2014 Philosophical Gourmet Report Released


The 2014 edition of the Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR) has been released. The PGR is a reputational survey of a selection of PhD-granting philosophy departments based on questionnaires completed by around 230 philosophers. The release of the PGR was slightly delayed this time around, owing to considerable controversy about its editor-in-chief, Brian Leiter, its methodology, and, reportedly, its silly name. New this year are visualizations of the data by Kieran Healy (Duke), which he explains here.

UPDATE: A reader points out that not all of the content on the PGR has been updated, including the list of evaluators, which currently contains the names of people who have confirmed that they did not participate in this year’s survey. According to a note at Leiter Reports, only the rankings at the PGR have been updated on the site; “other updated content will be added over the next month or so.”

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F. Nietzsche
F. Nietzsche
6 years ago

One of the six (!) evaluators in the Phil of Math category doesn’t list phil of math among research or teaching interests…Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

In the Philosophy of Religion ranking, the University of New England (Australia) is listed among “Additional programs not evaluated this year but recommended for consideration by the Advisory Board”. The UNE department has only four full-time members and none of them is specialized in philosophy of religion!
http://www.une.edu.au/about-une/academic-schools/school-of-humanities/study-areas/philosophyReport

L
L
6 years ago

Aldo Antonelli, Justin Clarke-Doane, Warren Goldfarb, Hannes Leitgeb, Fraser MacBride, Friederike Moltmann.
So which one did you have in mind? I checked their pages in order to find out, but all of them listed phil of math.Report

gopher
gopher
6 years ago

At UNE William McDonald does have an AOS in philosophy of religion. and probably the advisors who mentioned New England were thinking also of Mun-Keat Choong, whose job is in Religious Studies but who is an expert in historical and contemporary Buddhism. The lines between departments are not very important at UNE.

I hope people will be a little more careful with the negative comments about particular departments (or for that matter the small groups of evaluators). I know nobody means to be denigrating any particular philosophers or departments, but the negative comments are apt to have just that effect.Report

Mencius
Mencius
6 years ago

In the Chinese philosophy ranking, Georgetown University, with no specialist in Chinese philosophy, comes in the second tier. Meanwhile, Hawaii and Hong Kong with their heavy hitters get only a mention. How ridiculous is that?Report

F. Nietzsche
F. Nietzsche
6 years ago

This is what happens when people have no idea what they actually work on! See Moltmann’s CV on academia.edu. Honestly, if you really work on X, would you ever miss mentioning X in any version of your cv?!Report

Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
6 years ago

Peter Forrest, who is at New England, must have been on the faculty list for UNE. Their web page has him now as adjunct, but I don’t know what that means in the Australian context.Report

fm
fm
6 years ago

mencius, my guess is that this is the sort of positive contamination effect you could find throughout the exercise: hawaii and hong kong aren’t seen as being strong departments overall, so what strengths they have get downplayed or ignored altogether. this is but one of many departments/areas for which this is the case. obviously, this effect undermines the very point of ranking specialty areas.Report

Amy Olberding
Amy Olberding
6 years ago

Mencius (how funny to write that as a form of address on a blog!), Erin Cline is at Georgetown in the Theology Department and publishes philosophical work. More generally, the Chinese philosophy rankings list universities – Indiana is another – that have scholars publishing philosophical work but placed in other departments (at IU, that would be Stalnaker, Ing, and Eno in Religious Studies and EALC). Given the paucity of PhD granting programs in Philosophy with specialists in Chinese philosophy, having the listing expanded to include scholars placed elsewhere better reflects the sources of scholarship in this area. Hawai’i and Hong Kong are listed as they are (problematically, I think) because those programs were not evaluated in the “overall” category and programs not evaluated that way were in turn not evaluated for specialty rankings. Instead they were listed as a sort of “see also…” based on specialty evaluators’ recommendations. This makes it appear as if they are “also rans” but I don’t think that was the intention of the evaluators.Report

Further anon
Further anon
6 years ago

Not only that, their course list suggests they don’t even teach philosophy of religion! (of course, maybe that’s just at the Undergraduate level…Report

warp, weft, way
warp, weft, way
6 years ago

Who at UC Riverside does Chinese Philosophy? To suggest, as the PGR does, that UCR, Indiana, and Duke are better places to do Chinese Philosophy than at Hawaii or Hong Kong!?!? That is seriously out of touch… It could be argued the Hawaii and Hong Kong are the *best* places for Chinese Phil.Report

Fritz Warfield
Fritz Warfield
Reply to  warp, weft, way
6 years ago

The PGR has not made any comparative claim about Hawaii (for example) and UCR. Hawaii is listed where it is in this subfield because Hawaii as a department was not evaluated this year. Programs inserted into the “also not note” category are not ranked in comparison with each other or in comparison with those programs that were evaluated. So there’s nothing “out of touch” reflected here. You’re criticizing comparisons that are not contained in the PGR.Report

Mencius
Mencius
6 years ago

Amy: I know Erin’s at Georgetown, in Theology. That’s the whole point. Why rank a department in an area it has no expertise in, just because there are resources elsewhere at that school, and not rank phil departments that are responsible for most of the work done in that subfield? That seems to me to be sending the wrong message: it tells departments like Georgetown (and UCR and Indiana) they don’t need to hire in Chinese or any other underrepresented area, because they can piggyback on other programs. Imagine if we did that for, say, philosophy of mathematics or philosophy of physics? We know how programs get to be evaluated in the first place. You have to be on the map (as a strong department overall), and the map the PGR has been drawing over the years smacks of gerrymandering.Report

John Schwenkler
6 years ago

Eric Schwitzgebel, at Riverside, does work on Chinese philosophy.Report

Olav
Olav
6 years ago

Re: 11, Eric Schwitzgebel at UC Riverside does a bit of Chinese philosophy.Report

p
p
6 years ago

Chinese philosophy at UCR is done by Lisa Raphals (cooperating faculty) and Eric Schwitzgebel. There appears to be at least one person who did Phd who specializes in it: http://www.scrippscollege.edu/academics/faculty/profile/john-ramsey. I think the idea is (and it is not a bad idea) that places like Hawaii have good scholars in Chinese philosophy, but as departments they do not currently offer sufficient breadth and depth to be recommended to prospective students over other departments which can both offer the student great basic graduate philosophical education/experience and also enable them to specialize in their chosen field. This is, by no means, a stupid idea since very few students are ready to just plunge into a specialization without getting serious experience in doing philosophy across the board – there is a reason why graduate programs require (in US) certain amount of work, distributed among various fields, before one can start working on a dissertation. Take the two places added to Ancient philosophy – Berlin and Munich. From looking at them, they seem only advisable for students who are already pretty advanced in their studies, at least with very good MA’s or something like that. At Munich, the faculty there does only Ancient philosophy/philology and at Berlin English is used only in the Ancient philosophy program. So both boast amazing faculty, but they are not places comparable, as graduate programs for English speaking students, to, say, Princeton or Yale. My guess would be Hawaii or Hongkong, in both different and similar ways, are in a similar situation. But maybe I am wrong.Report

anonymous grad student
anonymous grad student
6 years ago

people are misunderstanding what it means to be in the “programs not ranked but recommended for consideration by the board” (or whatever it is called) category. it doesn’t mean that those programs are ranked lower in the specialty rankings than those that are ranked–or higher. they are simply not ranked in comparison to the other programs.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
6 years ago

Replying to Mencius:

” Imagine if we did that [rank a department because of cognate strength elsewhere in the University] for, say, philosophy of mathematics or philosophy of physics?”

Be my guest, as far as philosophy of physics is concerned. If the Physics or Maths department at a university has strong philosophers of physics at it, and if grad students in philosophy of physics are able to work with those people, what’s not to like?

Actually, the very different cultures of philosophy and physics, and the funding structure of physics in particular, makes this unlikely in practice. But there are examples in other subjects: Oxford is extremely strong in philosophy of law, but nearly all the philosophers of law are attached to the Faculty of Law, not to Philosophy. I don’t see a problem with that.Report

Amy Olberding
Amy Olberding
6 years ago

Mencius, I think we agree. I posted what I did since I assumed (not knowing who you are) that you didn’t know about Cline. But I agree that there is something decidedly off about a ranking of *philosophy programs* including without acknowledgement what are effectively rankings of faculty outside of philosophy departments. And I agree that this shouldn’t give aid and cover to feeling good about how many places (outside philosophy departments!) one can study Chinese philosophy. Another methodological point here is just why, if one opens the gates to ranking faculty outside philosophy departments, the gates weren’t thrown wider open – i.e., if one looks for faculty outside philosophy departments to craft a ranking in Chinese philosophy, are there more than are included here? I just don’t think these rankings work at all for Chinese philosophy. They replicate more general problems people have noted elsewhere (e.g., leaving more continental focused programs such as Hawaii on the outs) and have problems more unique to the area (e.g., unclarity about what exactly, philosophy or more, is being ranked, as well as having vanishingly small numbers of evaluators).Report

Rachel McKinnon
Rachel McKinnon
6 years ago

I don’t think people are making that mistake. Amy’s comment #19 below is some evidence of that, I think. People are objecting to the methodology that led to the programs that some think are the best in the areas being left off the ‘ranking’ because the overall programs weren’t evaluated. How is a reader–a prospective grad student–going to read a program like Hawaii being unranked but ‘recommended for consideration’? A think one natural reading of this is that Hawaii’s probably not a good place to go if it wasn’t ‘good’ enough even to be ranked. Whether that’s a *correct* reading is beside the point, I think.Report

grad
grad
6 years ago

Also, the “recommended for consideration” note appears at the bottom of the groups and so there is a natural tendency to read it as an honorable mention list. If it really is intended as a non-comparative note, then there should be no problem putting it at the top, above the groups.Report

fm
fm
6 years ago

further to rachel mckinnon’s point, memphis, for example, is widely seen as a leading place to do philosophy of race. in fact, memphis claims to have placed more african-american philosophers in academic positions than any other phd program in the us. i don’t have any way of verifying this claim, but nor do i have any reason to doubt it, and it seems plausible, given its record of recruiting such students, etc. that the department is not deemed by the powers that be to merit ranking overall is surely not the _only_ consideration relevant to a prospective african-american student, is it? seems like memphis’ success and commitment to diversity would also be relevant, and thus justify ranking it relative to other programs who have been deemed worthy. i’m sure there are many other places about which similar points could be made.

so there seem to be two obvious solutions here: (1) stop whining about how much time it all takes, and rank every department (if you want to play this role in the profession, leiter et al, buck up and do it right, if even that’s possible, which i rather doubt) OR (2) in the specialty rankings, rank all departments in those specialties, regardless of whether they’re included in the overall rankings.Report

Anon Grad
Anon Grad
6 years ago

I agree strongly with fm’s second suggestion – there doesn’t seem any reason to leave out departments from the specialty rankings just because they don’t make the overall ranking. For those who are interested in a particular area I feel as that would be a large help.Report

JDRox
JDRox
6 years ago

In response to 23, 22, and 21: the PGR used to include programs in the speciality rankings that were unranked in the overall rankings. One of the methodological critiques of the PGR is that the process for picking (unranked overall) schools to include in the specialty rankings was unscientific, so they abandoned that in this iteration of the PGR. Can anyone think of a methodologically sound way to choose overall unranked schools to include in the specialty rankings? Or is it really just a presentation issue?Report

Mencius
Mencius
6 years ago

p: The rationale for the PGR, at least in principle, is to tell prospective students how the philosophy house of cards is stacked up so they better negotiate the overall and area strengths when considering where to apply. Let’s bracket for a moment complaints about methodology and the rest, and assume the PGR does what is intended to do: why, in that case, not tell prospective students that if you really want to study Chinese philosophy as an AOS then they better go to a place that has the critical mass of expertise to support that kind of training? You wouldn’t do that for any other subfield, so why assume it can be done for Chinese? Because certain subfields have become dominant, departments have been pressured to hire in those to maintain overall strength, resulting in further marginalization of underrepresented fields. So, yes, I would send a student who is serious about ancient philosophy to places like Munich rather than some of the programs in the 3rd and 4th tier for ancient. Overall strength matters, and having stars on faculty is a plus, but when we start telling ourselves that dabbling in a bit of Chinese philosophy is enough to put you on the map (just because you are already a (top) ranked program) something has gone completely amiss.

And speaking of ancient, how come Arizona with Julia Annas, Rachana Kamterkar, and Dan Russell comes in third, but NYU with Jessica Moss, Marko Malink, and Phillip Mitsis (in classics), plus visitors like Sarah Broadly and a couple of Bersoff fellows only makes 4th tier? And why is Yale in the second tier for ancient? Well, because of its joint PhD program with the classics department, which gives it a lot of coverage. I think it’s good to draw on expertise in other programs to boost rankings, but if we’re to do that, I’m with Amy: flung wide open the gates and rank relevant faculty outside philosophy departments for all subfields.

Lastly, I agree with fm’s (22) second suggestion, though I don’t see it currying much favor with many, if not most, of the folks on the advisory board.Report

Rachel McKinnon
Rachel McKinnon
6 years ago

JD: Is the decision about which programs to rank overall any more ‘scientific’?Report

JDRox
JDRox
6 years ago

Rachel: Sorry, I should have used ‘reliable’ instead of ‘scientific’. In any case, I think the procedure for picking schools for the overall ranking is fairly reliable. Partly, that is because there are a lot of people influencing that decision: the wisdom of crowds etc. I should add that I personally thought the old way of doing the specialty rankings was better, but I can see various reasons for doing it this way. I do think the fact that those unranked programs may well have been ranked if they had been evaluated should be made more clear. What would be interesting to know is whether those lamenting the current policy would prefer the old policy, or some other policy. If the latter, then what policy? (Of course they may prefer no policy/rankings at all. But I’m interested in improving the PGR, or building a better replacement.)Report

MA-Student
MA-Student
6 years ago

I’m a bit perplexed as to how Cincinnati doesn’t even warrant an honorable mention in philosophy of biology, given that Rob Skipper and a whole stable of really great philosophers of biology work there.Report