Interesting item in IHE, addressing an issue I had not seen addressed elsewhere.
UPDATE: Philosopher Alan Weir (Glasgow) writes (he informs me that he is a member of "Academics for Yes," a pro-independence group, but that he here speaks in his personal capacity):
Mr. Marsicano’s piece on independence and Scottish Higher Education doesn’t get off to a great start, rounding up the Scottish population from 5.3 million to 6 million. Mr Marsicano states that Scotland received 13.3% of UK Funding versus 9% contribution to tax funding (Scottish population is 8.3% of the UK). The UK government document he quotes actually says:
"In 2012-13 Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) secured £257 million of UK Research Council grants (excluding Research Council institutes and infrastructure). This represents 13.1 per cent of the UK total"
But then goes on:
"Including Research Council funding (including grants, studentships and fellowships and spending on infrastructure), Scotland secured £307 million (10.7 per cent of the UK total)."
A somewhat different picture. The tax contribution in 2012-13 is actually 9.1% to be more precise (lower than normal because of tax breaks to encourage increases in oil exploration) but more importantly the presentation of the statistics fits in with the usual unionist line that Scots have been subsidised by the rest of the UK. This unionist claim is an egregiously false one. Over the last five years, Scotland has contributed 9.5% of UK tax revenue but received 9.3% of UK public expenditure, a fiscal transfer from Scotland to the rest of the UK (rUK) equivalent to about £8.3 billion, or about £1,600 per person. If one goes further back, e.g. to the oil boom of the 80s, Scotland was subsidising Margaret Thatcher’s government to the tune of 45% of its non-oil GDP per year. Can’t imagine Canadians being happy about transferring a tax windfall equivalent to nearly half of their non-oil GDP to the US.
Moreover the difference between Scotland’s research funding ‘tax contribution share’ and the 10.7% funding last year was around £46 million, under one thirtieth of one per cent of Scottish GDP. We’d be perfectly happy to make up such a difference should it occur in any particular year, as part of a combined Scottish/Republic of Ireland/rest of UK research framework. Scottish unionists, however, might not be keen on expanding the already existing joint funding arrangements between the UK and Ireland as they tend to be ‘Little Britishers’ and lack the outward-looking civic nationalism of Scottish nationalists. But I don’t think this view is widely shared in England where not only cooperation with our immediate neighbours but EU funding is becoming ever more important. As to Scottish membership of the EU, Mr. Marsicano would be better listening to constitutional lawyers such as Prof. Douglas-Scott, Professor of European and Human Rights Law at Oxford University (Legal Research Paper Series No. XXX July 2014) than a politician such as Barruso, almost certainly primed by the UK government to advance the unionist campaign (known internally as ‘Project Fear’ and replete with scare stories on pensions, demolished by the UK Government’s own Department of Works and Pensions, unsubstantiated claims of intimidation of universities by Scottish Government ministers which the author here repeats and much much more).
One also has to consider the prospects for UK funding if Scotland says no to independence and continues to subordinate its parliament to a parliament answerable to an electorate 84% of whom are English. UK research and science budgets are already being cut. The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) has noted that “the cumulative erosion of the ring-fenced science budget will be over £1.1bn from the beginning of SR10 period up to 15/16”. A No vote would mean a substantial reduction in funds available for universities in Scotland because of the further planned cuts of £25 billion in UK public sector funding plus further reductions to the Scottish budget through the reform or abolition of the Barnett formula which governs half of Scottish public expenditure. Fuelled by the myth of the Scots as subsidy junkies there is almost universal agreement in England that Scottish public expenditure must be drastically reduced and the proposed enhanced devolution powers in the event of no to independence provide a perfect opportunity to do this.
Finally, the anti-immigration policies of the British government are widely recognised in the UK higher education sector as posing a serious threat to universities, whereas the party in power in the Scottish Government, the Scottish National Party, has repeatedly said it wishes to increase immigration into Scotland and use the wider powers of an independent government to bring this about.
I’ve written at far too much length on all these matters at
The good news is that it's clear more philosophers who actually have some idea what's going on are filling out the surveys (even I'm a participant now!), so the results in Philosophy are less totally worthless than before, though the halo effect looms large. (Bear in mind that the way their survey works is you are asked to name 10-15 schools that you consider good in the field--that's it!) But there's also data on citations and h-indices that are interesting (or simply curious)--unfortunately, QS still does not disclose the details of the faculty lists they use.
The overall "rank" factors in an employer score for the university, so that will obviously not have much if anything to do with the caliber of the philosophy faculty. I break out below the scores in some of the sub-areas that might have some relationship to faculty quality (I've done this only for the US schools, if someone wants to break it out for Canadian, British etc., I'll add a link):
Academic reputation according to the QS surveys
Remember that we have no idea who is completing these surveys, and, in the past, they had some rather dubious methods for soliciting participants. They also simply ask for lists of 10-15 leading departments, and that's it--so the least informed participants (e.g., the person who doesn't put NYU or Princeton on his/her list of the top 10) is the one who determines the outcome! Still, this starts off OK--though some of the surprisingly strong showings like Pitt and BU suggest to me that there are a lot of German respondents in the pool--but gets progressively weirder as one gets outside the top 10.
1. University of Pittsburgh (100.0)
2. New York University (93.9)
3. Rutgers University, New Brunswick (92.6)
4. Harvard University (86.7)
5. Princeton University (83.0)
6. University of California, Berkeley (82.4)
7. Stanford University (79.6)
8. Massachussetts Institute of Technology (79.2)
9. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (78.0)
10. University of Notre Dame (74.5)
10. Yale University (74.5)
12. Columbia University (73.5)
13. University of California, Los Angeles (73.1)
14. University of Chicago (72.8)
15. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (68.2)
16. Boston University (67.4)
17. University of Arizona (65.2)
18. Cornell University (63.5)
19. City University of New York (61.0)
20. Duke University (60.6)
Runners-up: Ohio State University (60.5) and Brown University (59.1)
Citations per paper
We don't know, unfortunately, what faculty lists were used for this exercise, but it tells a different story from reputation. I assume the Miami result includes Colin McGinn (but not Brit Brogaard).
1. Rutgers University, New Brunswick (97.4)
2. Stanford University (96.2)
3. New York University (92.3)
3. Princeton University (92.3)
5. Massachussetts Institute of Technology (90.7)
6. University of California, Riverside (90.0)
7. Yale University (89.5)
8. University of Arizona (88.7)
9. University of Notre Dame (85.9)
10. University of California, Berkeley (84.9)
11. Harvard University (84.7)
12. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (84.1)
13. University of Pittsburgh (83.1)
14. University of Massachussetts, Amherst (82.4)
15. Northwestern University (80.1)
15. University of Texas, Austin (80.1)
17. City University of New York Graduate Center (77.7)
18. University of California, San Diego (77.1)
19. University of Miami (76.3)
20. Duke University (75.6)
Runners-up: Penn State (75.2) and Brown University (73.9).
[A]ny lawsuit by Mr. Salaita probably would hinge on the question of whether he was entitled to the academic-freedom and free-speech protections of the university’s faculty members. The answer to that probably will come down to contract law and whether he had gained any employee protections by virtue of being offered a job.
This simply isn't correct: Mr. Salaita's free speech claims do not depend on whether there was a contract making him a faculty member, as I wrote previously. The absence of a contract will also not block his recovery on promissory estoppel grounds.
Now, as we noted previously, there are good reasons to think Salaita was, in fact, a tenured member of the faculty when summarily terminated in August, and that will certainlty guarantee his victory in court. It's also worth calling attention to the fact that Robin Kar, a law professor at the University of Illinois (and a teacher and scholar of contracts, as well as legal philosophy), has come to a similar conclusion.
The University's legal position is wholly untenable; more to the point, as a retired Illinois judge observed, Salaita's lawsuit will survive a motion to dismiss. Let me make clear why this is a significant fact about the legal posture of the cse. If Salaita files a lawsuit, the University will move to dismiss it essentially on the grounds that it states no colorable legal claims, even accepting the facts as alleged by Salaita. For a defendant in a lawsuit, that is always the happiest outcome, but Illinois will not be so lucky, since Salaita has multiple colorable claims, constitutional and contractual. Once a lawsuit survives the motion to dismiss, things change: now the plaintiff is entitled to "discovery" (to collect facts pertinent to his or her case). As I wrote to one of the lawyer/Trustees last week:
[A]s a practical matter of litigation strategy, some or all of Salaita’s contractual and constitutional claims are going to survive a motion to dismiss, at which point his lawyers are going to have a field day in discovery, going through e-mail accounts, minutes of meetings, telephone records etc. All the names of alumni and donors who may have written to the Chancellor will become matters of public record as well. Besides being costly, this whole affair is going to be potentially very embarrassing for a distinguished university.
The University will never let this happen: it will be humiliating, and cost a lot of people their jobs, including Chancellor Wise and Chairman Kennedy of the Board of Trustees. All the behind-the-scenes shenanigans will be aired for public consumption, and the main actors here will be revealed, as I said early on, unfit to run a serious research university. So once Salaita survives the motion of dismiss, he will have considerable power to dictate the terms of a settlement.
Here. It's notable, among other things, for airing doubts about the "civility" nonsense, and for actually putting some of the now notorious "tweets" in a pertinent context--Twitter, for the obvious reasons, lends itself to cherry-picking for malevolent purposes. It is also quite candid about the lobbying the University was subjected to by pro-Israel students and alumni.
Thanks to Jerry Dworkin for pointing me to this fine piece by Rebecca West from The New Republic in 1914; an excerpt:
A little grave reflection shows us that our first duty is to establish a new and abusive school of criticism. There is now no criticism in England. There is merely a chorus of weak cheers, a piping note of appreciation that is not stilled unless a book is suppressed by the police, a mild kindliness that neither heats to enthusiasm nor reverses to anger. We reviewers combine the gentleness of early Christians with a promiscuous polytheism; we reject not even the most barbarous or most fatuous gods. So great is our amiability that it might proceed from the weakness of malnutrition, were it not that it is almost impossible not to make a living as a journalist. Nor is it due to compulsion from above, for it is not worth an editor's while to veil the bright rage of an entertaining writer for the sake of publishers' advertisements. No economic force compels this vice of amiability. It springs from a faintness of the spirit, from a convention of pleasantness, which, when attacked for the monstrous things it permits to enter the mind of the world, excuses itself by protesting that it is a pity to waste fierceness on things that do not matter.
But they do matter. The mind can think of a hundred twisted traditions and ignorances that lie across the path of letters like a barbed wire entanglement and bar the mind from an important advance....We must dispel this unlawful assembly of peers and privy councillors round the wellhead of scholarship with kindly but abusive, and, in cases of extreme academic refinement, coarse criticism.
...is that even as blogs proliferate, traffic here continues to climb. It used to be that August was a sleepy month, with maybe 7 or 8,000 hits per weekday, but here's the stats on visits for the last thirty days (the data for today, the 13th, is obviously incomplete); page views are usualy about 50% higher than the visits for a given day:
Similarly striking are the overall summer stats compared to just a few years ago; for example:
Dave Edmonds (known to many readres from Philosophy Bites, as well as books and his BBC programs) writes:
I am co-writing a book on the Vienna Circle – part biography, part philosophy - and wondered if I can ask for your readers’ help. Many of those linked to the Circle emigrated to the US and lived until the 70s/80s/90s. If anybody met or has any interesting stories or information about thinkers associated with the Vienna Circle, such as Gustav Bergmann, Rudolf Carnap, Herbert Feigl, Kurt Gödel, Karl Menger and Rose Rand (plus Carl Hempel, W.V.O.Quine and Alfred Tarski), I would love to hear from them. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @DavidEdmonds100 (on twitter). Many thanks.
...meaning a lawsuit is now inevitable. Kudos to one of the two lawyers on the Board, James Montgomery, for voting in favor of the appointment. No public statements yet, but I'll add links when they appear.
Our university has for many years run a small stand-alone Masters in Philosophical Theology. It spends 2/3 of its time teaching analytic philosophy and another third on historical figures who are both philosophers and Christian theologians. Members of the philosophy faculty do most of the teaching. It has evolved into a good feeder Masters program; over the last decade, most of the top 20 PhD programs in philosophy have accepted a least one of our students. For historical reasons, though, it is and will remain under the aegis of the religion department. The religion department is now floating a proposal to kill it, and replace it with a "philosophical" track within the Masters in Theology. Effectively, they want to absorb the PT program within that broader degree.
The religion chair thinks this will be merely a name change. I think this name-change will damage the program. The PT program gets only students who want to move into a philosophy doctorate. Most of these would not even look at a “Masters in Theology” to see if it has a philosophical track, as a “Masters in Theology” does not look like a philosophy credential. And while a degree called "philosophical theology" has (on the evidence) been a good credential for a top doctoral program, a degree called "Masters in Theology" would have no CV value or even be a slight negative. Competent advisors will tell students this, and so this will further reduce applications. There is no evidence that theology students are waiting in the wings to make up the numbers of philosophy students the name-change would lose us. So I think this would probably reduce applicant numbers greatly.
My correspondent wondered what reads of this blog would think; ergo a poll:
Eugene Park, a former PhD student in philosophy at Indiana University, Bloomington, recently wrote a piece purporting to explain his departure from academic philosophy in the Huffington Post (thanks to Sarah Stroud for the pointer.) Allowing that the bad job market had something to do with it, he then went on to say:
But, more importantly, as a person of color, I found myself increasingly uncomfortable in my department and within the discipline at large. Granted, a PhD program in any discipline will involve a certain amount of indoctrination, but the particular demands of philosophy were, in my view, beyond unreasonable.
As I discovered over the course of my graduate career, in order to be taken seriously in the discipline, and to have any hope of landing a tenure-track job, one must write a dissertation in one of the "core areas" of philosophy. What are these core areas? Philosophers quibble about how exactly to slice up the philosophical pie, but generally the divisions look something like this:
Metaphysics & Epistemology
Logic & Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of Mind
Such is the menu of choices available to the philosopher-in-training today. (See, for example, the PhD requirements at these prominent philosophy departments: Penn, Berkeley, and Duke.) On the surface, this might look like a wide range of options. But appearances are deceiving. For instance, the subfield of philosophy of mind does not typically engage at all with Indian, East Asian, African, or Native American ideas about the nature of mind. It's as if non-Western thinkers had nothing to say about the matter. Similarly, those who work in the history of philosophy work almost exclusively on the history of Western philosophy -- e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Russell, Wittgenstein, etc.
So why don't Anglo-American philosophers engage with non-Western philosophical traditions? In my experience, professional philosophers today often perceive non-Western thinkers as inferior. Of course, few would say this explicitly. Rather, philosophers often point to non-Western philosophy's unusual and unfamiliar methodology as the primary reason for the disconnect.
There is much that seems to me strange and a bit dubious about this. Do we have any evidence that Asian-Americans generally expect the fields they study to feature Asian thinkers? And should we really add East Asian philosophers to the curriculum to satisfy the consumer demands of Asian students rather than because these philosophers are interesting and important in their own right? (Mr. Park, oddly, never explains, or even affirms, the merits of these thinkers.)
But what is quite surprising, and unsupported, is the claim that the absence of non-Western thinkers is due to Anglophone philosophers thinking them "inferior." I suppose some think that, but philosophers, who are quite opinionated as a group, no doubt hold every opinion under the sun. (My former colleague Herb Hochberg, about as unabashed an apologist for the most parochial conception of analytic philosophy imaginable, thought Kripke "inferior" to Russell.) My own impression, from having talked to a lot more philosophers than Mr. Park and for a much longer period of time, is that most Anglophone philosophers have no opinion at all about non-Western philosophy because they are simply ignorant of it. Some regret the ignorance, others think it is excusable since there are so many philosophical traditions in the world and one can only master so many, and others just don't think about it at all because it is possible to pursue an academic career in philosophy ignorant of a lot of things, including large swaths of the history of European philosophy (and the further back in the past we go, the more the boundary lines of "what's European, what's not" get harder to draw).
...of unintentional amusement. (You have to wade into the comments--and read the "response" by Ed Kazarian of Rowan University--to get the full flavor of this bizarre display.) (It is a testament to the abysmally low level of the discourse at NewApps that Jon Cogburn (not exactly my favorite blogger there) comes off looking like the paragon of rational virtue--he even got a shout-out from the wild Meta blog, Apparently, this latest incident has led Cogburn to quit NewApps too!)
UPDATE: This is also apt, re: civility: "it’s perfectly clear to me, as these various links, particularly Ali’s, demonstrate, that the call for civility is little more than an effort to muzzle critics, to turn vibrant campuses into intellectual morgues." Some benighted philosophy bloggers would like to achieve the same it seems; perhaps they can join the University of Illinois Board of Trustees?
Paul Boghossian (NYU) kindly gave me permission to share his:
Dear Chairman Kennedy,
I join many others in urging you to reinstate Professor Steven Salaita’s appointment as Associate Professor with tenure at UIUC. The manner in which he was ‘unhired,’ just weeks before he was to start teaching, and nearly a year after he had formally accepted the offer of a tenured post, was procedurally and morally irregular in several major respects. Failure to reinstate him will, without a doubt, result in irreparable damage to the well-being and reputation of one of our nation’s premier research universities.
It is an established norm within higher education in the United States that, after all the relevant academic controls have been cleared, the approval of an appointment by the Board of Trustees is pro forma. This is why professors trustingly resign their posts at one institution, move their families and homes, and begin working at another institution, before they receive formal Board approval. It is foul play to violate that norm without warning.
Furthermore, it seems both unjust and unwise to take a decision of this magnitude without any sort of due process, without providing any sort of clear explanation as to its basis, and without consulting with the relevant academic units and deans.
Such a way of proceeding is especially disturbing in light of the revelation that the Chancellor and Board members were lobbied heavily by donors representing a particular political viewpoint, and who threatened to withhold financial support from the University.
If you believe that Professor Salaita crossed a line that he ought not to cross, there is an easy, honest and honorable remedy, suggested to you by the AAUP: consider Professor Salaita to be a tenured member of the UIUC faculty, suspended (with pay) pending a hearing on his fitness to continue.
Otherwise, you risk doing permanent damage to your fine institution.
This is just astonishing in its ignorance and irrationality; regarding Salaita's constitutional rights, the editors opine:
He was and remains free to speak as he chooses. But there is no right to speak with impunity. Free speech comes with consequences — from reasoned debate to a punch in the nose. Journalists lose jobs for exercising free speech. Authors lose publishers. Entertainers lose audiences. All risk civil litigation. Salaita spoke, and others spoke back, persuasively, to express both fear and disdain.
But there is a right to speak with impunity from being denied state employment because of your constitutionally protected speech, with some narrow exceptions that do not apply here. Surely the editors of a newspaper ought to have a clue about the Constitution and the First Amendment? Surely they should know that a state employer is different than a publishing house. That an audience is not the same as the state university?
ANOTHER: The faculty have also been rebuffed over attempted oversight of sexual harassment investigations:
Aya Gruber, a professor in the law school, said she feels knowledgeable about ODH policies and procedures, and yet the office is still intimidating.
"I have an intimate understanding of how ODH operates, and it makes me afraid," she said. "You can educate me until the day is long, but the fact of the matter is anybody can make a complaint about anybody to ODH, and it is an unreviewable, secret process."
...thankfully. (It's news to me that Camille Paglia is a philosopher, but in certain circles, I guess it turns out everyone is.)
(Thanks to Jim Klagge for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Tom Hurka (Toronto) writes: "The philosophers you link to are pikers compared to C.D. Broad -- Nietzsche was Miss Manners compared to him. Here's Broad on T.H. Green (taken from a forthcoming book of mine):
Broad did the same, saying Bradley was as inferior to Sidgwick in ethical and philosophical acumen as he was superior to him in literary style (FT 144) and making two brilliantly vitriolic remarks about Green. ‘Even a thoroughly second-rate thinker like T.H. Green, by diffusing a grateful and comforting aroma of “ethical uplift”, has probably made far more undergraduates into prigs than Sidgwick will ever make into philosophers’ (FT 144). And of a paper of Prichard’s criticizing Green: 'Seldom can the floor have been more thoroughly wiped with the remains of one who was at one time commonly regarded as a great thinker and who still enjoys a considerable reputation in some circles. A large part of the lectures is occupied with disentangling the strands of clotted masses of verbiage, in which inconsistency and nonsense are concealed by ambiguity.'"
Michael Otsuka (LSE) invited me to share his letter to the Trustees, which appeals, suitably, to institutional self-interest and proposes an alternative strategy that (though one that might still leave Prof. Salaita in danger, but at least would mitigate the harm and gives the Board a way out of the current mess they've made short of wholesale retreat):
Dear Trustees of the University of Illinois,
I am a Professor at the London School of Economics. I am also a faculty-elected member of the LSE's Court of Governors. I write, however, in an individual capacity.
If you withhold pro forma approval of Professor Steven Salaita's appointment alongside the others when you meet on September 11, you will make clear that associate and full professors at your university do not have tenure at the outset of their appointments. Rather, even after the starting dates listed on the letters of offer they have signed, their jobs may vanish without any demonstration of cause by normal procedures that apply to tenured professors.
You will also make clear that the assurances, norms, and practices on which academics rely when they resign their posts, in order to take up jobs elsewhere, do not apply when it comes to offers from the University of Illinois.
You will thereby undermine your ability to recruit the best scholars and teachers.
I therefore urge you to follow the recommendation of the AAUP to treat "Professor Salaita’s situation as that of a faculty member suspended [with pay] from his academic responsibilities pending a hearing on his fitness to continue."
Otherwise, you will provide overwhelming grounds for AAUP censure, of which academics around the world will take note.
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)