used a career criminal to manipulate a groups of indigent kids into a “terrorist
plot” against a bridge. One of them, Joshua
“Skelly” Stafford, was an impoverished developmentally impaired kid who did not
take place in the planning of the event and it’s not clear he understood why he
was in the car on the way to the bridge on the day in question, other than that
he was promised a free meal and cigarettes.
A sane government might provide food, shelter, and
psychological assistance for a kid like Skelly, but instead our government
chose to coerce him and his equally indigent friends into being “terror
trophies” – pawns that could be used to at once scare the public into thinking
we have a terrorist threat within and at the same time to offer evidence of
“success” in their fake war on fake terror.
As Vivien Lesnik Weisman reports in the Huffington Post,
Skelly’s story and the fact that he was sentenced to 10 years in prison is an
indictment of our security state. As she
puts it, it is symptomatic of the failure of the rule of law.
Jonathan Dancy (ethics, metaethics, epistemology), Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin (where he spends half of each academic year) will return to the University of Reading, where he is Professor Emeritus, to teach and work with graduate students on a quarter-time basis for the next three years.
The art world has a phenomenon known as outsider artists -- artists who don't emerge via what Arthur Danto has called the art world (art schools, galleries etc.) but seemingly come in from the outside. This inevitably leads to debates about who is really an outsider, whether they remain outsiders or get absorbed into the art world, and of course just how much recognition they should get. Is there a similar phenomenon of outsider philosophers?
In the photos above I've given some examples to spur discussion. Is Angela Davis (top) really an outsider? (She studied under Marcuse and has held philosophy positions; perhaps she is an insider?). Is Timothy Leary (bottom right) a philosopher? He described himself as America's MVP -- most valuable philosopher. And would Lucy Parsons (bottom left) even consider herself a philosopher? Well, I know some Chicago anarchists that would, and the Chicago police once described her as more dangerous that a thousand rioters, so there's that.
So are there outsider philosophers? Who are they? Are they worth reading? Are they worth reading qua philosophers? Discuss.
As some of you know I’ve recently been concerned with
Surveillance State’s war on hacktivists.
What does the State have against hacktivists? Well as Chris Hedges has said,
the State can’t abide hacktivists because “they have the tools to expose how
rotten Empire is… and it is completely rotten.”
Hedges might have added that hacktivists also have the tools to *embarrass*
the Surveillance State and its corporate partners. Andrew Auenheimer (a.k.a. weev) is one such
hacktivist, recently sentenced to 41 months in jail for embarrassing AT&T.
More specifically weev and a friend wrote a script that
harvested the email addresses of 114,000 iPad users from web pages that
AT&T had left unprotected on the public Internet. Then, weev and his friend passed the email
addresses on to the online magazine Gawker, presumably so as to embarrass
AT&T for its shoddy security. The
prosecution charged weev with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)
– a law forged in 1984 that says you cannot use a computer system for reasons
not intended by the owners. It seems
AT&T didn’t intend for people to visit these public web pages. (This is the same law that was used to
persecute Aaron Swartz and eventually drive him to suicide).
Some months ago, I published an op/ed in the New York Times
Weekly Review in which I argued that weev and others like him were the gadflies
of our age. Weev had a copy of the op/ed, which he rather
enjoyed, but in a letter to his lawyer Tor Ekeland he reports that it has now been seized by the prison guards -- it would seem in
violation of the law. I’ve decided to
share the letter here because it touches on some philosophical themes. Below the fold is
a text version of Weev's letter.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of the trial of
Adolph Eichmann. The anniversary has led
to a number of museum exhibitions,
but also to a reexamination of Hannah Arendt’s famous book Eichmann in
Jerusalem – the book in which she coined the phrase “the banality of evil.”
Arendt was of course recently the subject of a major feature
film, and with the release
of the film there was an essay in the New York Times by Roger Berkowitz. I have to say I found Berkowitz’s essay
hard to buy: His claim was that Eichmann was banal in that he was a “true
believer” – and sorry but I don’t see how there is anything banal about a true
believer. Then again, I'm no expert (more on this below).
My interest in this topic stems from the fact that I
recently used Arendt’s thesis about the banality of evil to frame a NYT Stone
article about whistleblowers. In it I argued that whistleblowers
like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are exceptional because they rejected their bureaucratic responsibilities when they saw they were participating in
systemic evil – they were acting as Eichmann (and many others) did not and to this day do not.
Meanwhile in an response published on the website of the
Hannah Arendt Center, Berkowitz argued that Arendt would have taken exception
to Snowden because he did not, as it were, face the music after he blew the
whistle. To illustrate, Berkowitz draws
on the following example discussed by Arendt (I quote at length).
For Arendt, great civil disobedients
from Socrates to Thoreau play important and essential roles in the political
realm. What is more, Arendt fully defends Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the
Pentagon Papers. It seems, therefore, that it is appropriate to enlist her in
support of the modern day whistleblowers.
There is, however, a problem with this
reading. Socrates, Thoreau, and Ellsberg all gave themselves up to the law and
allowed themselves to be judged by and within the legal system. In this regard,
they differ markedly from Snowden, Manning and others who have sought to remain
anonymous or to flee legal judgment. For Arendt, this difference is meaningful.
Consider the case of Shalom
Schwartzbard, which Arendt addresses in Eichmann in Jerusalem.
Schwartzbard was a Jew who assassinated the leader of Ukranian pogroms in the
streets of Paris. Schwartzbard stood where he took his revenge, waited for the
police, admitted his act of revenge, and put himself on trial. He claimed to
have acted justly at a time when the legal system was refusing to do justice.
And a French jury acquitted him.
For Arendt, the Schwartzbard case
stands for an essential principle of justice: that to break the law and act
justly, one must then bring oneself back into the law. She writes:
He who takes the law into his own
hands will render a service to justice only if he is willing to transform the
situation in such a way that the law can again operate and his act can, at
least posthumously, be validated.
Now I’m certainly no expert on Arendt (I won’t even claim I’m
competent on Arendt), so I wonder if I might crowdsource this
topic. What exactly did Arendt mean by
“the banality of evil,” and is it really the case that she would say a
whistleblower should simply turn herself in after the deed? Really?
But as I say; I don’t know. I’m
Comments are are moderated. Signed comments are preferred. I'll see if Roger Berkowitz can join us.
...watch this (and see the commentary that follows by Andrew Sullivan), all of which supports, I'm afraid, Robert Paul Wolff's diagnosis. These sick, sick people need to be caged first, treated second.
I offer an interpretation of Nietzsche’s striking idea of “the innocence of becoming” (die Unschuld des Werdens), and offer a partial defense of its import, namely, that no one is ever morally responsible or guilty for what they do and that the so-called “reactive attitudes” are always misplaced. I focus primarily, though not exclusively, on the arguments as set out in Twilight of the Idols. First, there is Nietzsche’s hypothesis, partly psychological and partly historical or anthropological, that the ideas of “free” action or free will, and of responsibility for actions freely chosen or willed, were introduced primarily in order to justify punishment (“[m]en were considered ‘free’ so that they might be judged and punished”). Call this the Genetic Thesis about Free Will. Second, there is Nietzsche’s claim that the moral psychology, or “psychology of the will” as he calls it, that underlies this picture is, in fact, false—that, in fact, it is not true that every action is willed or that it reflects a purpose or that it originates in consciousness. Call these, in aggregate, the Descriptive Thesis about the Will. (Here I draw on earlier work.) Finally, there is articulation of a programmatic agenda, namely, to restore the “innocence of becoming” by getting rid of guilt and punishment based on guilt—not primarily because ascriptions of guilt and responsibility are false (though they are), but because a world understood as “innocent,” one understood in terms of “natural” cause and effect, is a better world in which to live. I thus try to explain and defend Zarathustra’s recommendation: “’Enemy’ you shall say, but not ‘villain’; ‘sick’ you shall say, but not ‘scoundrel’; ‘fool’ you shall say, but not ‘sinner.’” Nietzsche’s views are contrasted with those of important modern writers on these topics, including P.F. Strawson and Gary Watson.
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)