Both of these writing modes are essential skills for graduate students to master, but it's hard to get them to even try the "teacher-development" mode, perhaps because it's more difficult. (It's especially important for continental philosophy students to master this, since they will very often be addressing non-CP experts when addressing professional colleagues.)
Quite a morning on Facebook. First, someone posted a link to this NDPR review, which prompted this reflection on my part:
The choice of doing a review or not on Objectivism entails a bit of a double-bind: "sunlight is the best disinfectant" (or less obnoxiously, "let's let the marketplace of ideas* do its work") vs "recognition lends legitimacy." The choice of reviewer is equally problematic: with a highly polarizing topic the choice of a friend or a foe stacks the deck and neutral observers are difficult to find. The Stanford EP article on Objectivism was discussed critically along those lines a while ago if I'm not mistaken.
Subsequent discussion led me to this Forbes column on (often privately funded) university centers for "free market oriented policy research."
Sometimes combat might be the right stance, but seeing that as the default mode for philosophical discussion leads far too often to destructive Q&A sessions that aim at destroying the opponent and bolstering the amour propre of the aggressor. Where the aim is victory, then all kinds of rhetorical moves can prove effective: there’s no reason to think that truth will emerge as a by-product.
For my part, regarding blood-on-the-floor seminar rooms, I wonder to what extent the practice of awarding individual grades creates the impression among students of a zero-sum game in grades (whether or not a true zero-sum game is in operation*), exacerbating the combativeness aspect: “if I tear down Jones, that’s one less person in the top grade cohort I have to worry about.”
Perhaps more of a reach -- but that's supposed to exceed one's grasp, isn't it? -- is the connection of individualized grades with the neoliberal self-entrepreneur, which Jon discusses below, in relation to Mike Konczal's review of Mirowski.
The good news: NYU and the UAW have agreed to allow graduate teaching assistants to hold a union election.
The "sigh" moments come in the first and last clauses here:
Outside the South, graduate student unions are common in public higher education (where collective bargaining rights are determined at the state level), but have been the source of years of organizing and legal struggles in private higher education.
The first is the most obvious, the disconnect between contemporary science and pop-culture treatments: "In recent months, a new book co-authored by best-selling author John Gray hit the shelves that, like his many other books, claims there are ‘hardwired’ differences in thebrains of females and males..."
This sort of thing could occur in many domains of science. What is more interesting, and provocative, is the second disconnect they identify, within science itself, which amounts to a refusal to take plasticity seriously:
Humans have evolved an adaptively plastic brain that is responsive to environmental conditions and experiences, and the modulation of endocrine function by those experiential factors contributes to that plasticity. Why, then, do popular understandings of female/male behavior as rooted in a biological core remain entrenched in scientific ideas characteristic of the previous century? Is it, in part, because the sex/gender science within these three fields is similarly entrenched?
If Elisabeth Lloyd’s take on the female orgasm is
correct—i.e. if it is homologous to the male orgasm—then FEMALE ORGASMis not a proper evolutionary category. Homology is sameness. Hence, male and female orgasms belong to the same category. The orgasm is an adaptation, whether male or female (and
Lloyd should agree). It is not a spandrel or by-product.
I’ll get back to this in a moment, but first some background. There are five NewAPPSers who have a particular interest in the
philosophy of biology. Roberta Millstein, Helen De Cruz, Catarina Dutilh Novaes, John Protevi, and myself. Aside from Roberta, each of us comes at it from a related area in which biological insight is
important. For me, that area is perception. I have written quite a bit about
biology, but my mind has always been at least half on the eye (and the ear, and
the nose, and the tongue, . . .).
There is a divide among us with respect to a leading controversy
in the field. Catarina is strongly anti-adaptationist and I am strongly
adaptationist (perhaps because of my motivating interest in perception, which is exquistely adaptive). Roberta, Helen, and John are somewhere in between, but likely closer to Catarina than to me. You can gauge where I stand when I tell you that in my view, Gould and Lewontin’s 1979
anti-adaptationist manifesto, “The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian
Paradigm” is one of the worst, and certainly one of the most mendacious, papers I have
ever read in any field. Among the five of us, I am sure I am alone in this.
Given all of this, my take on adaptationism with regard to the orgasm may get a
hotly negative response from my co-bloggers. Nevertheless, I’ll get on with it.
In the end, the university’s rationale for the campaign relies heavily on a narrative of state defunding. For example, as a Detroit News article relates, “President Mary Sue Coleman called the campaign ‘audacious’ and said no gift is too small since universities need philanthropy with states no longer able to support them to the degree they must for schools to be globally competitive.” This narrative seems difficult to square with the actual role of the endowment in funding university operations. The endowment contributes only 4.5% (of its total holdings) to the general operation funds of university each year. The principal stays invested. Thus, if we look at the breakdown of revenue sources at the university in 2010 the endowment contributed only $253 million. Student tuition however generated over $1 billion, while state funding totaled $315 million.
The endowment clearly has very little to do with making up for lost state funding. Its purpose lies elsewhere. And that elsewhere is in the university’s move to behave more and more like a hedge fund, mobilizing donated capital to secure new revenue streams. It does this by taking advantage of its tax-exempt status to build up a hoard of money that it then invests around the world in shady funds and places it would rather the university community did not know about. In so doing, the university is slowly becoming an important player on Wall Street but to play with the “big boys” it needs more and more capital, which requires constant fundraising campaigns. This money is destined for investment not students. Little of it will ever reach students in the form of scholarships or be used to offset increases in tuition.
The SUM seems to be the sort of thing many universities should have:
Inspired by the Quebec student movement of 2012, the Student Union of Michigan (SUM) is an organizing platform based at the University of Michigan dedicated to fighting the privatization of higher education and instead building a truly democratic, open university run by students and workers. We stand in solidarity with student and worker struggles around the world.
Philosophers should read this online issue of MLA Profession, since so far MLA > APA on professional issues. (Don't believe me? Check the date on this APA page.) Which doesn't mean it should stay like that; but it does mean we have a good model. Think of the leading folks writing on US HE issues: Bérubé, Massé, Newfield, Bady, Bousquet: they're all English folks. Let's fix that by developing a robust set of philosophers working on HE in general and philosophy work conditions in particular. IMO, these issues require us to drop the near-exclusivity of focus on the TT sector of the employment system, and to see it as one sector only. The last slides of this presentation tries to do that; the earlier slides are a stab at a brief historical survey. A conversation starter rather than a definitive statement.
An email landed in my inbox this morning about widespread non-payment of adjuncts in the CUNY system. I'll reprint it below the fold. IANAL, but those who are might want to comment on this in light of NY's "Wage Theft" law.
Here, though, read how Anthony Galluzo, one of those affected, describes his situation:
I'm supposed to be paid--finally--tomorrow, although classes started the last week of August. The explanation? Well, I was hired late--the week before said classes began--and there is a state mandated pay schedule. Fantastic. A system apparently designed with long term employees in mind, hence the glacial in-processing, even though it now runs on casualized permatemps hired at the last minute. This scenario was compounded by the fact that the secretary in the English department only submitted materials for one of my courses. I am teaching three. A fluke that happens all too often, as I've since learned from other adjuncts. Of the several adjuncts I talk to, I don't know one who was paid on time.
If you've been affected by non-payment, late payment, or partial payment, contact Debbie Bell firstname.lastname@example.org. To offer support of any kind, contact Jonathan Buschbaum. Below the fold, more details:
AMERICANS WHO WONDER what the heck is happening to their public colleges can find answers in the British case. While American educational and political leaders deny the negative outcomes of the actions they barely admit to be taking, the United Kingdom’s Tory government has offered explicit rationales for the most fundamental restructuring of a university system in modern history. The stakes are very high. Both countries have been downgrading their mass higher education systems by shrinking enrollments, reducing funding for educational quality, increasing inequality between premier and lower-tier universities, or all three at once.
Oddly, policymakers are doing this in the full knowledge that mass access to high-quality public universities remains the cornerstone of high-income economies and complex societies. The public has a right to know what politicians and business leaders are really doing to their higher education systems, why they are doing it, and how to respond.
Neil Levy writes with an aperçu that works, as do all the best ones, on both form and content levels: "What's supposed to be odd about that? Compare: 'Oddly, thieves take what does not belong to them in the full knowledge that the rightful owners might be upset.' "
The article is on Temple University, but I can't believe their financial problems are unique; readers are invited to comment on analogous situations at other shools:
"Poor operating performance and weak cash flow margins" at Temple University Health System will create "operating and liquidity pressures" that will suck up a lot of Theobold's time, writes Moody's analyst Diane Viacava and her team in a report to clients. Temple may end up needing to bail out its hospitals if Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's administration keeps cutting healthcare payments, Viacava adds.
Temple hospitals suffer "deep operating deficits", and Moody's cut their rating to Ba2, and threatened further cuts, in July. Viacava says Temple data shows operating margins in the last fiscal year fell below 2 cents on every dollar, down from more than 4 cents a year earlier, and are still dropping.
Total Temple debt has more than doubled, to $1.26 billion, in the past five years.
DN Lee has a blog with Scientific American, "The Urban Scientist" ("A hip hop maven blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences"). She was contacted by someone at "biology-online.org" to see if she wanted to contribute to them. They discussed terms, and were unable to come to an agreement. The following exchange, along with other parts of the story, is available here (and here and here and many other places you can find on Twitter at #standwithdnlee):
DN Lee: Thank you very much for your reply. But I will have to decline your offer. Have a great day.
Ofek: Because we don’t pay for blog entries? Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?
The CHE has a story on the placement study released at Philosophy News and commented upon here and at Leiter Reports. Unfortunately, the CHE story frames this as "Study Shows X." A better frame than that provided by CHE would have been
The first draft of an on-going, self-correcting, and in-need-of-improvement study of philosophy placement trends at some well-regarded American PhD programs has been published. The author of the study recognizes all its limitations, and has received incisive feedback from people in the profession, a sign that everyone recognizes the need for better placement studies.
Whatever the framing problems of the story, I want to try to list here the data that would make up an ideal placement study. For each school listed (the ideal study would incorporate the Carson study's initial data base, but would include others not listed there) we would want:
Eric says below that "Lewis is arguably the most significant and influential (analytical) philosopher of the last quarter of the 20th century. (Perhaps, Deleuze is the only contemporary that will match his enduring significance..."
Now putting Lewis and Deleuze together would yield very interesting metaphysical work I think. Unfortunately, there's a high barrier to entry to this kind of comparative work in terms of the time commitments necessary to get even a baseline acquaintance with each philosopher. So there has been only a very few attempts I can find to bring them together. Here is a New APPS post by Jeff Bell (and another); there is also Ch 6 in this book by James Williams (pdf here). Williams begins:
For Gilles Deleuze, the virtual is real and no actual world is complete if considered in abstraction from the virtual. For David Lewis, possible worlds are real and the actual world is but one of many real possible worlds. Deleuze is critical of the concept of the possible, warning against any confusion of the possible with the virtual. Lewis’s arguments can be deployed against many of the assumptions that hold for Deleuze’s virtual – most notably, against the claim that the reality of the virtual is a certainty, rather than merely a useful supposition.
JPMorgan Chase plans to give $17 million to start a doctoral program at the University of Delaware...
As part of the plan, JPMorgan will renovate a building to house the program, put up money to pay program faculty and pay a full ride for students seeking a degree, according to an internal university plan. In addition, JPMorgan employees may sit on dissertation committees and advise the university on which faculty members should teach in the program, according to the planning document and a top university official....
The doctorate would be be in "financial services analytics," which relies on "big data." Bruce Weber, the dean of Delaware's business school, said working closely with industry will help academics prepare students for the real world, something some business school deans feel is not happening enough.
Speaking of placement, I can't get behind the paywall to this Chronicle article entitled "Scholarly Groups Chip Away at Taboo of Nonacademic Careers."
(This part should be read in a Troy McClure voice: "and I don't condone people sending me the PDF, because that would evade a key part of their business model.")
The headline seems off though, because for at least ten years now I haven't had any such "taboo" (and I don't think I'm exceptional here); my standard advice has been for grad students to prepare themselves for multiple job markets, academia being only one of them, so that if you don't get a TT offer, you are already prepared for non-academic fields. (To be precise, getting a TT offer only means moving from one sector to another in the political economy of philosophy instruction; TAs are *already* in the "job market.")
In fact, however, even that doesn't seem responsible, so starting this year I tell them that it's *academia* that should be their Plan B, that is, if you get a TT offer, sure that's great, give it some thought, but your primary plan should be the BGN sectors (business, government, non-profits). I also add in academic administration, too, because, hey, that's the growth market, right? No matter what I think of administrative bloat, I think I have an ethical obligation to counsel grad students as to all their career options.
(1) Denigrate public education, and public institutions in general, as drains on private wealth and “job makers” to the point that no one would dare ask for increased support. This will assure that public universities are relegated to second-rate status with inferior facilities and loads of part-time faculty members, and will forever have a negative stigma placed on them relative to private universities.
(2) Take advantage of economic downturns to instigate “taxpayer outrage” in order to remove support from public universities so that they must either raise tuition or cut back on their programs. Afterward, condemn those institutions for raising tuition in order to support lazy, socialist professors teaching irrelevant subjects like anthropology and philosophy.
(3) As state support recedes, encourage a student-loan system that will create a “market for higher education.” Saddling students with lots of debt will make them enterprising and rational consumers of educational products and will encourage them to safeguard their economic interests. Refer to these changes as “empowering students.”
It goes on. Some of the comments aren't bad either. Emphasis on "some," however.
He may say with Parmenides, who, upon reading a philosophical discourse before a public assembly at Athens, and observing, that, except Plato, the whole company had left him, continued, notwithstanding, to read on, and said that Plato alone was audience enough for him.--Adam Smith
The English Bill of Rights (1689) expressly forbids ""cruel and unusual" punishment, and this found its way into the U.S. Constitution. One important, enduring argument against such punishment -- and many other forms of cruelty that may not, in fact, constitute 'punishment' -- can be found in Seneca's Letter 7: viewing and otherwise participating in the degradation and cruelty of others, even in the context of justified punishment [ille meruit ut hoc pateretur], can harm not just the victims or punished, but perpetrators and spectators alike. This is especially so if the cruelty produces pleasure as it is likely to do at public spectacles [spectaculo]* because then this pleasure makes our soul receptive; a desire for more cruelty creeps up on us [per voluptatem facilius vitia subrepunt].
Seneca's particular target is the institution of aestheticized, public spectacles of cruelty and inhumanity [crudelior et inhumanior].** He emphasizes the significance of audience participation [spectatoribus suis obiciuntur]. He reorients and subtly transforms Plato's arguments for censorship of the arts to focus on the more pernicious institutions that indirectly teach people to celebrate cruelty. Seneca's argument applies to a lot of issues that we are not likely to consider primarily in terms of political speech: mass sporting events; war coverage; disaster tourism, and any form of entertainment that rely on the pleasures derived from exposure to the suffering of others. (This is not to deny that the targets of Seneca's argument can overlap with Plato's, and that his argument is indebted to Plato's moral psychology.)
Meanwhile, I called Adult Protective Services right after talking to Margaret Mary, and I explained the situation. I said that she had just been let go from her job as a professor at Duquesne, that she was given no severance or retirement benefits, and that the reason she was having trouble taking care of herself was because she was living in extreme poverty. The caseworker paused and asked with incredulity, "She was a professor?" I said yes. The case- worker was shocked; this was not the usual type of person for whom she was called in to help.
Of course, what the case-worker didn't understand was that Margaret Mary was an adjunct professor, meaning that, unlike a well-paid tenured professor, Margaret Mary worked on a contract basis from semester to semester, with no job security, no benefits and with a salary of between $3,000 and just over $3,500 per three-credit course....
We know that when we publish with commercial presses (and we should include most university presses here, IMO) we are content providers in the knowledge industry. Let's follow the trail with a simple example.
1) Routledge prices their Philosophy of Race collection at $1185. 2) Routledge is part of Taylor & Francis. 3) Taylor & Francis is owned by Informa, "one of the world’s leading knowledge providers. We create and deliver highly specialised information through publishing, events, training, market intelligence and expertise, providing valuable knowledge to individuals, businesses and organisations around the world." BTW, should you wish to invest in Informa, here's their current stock price.
All that by way of saying I really need to read this book.
MOSCOW – An argument in southern Russia over philosopher Immanuel Kant, the author of “Critique of Pure Reason,” devolved into pure mayhem when one debater shot the other.
The state news agency RIA Novosti on Monday cited police in the city of Rostov-on-Don as saying the argument took place in a small store and deteriorated into a fistfight. One participant pulled out a small nonlethal pistol and fired repeatedly.
The victim was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening. The weapon fired plastic bullets or blanks. Neither person was identified. It was not clear which of Kant’s ideas may have triggered the violence.
In discussion at LGM, this well-known "infographic" (a term I loathe, though not quite as much as "webinar" -- but I digress) about the highest-paid state employees was criticized for implying that big time university athletic coaches get paid directly from state tax monies.
Below the fold I'll discuss that criticism and show what is the true public support to college athletics we need to think about: it's not direct state funds paying salaries of coaches, but it does directly involve faculty labor.
From the CHE. (This is not a critique of the ACA, dispute the attention-grabbing lead.)
Recent moves by colleges to cut adjunct hours in advance of the Obamacare employer mandate offer a reminder of why contingent faculty labor is the gift that keeps on giving to the corporate university: Not only do part-time adjuncts receive a fraction of the pay expected by full-timers for the same work; they also do not encumber the institution with health-care costs. A majority of today’s teaching faculty members are thus vulnerable not only to the first round of pink slips mandated by budget cuts but also to the predations of our health-care system....
Hey, I'm not ashamed; it's an excellent analysis (html; PDF), data-mining US Department of Education figures to sketch administrative bloat in public universities. I'm not necessarily onboard with their treatment plan, but I like the diagnosis.
Pull quotes from the PDF on overall trends and on admin rent-seeking below the break. Plus further analysis from (Even The Liberal) New Republic!
In yesterday's post I said that any attempts to reform American college football would have to grapple with the political affect of football fandom and not just trot out the stats about the bad economics of most college athletic programs, etc.
In Aristotelian rhetoric terms, you would have to bring in an appeal to pathos and not just to logos. Now some of that pathos could be directed to fairness issues, as in condemning the exploitation of the players' labor, or to health and safety issues. But the power of the pathetic appeal must obey Spinoza's dictum than only a stronger affect can defeat an affect, and I have my doubts, to put it mildly, that the modal American college football fan will be moved by pathetic appeals to exploitation and player safety.
In any case, the other side of Spinoza's dictum is that logical appeals are helpless in the face of strong affective structures. In this context I'm always reminded of the bit in Theweleit's Male Fantasies, mocking the Critical Theorist who neglects this rhetorical necessity.*
Thank you for considering The Journal of Morals and Ethics for your MS “On The Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic” submitted 2/14/87.... I found your MS extremely interesting, and it contained much of value, but after considering referee reports have decided that on balance it is not appropriate for the Journal. I hope this does not deter you from seeking to publish with us in future. Below I have appended reports from readers.
... The author seems intent on needlessly denigrating scholars in the field: English “psychologists” (I assume the author means philosophers; he has a tendency to confusingly elide the two terms) are referred to early on as “cold, wet, boring frogs”. I do not see the value of this. Quite aside from the fact The Journal has a large number of English subscribers, it does not behoove the author to engage in such ad hominem remarks. A German, one would have thought, would have learnt not to throw stones when sitting in such a large glass house.
Penn's State's new Health Care policies, which have been rolled out quietly in the middle of the summer, include an excessively invasive "Take Care of Your Health" plan that forces employees, by imposing a massive, $1200 a year surcharge, to submit to poorly and unprofessionally mass-organized blood tests and "biometric screenings." Included in this mandate is an additional mandate, requiring all employees and their spouses/SSDPs, to fill out an incredibly invasive "Wellness Profile" that, if taken, immediately shares ALL of the person's private medical information with WebMD, a third-party agency with a far from comforting record in the area of privacy.