The announcement is not yet on their webpage, but Prof. Rescher kindly shared the news of this latest recognition for his long and distinguished philosophical career. Past winners include Chomsky and Habermas.
(Thanks to Mark Murphy and John Schwenkler for pointers.)
UPDATE: Via Prof. Schwenkler in the comments, a statement of protest (well-written, and with links to useful background information). Please sign, with title and institutional affiliation, so that at least the Board of Trustees at this institution can get a sense for the depth and breadth of concern about this.
Putting aside the ordinal ranking, the top ten mostly makes sense. I was astonished that Guthrie was not in the top 20. I was also astonished that Code was not in the top ten. In any case, comments are open for discussion.
Lots of philosophical/conceptual objections to Libet's famous research have been made over the years (by Alfred Mele, Gideon Yaffe, and others), but now comes new "empirical" evidence purportedly at odds with Libet's findings. Any thoughts from readers working on these issues?
I'm grateful to Jonny Thakkar for calling my attention to this nicely written essay by a recent Oxford DPhil. It includes some funny remarks about the "effective [sic] altruist" Church, though is perhaps too uncritical in the end about Williams, whose no doubt genuine interest in Nietzsche never translated into very much courage in criticism of morality. But the piece is an enjoyable read!
I have no crystal ball, so I can’t tell you whether there will be...a return to the core values of robust expression and debate which are essential for academic life, as even Herbert Marcuse realized in his famous polemic against “Repressive Tolerance.” There is some portion of the younger generation of professional philosophers (grad students and assistant professors) who consistently have the wrong views on these questions. They may well take over the discipline, that I cannot predict. It’s ironic, because other humanities fields, like English, went through this totalitarian catastrophe in the 1980s while philosophy remained a paragon of wissenschaftlich seriousness. The real threats to philosophy as a profession do not come, of course, primarily from benighted youngsters who are victims of group polarization; they come from institutional and economic forces that are basically indifferent to intellectual merit. That’s the real battle that needs to be fought, though I fear we academics are not well-equipped to fight it.
Over at the latest incarnation of a metablog, there is a quite interesting commentary on this issue from someone with experience in both academic English and academic philosophy:
I am an English PhD with an MA in Philosophy from a top-twenty program, and I am struck and puzzled by what seems to be Philosophy’s repetition of the politicized “theory wars” of the 80s-90s. What is going on here? On the basis of pure anecdote and observation, I suspect in part the following:
1. External economic pressures that first hit English in a big way then also started to hit Philosophy in a big way.
2. Specialization exhaustion set in first in English, and now has also become steadily more pervasive in Philosophy.
3. Points 1 and 2 are not unrelated.
4. The new approaches of “feminist philosophy” and the like respond to points 1 and 2 by inventing a new and uncharted territory in response to specialization exhaustion; this new approach must first be justified politically and morally in order then to make itself intellectually fashionable, hence awarded, hence self-perpetuating.
5. The academic context in which this is now occurring is even more administratively heavy than it was three decades ago. Hence the moral and political necessity of the new approaches will also require more direct appeals to top-down administrative intervention than was necessary in English.
6. In both cases, the proponents of the new approaches are basically of two sorts: those already powerful and those not already powerful. The motivations of each group vary, but there is an observable tendency of the first to appeal to morality and justice (they can afford to do so) and of the second to appeal to intellectual novelty and smartness. The second group want to be admitted into the world of the first; the first group wants to pretend that they are not only more intelligent, but also more humane than their elite opponents, with whom they have their fiercest battles.
7. If one or two major Departments are won over to the new approach, the discipline can change very quickly indeed.
8. Thirty years later you’ll realize that the intrinsic conservatism of your discipline, the false certainty of its historical and conceptual divisions, “areas”, and so on, really did need an overhaul. Unfortunately, by then you might have forgotten some of best and most important insights and practices of your discipline prior to the Revolution. In the way that I am an outlier in my generation of English professors for having a pretty thorough knowledge of the Bible, and a bit of Latin and Greek, perhaps some decades hence some young maverick grad student in Philosophy will stand out for her interest in Frege and Quine, her unaccountable fascination with modal and second-order logic, her bizarre affinity for Chisholm.
(A brief aside about the metablog: like all anonymous fora, the metablogs have been a mixed bag: a mix of the stupid, the defamatory, and the obsessed, along with the insightful, the amusing, and the illuminatingly contrarian. The metablogs thrive because of the culture of fear and hostility cultivated by a small handful of philosophy academics active on social media. But if one can wade through the morass, as I periodically do, there are often genuinely interesting contributions. UPDATE: I've removed the link, since elsewhere on the thread, unrelated to what I had linked to, there is a lot of crap, even by metablog standards of "crap." I do wish the owner of the metablog would do a little moderation, stuff is appearing there that will lead to legal action.)
I find some of this plausible, some implausible, most of it intriguing. I wonder what readers make of this. I'd certainly welcome hearing from academics in English as well as Philosophy, and those in other fields that have gone through similar periods of transformation and controversy. Anonymous comments are fine, but please include a valid e-mail address (which will not appear) and choose a stable pseudonym so other commenters can target their responses accordingly.
My source in Turkey (who, for obvious reasons, does not want to be identified) writes:
We have some more horrible news. One of Boğaziçi's undergraduate philosophy students, Jülide Yazıcı, was arrested, along with 3 other students, and has apparently already been charged with the extremely serious charge of "being a member of a terrorist organisation". She had been posting in support of faculty under attack.
I'm trying to find out more about the other 2 students. One of them is from Bilgi University, the other one is from Bogazici too, named Heja Türk; nephew of Ahmet Türk, one of the most famous Kurdish politicians.
6 were detained in a police operation involving house raids in İstanbul two days ago. Out of the detainees, 4 students were arrested with charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “making terrorist propaganda”. The names and affiliations of those arrested are as follows: -Jülide Yazıcı, Boğaziçi University Philosophy Undergraduate Student. She lately supported a petition in Philosophy Department to support 'Academics for Peace'. -Heja Türk, Boğaziçi University, Western Languages and Literature Graduate -Mehtap Demirci -Çağrı Kurt, Bilgi University, Political Science
I believe all 4 are still in custody.
Comments are open for more information and links.
UPDATE: More information here and commentary here.
Galen Strawson (Texas) calls to my attention that he received the following e-mail from academia.edu:
From: Adnan Akil <email@example.com> Date: Wednesday, 27 January 2016 at 18:28 To: galen strawson <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Certification Value
Hi Dr. Strawson, My name is Adnan, I'm the Product Director here at Academia. I noticed you had received a few recommendations on your papers. Would you be open to paying a small fee to submit any upcoming papers to our board of editors to be considered for recommendation? You'd only be charged if your paper was recommended. If it does get recommended then you'll see the natural boost in viewership and downloads that recommended papers get. Would love to hear your thoughts. Best, Adnan
He asked me what I thought of this, and I said it sounded a bit corrupt, but Galen reached out to Richard Price, the founder of academia.edu, who shared the following explanation with Galen (and gave me permission to share it as well):
Thanks for getting in touch. Yes - this is a somewhat radical and somewhat crazy idea. It has already caused a ruckus on Twitter. We are probing at how to develop an open access publishing model with a lower fee than the average open access journal. We want to start the conversation around how to fund academic publishing when paywall revenues dry up (which I think they will over the coming years). The sciences are switching to an APC-funded model, but that model doesn't straightforwardly work for non-grant funded people in the humanities. It seems to us that either you figure out a super low cost APC for humanities publishing ($50 or so) or you have the normal APC (around $1,500), and figure out a way for universities to cover the fee. Adnan's question was probing the first idea.
Philosopher Jack Zupko (Alberta), Editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy, kindly shares the following news:
The Board of Directors of the Journal of the History of Philosophy has awarded the prize for the best article to appear in volume 53 (2015) of the JHP to Therese Scarpelli Cory for “Rethinking Abstractionism: Aquinas’s Intellectual Light and Some Arabic Sources” in JHP 53.4: 607–46. Professor Cory is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
1. Saul Kripke (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. W.V.O. Quine loses to Saul Kripke by 141–74
3. H. Paul Grice loses to Saul Kripke by 161–51, loses to W.V.O. Quine by 114–88
4. J.L. Austin loses to Saul Kripke by 159–62, loses to H. Paul Grice by 104–91
5. Donald Davidson loses to Saul Kripke by 168–50, loses to J.L. Austin by 104–101
6. David K. Lewis loses to Saul Kripke by 160–42, loses to Donald Davidson by 104–90
7. Noam Chomsky loses to Saul Kripke by 154–60, loses to David K. Lewis by 96–92
8. Hilary Putnam loses to Saul Kripke by 174–41, loses to Noam Chomsky by 100–92
9. Rudolf Carnap loses to Saul Kripke by 162–47, loses to Hilary Putnam by 100–86
10. David Kaplan loses to Saul Kripke by 176–23, loses to Rudolf Carnap by 88–83
11. Michael Dummett loses to Saul Kripke by 175–41, loses to David Kaplan by 89–82
12. P.F. (Peter) Strawson loses to Saul Kripke by 179–37, loses to Michael Dummett by 96–77
13. Alfred Tarski loses to Saul Kripke by 180–21, loses to P.F. (Peter) Strawson by 90–71
14. Tied: Gareth Evans loses to Saul Kripke by 189–23, loses to Alfred Tarski by 80–75 Robert Stalnaker loses to Saul Kripke by 183–16, loses to Alfred Tarski by 80–68
16. John Searle loses to Saul Kripke by 193–17, loses to Gareth Evans by 87–76
17. Tyler Burge loses to Saul Kripke by 192–12, loses to John Searle by 81–65
18. Keith Donnellan loses to Saul Kripke by 192–10, loses to Tyler Burge by 68–57
19. Peter Geach loses to Saul Kripke by 192–10, loses to Keith Donnellan by 62–57
20. Robert Brandom loses to Saul Kripke by 178–32, loses to Peter Geach by 76–62
Just outside the top 20 were Ruth Marcus, John Perry, and Wilfrid Sellars.
The "top ten" living philosophers of language were Kripke, Chomsky, Putnam, Kaplan, Stalnaker, Searle, Burge, Brandom, John Perry, and Hans Kamp.
This poll had a somewhat larger number of errors of omission, including Dennis Stampe, Frank Veltman, Jeroen Groenendijk Martin Stokhof, Richard Montague, Max Cresswell, Irene Heim, Terence Parsons, Richard Heck, Jeff King, Robert Harnish, and Howard Wettstein. I imagine one or two of these folks might have been competitive for the "top 20," but I welcome reader thoughts. Wittgenstein was not an error of omission; he was left out on purpose given that he did not write in English; we know from earlier polls that he, in any case, tends to dominate all other philosophers of the past two hundred years.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM JANUARY 27--THE POLL WILL CLOSE LATER TODAY
Following a suggestion after the last poll, I've changed the question from "most important" to 'best" (in your judgment). Only Anglophone philosophers; among those who are still living, only those age 50 or older in 2016 are included. Have fun!
TWO NOTES: Alas, an omission already flagged for me: Dennis Stampe. In addition, while the description of the poll, above, is accurate, on the poll itself, it sounds as if the poll only includes living philosophers over 50, which it obviously does not!
ANOTHER: Thony Gillies (Rutgers) points out another unfortunate omission, namely the Dutch philosophers/linguists/logicians Frank Veltman, Jeroen Groenendijk, and Martin Stokhof, whose work is in English. Alas.
AND EVEN WORSE I got Hans Kamp on the list but forgot Richard Montague! Well, folks can "discuss" that omission when the results are in. I guess he might have made the "top 20," but I'm not enough of an insider to know.
AND SOME MORE NAMES: Max Cresswell, Irene Heim, Terence Parsons, Richard Heck (I had thought Heck was not over 50, but am told that is wrong).
AND: Jeff King (Rutgers) should have been on the list. Another important philosopher of language betrayed by his youthful looks (turns out he is over 50).
TWO MORE: Philosopher Jeff Helmreich (UC Irvine) mentions Robert Harnish (late of University of Arizona) and Howard Wettstein (UC Riverside). I'm particularly embarrassed about Wettstein, whom I know and like very much--but I'd forgotten he began his career as a major contributor to debates about theories of direct reference.
A philosophy professor will be put on trial. Note that under Turkish law, insulting the President is an actionable offense. It is the law, and not necessarily its application in this instance, that is rotten.
UPDATE: A philosopher in Turkey writes: "I think it might be worth pointing out that Orsan is an important part of Turkish philosophical community - being the person behind 'Philosophy in Assos'": http://www.philosophyinassos.org/assos.htm. These events are an important part of Turkish philosophical calendar. Ironically he was supposed to be giving lecture in Assos on 'Freedom, Justice and Courage' and I think this falls on the day they set for his Trial."
The University of Chicago Law School is now offering a fully funded (including living stipend) one year M.L.S. degree, allowing a student to spend a year here taking courses, seminars and workshop in the law school that will complement and facilitate your dissertation work. The application information is here and more information about the program is here: Download MLS Degree Info Sheet Updated 7 24 15.At the time of application you should be done with or finishing your coursework and embarking on a dissertation proposal for which deeper knowledge of law would be helpful. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have questions not answered by the preceding documents. Note that if you decide you want to earn a J.D., you will not be able to count any of your MLS coursework towards the JD (this is an American Bar Association rule, not a rule of our law school).
There is no other law school in the United States presently offering such a degree.
News release here. I'm glad to see the APA join the other professional organizations that have spoken out about this, especially since a dozen or more philosophy faculty (including, as I understand it, some APA members) have been targeted in this campaign.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the statement by APA Board Chair Cheshire Calhoun (Arizona State) is not very good. She is quoted in the press release as follows:
Cheshire Calhoun, chair of the board of officers, said, “It is extremely disturbing that Turkish academics have been subjected to severe governmental and university pressures, including detention and criminal investigations, for doing exactly what one might hope that any academic would do—protest the violation of basic rights protected by one’s country’s constitution and international conventions.”
But the Turkish government denies that anyone's basic rights are being violated, and that it is the rights of Turkish citizens which are under threat from Kurdish rebels. Thus, this objection will be easy to dismiss as partisan ("Armenian lovers" is, I am told, the preferred term of abuse by Turkish nationalists). The correct and relevant objection is to the persecution of academics for ordinary political speech, regardless of one's view of the merits of their position. The message the Turkish government needs to get is that its university system will fall into worldwide disrepute if the government persists in persecuting faculty for their political speech, regardless of the merits of their position.
Joshua Smart writes that another round is starting:
While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach or have a different focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can increase creativity. With students in programs from 8 countries and 20 different U.S. states, Virtual Dissertation Groups are a great (free!) way to capture some of these benefits.
The setup is simple: Students participate in three-membered groups, with one student each month sending a short-ish piece of writing to the other two for comments.
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?
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?
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.)
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.
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)