A Suggestion Regarding PGR Updates

The Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR), a ranking of many philosophy PhD programs based on an opinion survey about the quality of their faculty, is currently collecting details on the lists of faculty to be evaluated.

The PGR’s current editors are Berit Brogaard (University of Miami) and Christopher Pynes (Western Illinois University). The edition of the PGR they are preparing will be the first without its creator, Brian Leiter (University of Chicago), in an editorial position. While Leiter retains a position on the PGR’s advisory board, he announced in October, 2014, that he would be stepping down from running the report, following some controversies that prompted a number of philosophers to announce that they would be “declining to volunteer [their] services to the PGR while it is under the control of Brian Leiter.”

Since Leiter is no longer in charge of the PGR, and since the continued cooperation of many philosophers in providing information and opinions integral to the report’s success was conditioned on him no longer being in charge of it, there is a question as to why Leiter’s blog, Leiter Reports, is still the venue for PGR updates and requests.

Though I have no reason to believe that Professors Brogaard and Pynes aren’t firmly in charge of the PGR, the fact that their communication with the philosophical community is via Leiter’s blog can’t help but give the impression that Leiter still has a leadership role at the report. (Indeed, in conversation, other philosophers have cited the continued use of Leiter’s blog to support their skepticism about the PGR’s editorial independence from him.)

So here’s a friendly suggestion to the current editors of the PGR, as they work to maintain it as a tool prospective graduate students in philosophy might consult (along with other resources, such as the Academic Placement and Data Analysis site or PhilWiki): create an independent site for posting announcements about the PGR.

Wiley-Blackwell, which publishes the PGR, should add a blog to the PGR website. If they can’t, it is very easy to create a blog using one of a number of free blogging platforms. If the editors are concerned that a new PGR blog would not be well-known enough to reach its intended audience, they should rest assured that Leiter would likely repost the content of such updates, or direct his readers to them, as would Daily Nous, when appropriate.

This increased independence would help clear up any lingering confusion about the actual editorship of the PGR and only strengthen its reputation.

I hope the editors take this suggestion in the spirit in which it was intended.

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Paul Prescott
6 years ago

I recently tried to politely raise *precisely* this issue regarding the PGR update with Prof. Pynes on Leiter Reports. The attempt went nowhere, and my comment was deleted.

6 years ago

I also raised this issue in an email. It was met with a kind and professional response. I hoped it would be taken seriously but I’m very glad to see this post which I’m sure will carry more weight.

6 years ago

Beyond clearing up lingering confusion, it seems a bit odd to ask people to visit a blog that makes predictions about department ranking and other conflict of interest-type (at least of a sort) posts to so much as update the most basic data points. Obviously the folks ranking programs will have a relatively easy time identifying which department is which but do we really think that a blog full of rankings and comments about the impact of various hirings and retirements and al on won’t further bias people beyond the usual prestige biases? And I know I know. People might read Leiter anyway (I still do), but come on! Let’s at least for official purposes finally pull the rankings apart from the controversial blog.