PhD Program Wikis — Information, Not Rankings (updated)


Shawn Standefer has created a wiki of PhD programs in philosophical logic. It “provides an unranked list of PhD (and (eventually) terminal M.A.) programs that have strengths in philosophical logic. Links are provided to the websites, CVs, and PhilPapers profiles of the relevant faculty at each program. Additionally, when known, the specialties and willingness of faculty members to work with new graduate students are noted. The primary intended audience is prospective or current graduate students with interests in philosophical logic who want to get the lay of the land by seeing who works where, and on what.” (Thanks to Richard Zach, who writes the logic blog LogBlog for the pointer.)

This project was based on the wiki for philosophy of biology PhD programs, which was created by Shawn A. Miller (UC Davis). Mr. Miller is to be applauded for the considerable initiative he showed in developing this wiki project.

These are very good resources, and I encourage their development for other areas of specialization. (Note: you needn’t be named “Shawn” to do this.) If a couple of more are created, I will be happy to create a distinct page linking to all of them.

UPDATE: Shawn Standefer informs me that Shawn Miller has already created a central hub for these wikis here. All we need now are some more spokes.

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Melissa
Melissa
6 years ago

Christian Wüthrich has a page similar to these Wikis for philosophers of physics over at his blog, taking up spacetime: https://takingupspacetime.wordpress.com/philosophers-of-physics-the-websites/Report

Anonym
Anonym
6 years ago

One person judges which departments have these “strengths” (and, by implication, which do not) and this isn’t met with even a bit of skepticism but rather “encouragement”?

A two-tier ranking is still a ranking, and it should be subjected to all the same methodological standards that are used to assess other rankings. By those standards, this looks pretty bad.Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
6 years ago

Anonym: this is from the phil bio wiki and should allay your fears for that one at least:

“This wiki provides an unranked list of Ph.D. (and terminal M.A.) programs that have strengths in philosophy of biology.”

“This is a wiki, so anyone can contribute. If programs or faculty have been overlooked—which is assuredly the case—you are encouraged to add them, even if you are not a member of that department. Also, information will date rapidly—especially, e.g., links to pdf CVs since their filenames often contain the (approximate) dates of creation, which change—so by all means help keep things up to date.”

“1.The criterion for program inclusion is just that a philosophy (or a history and philosophy of science) Ph.D. program have at least one full-time faculty member who self-identifies as a philosopher of biology.[4] Programs do not have to be in English-speaking departments. A separate list of M.A. programs can be found at the bottom of this page.
2.The standard of evidence required to make the list is an official (or personal) university-affiliated website—or a publicly-accessible CV—that lists philosophy of biology as a primary research interest.
3.Philosophers who have made contributions to the philosophy of biology but who do not list phil bio as an AOS/AOC are usually not listed. For the most part, this wiki simply reflects the self-reports of online faculty listings, which is a way to avoid having to make judgment calls about who counts as a philosopher of biology in borderline cases. The rule of thumb is: someone counts if they say they count. That said, erring on the side of being inclusive is generally a good policy since prospective students can peruse bios, CVs, and publication lists to help determine whether they think a borderline faculty member would be potentially helpful to their phil bio research interests.[5]
4.Bioethics, environmental ethics, philosophy of neuroscience/cognitive science, philosophy of medicine, and history of biology—in and of themselves—are not counted as philosophy of biology, though philosophers of biology with those interests are listed.”Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
6 years ago

The same language is used in the phil logic wiki. What exactly is your problem with them? They are unranked lists to which anyone can contribute as long as those contributions meet the criterion for inclusion and the standard of evidence. So it’s not about “one person judging” anything at all; though The Two Shawns did the legwork to get things started.Report

Shawn
6 years ago

Thanks for the write-up! Thought I’d mention that the Shawn Monopoly as crumbled! Ted Shear (UC Davis) is going to create a Formal Epistemology Ph.D. Programs wiki and Noëlle McAfee (Emory) is going to create a 20th Century Continental Philosophy Ph.D. Programs wiki. The philwiki.net hub you linked to also provides free setup and hosting for these wikis, along with a free, i.e., Creative Commons, template to help get pages started. So all it takes to create a spoke is to send me an email. Thanks again for the mention.Report

JDRox
JDRox
6 years ago

I have to say that while helpful and good to have, these seem like evidence that we need something like the PGR. Note that Phil Logic and Phil Bio (and Formal Epist) are pretty small sub disciplines, and then imagine what the wiki for Metaphysics or Epistemology would look like. The list of schools on the Philosophy of Logic list is already forbidding, and I would guess that at least 80% or 90% of students who wanted to pursue graduate work in Philosophy of Logic would try to narrow things down on the basis of advice from their professors, grad students at their undergrad department, etc. But it is unlikely, although possible, that their professors and the grad students (if any) at their undergrad institution would give better advice about how to narrow things down than one could get from the PGR.

Somewhat relatedly, note that when Velleman describes his procedure for advising students about where to apply (on one of the threads here, I don’t remember exactly which one), he begins by ruling out schools where the student has no chance of admittance. But where does that information come from? A student needs some way of determining that (in general) it will be significantly harder to get into the philosophy Ph.D. program at Rutgers than it will be at Brown, despite the fact that it is much easier to get into Rutgers (as an undergrad) than it is to get into Brown.Report

Shawn
6 years ago

How prospective grad students narrow things down is up to them, but it’s important that they know what the options are. Specialized philosophy wikis are good at providing that information. At present, the logic wiki lists 68 Ph.D. programs. The phil bio wiki lists 48 Ph.D. programs. On the latter site, programs can be browsed by number of faculty or by U.S. state. They are also grouped geographically (on both sites), which makes it easy for students to narrow down their choices, e.g., it’s really easy to identify phil bio programs in the western U.S. with at least 2 phil bio faculty. Soon it will be possible to browse by sub-specialty within phil bio, e.g., conceptual foundations of evolution, systematics, molecular bio, etc. Since wikis are open, anyone can help implement new features.

The “flat” presentation of the wikis—where links to all revelavant faculty, their websites, specialties, PhilPapers profiles, departments, etc. are listed on one page—makes it fairly easy to get a sense of things at a glance. (Navigation requires no clicking, only scrolling.) At that point, prospective grad students can drill down and do more research, e.g., consult other sources. As both wikis note: “while this site may be where your research into programs starts, it decidedly should not be where it ends. You need to dig around and do your due diligence—e.g., contact people within the programs—in order to put yourself in the best possible position to make an informed decision about where to apply.”Report

Shawn
6 years ago

Melissa, I wanted to thank you for mentioning Christian Wüthrich’s page, which I was unaware of. After contacting him, he generously gave me permission to use his list as the basis for another wiki, which is located at philphysics.net.Report