IHE has the story. Mr. Maher's ability to speak freely, and reach a wide audience, would not in any way be hindered by not being honored as a commencement speaker at Berkeley. One can sympathize, though, with the Chancellor's attempt to put a stop to the endless "Generation Wuss" hair-trigger indignation and offense-taking about everything, without any sense of proportion or priorities. On the other hand, I expect the outcome would have been different had Mr. Maher's rude jokes been about, say, Zionist Jews rather than Muslims.
Here. For those who are applying, it means you can likely get into a better school than you would have just three or four years ago, and you are more likely to get "merit aid" from more highly ranked schools than in the recent past.
Brit forwarded to me variations on the following questions asked by a few evaluators, so I thought I would post the answers Brit has given (and which I've given in the past) to these questions:
Can I skip faculties about which I don't know enough to evaluate? Yes
Can I just complete the specialy evaluations, rather than the overall evaluations? Yes
As I've noted in the past, "A good survey aggregates a lot of partial knowledge to give us a more complete picture. If any one individual could know as much as the 300 philosophers who complete the PGR surveys, then we could just ask that person, and be done. And, of course, in the absence of the PGR as a resource, that's what happens: students ask a couple of teachers, and that's the end of it. (And if your teachers are really "out of the loop" or in the grips of utterly idiosyncratic prejudices, then the student is really in trouble.)"
ADDENDUM: And many thanks to all those who have already begun filling out the surveys! Brit and I have been impressed by the strong and prompt response.
The political philosopher Joshua Cohen at Stanford University, who had been spending part of his time at Apple University, has decided to leave Stanford for a full-time post at Apple, where he now is. We are in the process of removing his name from the Stanford faculty list for PGR survey purposes.
...please note they are coming from "Lisa Elaine Tafares" at the University of Miami, on behalf of Berit Brogaard, my co-editor. Since we heard from several philosophers who thought two weeks was too little time, we have set a closing date of Friday, November 14 at 5 pm Eastern Standard Time.
If you've studied philosophy at the undergraduate or graduate level, and are thinking about law school, I would like to urge you to consider the University of Chicago Law School. The Law School trails only Yale in per capita placement in law teaching, and graduates are also hugely successful in the private firm market, and in clerkships. Although we have a relatively small faculty (35 full-time academic faculty), we have two philosophers full-time in the Law School (myself and Martha Nussbaum), and a large number of colleagues with philosophical interests. This year, we have three philosophically-minded visiting professors in the Law School as well, Corey Brettschneider from Brown University, Alon Harel from the Hebrew University and Robert Simpson from Monash University, as well as our Law and Philosophy Fellow for this year, Amanda Greene; we expect to have other philosophical visitors in coming years, including Derrick Darby from Michigan.
There is an annual Law & Philosophy Workshop that meets throughout the year, and which students may take for credit: last year's theme (when Martha Nusssbaum ran it with our Law & Philosophy Fellow Sarah Conly ) was "Life and Death," with speakers including Dan Brock, Jeff McMahan, Julian Savulescu, Daniel Wikler, and others and others; the year before (when I ran it with our Law & Philosophy Fellow Justin Coates) the theme was "Freedom and Responsibility," and speakers included Derk Pereboom, Gary Watson, Pamela Hieryonmi, Hanna Pickard, and others. This year's topic is "Free Speech and Its Critics," and speakers will include Joshua Cohen, Seana Shiffrin, Susan Brison, Jason Stanley, and Mary Kate McGowan, among others. We also have regular offerings in the Law School in jurisprudence, feminist philosophy, political philosophy and other areas. Each year we have both a Law & Philosophy Fellow in residence, and a week-long Visiting Political Philosopher in residence (last year it was T.M. Scanlon, the year before David Estlund). The annual Dewey Lecture in Law & Philosophy has recently brought Barbara Herman, Philip Pettit and Elizabeth Anderson to the Law School; Axel Honneth is this year's Dewey Lecturer. In addition, there are usually one or more conferences each year in the Law School related to philosophical topics; last Spring, for example, I organized a conference on "Skepticism about Freedom and Responsibility," with main papers by Conly, Jesse Prinz, Paul Russell, Saul Smilansky, and Gideon Yaffe, with JD and PhD students serving as commentators. There is now a large and lively group of philosophically-minded students here. (More than 10% of the first-year class last year came to us with a philosophy major or advanced degree--that's the highest since I've been here, and probably one of the highest percentage of philosophy students at any law school in the U.S. That doesn't count one JD/PhD in philosophy student, who started in philosophy last year.) Of all the law schools in the U.S., the Chicago experience is also probably most like that of a graduate program in a PhD field, in terms of the intellectual engagement of both faculty and students.
Chicago currently has substantial merit aid to offer to very strong students (the best-known are the Rubenstein Scholarships, but there are other sources of aid, including for students interested in a JD/PhD). Philosophy students, both those with undergraduate majors and those with advanced degrees, have been very successful in getting this aid, and have performed very well at the Law School; as a result philosophy students receive favorable consideration here. Excellent numerical credentials are very important, of course, but even within that pool, applicants with philosophy backgrounds stand out. Students with philosophy backgrounds have recently turned down Yale, Harvard, and other peer law schools to come to Chicago. If you have questions about law study at Chicago, feel free to e-mail me at bleiter-at-uchicago-dot-edu.
November is fully booked. There is still one 4th from the top spot available in December (all the others are booked). The next top spot opening is in February (and there is at least one top spot available thereafter). January still has some 3rd and 4th spots available, but the top two spots are booked on both sides. E-mail me (bleiter-at-uchicago-dot-edu) if you're interested. In general top spots (except in the summer) tend to get booked three months or more in advance.
Brit and I are proofing the surveys again today, and I'm optimistic we will be set to begin either later today (Monday, Oct. 27) or tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 28). I'll post a notice when Brit has sent out the invitations.
Last week, I was in Italy, visiting the two great centers of Italian legal philosophy (at Genoa and Palermo), as well as the beautiful European University Institute in Florence, with its wonderful group of faculty and graduate students interested in legal and political theory. As a result, most of the postings last week were pre-scheduled, as I had only irregular access to proper computers. I'll be posting about a couple of news items that broke last week over the next day or two to "catch up." Thanks for your patience.
A longtime member of the faculty at the University of Glasgow, Professor Knowles was well-known for his work in political philosophy and on Hegel. I will add links to memorial notices when they appear.
Longtime reader Michael Bramley, who studied philosophy as an undergraduate, writes:
Dear Prof Leiter,
Please allow me to express my support over the recent rankings nonsense by venting my frustration at the campaign to remove you from the PGR and the campaign to stop all rankings in philosophy. A move which, it is obvious, is for the benefit of those who do not score highly and not for the benefit of students.
Talk about the perfect being the enemy of the good. Plato could not have done a better job of convincing everyone that everything is worthless and shit until and unless we can all apprehend the Form of the Good Ranking System.
The PGR is largely an informed-opinion poll: what do the philosophy professionals think of certain philosophy departments? This is interesting and good to know. If those for whom the PGR is intended are unable to understand what an opinion poll is, then they should demand a refund from their undergraduate education for having failed to teach them basic critical thinking. And if the professors who oppose it do so because they think opinion polls/reputational surveys do not capture adequately the real picture, then they are free to construct ways to capture this ‘real picture’ that they are so worried about missing with the PGR.
There seems an underlying assumption that no one over at New Apps has come out and said which is this: ‘Everyone apart from philosophy professors is too stupid to be entrusted with a ranking system – and here only the subset that reject the idea of ranking at all.’ This, despite there being multiple ranking systems already around, but usually imposed and rated from without.
And of course the laziest philosophical trick since the rise of the importance of data: poisoning the well by inventing hypothetical morons who will think that there is only one tool on Earth worth using – the PGR – and only one number in the PGR – the department ranking; has such a moronic philosophy graduate ever existed?
All this hand wringing over general, broad points that may or may not apply: how some things are hard to rank, some things are irrelevant that are ranked, some things that are relevant are not ranked, some things are hard to compare, the difference in ordinal ranks might masks difference in quality etc. And of course the old favourite, ‘Well how do you put something so coarse and grotesque as a NUMBER on something so artful and subtle as the work WE do?’
I have been living with someone from the Millennial generation for the last four years (he’s now 27) and sometimes I’m charmed and sometimes I’m exasperated by how him and his friends—as well as the Millennials I’ve met and interacted with both in person and in social media—deal with the world, and I’ve tweeted about my amusement and frustration under the banner “Generation Wuss” for a few years now. My huge generalities touch on their over-sensitivity, their insistence that they are right despite the overwhelming proof that suggests they are not, their lack of placing things within context, the overreacting, the passive-aggressive positivity, and, of course, all of this exacerbated by the meds they’ve been fed since childhood by over-protective “helicopter” parents mapping their every move.
...invitations may go out later today, hopefully by Thursday, Oct. 23 at the latest.
UPDATE: Invitations have not gone out as of this morning, Friday, Oct. 24. A slight change in the way we broke out the faculty lists from 2011 created an incompatibility with the prior survey program that has taken more time than anticipated to fix. There is a chance invitations may go out later today, but more likely is Monday, October 27.
I'm a longtime reader of your Leiter Reports. I have noticed that of late you have been tracking a trend in our society wherein some hypocritical notion of civility is used as an excuse to suppress speech. I therefore thought you might be interested in this piece of news I happened across today: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637903-meeting-hat.html. In short, a city council meeting was cancelled and attendants (who refused to leave) were threatened with arrest because someone was wearing a hat that read "Fuck the Police" (it was deemed "offensive" and "disrespectful"). The most unsettling thing about this situation is that the Mayor of Santa Ana, the Mayor Pro Tem, and the Chief of Police all seem to have no idea that any constitutional rights were violated here--that is, these people who have the law in their hands have no inkling of even very basic constitutional law. On the other hand, this earlier article on this event (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-637732-council-meeting.html) is a little more reassuring, since it shows that at least the people know their rights and are willing to subject themselves to intimidation and threats of arrest in order to stand up for the free speech rights of a complete stranger (and a "disrespectful" one at that). Let's hope they don't sign a kindness pledge.
Three are new awardees: Ingo Brigandt (Alberta), Marc-Antoine Dilhac (Montreal), and C. Kenneth Waters (Calgary). One is a renewal of an existing Chair, to Brad Inwood, currently at the University of Toronto but moving next year to Yale.
My co-editor Brit Brogaard (Miami) and her RA have done a great job finishing the evaluator and faculty list spread sheets, and the IT professionals here should have a testable version of the survey ready for us to try out during the weekend. If all goes well, Brit will send out the invitations to evaluators early next week (Monday or Tuesday is our goal). We agreed to a somewhat shorter window for responses (two weeks, rather than three weeks) due to the late start date this year and our goal of getting the results out in time for students applying in the current cycle.
UPDATE: The IT folks are still working out certain bugs in the survey program, so we won't be able to test it before Monday. That means, at the soonest, Prof. Brogaard will be sending out invitations on Tuesday or perhaps Wednesday of next week (Oct. 21 or Oct. 22).
MOVING TO FRONT FROM LAST WEEK IN LIGHT OF NEW COMMENTS--MORE WELCOME
A student in the UK writes:
I am applying for PhD programs this cycle but find it almost impossible to find useful resources on how to write a high-quality proposal specifically for political theory/political philosophy programmes. I am applying to UK universities. Could you recommend any resources or give any advice?
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)