I have been asked to be an evaluator for the 2014-2015 edition of the Philosophical Gourmet Report. Contrary to what seems to be the general (but not universal) sentiment of New APPS contributors and commenters, I support the rankings and will participate.
The PGR rankings have at least three related downsides:
1. They perpetuate privilege, including the privilege of people with social power in the discipline, the privilege of people in PhD-granting institutions over other types of institutions, and the general privilege of Anglophone philosophy and philosophers. 2. They reinforce mainstream ("Gourmet ecology") valuations of topics and approaches, in a discipline where the mainstream needs no help and it would probably be productive to push against the mainstream. 3. They risk blurring the distinction between second-hand impressions about reputation (especially outside evaluators' own subareas) and genuine quality.
In light of these downsides, I understand people's hesitation to support the enterprise.
I view the rankings as an exercise in the sociology of philosophy. The rankings are valuable insofar as they reveal sociological facts about how departments, and to some extent individuals (especially in the specialty rankings) are viewed by the social elite in Anglophone philosophy -- by the people who publish articles in journals like Nous and Philosophical Review, by the people who write and are written about in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entries, by the people who teach at renowned British and U.S. universities like Oxford, Harvard, and Berkeley. As a part-time sociologist of philosophy interested in patterns of esteem, I am curious how people in this social group view the field, and I regard the PGR as an important source of data.