Yesterday many of us here at New APPS endorsed a call for a release of the data upon which the PGR is based. We did this simply on the grounds that public release of data is a standard in social science, that it ensures transparency, and because it allows others to draw additional conclusions that are not supported merely by means and modes. An objection was immediately raised: reviewers are guaranteed confidentiality. And merely removing names from review sheets would not solve this issue, because the requirement that one not rank one's own department or the department from which one received the PhD would allow others to infer the identity of referees. This short note is simply to point out that there are two simple fixes for this problem.
Over at Choice & Inference, Jeff Helzner asks for raw Philosophical Gourmet Report data to be made publicly available. He notes that, “The PGR is based on an analysis of certain data sets, but there is often more than one reasonable way to analyze a data set,” and in fact it is now standard practice in the social and natural sciences to make raw data available upon request. Unless there are particular reasons for sequestering its data, it seems reasonable that the PGR should follow suit. The question of transparency of data has arisen in some other contexts recently. Andrew Gelman (to whom Helzner links) writes of the issues surrounding Mark Hauser that if the raw data had been publicly available, those issues would have been resolved quickly. A while ago there was considerable controversy regarding failures of transparency at The "Pluralist's Guide". We have noted the response of editors of major journals in HPS to the lack of transparency at the European Science Foundation journal ranking. In view of these and other recent cases, transparency with respect to data—as advocated by the “Open Data” movement—has become an urgent imperative, especially when the analysis of that data has serious practical consequences. Though in no way implicated in these unfortunate episodes, PGR, just because it has become the most relied-upon venue for the current ranking of philosophy departments, should set a good example by making its data publicly available.
New APPS is happy to post this appeal for information. We also encourage those working on similar projects to contact one of us to arrange a similar appeal.
We (Donald Rutherford and Lisa Shapiro) have been compiling a resource of women working across the history of philosophy, from the ancients through to the early twentieth century, in the English speaking world.
The aim is pretty straightforward: to make it easier for those planning conferences, edited volumes, speakers on panels, and the like, to think of women to invite.
You can help us out by first visiting the draft document here. Please note that it is a DRAFT. No doubt there will lots of room for improvement, but this is a start. There are tabs at the bottom for each geographical region.
Second, if you see that someone obvious is missing, please send an email with as much information as possible (name; email; general area of the history of philosophy; specializations) to fill in the spreadsheet to email@example.com
A crucial long-term issue for the profession is that financial and scientific metrics (FSM) are playing an increasing role in allocation of resources in universities and grant agencies. (There are, of course, many local variations on this.) Now, within philosophy this trend has two consequences: 1) it favors certain 'applied' areas of ethics, and complex, empirical, interdisciplinary fields of inquiry with widespread interest within and outside the academy, (i.e., philosophy of cognitive science, moral psychology/X Phi, formal semantics/artificial intelligence, maybe philosophy of biology/religion, etc); 2) it favors those who can create intellectual trends--the key becomes to be the first to generate a scholarly literature. (See, Brit Brogaard's reflections here.)
Mark Lance recently posted the percentage of female faculty in various US departments. And in a comment, Michel-Antoine Xhignesse provided the numbers for 12 Canadian departments. I have tried to do the same for non-US departments that make it to the PGR top 50 among Anglophone countries (and, taking advantage of Xhignesse’s figures, three Canadian departments just outside).
As a professional (US-trained) philosopher working in the (the still existing) Eurocore-zone, I found it striking that the recent PGR ratings do not rank departments like Carnegie-Mellon very highly despite their being (as Brian Leiter notes) "well-rated in certain specialties." CMU has a very significant presence and influence on the way analytic philosophy is practiced in Europe. I would characterize this approach as a commitment to formal (or mathematical) philosophy. (There is also an underlying sense -- nicely expressed by Sebastian Lutz -- that the spirit and, perhaps, substance of logical empiricism is still very much alive.) If anything some of the most exciting analytically oriented departments (Munich, Groningen, University of Amsterdam, LSE, Tilburg, and, perhaps, Bristol [as well as a few in Scandinavia]) seem increasingly committed to formal philosophy (in the way that descends -- in the felicitous phrase of Mohan -- roughly from Carnap, Bayesianism, Suppes, etc.)
A week or so ago, commenting on Brian Leiter’s Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR), I remarked on a certain style of philosophy that has come to dominate the English-speaking world. This style of philosophy defines itself by a certain ideology: it conceives of itself as “investigating reality” using “transparently objective methods.” These methods include critical reasoning. Or so I said. I didn’t (and don’t) mean these words to lead into a discussion of whether or not the methods used are transparently objective. I am just saying that a certain kind of philosophy treats them as so, and defines itself by so doing.
Today I reflect on the practice of such philosophy.
Evaluators: James Bohman, Steven Crowell, Maudemarie Clark, David Dudrick, Gordon Finlayson, Max de Gaynesford, Charles Guignon, Gary Gutting, Beatrice Han-Pile, Scott Jenkins, Pierre Keller, Michelle Kosch, Brian Leiter, Dean Moyar, Stephen Mulhall, Brian O’Connor, Peter Poellner, Bernard Reginster, Michael Rosen, Joseph Schear, Iain Thomson, Georgia Warnke, Mark Wrathall, Julian Young.
Sitting around wasting time adding up numbers. Here's a ranking that comes from adding all the means of the area scores for the top 20 overall departments.
1. NYU 109
3. Harvard 92
4. Princeton 90
5. stanford 87
6. Pitt 86
7. Notre Dame 82
8. Columbia 80.5
9. Yale 71
10 Rutgers 70.5
12 MIT 67.5
13 UNC 66
14 USC 59
15 CUNY 58.5
16 Brown 57
17 Arizona 55.5
18 UCLA 53.5
19 Cornell 50
20 Chicago 45
So, first, I have no idea what to make of any of this. Just playing around.
Second, I do think that there is some serious over-counting of areas in this method of amalgamating. 15 total points in math, as many as ethics. Shortly - because I'm obsessed - I will do this again collapsing a few of the specialty areas that strike me as not adding really new strengths.
Third, I have probably made some calculation errors. Feel free to check if you are out to waste time like me.
Fourth, schools start getting very close to one another once you are out of the top 8. (Note the big drop from 8-9.) I couldn't resist calculating georgetown, and though ranked overall 36th, we come in at 40.5.
Fifth - of course all this relies on the rankings provided by the PGR reviewers. It is just another way of amalgamating those rankings. But I think the fact that there are such differences even within these rankings is interesting.
There is a wealth of detail in the newly released Philosophical Gourmet Report. Mindful of the fact that some departments rank high overall, but low in relatively many subfields (and vice versa), I thought to check how departments do overall if you aggregate excellence in subfields. (A proviso: subfields are not equal in size, importance to the discipline, or prestige.)
Here is a look at the top twenty US departments, plus the top in each non-US region (UK, Canada, Australasia). I looked only at the top three groupings of departments in each specialty, and Unranked (ratings of less than 3.0).
UPDATE: In accordance with the comments received, I revised the table to include Group 3, and (because some errors crept into my spreadsheet) I then reposted. I used Dhananjay's figures in his comment below, including his corrigenda, but including the updated figure for American Pragmatism, in which Toronto got a Group 1. I also gave 1 point, instead of 2 for Group 3. (That's a judgement call, of course, but the number of Group 3 departments in most fields is substantially more than Group 2s.)
The 2011 Leiter rankings appeared on Tuesday. They reflect how a certain broad community of philosophers think about the discipline, and about where it is going. As such, it is instructive, absorbing, and fun to root around its wealth of detail.
First, a (necessarily) broad-brush observation about the discipline itself. There is much talk, on this blog and everywhere else, about the deeply felt top-level divide that expresses itself, for example, in the emergence of SPEP. How to capture it?
One superficial marker—the SPEP side is somewhat more pluralistic linguistically. It recognizes French and German, while the “Other” is English-only. (Even at leading European centres of Otherness, English is the default language of publication and even of oral communication.) SPEP is thus called “continental,” a term that I personally find unhelpful, though I will not try to substitute another.
In my exchange with Brian yesterday over the merits, if any, of the "Climate for Women survey" I pointed out that "It is by no means unfair that top PGR departments face extra scrutiny. (They gain a lot from being top PGR departments!)" I want to save this point from the particulars of this survey. I will do so in terms of a very useful piece by Jennifer Ouellette that Brian linked (by way of LA Paul). The crucial point for my current purposes is this: "(3) Foster top-down change. Leadership, especially male leadership, needs to set the tone for what is and is not acceptable in a community. The 2007 APS report quotes Virginia Tech’s Patricia Hyer on this: “The voices of male heads … can carry great weight in moving forward an institutional change agenda, especially if they use their access to institutional leaders and personal prestige to make the case for gender equity.” (Richard Dawkins, are you listening?)"
I'm going to follow up on my last post by asking people to nominate departments that they believe to be genuinely pluralist in the sense that I roughly defined in my previous post. There are some ground rules for this one that will be enforced with draconian precision.
1. Only positive nominations. If we get a reasonable response here, I may open the list of nominated up for discussion where you will be able to say that the department isn't really pluralist.
2. Only nominations that actually explain and try to justify the claim that the department in question is "reasonably pluralist". I'm interested in informed and supported claims. So if you simply want to say "x is obviously pluralist" don't bother. I don't require a detailed 20 page analysis, but some discussion of the various criteria I lay out below is needed. Ideally, please note strengths and weaknesses.
3. No discussion of other dimensions of pluralism. Yes, I know they are important. I'm eager to help on them. If anyone wants to start similar discussions along other dimensions I'll be glad to help. And yes, I acknowledge that from many reasonable perspectives, this is a trivial matter to be worrying about. No one is required to engage on this issue. But this is not a meta-thread on whether this is a good thread. (If you have a positive and serious suggestion for tweaking the methodology, feel free and I will use my discretion in posting that. But ideally, just note that you are defending a department on slightly different grounds in your defense.)
4. No comments about Brian Leiter, the PGR, the PR, SPEP, etc. I'm interested here in positive suggestions of departments that are doing it well, not denunciations.
A great deal of the discussion around the new Pluralist's Guide has, in my view, gone completely off the rails. People are debating whether it is a SPEP guide, whether Brian Leiter, or the PGR, is a positive influence on the field and other such, well, issues. Worse, it is serving to further reinforce the worst wagon-circling, dismissiveness, and mutual distrust in the profession.
So I'd like to use this opportunity to return to one of the founding themes of this blog - that is one of the issues we all care about, and one of the issues that largely motivated the selection of people to participate: namely the stupidity and destructiveness of the analytic/continental distinction. I return to this now, because a founding feature of the PG is that it is offering recommendations on places to study "continental philosophy". My main claim is that this is a terrible idea, because on any recognizable sense of the terms "analytic philosophy" and "continental philosophy" it would be unethical to encourage a philosophy student to study (just) one or the other. The only responsible advise, in my view, to a student who asked "where should I go to study continental philosophy?" is "Nowhere. Go somewhere to study philosophy. Preferably somewhere that they don't justify their ignorance by inventing pseudo-categories." That is, I'm going to argue for pluralism - though in a sense that is pretty directly opposed to the way that is meant by the PG and, I hasten to add, equally directly opposed to how it is meant by many departments that rank highly on the PGR.