Saturday, July 30, 2011

Same as it Ever Was

I'm on my way out the door, but I couldn't help but post about the new APA website.

It's not fully up yet, but what is up does not look particularly promising. It appears we're still stuck in the early 90s, technology-wise. Your dues at work....

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Various commitments have me traveling from one coast to the other for much of the coming month. I may see fit to post from the road, but I may not. In any case, things should be relatively quiet around here for a bit. Good thing I managed to settle major issues in the profession earlier this week.

I'll be back to regular posting in September, just in time for the beginning of classes. Til then, try to behave.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Law of the Academy #440

Anything said after the first 10 minutes of the department meeting will not be heard by at least 60% of those attendance. And of the remaining 40%, half of them will forget what they heard within two days.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The REAL Pluralist Guide

I've taken the liberty of conducting my own survey: The REAL Pluralist Guide to Graduate Programs in Philosophy (RPG). What follows are the results.

First, some important details. You're on a need-to-know basis regarding procedures and methodology and other crucial features of the survey (and I'm making it all up as I go along). By my lights, you don't need to know anything, so don't bother asking. If need be, I'll write a few non-responsive blog posts in reaction to your questions. The identities, response-rates, qualifications, and such of my experts is also none of your concern. But let me emphasize once again that they're experts. For reals.


American Philosophy: Pittsburgh; Columbia; Rutgers; Miami

Continental Philosophy: Chicago; Northwestern; NYU; Brown

Philosophy of Race
: Princeton; Harvard; Michigan (Ann Arbor); Chicago

Feminist Philosophy:
MIT; Stanford; Colorado (Boulder)

GLBT Studies:
At present, there is no especially good Philosophy department in this area.

Climate for Women:
Actually consult persons with actual experience of the program; that anyone from outside a department would take himself or herself to be in a position to comment on this is completely absurd.


What's this pluralism all about, then?
If you're interested in specializing in an area of Philosophy that is (for better or worse) considered outside of the mainstream of the discipline, you would do well to study at a program that is very strong overall in the mainstream areas while also being (1) welcoming of your interests, and (2) home to someone who does excellent work in the area of your interest. Providing students with a strong foundation in the state of the art in mainstream Philosophy while also welcoming excellent work in other areas-- that's pluralism. Departments that focus lopsidedly on any area, even self-appointed "pluralist" areas like American and Continental, are not pluralistic. Good pluralist departments do not advertise themselves as such. Beware.

I'm interested in one of the areas ranked above, but didn't get into any of the programs the Guide identifies as best. What should I do? Naturally, the best places to study topics like the ones ranked above are also places that are very strong overall, and so admission to these programs is highly competitive. If you don't get into one of these schools, consider your priorities and your career goals. Ask yourself some questions: Do you want a job after working extremely hard for 6 or 7 years on a PhD? What kind of job do you want? Does it make sense to work on your application and reapply next year? What's so great about getting a PhD in Philosophy, anyway? Can you stomach working on (writing a dissertation on) some more mainstream topic, while cultivating your expertise in other areas on your own? But the bottom line is this: If you decide to go to any other program to work on the topic you're most interested in, gather as much information as possible, visit the department, and ask a lot of questions.

What about the Leiter Report (PGR) and that other "Pluralist's Guide"? When used according to the guidelines provided again and again on its webpage, the PGR is an excellent source of information about the reputation of the faculty at various departments. It's also a good way to get a sense of which philosophers are at which departments, and of what the strengths of various departments are. It is by itself not a good instrument for making final decisions about what department is best for you. But you're smart enough to know that (despite what opponents of the PGR say about you). As for that other "pluralist guide," it is pretty much useless and in many respects an embarrassment. In fact, I'd take a high ranking on that guide to be a compelling (though not necessarily conclusive) reason to avoid the department in question.


These rankings are subject to change, revision, and alteration, without notice, explanation, or rationale, at any moment. Hope you find the Guide helpful.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pluralist's Guide Objections?

I've been working through the online responses to the Pluralist's Guide, a lot of which is boring, and some of which is shockingly silly.

My biggest surprise, though, is the relative silence of some of the more vocal opponents of the Leiter Report. The Pluralist's Guide actually and overtly manifests all of the methodological flaws that critics of the PGR typically (though mistakenly) claim undermine the PGR and render it pernicious. So anyone who (misguidedly) objects to the PGR on methodological grounds has especially strong reason to object to the Pluralist's Guide-- the Pluralist's Guide really is what Leiter's ignorant critics say the PGR is.

Someone care to explain?

The Pluralist Guide Rulz!

I take it from the final sentence that the following comment was intended to be ironic. If so, well done!

That the Rutgers women are so content, even happy, shows only how deep their oppression goes. They've been fully acclimatized to male hegemony, and so now see their subjugation as not only "normal", but healthy. Classic false consciousness.

The pluralist guide rulz!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kudos to Rutgers Women Grad Students!

I've not yet had the time to wade through all the relevant material and commentary concerning the prima facie useless, irresponsible, and pernicious "pluralist guide to philosophy," but I'll try to make time to do so in the coming days. Depending on how much I can stomach, I might even post about it.

But in the meantime, I wanted to express deep appreciation for the women graduate students at Rutgers who saw fit to write this excellent open letter.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Law of the Academy #1234

The highest paid members of your department are also the poorest tippers in restaurants, and they never leave a tip for housekeeping at the APA meetings.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Law of the Academy #8675310

Were it not for faculty repeating what they have already said, and affirming what has already been widely agreed to, department meetings would take no more than 25 minutes.

Law of the Academy #25

For every reason there is for the department to take some proposed action, there is at least one reason, equal or better in force, which favors doing absolutely nothing.

(aka Cornford's Law)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Law of the Academy #8675309

For any meeting agenda (no matter how short), A, and any period of time allotted for the department meeting (no matter how long), T, the time it takes to reach the end of A will be T+ 40 minutes.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From our UK Correspondent ....

Relevant, and still awesome.

(Thanks to SpirosUK for sending this along.)

Law of the Academy # 33.3333...

After tenure, the only place for incompetent academics to go is university administration.

Frampton Comes Alive?

Reunion tours in which the artist performs some glory-day album in its entirety are annoying. But Peter Frampton is touring for the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive! Again, it's annoying. But does anyone else see something odd in the idea of "performing" a live album?


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Betty Ford Posse

Betty Ford has a posse.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Law of the Academy #139

Every member of your department thinks he or she can teach Critical Thinking.

Law of the Academy #138

Every member of your department thinks he or she can teach Ethics.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Law of the Academy #2541

The most outspoken environmentalist in your department is also the one who lives furthest from campus and drives the biggest car.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Law of the Academy #392

Those who profess the most radically egalitarian political commitments are also those who are most likely to treat the departmental staff like crap.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Law of the Academy #7842

The most popular teacher in your department is also the teacher from whom students learn the least.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Law of the Academy #1293

Those who tend to talk the most about how busy they are with their research are the least productive members of your department.

(This is especially the case among those who use their alleged research busy-ness as an excuse to duck out of ordinary departmental responsibilities.)