2. Oh, Good, Another Piece on Rawls. “Footnote 458 of A Theory of Justice has not been sufficiently explored. Buckle up for 300 pages of exploration!”
3. Splitting the Difference. “Famous philosopher A argues X. Famous philosopher B argues not-X. In this dissertation, I argue the truth is somewhere in-between.”
4. Incomprehensible Kantian Nonsense. “I’m going to argue that some policy P is justified on Kantian grounds. This argument will take 75 steps, and will read as if it’s been translated, or, rather, partially translated, from 19th century German. It will also be completely implausible, and so, to non-Kantians, will simply read like a reductio of Kant rather than a defense of P.”
Philosopher Valerie Tiberius (Minnesota), the current President of the APA Central Division, asked me to share the following, which I am happy to do:
As chair of a philosophy department at a large state institution (University of Minnesota), I’ve frequently been called upon to defend philosophy and to justify its place in higher education. This has made me reflect on what really is worth preserving, celebrating, or (possibly) changing about our field. To this end I want to solicit the views of my philosophy colleagues in a more systematic way than just asking my Facebook friends, which is what drew me to the project of creating a survey.
I am now writing to ask you to participate in this (fairly short) survey: “What Matters to Philosophers”. Please click the link below to take the survey, or copy it into the location bar of your web browser:
The point of this survey is to gather your views regarding what is valuable in your academic discipline, so that we can address questions about philosophy’s future and its role in the academy on the basis of values we share as a community.
I should say that this survey is not intended to answer tactical questions about effective ways of helping philosophy to survive in difficult times; rather, I would like to know what you believe is valuable and worth preserving in academic philosophy. And so that you can feel comfortable being entirely candid in your responses, the survey is completely anonymous.
Of course, the success of this project depends on the generous contributions of time from people like you. Mindful of this, I have tried to create a survey that will not take too much of your valuable time – it should not require more than 15 minutes to complete.
Data from the survey will form the substance of my presidential address at the APA Central Division meeting in Kansas City in March 2017. Presidential addresses are published in the APA proceedings, and I hope to publish and discuss my findings in other arenas as well. I will also share the data – in a form that does not permit the identification of any individual’s responses – with the APA and with philosophy departments who are interested in it.
During the planning process for this project, some philosophers have expressed reservations about completing the survey because they do not have full time academic positions, or are still in graduate school, or are not APA members. Please be assured that there are no such restrictions on who may take the survey! It is only by hearing from as many philosophers as possible that we can get an accurate picture of what we, as a community, think about philosophy.
Scruton says chianti with Hegel. I say Bud Light with Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” It’d be apropos because as Rand is to philosophy, Bud Light is to wine — improperly categorized, and still pretty lousy when regarded within its proper category.
Philosopher Robert Mark Simpson (Monash) has done a very illuminating review of two recent books of interest to moral philosophers. It's also a model of review writing, fair and informative, and written with style and insight.
Via Weinberg, I learn that the Chair in Philosophy of Religion at Rutgers, supported in part by a grant from the Templeton Foundation, is now official. Taking a somewhat longer view, this is an interesting development. William Alston, a philosopher of language and epistemologist who eventually became a leading figure in the "Analytic Christian Mafia" in philosophy (besides Alston, Alvin Plantinga, Robert Adams, Richard Swinburne, William Rowe, William Wainwright, George Mavrodes, and others were major players), taught at Rutgers in the early 1970s, though spent most of his career at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Syracuse University. When Rutgers catapulted to the top ranks of philosophy departments in the late 1980s it was with the appointments of resolutely naturalistic and non-religious philosophers like Jerry Fodor and Stephen Stich. The renaissance in Anglophone metaphysics in the 1990s and afterwards, which often went hand-in-hand with philosophy of religion, reached Rutgers in the 2000s when, at one time, John Hawthorne, Ted Sider, and Dean Zimmerman were all members of the faculty. Zimmerman remains, and has become the anchor for the strong philosophy of religion presence at Rutgers as well.
I agree with John Martin Fischer (UC Riverside) about the reasons why, even from a non-theistic perspective, philosophy of religion is of interest. Alston (as well as Platinga, Adams et al.) were apologists for religious belief, of course, so one may hope that this new Chair will honor Fischer's vision of the importance of the field, and that philosophers of religion who do not only do apologetics will be considered.
This is from the self-review by the UCLA Department of Philosophy in 2012 (which has been making the rounds on social media); it's a useful reality check on a lot of the blather in cyber-space:
This guides our approach to hiring: we place a premium on finding creative, talented people who can contribute to the intellectual life of the department. Like many top philosophy departments, we view raw intellectual talent as a sine qua non of an appointment; it's the lifeblood of any thriving philosophy department. Even so, we are mindful that there are specific areas in which we are understaffed....While different members of the department balance these needs differently, all are agreed that, in the matter of appointments, a first-rate department must give highest priority to quality of mind: better a gap than a stopgap.... (p. 3)
I think there's little question that the latter represents the actual thinking of almost all the top-ranked PGR programs. On the other hand, what follows seems to me more UCLA-specific:
Although much of the best philosophical work occurs in journal articles, we think it is important to avoid letting this create a bias toward quantity of publication. The best articles are rare creatures. It is our expectation that work of this quality will be done by our colleagues. This standard is shared by many of the best departments in the profession. It can create a problem for us, though, when authorities at a higher level of review are unaware of the standards that prevail in the better departments in our discipline: not only do philosophers tend to have fewer publications than those working in other disciplines (especially in the humanities), but very good philosophers often publish fewer--and more searching--articles than less good philosophers. (pp. 4-5)
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MAY 12--MR. STRASSFELD WELCOMES MORE FEEDBACK
Jonathan StrasSfeld, a PhD student in History at the University of Rochester working on an interesting project on the history of American philosophy in the mid-20th-century (especially the fates, respectively, of phenomenology and analytic philosophy), asked me to share this data on philosophy faculty at the leading graduate programs 1930-1979 (corrected list from a few hours ago): Download Philosophers 1930-1979 corrected
Mr. Strassfeld explains:
As part of my dissertation research, I have assembled a database of information about philosophers at America's leading philosophy departments in the mid-20th century. It includes every Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor (not including visiting or emeritus faculty) in the philosophy departments of Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, and Yale, from 1930-1979.
I am making a limited version of this dataset available on this blog both because it may be of interest or use to philosophers, and in the hope that others will be able to spot errors or misidentifications. Most importantly, I have attempted to classify each philosopher as working in analytic philosophy, non-analytic philosophy, or the history of philosophy, allowing for combinations of these categories. Because of the number of philosophers involved - 492 in total - this assessment is necessarily cursory; and these categories are, of course also, not clear cut. Thus, I will be particularly grateful for any help finding misidentifications: please email corrections and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope readers will help Mr. Strassfeld out and, in any case, enjoy the snapshot of the American philosophy faculties of yesteryear!
ADDENDUM: An explanation from Mr. Strassfeld of the departments studied:
I determined which departments to survey recursively, defining the "leading departments" as those whose graduates comprised the faculties of the leading departments. Focusing on the period of 1945-1969, when universities were growing explosively, I found that there was a group of eleven philosophy departments that essentially only hired graduates from among their own ranks and foreign universities - that it was virtually impossible for graduates of any American philosophy departments outside of this group to gain faculty positions at these "leading departments." Indeed, between 1949-1960, no member of their faculty had received a Ph.D. from an American institution outside of their ranks. There were, of course, border cases. Brown, Rockefeller, MIT, and Pittsburgh in particular might have been included. However, I judged that they did not place enough graduates on the faculties of the other leading universities, particularly during the period 1945-1969, for inclusion. This list also aligns closely with contemporary reputational assessments, with ten of the eleven departments ranking in the top 11 in a 1964 poll (Allan Murray Carter, An Assessment of Quality in Graduate Education).
Note, of course, that MIT, Pittsburgh, and Rockefeller only became major PhD programs in philosophy in the 1960s.
...at 3AM. The interview gives a nice, synoptic account of his (revisionary) account of Kant's ethics in particular. As always, Allen also offers fierce and bracing judgments on matters philosophical and political. Three examples from this interview (I disagree with them to varying degrees, but that's not the point). First, on utilitarianism (vide "effective [sic] altruism"):
The problem I see with utilitarianism, or any form of consequentialism, is not that it gets the wrong answers to moral questions. I think just about any moral theory, worked out intelligently, and applied with good judgment, would get just about the same results as any other. Mill developed utilitarianism with great humanity and insight. Perhaps that is why many utilitarians (those with less humanity, insight and judgment) say he is not a true utilitarian. I have said to two of my friends: David Lyons and John Skorupski — both excellent philosophers, who have made a deep study of utilitarianism — that they are my favorite utilitarians. The reaction of both was the same: “But I am not a utilitarian!” To this my reply was: “Ah, so that explains it.”
Consequentialist theories begin with a very simple and undoubtedly valid point: Every action aims at a future end, and is seen as a means to it. (This is precisely Kant’s conception of action.) So one rational standard of action is how well it promotes the end it seeks. Another standard is whether it aims at ends which are good. Both of these, but especially the former, depend on judgments of fact. Utilitarians are usually empiricists who think they can solve every problem by accumulating enough empirical facts. They do not realize that thinking as well as experience is necessary to know anything or get anything right.Philosophy is about getting the facts right, but it is also about thinking rightly about them. Philosophy is more about the latter than the former. That’s why empiricist philosophy always tends to be anti-philosophy (and is often proud of it). People are often most proud of precisely those things of which they should most be ashamed. (The rightward side of American politics illustrates this very well.)
The big problem for consequentialism is that facts of this last form are hard to obtain except for a few determinate ends in the fairly short run. Consequentialist theories pretend that we can set some great big ends (the general happiness, human flourishing), provide ourselves with definite enough conceptions of them to make them the objects of instrumental reasoning, and then obtain enough reliable information about what actions will best promote them that we could regulate our conduct by these considerations alone. In fact people do not know enough about themselves and what is good for them to form a sufficiently definite conception of the general happiness (or whatever the end is) to establish definite rules for its pursuit.
Further, we cannot predict the effects of our actions, especially our collective actions over generations or centuries, to use instrumental reasoning toward these big final ends to tell us what we ought to do. As a result, it is possible to use the simple point that it is rational to choose the right means to your ends to develop very elegant abstract formal theories of rational choice, and then turn these into what look like moral theories. Philosophers tend to be ravished by the formal beauty of such theories, and they don’t pay much attention to the fact that our human limitations make them pretty useless in practice, while the simple point about instrumental reasoning is too shallow to be of much real moral interest.
When consequentialist theories are developed in terms of an equally shallow psychology of the good — such as a crude form of hedonism — the results can sometimes strike sensible people as revolting and inhuman. People can be reduced to simple repositories of positive or negative sensory states, and their humanity is lost sight of entirely. When people think that moral problems can be solved by some simple strategy of calculation, that sets them up for ghastly overreaching. They think they can turn everything into a “science” the way mechanics was turned into a science in the seventeeth century. They want to turn everything over to technocrats and social engineers. They become shortsighted or simplistic about their ends, and they disastrously overestimate their ability to acquire the information they need to make the needed calculations. Utilitarians of the caliber of Mill and Sidgwick do not do these things, at least on particular moral issues about which they reflect as human beings.
1. John Rawls (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. G.A. Cohen loses to John Rawls by 214–26
3. Robert Nozick loses to John Rawls by 217–17, loses to G.A. Cohen by 122–93
4. Ronald Dworkin loses to John Rawls by 227–8, loses to Robert Nozick by 103–97
5. Joseph Raz loses to John Rawls by 217–13, loses to Ronald Dworkin by 103–80
6. Amartya Sen loses to John Rawls by 228–17, loses to Joseph Raz by 111–89
7. Martha Nussbaum loses to John Rawls by 225–38, loses to Amartya Sen by 111–107
8. H.L.A. Hart loses to John Rawls by 221–16, loses to Martha Nussbaum by 112–110
9. Isaiah Berlin loses to John Rawls by 223–21, loses to H.L.A. Hart by 107–88
10. T.M. Scanlon loses to John Rawls by 229–6, loses to Isaiah Berlin by 112–84
11. Thomas Nagel loses to John Rawls by 229–5, loses to T.M. Scanlon by 95–82
12. Jeremy Waldron loses to John Rawls by 229–12, loses to Thomas Nagel by 98–81
13. Philip Pettit loses to John Rawls by 233–10, loses to Jeremy Waldron by 84–79
14. Charles Taylor loses to John Rawls by 225–13, loses to Philip Pettit by 101–79
15. Brian Barry loses to John Rawls by 231–7, loses to Charles Taylor by 91–80
16. Joel Feinberg loses to John Rawls by 230–8, loses to Brian Barry by 87–70
17. Michael Walzer loses to John Rawls by 226–10, loses to Joel Feinberg by 83–80
18. Joshua Cohen loses to John Rawls by 233–5, loses to Michael Walzer by 94–69
19. A. John Simmons loses to John Rawls by 232–6, loses to Joshua Cohen by 69–67
20. Charles Beitz loses to John Rawls by 235–2, loses to A. John Simmons by 70–59
Runners-up for the top 20 include Susan Okin, Samuel Scheffler, Iris Young, and Gerald Gaus. There appears to have been a late surge of some strategic voting for Nussbaum, who was in the top ten even before that (one indication is that 38 people ranked her ahead of Rawls, compared to, say, 17 who ranked Nozick or Sen ahead, or the 8 who ranked Dworkin ahead--though that she came out behind Sen is, to my mind, surprising). But as with all these polls, the precise ordinal rank is less revealing than the broader picture (the top 5, the top 10, the top 20). In that regard, the results seem, yet again, fairly reasonable. There were, alas, some unfortunate omissions from the poll, including David Miller, Jean Hampton, and Gregory Kavka. And recall that among living political philosophers, only those over age 60 were included. (Some that did poorly in earlier iterations of these polls were not included.)
I'd be curious to hear from philosophers of biology and other biologically-informed readers about this New Yorker piece. Accurate? Misleading? Links to better or other discussions of epigenetics accessible to non-biologists welcome.
Now that we've done the moral philosophers, here's the political philosophers. To be included, the political philosophers had to have done most of their important work after WWII and, for those who are still living, they have to be age 60 or older in 2016. I also tried to make sure to include anyone who had a chance of being in "the top 20." Have fun!
UPDATE: Two unfortunate omissions (surprised no one flagged them in earlier iterations): David Miller and the late Jean Hampton.
An interesting tale from nearly a century ago. Note the (correct) description of Bergson's extraordinary reputation at the time, a reputation which now appears to us (also correctly) as mysterious (and not just in the Anglophone world). A cautionary note for today's "famous" philosophers!
With over 420 votes in our most recent poll (and despite some bad attempted strategic voting behavior), here's the top 20
1. Bernard Williams (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Derek Parfit loses to Bernard Williams by 145–117
3. Philippa Foot loses to Bernard Williams by 182–79, loses to Derek Parfit by 161–94
4. Thomas Nagel loses to Bernard Williams by 183–60, loses to Philippa Foot by 128–110
5. T.M. Scanlon loses to Bernard Williams by 180–67, loses to Thomas Nagel by 121–92
6. G.E.M. Anscombe loses to Bernard Williams by 187–73, loses to T.M. Scanlon by 126–106
7. Christine Korsgaard loses to Bernard Williams by 206–50, loses to G.E.M. Anscombe by 130–94
8. Peter Singer loses to Bernard Williams by 191–62, loses to Christine Korsgaard by 121–102
9. Alasdair MacIntyre loses to Bernard Williams by 193–52, loses to Peter Singer by 111–110
10. R.M. Hare loses to Bernard Williams by 202–44, loses to Alasdair MacIntyre by 111–89
11. Martha Nussbaum loses to Bernard Williams by 202–39, loses to R.M. Hare by 96–94
12. Judith Jarvis Thomson loses to Bernard Williams by 195–50, loses to Martha Nussbaum by 96–87
13. Harry Frankfurt loses to Bernard Williams by 206–37, loses to Judith Jarvis Thomson by 99–93
14. Allan Gibbard loses to Bernard Williams by 201–38, loses to Harry Frankfurt by 89–88
15. J.L. Mackie loses to Bernard Williams by 201–37, loses to Allan Gibbard by 89–82
16. Stephen Darwall loses to Bernard Williams by 207–35, loses to J.L. Mackie by 93–85
17. Peter Railton loses to Bernard Williams by 208–34, loses to Stephen Darwall by 85–73
18. Simon Blackburn loses to Bernard Williams by 206–42, loses to Stephen Darwall by 89–78
19. Samuel Scheffler loses to Bernard Williams by 207–25, loses to Peter Railton by 85–77
20. John McDowel loses to Bernard Williams by 208-27, loses to Samuel Scheffler by 110-97
Runners-up for the top twenty included Onora O'Neill, Shelly Kagan, Susan Wolf, and Jeff McMahan. Recall that among living moral philosophers, only those over age 60 were included. I think the results aren't wholly surprising, though it certainly would not have been my personal "top 20" list. Comments from readers? Signed comments will be strongly preferred.
MOVING TO FRONT FROM YESTERDAY--IF YOU HAVEN'T VOTED YET, PLEASE DO SO IF YOU HAVE VIEWS ABOUT MORAL PHILOSOPHY
Here. When I started these polls earlier in the year, I aggregated moral & political philosophy, but in response to suggestions, I thought I'd try disaggregating them (and also adding a few philosophers who were omitted last time). I used the prior poll as a benchmark, so have not included every moral philosopher included last time, but have included most. Rawls is always a tricky case, but I'm going to leave him for the political philosophy poll, which will come. Have fun!
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the aggressive and transparent strategic voting for Fred Feldman (U Mass/Amherst) will require eliminating him from the results. I'm sorry, since I am a fan of his work.
A nicely written essay by Zena Hitz (St. John's College, Annapolis). It offers an interesting defense of a decidedly Christian understanding of the "interiority" and "dignity" of humanistic reflection (also a Platonic one, though as Nietzsche said, "Christianity is Platonism for the people") against the neoliberal ("the humanities produce people who are useful for capitalism") and liberal ("the humanities make people good democratic citizens") defenses of humanistic study. As Nietzsche notes in the Genealogy, the "slave revolt" in morality made human beings interesting, giving them interior lives. And the humanities (here understood capaciously to include the cognitive sciences generally) are, when done well and seriously (e.g., not Badiou studies!), are precisely those that help one become a human being who is "interesting." That concern has no resonance for the neoliberal or liberal defenses of the humanities. Since our age is still neoliberal to its core, that means humanistic study is doomed in the neoliberal countries. But it will likely return elsewhere.
What do readers think of Prof. Hitz's interesting essay?
One recent study found that adding more women to the syllabus didn't make much difference, which is what I would have expected. Anecdotally, I have had the impression that sexual harassment has been a major deterrent for female students, though lower levels of tolerance for this misconduct may help change that. But a senior female philosopher elsewhere writes with an interesting and different take:
My assessment of the undergrad women in philosophy thing: undergrad women get sick of being talked over and strawmanned by their peers in and out of the classroom, and get sick of classes where the male students endlessly hold forth about their own thoughts. Relatedly, they find many thought experiments overall less compelling perhaps because, (a) women may start out in philosophy feeling less impressed with a priori speculation in general, perhaps because of confidence issues and the topics, and more importantly (b) they are less able to receive credence for their thoughts about the thought experiments when they try to engage with their peers, and (c) a lot of it seems like just more blowhard bullshitting by a bunch of dudes, on esoteric topics that they aren’t really allowed to engage in fully (see (b)). (Metaphysics is really a lot like that. Trad epistemology too.)
I will say that over two decades of teaching, it has seemed to me that the students who speak out of proportion to what they have to say are overwhelmingly male. Maintaining control of the classroom, and creating a welcoming environment for all student contributions, can probably go some distance to rectifying this--but that, of course, supposes levels of pedagogical talent and sensitivity that many philosophy faculty probably lack. But I'm curious what readers make of this diagnosis.
On your blog, you supplied a link to a NYT story about the likely fate of the West Antarctic ice sheet. As the article points out, it looks as though many of the world’s coastal cities (New York, Shanghai, Miami, Vancouver, etc.) will disappear within a century or so. Because of climatic effects like this Rajendra Pachauri, former head of the IPCC, has stated that climate change poses a threat to the “very social stability of human systems.” And yet many of us working on Climate Philosophy are struck by the fact that so few philosophers seem interested enough in the problem to turn their philosophical attention more pointedly to it. The overwhelming majority of scientists seem to think that civilization is truly on the brink, so what does it say about our discipline that only a small minority of us are writing about this? Aren’t we—along with the scientists, the artists, and many others--the keepers of civilization? Or is our relative silence here evidence that we have abandoned this role? I’d be eager to hear what other philosophers have to say about this.
I think Prof. Williston raises an interesting question, and I'll state my own view, which will no doubt be thought idiosyncratic (though won't be surprising to those who periodically read the papers of mine I link to!). First, with respect to many issues, including climate change, philosophers have almost nothing to add: in broad outline, it's clear what ought to be done to avert catastrophe (e.g., it's not like those ignoring the issue think it would be good for civilization to end!), and to the extent the details aren't clear, the questions needing answers are technical/instrumental ones about which philosophers typically have no competence. Second, philosophical arguments won't produce the needed action, since philosophical arguments are notoriously inefficacious in moving people, let alone governments, to moral action. Third, it has been the norm for Anglophone moral and political philosophy in the capitalist democracies to focus on topics unoffensive to capitalist imperatives, and indeed, to focus often on moral trivia (cf. my discussion of bourgeois normative theory at pp. 9 ff. here, and especially the discussion of "moral trivia" [like promises by college students concerning sex] at 20-22). So the fact that philosophers ignore climate change--even assuming that issue can be meaningfully discussed independent of the realities of global political economy--is hardly surprising.
I invite readers to comment on the questions raised by Prof. Williston, especially since I assume most do not share my views on these issues.
In talking with the CHE reporter for the article about Penn State, one question that came up was how seriously philosophy of race was taken at top PhD programs. (This did not make it into the article, alas, but it is perhaps of interest, since Penn State churning out PhDs in the area is not going to have the same impact as top PhD programs investing in the area.) I did a little investigating, and was struck by the fact of how many top PhD programs have added senior faculty in philosophy of race over the last decade: NYU, for example, appointed Anthony Appiah from Princeton; Michigan hired Derrick Darby from the University of Kansas; Harvard Philosophy cross-appointed Tommie Shelby from its African and African-American Studies Department; Columbia hired Robert Gooding-Williams from the Political Science Department here at Chicago; the CUNY Graduate Center hired Charles Mills from Northwestern (Mills also had an offer from Yale) (Hunter College also appointed Linda Alcoff, who works partly in philosophy of race, from Syracuse, and she also now as an appointment at the Graduate Center); and Wash U/St. Louis added Ron Mallon from Utah. A number of PGR-ranked PhD programs also added junior faculty who work in whole or in part in philosophy of race during this period. Prior to this investment, there was relatively little work being done in philosophy of race at top PhD programs: Howard McGary at Rutgers, Bernard Boxill at North Carolina (now retired), Appiah at Princeton, Sally Haslanger at MIT, Michael Hardimon at UC San Diego, and I think that was it.
We may now be at the point where philosophy of race is better-represented at the leading PhD programs in the U.S. than feminist philosophy (let alone Marxist philosophy, itself very telling), an interesting development. Of course, philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and Marxist philosophy are all dwarfed by the investment of leading PhD programs in, for example, metaphysics! I suspect that, given the shape of the job market, and where the jobs are, that approach is going to prove unsustainable.
ADDENDUM: Elliott Sober (Wisconsin) writes with "an additional detail about philosophy of race": "Many philosophers of biology, myself included, include a discussion of race in their classes on philosophy of biology."
But, rather than having that discussion all over again, I'd like to share a 1.5 minute video I created that promotes philosophy to girls and young women.
One thing to keep in mind with these promo videos is that they're not designed to teach philosophy, so it's a good idea to make the content a bit more user-friendly. If you want to give it a try on your own, here are two quick tips:(1) shorter is almost always better and (2) stick with a limited color and style palette. Also, consider tossing around ideas with a non-philosopher and have them review your videos--a lay person's perspective will more closely match that of your intended audience.
As with the two videos I posted earlier this week:
This video is shared under the creative commons copyright. Please feel free to use or modify it, but if you do so, please make it available to others.
The video was created with VideoScribe. If you have the software, you can download the raw file (file extension scribe) here.
As I mentioned in the last post, I'm willing to donate my time to help anyone interested in creating some cool 30-second promos. You can reach out to me directly at the following email address: mycoffeepotproductions at gmail dot com. If you don't want to email me, but you have some ideas to share, use the comments!
The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) requires that state universities report annually on what used to be called “low productivity programs” in compliance with the Illinois Public Act 097-0610. They then use this information to determine if the contribution of each program is “educationally and economically justified.” The IBHE has no regulatory authority over universities to tell them what programs to offer or eliminate, but the IBHE does make budget recommendations. So university administrators want to appease them.
You might be wondering what constitutes a “low producing” program in Illinois. Here are the IBHE standards (from page 8 of the October 2015 report):
So if a program doesn’t have these averages for enrolled students and graduates over a rolling five-year period, it is considered low producing. When that happens, the IBHE recommends the following actions:
Here, and it's very interesting along a number of dimensions. One excerpt:
Almost everything that I do involves the idea that experience can transform human minds. We are, by nature, unnatural. I am wary of biophilia—that is, of uncritical efforts to explain human universals and differences by appeal to fixed biological traits.
Experience shapes all of our beliefs, values, thinking styles, behavioral dispositions, ways of seeing, and ways of feeling. We share much as a species; however, our extraordinary malleability distinguishes us from each other and from other animals. No aspect of human activity remains untouched by enculturation and experience. The way that we sit, stand, walk, breath, the volume at which we speak, speech itself, the way that we dress and live, the foods that we crave, the arts that we love, and the structure of our relationships are learned scripts to some degree. It boggles the mind to think about that. Philosophers who emphasize biological contributors are neglecting our most important trait. Although finding biological universals is valuable, it is like studying bedrock instead of buildings.
I want to begin by thanking Professor Leiter for letting me blog on his platform, and as I did in the fall, I will entertain discussions. I finished last fall with two posts and said there would be a third. I’ll get into some topics later this week that will explain why my attention was diverted away from this third post until now.
If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 of this series, I recommend you get started there. In this post, I am going to discuss ways we can grow the philosophy profession: lobbying/advocacy, public relations/advertising, cultural influence ideas, and using philosophy allies.
(4) Lobbying and Advocacy The APA needs to have a lobbyist (or lobbying firm) to promote the professional interest of APA members both in federal and state government, but also to lobby university and college accrediting agencies for philosophy related concerns. See this IHE story on accreditation and assessment if you haven’t already done so. At the state level promoting philosophy in high schools as part of the common core solution for college and career readiness is one idea. Promoting the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO) and groups like Sphere is another. Promoting philosophy is one major reason why development (as discussed in Part 1) and maintaining an active APA membership base is so important—MONEY!
Tamsin Shaw (whose fine work on Nietzsche I've written about here and here) had an essay in the NYRB that discussed recent work in moral psychology by psychologists (some of it spectacularly and notoriously confused, like Joshua Greene's stuff) and the involvement of Martin Seligman and the "Positive Psychology" movement in the CIA's torture program. This was unfair and misleading, I thought, a kind of slippery guilt by association. Two psychologists, Jonathan Haidt and Steven Pinker, now reply, and Shaw replies to them (same link). I'm not a big fan of Haidt or Pinker (though they've each done interesting work, though both fall short in interpreting the philosophical import of their own results), but I think their position in this debate is the slightly stronger one here. I'll write something more substantive at a later date, but I thought readers here might find the back and forth interesting.
1. Arthur Danto (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Nelson Goodman loses to Arthur Danto by 68–42
3. Richard Wollheim loses to Arthur Danto by 77–34, loses to Nelson Goodman by 60–45
4. Stanley Cavell loses to Arthur Danto by 79–35, loses to Richard Wollheim by 53–51
5. Kendall Walton loses to Arthur Danto by 78–32, loses to Stanley Cavell by 57–46
6. Noel Carroll loses to Arthur Danto by 89–17, loses to Kendall Walton by 48–34
7. Jerrold Levinson loses to Arthur Danto by 86–22, loses to Noel Carroll by 41–37
8. Monroe Beardsley loses to Arthur Danto by 91–16, loses to Jerrold Levinson by 40–39
9. Peter Kivy loses to Arthur Danto by 91–14, loses to Monroe Beardsley by 45–34
10. Roger Scruton loses to Arthur Danto by 92–17, loses to Peter Kivy by 46–41
11. Malcolm Budd loses to Arthur Danto by 89–15, loses to Roger Scruton by 41–34
12. George Dickie loses to Arthur Danto by 95–8, loses to Malcolm Budd by 40–29
13. Gregory Currie loses to Arthur Danto by 97–10, loses to George Dickie by 33–29
14. Ted Cohen loses to Arthur Danto by 94–14, loses to Gregory Currie by 36–28
15. Paul Guyer loses to Arthur Danto by 101–7, loses to Ted Cohen by 36–24
16. Alexander Nehamas loses to Arthur Danto by 95–10, loses to Paul Guyer by 34–33
17. David Davies loses to Arthur Danto by 98–8, loses to Alexander Nehamas by 40–29
18. Susanne Langer loses to Arthur Danto by 93–7, loses to Alexander Nehamas by 40–26
19. Peter Lamarque loses to Arthur Danto by 98–7, loses to Alexander Nehamas by 35–31
20. Joseph Margolis loses to Arthur Danto by 92–10, loses to Peter Lamarque by 29–28
21. Frank Sibley loses to Arthur Danto by 94–10, loses to Peter Lamarque by 27–26
22. Stephen Davies loses to Arthur Danto by 96–8, loses to Frank Sibley by 30–22
23. Catherine Elgin loses to Arthur Danto by 94–8, loses to Stephen Davies by 30–22
24. Mary Mothersill loses to Arthur Danto by 97–6, loses to Catherine Elgin by 28–23
25. Jenefer Robinson loses to Arthur Danto by 97–6, loses to Mary Mothersill by 26–18
I list the "top 25" for two reasons: almost all those ranked 21-25 were in the top 20 at some point; and there was a very late surge for Joseph Margolis, based on what looked a bit like attempted strategic voting. I know that for a certain kind of philosopher of art the idea that Danto would come out ahead of Walton will seem bizarre, but the top five certainly looks plausible to an amateur like me (even if the ordinal order does not), as does the rest of the top 25, though the ordinal ranking perhaps less so (I would have thought, again as an amateur, that Budd and Robinson, for example, would come out even higher). Thoughts from more knowledgeable readers?
As with the prior polls, this new one only includes, among the living philosophers of art, those who are sixty or older in 2016, thus omitting a number of well-known contemporaries like Berys Gaut, Dominic Lopes, and Daniel Jacobson. Have fun, and please only vote if you work in or are a serious reader of aesthetics and the philosophy of the arts (including literature, theater, painting, film etc.).
UPDATE: Two omissions: Irving Singer, Paul Ziff. Ziff, I imagine, might have made the top 20.
ALSO: Paisley Livingston, Terry Diffey, Paul Crowther, Robert Kraut.
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)