Philosopher Michael Loughlin from MMU Cheshire writes:
[P]hilosophy is one of a number of academic subjects currently offered on the Cheshire campus of Manchester Metropolitan University. The whole campus is potentially facing closure as part of a commissioned "review" of its "financial sustainability" by a team of management consultants. The board of governors is considering options that include the survival of the campus with a significantly reduced range of academic provisions on offer to students, and its outright closure. In that event, a key provider of education in the Cheshire region for over 100 years would be lost and while some academic staff might be relocated to a city campus in Manchester, many academics - and many more support staff - could be facing redundancy.
We are trying to persuade the board of governors to consider less drastic options, arguing that campus closure would be a disaster for the local region and contrary to the university's commitment to "widening participation" - the region has been identified as an area with "a low density of HEIs" and we're concerned the students that commute from the local community may no longer be able to access university if the campus is closed. Too many academic provisions are being lost across the UK as universities 'streamline' their offerings, and this tendency represents a serious concern for those of us who believe that a traditional academic education should be an option for people from a broad range of backgrounds - social, geographical and economic. There is a case for a sustainable future for this campus, and in support of that case we're trying to get as many people as possible to sign a petition calling on the board to consider seriously the alternatives to closure. The petition can be accessed here:
The comments that many of our former students who have already signed are instructive, and we hope members of the board will read them - but they are more likely to do so if the petition has many supporters. So please consider clicking on the link and signing.
...plus pathetic sexist tripe, but it also has its own resident raving anti-Semite, one "Jacques," whom no other contributor to that blog appears to have criticized for his insane bigotry. Some quotes from comments he's posted on that sorry blog:
Since the time of Marx through the many Bolshevik mass murderers like Kaganovich through to the present era of “whiteness studies” (i.e., anti-white-gentile studies) rammed with ethnocentric anti-white Jews, there is no group of people on earth who have been more venomously effective in the propagation of anti-Christian bigotry than leftist Jews. No group is more privileged or powerful or tribalistic...Jews enabled the Moors to take Spain. Jews traded in Christian slaves in huge numbers through the middle ages. Jewish wealth funded the rabidly Christophobic Bolsheviks. The Talmud tells us Christ is in hell boiling in excrement. All major Jewish organizations righteously demand that we flood Christian lands with unvetted limitless numbers of Muslims while making no similar demands on Israel.
Is it anti-semitic to believe on solid evidence the true proposition that...“leftist Jews” have been vastly over-represented among haters, oppressors and mass murderers of Christians, and in anti-Christian anti-European movements, and notably under-represented in the defense of the interests of Christians and non-Jewish Europeans
That the blog let this stuff stand defies belief. RightlyConsidered is operating at about the level of Breitbart, though trending towards StormFront! If right-wing philosophers want to be taken seriously, this blog is not the way to do it! But if they simply want to have their own cyber-circle of self-congratulation plus unabashed sexism and racism, then they're doing a great job!
Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Professor Bartky was an early pioneer in feminist philosophy. A informative memorial notice from philosopher Kate Norlock (Trent) is at the FP blog.
UPDATE: An obituary from the NYT. (Thanks to John Bogart for the pointer.)
Philosopher Steve Hales (Bloomsburg) noted the victory in a comment on the earlier thread, and now Larry Udell, a philosophy professor at West Chester University, writes with some additional details and links:
You may have heard that our union recently fought off an attempt at not only union-busting, but a clear attempt to move our state system closer to community college status and away from university status. I thought I’d send this along.
Of special note: the State System attempted to pit regular faculty vs. adjuncts and students by offering higher pay raises for full-time faculty with the remainder of their package. We rejected that and took less money in order to ensure that we remain more like universities. (E.g.: this semester I have 170 students in 4 classes, with no TA. So I read and grade all of their essays – along with trying to fit in some research.
Professor Jacquette passed away in August, after teaching for many years at Pennsylvania State University and then the University of Bern. He was perhaps best-known for his work on early analytic philosophy, especially Frege, Russell and Meinong, though his interests ranged very broadly. There is a nice memorial notice from Nicholas Rescher here.
A propos this earlier discussion, Professor Bonevac has explained his reasons in detail. Some dubious factual claims are involved, and some even more dubious implicit claims about cause-and-effect. But the basic mistake is in thinking that Trump means what he says, and so is an instrumentally rational choice given Professor Bonevac's stated objectives.
Professor David Buller (Northern Illinois) asked me to share this memorial notice:
Tomis Kapitan, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus at Northern Illinois University, passed away October 12 in London, where he had been living since his retirement in 2014. He was 66. Professor Kapitan was a member of the Philosophy Department at NIU for 23 years, during which time he served as a model philosopher, teacher, and colleague, enriching the life of the department and inspiring generations of students through whom his example and influence live on.
Professor Kapitan, who studied with Hector-Neri Castenada at Indiana University, Bloomington, published many articles on topics in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of logic, and also wrote extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
MOVING TO FRONT (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 13, 2016)
Back in the old days (from 1989 through the late 1990s), the PGR consisted in my assessement of professional opinion about the quality of graduate programs in the form of an annual guide to prospective PhD students in philosophy in the Anglophone world. This was my assessment of professional opinion, not my own opinion about quality. I was sufficiently good at that that the PGR became hugely influential throughout the profession, so much so that faculty at departments not doing so well began protesting back in 2001. I gradually shifted to more systematic measurements--elaborate on-line surveys of senior and junior faculty--which just amplified the influence of the PGR. The results were not very dissimilar from when I was doing it from the armchair, but the evaluations of particular areas of specialization were clearly improved.
Brit Brogaard's plan is try to undertake new PGR surveys in fall 2017, but that doesn't obviate the need for some updated guidance. What follows is my best judgment as to how the faculty changes in the interim should lead prospective PhD students to think about the relevant hierarchy of PhD programs in the U.S. and elsewhere compared to the 2014 survey results. Rather than offer a guestimate about an ordinal rank, I put the PhD programs into "clusters" of what I think should reasonably be considered "peer" programs among which students should choose based on considerations other than "overall prestige." But I generally think it's reasonable to choose between programs in adjacent peer groups based on other considerations (financial aid, location, particular faculty, specialty strength etc.). I'll try to update the "specialty rankings" in the coming weeks. (Note: there are other moves that may transpire: e.g., Stanford is trying to recruit Philip Pettit and Victoria McGeer from their half-time posts at Princeton [they are also half-time at the ANU, which would not change]; Berkeley is trying to recruit Sally Sedgwick from Illinois/Chicago. I'll update things accordingly during the year.)
An * indicates a program that arguably belongs in the next highest peer grouping.
Group 1 (1) Anglophone Programs outside the U.S.
New York University
Group 2 (2-8)
Princeton University *Oxford University
*Rutgers University, New Brunswick
University of California, Berkeley
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Pittsburgh
University of Southern California
Group 3 (9-15)
Columbia University University of Toronto
Massachussetts Institute of Technology
University of Arizona
University of California, Los Angeles
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Group 4 (16-22)
Brown University Cambridge University
City University of New York Graduate Center Australian National University
University of California, San Diego
University of Chicago
University of Notre Dame
University of Texas, Austin
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Group 5 (23-27)
*Cornell University University of St. Andrews/University of Stirling Joint Program
Duke University University of Edinburgh
Indiana University, Bloomington King's College, London
University of California, Irvine University College London
Washington University, St. Louis University of Sydney
Here (in response to events we referenced here). (I don't find the anti-Semitism bit at the end very helpful, but that's minor.)
UPDATE: At the link, above, Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers), a very prominent Christian philosopher who has made major contributions to metaphysics, writes:
I know firsthand, having been his colleague for quite a few years, that Jason is highly sensitive to the fact that Christians are something of a minority within philosophy. There were several Christian graduate students at Rutgers while Jason was here, and with whom he interacted frequently, and I am confident that none of them ever felt disrespected by Jason because of their faith. To the contrary, in my experience Jason seems to optimistically and automatically think well of his Christian colleagues and students — as though he could count on serious Christians to exemplify the virtues we profess. I’m grateful that he doesn’t lump us all in with political conservatives who are hijacking religious language, some of whom will apparently use any means to inflict psychic damage upon those they perceive as their “enemies”. Thank you, Jason.
With over 565 responses to our earlier poll (limited, recall, to living philosophers over age 60), we now know whom readers think are the ten most deserving candidates:
1. Saul Kripke (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Noam Chomsky loses to Saul Kripke by 245–142
3. Derek Parfit loses to Saul Kripke by 260–113, loses to Noam Chomsky by 197–164
4. Thomas Nagel loses to Saul Kripke by 278–98, loses to Derek Parfit by 173–148
5. Martha Nussbaum loses to Saul Kripke by 272–110, loses to Thomas Nagel by 176–130
6. Jurgen Habermas loses to Saul Kripke by 273–108, loses to Martha Nussbaum by 154–141
7. Daniel Dennett loses to Saul Kripke by 282–98, loses to Jurgen Habermas by 150–145
8. Jerry Fodor loses to Saul Kripke by 292–64, loses to Daniel Dennett by 148–139
9. John Searle loses to Saul Kripke by 294–63, loses to Jerry Fodor by 142–124
10. Amartya Sen loses to Saul Kripke by 288–81, loses to John Searle by 148–121
Timothy Williamson and John McDowell were runners-up for the top ten. Allowing for the Anglophone bias of the readership here, these results aren't surprising and certainly seem defensible. I was, I confess, surprised how poorly Charles Taylor fared, even allowing for the Anglophone bias.
Rob Hughes, a young moral, political and legal philosopher teaching in the Wharton School at the University of Pennslyvania, writes:
Having read Richard Swinburne's recent argument about the ethics of homosexuality, both the version he published in 2007/2008 and the version he presented in his talk at the SCP meeting, I can confirm your belief that his argument is awful. There is no need to discuss Swinburne's dubious moral premises. The argument clearly fails because it relies on a false and unjustified empirical assertion. Here it is, in Swinburne's own words (from the text of his recent talk posted on First Things, pp. 12-13):
"The evidence seems to me to indicate clearly that genes and environment (nature and nurture) both play a role in determining sexual orientation; and also that this orientation is sometimes to a considerable extent reversible. So if there was a general recognition in society of an obligation to abstain from homosexual acts, that would prevent homosexual behaviour being presented as an option for young people of equal value to the heterosexual one which makes possible procreative marriage. That would deter the young from wondering whether they are really homosexual when previously it would not have occurred to them, in consequence experimenting with homosexual sexual acts, getting accustomed to such behaviour and so developing a homosexual orientation."
Swinburne asserts here that sexual experimentation in adolescence or adulthood influences people's sexual orientation. This assertion is not an off-hand remark; it is crucial to his argument that God has a reason to prohibit homosexual conduct. (Swinburne does not think that natural law prohibits homosexual conduct; indeed, he nicely dispatches this view in one sentence on p. 8.) Swinburne's assertion is at odds with the evidence that a person's future sexual orientation is determined before school age and possibly much earlier. He provides no evidence for his assertion that sexual experimentation influences orientation, either in his 2007 book Revelation, or in his 2008 reply to critics, or in the text of his recent talk.
Swinburne claims to have provided evidence that adults can change their sexual orientation, but to call his evidence shoddy would be too generous. His 2007 book cited a study purporting to show that some people had changed their sexual orientation through "reparative therapy." The study's author, Robert Spitzer, retracted the study in 2012 and said that its methodology had a "fatal flaw." Swinburne's recent SCP talk acknowledges this retraction. The talk instead cites Michelle Wolkomir's 2006 book Be Not Deceived as evidence that "the sexual orientation of some, but perhaps not most, homosexuals can be changed to a significant degree." (19) The book is an ethnographic study of two small groups of gay and "ex-gay" Christians and their self-understanding. Treating this study as evidence that people can change their sexual orientation is a mistake for the same reason Spitzer's study was flawed: we have no way to establish that subjects who reported changed sexual desires were sincere and not deceiving themselves. The large number of ex-ex-gays gives us reason to suspect that people are either insincere or deceiving themselves if they claim to have altered their sexual orientations (including their desires as well as their behavior).
We touched on this briefly last week, but as so often happens, it's taken on a life of its own on various right-wing websites. Briefly, the usual "high-school-with-tenure" crowd on Facebook was reacting to the brouhaha about Richard Swinburne's anti-gay bigotry (discussed here). Jason Stanley (Yale), on his Facebook-page-cum-blog responded with a "fuck off" and then a reaffirmation and, shall we say, "elaboration" of the "fuck off" aimed at Swinburne and his ilk. Rebecca Kukla (Georgetown) (another regular in this crowd, whose FB "tough talk" we've encountered before), chimed in with the suggestion that the anti-gay bigots "suck my giant queer cock." There are two reasonably calm accounts of events here and here, both of which include slightly different (and somewhat odd) explanations from Stanley about what transpired. Meanwhile, a right-wing website called "Georgetown Academy" has been pursuing Kukla, claiming that her "message to Catholics" was "suck my giant queer cock." That isn't quite right: at best, that was her "message" to Catholics who are anti-gay bigots. Meanwhile, Jason has, wisely I suspect, removed his Facebook account, to deprive the enemy of further ammunition (though my recollection of his FB page was that it was mostly an extended exercise in "enough about me, what do you think about me?").
I will note that my own comments on L'Affaire Swinburne--"Swinburne offered the usual awful arguments for anti-gay bigotry that "natural law" theorists and Christian philosophers usually trot out. No one outside the sect takes the arguments seriously, because they aren't serious arguments, but put that to one side. This talk was given inside the "sect": should anyone have been surprised that a keynote address at a Christian philosophy conference included familiar arguments rationalizing anti-gay bigotry? Many self-identified Christian philosophers reject such arguments, but many others plainly do not"--didn't provoke nearly as strong a reaction, no doubt due to the absence of vulgar abuse aimed at Swinburne. It's testimony to the power of vulgar words that they can provoke such a strong reaction by contrast. My suggestion, were either Professors Stanley or Kukla taking my advice, would be to apologize for the unfortunate choice of language (everyone, after all, is allowed to have a visceral reaction, and there's nothing wrong with harsh language), but reaffirm the substance of their opposition to anti-gay bigotry, even when it masquerades as philosophy. (You know things are getting weird in philosophy cyberspace when I'm the one giving cyber-etiquette advice! But seriously, having been through right-wing cyber-shitstorms, I think this is a good way to defuse them.)
ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, think of this as a prize for philosophical excellence, however you understand that. There are no further constraints, as there appear to have been with the Berggruen (e.g., relevance to public life).
ANOTHER: Two readers have already pointed out one error of omission, Gilbert Harman. Unfortunately, once the poll starts, I can't add names.
ALAS: Two more omissions: Harry Frankfurt, Judith Jarvis Thomson (sigh). Would any of these folks made the top ten? Hard to say.
The first winner is--yawn--Charles Taylor, who has previously received the Kluge Prize, the Templeton Prize, and the Kyoto Prize, among others. (This isn't as peculiar a choice as the first Kluge Prize, however, far from it!) But, seriously, was it necessary to give one million dollars to an already rich apologist for Catholicism who has a somewhat uneven reputation among professional philosophers (see, e.g., here)? (Taylor was independently wealthy, even before his other millions in prizes.) The prize is supposed to recognize "a thinker whose ideas are of broad significance for shaping human self-understanding and the advancement of humanity. It seeks to recognize and encourage philosophy in the ancient sense of the love of wisdom and in the 18th Century sense of intellectual inquiry into all the basic questions of human knowledge. It rewards thinkers whose ideas are intellectually profound but also able to inform practical and public life across the range of world civilizations." The funder, Nicolas Berggruen, is quoted as observing that, "Ideas have had a greater impact on human history than anything else. We still live in a world that was shaped by Socrates, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Mohamed and Karl Marx, to name a few." That is a very weird list of names for a philosophy prize, though the inclusion of two religious figures whose influence is due not to their philosophical contributions but mass movements (and, if Nietzsche is right, certain kinds of psychological malaise) is perhaps telling, and may help explain why the first awardee is best-known as a nuanced opponent of naturalistic modernity and an apologist for religion. And what is the evidence that Taylor has had any influence on "practical and public life across the range of world civilizations"? He has played an important role in the public life of Canada, to be sure, but elsewhere?
The distinguished historian and philosopher of science, she spent most of her career teaching in the HPS program at Cambridge University. A memorial notice from Cambridge HPS is here. I will add links to obituaries as they appear.
This interview gives a useful précis of Prof. Haslanger's distinctive sense of "ideology" that figures in her work about the social construction of race and gender (it also includes some interesting autobiographical details). (I should say I found the interviewer a bit annoying at times: he interjected too much I thought.) From a Marxian point of view, it's an unusual conception (as I've noted before), in three respects in particular: first, it doesn't necessarily involve beliefs which can be false, but seems to be centrally concerned with what Haslanger calls "practical consciousness" and "know-how"; second, its genesis does not matter (though it shares, loosely, with the Marxian sense the idea that an ideology has the functional property of supporting certain kinds of [oppressive] social relations); and third, there is no special explanatory role for economic relations in understanding ideology. The first attribute is particularly connected, I take it, to Haslanger's emphasis on concrete, practical interventions to change our "ways of interacting" and to do so "together" in particular communities (she even mentions academic disciplines as one locus for this activism). I was surprised to learn from another interview that Prof. Haslanger was brought up as a Christian Scientist, though left that sect in high school. That sect's emphasis on healing echoes, however, in some of her remarks later on the interview.
A philosopher elsewhere writes with an amusing reaction to this week's melodrama:
This shit makes me want to retire.
I already don't "go out" in the philosophy blog-o-sewer, and maybe I'll stop going to conferences too.
Many of these people are not able enough to both do good philosophy and engage constantly in sanctimonious, and often quite nasty, moral police work. Many of them seem to be getting paid a lot to do mediocre scholarly work and spend 80% of their working hours on Facebook.
Obviously, it is embarrassing that educated people would vote for Trump, but it isn't that hard to explain. Dan Bonevac and Rob Koons--my former colleagues at Texas (with whom I had a very enjoyable reading group back in the 1990s)--are both conservative Christians, though of different denominations. Trump's invisible running mate, Mike Pence, the former Indiana Governor, is a very conservative Christian, and many people suspect that given that Trump is a narcissist with a short attention span, that his VP would really govern. I am hardly surprised my former colleagues are supporting Trump under those circumstances.
USC's Scott Soames, whom I do not know except through his work, is a more puzzling case, though I had long heard that he was on the political right (now that is confirmed!). My guess is that his "reasons" are not unlike the reasons proferred by the handful of right-wing law professors supporting Trump, like Stephen Presser (emeritus, Northwestern) and Ronald Rotunda (Chapman). This is perhaps worth emphasizing: there are a lot of conservative and libertarian law professors (whereas there are few philosophy professors, proportionally, in those camps). Most are not supporting Trump: some are voting for Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate; most seem to be sitting out the election; and another large group are voting for Clinton, for a simple reason, that reflects their legal knowledge: domestically, the President operates under various constraints, but in terms of foreign policy, there are almost no meaningful limits to what the President can do. Entrusting that power to a psychologically unbalanced narcissist isn't a good bet, obviously.
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)