Philosophical Gourmet Report 2017-18 Released


The 2017-18 edition of the Philosophical Gourmet Report (PGR), a ranking of the reputation of Ph.D. programs in philosophy, has been published.

The survey is described as trying to “capture existing professional sentiment about the quality and reputation of different Ph.D. programs as a whole and in specialty areas in the English-speaking world.”

The results are based on a survey of philosophers, described here:

In October 2017, we conducted an on-line survey of approximately 550 philosophers throughout the English-speaking world. The survey was built using Qualtrics survey software and run by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR) at Western Illinois University. 274 philosophers [listed here] responded and completed some or all of the surveys. The survey presented 91 faculty lists, from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia and New Zealand. Note that there are some 110 PhD-granting programs in the U.S. alone, but it would be unduly burdensome for evaluators to ask them to evaluate all these programs each year. The top programs in each region were selected for evaluation, plus a few additional programs are included each year to “test the waters.”

The PGR provides both overall and specialty rankings.

The top 50 departments in the English-speaking world, according to the PGR’s 2017-18 overall rankings are:

The U.S.-only top 50 rankings, according to the PGR, are:

This edition of the PGR is the first edited by the team of Berit Brogaard (University of Miami) and Christopher Pynes (Western Illinois University), and the first without PGR founder Brian Leiter (University of Chicago), who stepped down from the PGR’s helm following controversy regarding his treatment of some philosophers.

In the past, concerns have been raised about the methodology of the PGR (see some of the links in this post). It is unclear whether the current report has been improved in any of these regards. (Comments on this from those in the know, including the current PGR editors, are welcome.)

The PGR is one of several resources available to prospective graduate students in philosophy as they choose which programs to apply to and attend. Other resources include Academic Placement and Data Analysis (APDA), PhilWiki, and the QS Rankings.

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Kenneth Boyd
3 years ago

These are, of course, the rankings for American departments only. I think it would be more useful to post the rankings for the top 50 faculties in the English speaking world.Report

Brian Kemple
3 years ago

I think this sort of popularity contest does little good for prospective students or the discipline as a whole and we’d all be doing everyone a service by ignoring it.Report

student22
student22
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

I’m no fan of the PGR, and you may be right that the discipline would perhaps be better off if we all ignored it. But I don’t think calling it a “popularity contest” is fair. As a two-time veteran prospective student, my view is that at least speciality rankings can be helpful for prospective students sometimes. For it is not unreasonable to assume, it seems to me, many prospective students — but especially those applying with only a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, or a master’s in philosophy but with a bachelor’s in something else (as often is the case for MA students) — are unlikely to have a clear idea of what their dissertation will be on, other than that it will probably be within their broad interests (e.g., “philosophy of mind” — but the hard problem/mental causation kind, or animal consciousness/cognitive science kind?). At least for U.S. programs, my impression is that not many people enter their program knowing *exactly* what they want to work on, and *exactly* who they want to work with. And even for those fortunate few ones who do know (initially), they may change their plans as they progress. This is where, for prospective students, a higher ranked program on specialty X can be seen as a “safer” choice than a lower ranked program. This is because a higher ranked program is more likely to have the resources (core faculty, affiliated departments/institutes, network possibilities, etc.) to better serve the intellectual and philosophical flourishing for students generally interested in X. Such a correlation is unlikely to be always the case, of course, but it seems to me it is frequently enough tho case to justify the instrumental value of specialty rankings for prospective students.Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  student22
3 years ago

Hi student22,

I think someone without a clear idea as to the particular direction which they would like to seek in their graduate work would be far better off speaking directly to professors and graduate students they know personally; or, failing that personal connection, trying to establish one. A score or ranking of a program from people they don’t know concerning topics about which they are unsure is unlikely, I think, to be very helpful. Moreover, the “safer” program which is higher ranked really might be the worst place to work on one’s desired topic.

My take is that a recommendation from a trusted source should go much farther than a popularity contest (which appellation I defend below) which produces the illusion of “prestige”.Report

fred
fred
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

Isn’t this just the trite “since the PGR, in isolation, isn’t a perfect guide, then it is useless” argument? There is a name for that fallacy, you know.

No one is suggesting, I think, that students should rely solely on the PGR and not speak directly to professors and graduate students they know personally, *if possible*. Thing is: at least students from smaller schools, or from abroad, don’t usually know many philosophy professors from a variety of institutions, nor do they necessarily know many other graduate students. And if things are as they were when I was applying for grad school, they generally aim to send out some 15 applications or more. The suggestion that applicants should establish contacts with professors and graduate students at a range of institutions to form a clear idea about them, and then use those clear ideas to narrow down which schools to apply to, is not particularly feasible, is it?

I found the PGR very helpful when I was applying for grad school. It didn’t tell me everything I needed to know, but I didn’t expect it to.Report

sahpa
sahpa
Reply to  fred
3 years ago

Hear, hear! Networks are great, perhaps even the best, for figuring this stuff out. I imagine ugrad students at Stanford or NYU or other schools where they get lots of guidance from people plugged into the profession have no use of the pgr. Not all of us are so fortunate, and for us the pgr is of great value.

In my case, my ugrad is from a very good PhD granting dept that served a massive student body (it’s a state flagship uni). Advisement was hard to come by, and asking for the kind of bespoke guidance one would need (absent the pgr) would have been stupid. My profs were great. But they were overworked and had a veritable sea of students to help. They gave me some advice–be sure to apply to this school and this one, for example–that was on the whole very useful (it tended to be more useful coming from the younger profs who were less checked out, but again, how tf could I have known that at the time? the most rational thing to do, given what I knew, was to go talk to the big wigs, but they hadn’t been on the job market or been peer reviewed in decades!).Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  fred
3 years ago

No, not really. I’m not saying it isn’t a perfect guide and therefore useless; I’m saying it’s a bad guide, and therefore avoided.

And why is it too difficult to, say, email professors at 15 institutions but not to apply to 15 institutions…? Okay, sure, the rankings give you an idea, “Okay, I should email these 15 institutions because I’m interested in _______”. Let’s say you’re interested in medieval philosophy. The PGR ranks 10 institutions and lists 7 others. 20th century continental, it ranks 15 and lists 11 others.

What value is there, exactly, in the ranking of them? I mean, what good does this accomplish for the prospective student? Is Notre Dame really a better place to study either medieval or 20th c continental than BC? Why put a number value on it at all?

Wouldn’t it be more helpful to, I dunno, simply list the programs that make those areas of study an emphasis, and, maybe, instead of spending time trying to evaluate them, trying to highlight their work or provide means of contact?Report

IGS
IGS
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

How many hundreds of professors do you think an undergrad *prospective applicant* would have to email before 15 gave him or her a substantial and informative reply?Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

Probably fewer than you think, if the prospective applicant is emailing professors who aren’t myopically self-interested and actually care about teaching.Report

aphilosopher
aphilosopher
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

>My take is that a recommendation from a trusted source should go much farther than a popularity contest (which appellation I defend below) which produces the illusion of “prestige”.

I’m not the biggest supporter of the PGR, but if you think one’s professors are a genuine source of knowledge about what programs one would be well-served attending, then presumably you would also think the PGR is also a good source since the idea behind it is precisely to quantify and normalize the opinion of professors. Part of what it eliminates, for example, is the fact that some/many professors aren’t really in the know about which departments are the best (in general or for X) anymore, especially if they got a TT job 20+ years ago and haven’t been super involved in mainstream philosopher.

If my undergrad adviser hadn’t stayed in the know, it’s possible he’d have thought Wayne State was still a premier location for my interests (a dated and extreme example).

But I take it that it’s hard for an undergrad to know the utility of their adviser’s opinion. My adviser told me to stay clear of University X for example. Can I know if this is the result of unbiased deliberation or because he has a longstanding grudge with two professors at X?

The off-the-cuff opinion of one’s professors is most certainly not a good indicator of program quality nor of chance’s of one’s success at a program. But on the assumption that these opinions are worth anything at all, presumably the PGR is at least as good a resource as one’s own undergrad adviser.Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  aphilosopher
3 years ago

“I’m not the biggest supporter of the PGR, but if you think one’s professors are a genuine source of knowledge about what programs one would be well-served attending, then presumably you would also think the PGR is also a good source since the idea behind it is precisely to quantify and normalize the opinion of professors”

This is a bad presumption. I think one’s professors might be trusted; they might also know the person asking, and therefore have a good recommendation based on that individual’s tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Also, they’re not likely to reduce the institutions to a quantification.

I get that a lot of professors lack time, and a lot of students lack relationships with their undergrad professors… but isn’t that part of the problem?Report

Prospective grad
Prospective grad
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

It would be helpful to explain the reasons for this claim, especially for prospective students such as myself.Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  Prospective grad
3 years ago

Sure, this is fair. Let me give three quick and easy reasons.

1) The rankings are based upon individual philosophers’ evaluations of other individual philosophers. A lot individual philosophers have never heard of one another, or of others’ work. Already, popularity is factored in. If you’ve heard of Eleanore Stump but not Ed Houser, who are you going to rate higher? Moreover, the former has more publication credential than the latter…

2) But are publications an indication of teaching or advisory ability? I don’t think so. I’ve never taken a class with Stump; but I know Ed Houser is a hell of a great teacher. My own director–who had more publications than you can shake a stick at–was great at advising me on the dissertation, but honestly wasn’t a great classroom teacher; and if it hadn’t been for the personal recommendation given me by my undergraduate professor before entering grad school, I probably would never have tried getting to know my director.

3) “Programs not evaluated but recommended” — I’m probably biased here, seeing as my own graduate institution falls in this category (for medieval), but… why are they not evaluated? “it would be unduly burdensome for evaluators to ask them to evaluate all these programs each year. The top programs in each region were selected for evaluation” — in other words, they already have in mind what count as “top programs”; selecting a few random programs not already in that list to “test the waters” each year might help… or it might not.

Bonus) “Because, in many cases, the ratings reflect the presence of only one or two faculty in a department” – how can we rate institutions’ specialized excellence off one or two faculty? Silly.Report

manny
manny
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

Yes, let us (again) just ignore the many (MANY!) students who say they found it invaluable.

And let us (again) ignore that its limitation are well known and equally well publicised (by the PGR itself, for one).

And, further, let us (again) ignore that doing away with it is not an option because students will always look for rankings, so not having future editions will not do away with rankings, but merely do away with recent rankings.

Etc. etc etc. etc.Report

Questionguy
Questionguy
Reply to  manny
3 years ago

“Yes, let us (again) just ignore the many (MANY!) students who say they found it invaluable.”

How many? And where are they expressing this sentiment?

The way I see it is PGR has costs and benefits. The costs are reinforcing insidious hierarchical relationships and careerism. The benefits are some students may gain something they otherwise would not have by relying on it.

How do we quantify the benefits, though? If PGR allows one student to pick the right program that gets him or her a job, is that a good? What about the student who would otherwise have gotten that job? Why is the former’s career success more valuable than the latter? Is prioritizing the former’s career success a sufficient benefit to incur the costs I mention above?

But fine, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that helping specific students beat out other students is a good. How much of a good is it, though? Because I would suspect that in the long run it doesn’t help that many people. Even graduates of elite schools can’t find good jobs in many cases. If you were to quantify the number of students who: (1) used the PGR to pick a school; and (2) made a decision based on the PGR that actually did result in a job that he or she would not otherwise have, I think that number would be very, very low.Report

nicholesuomi
Reply to  Questionguy
3 years ago

“If PGR allows one student to pick the right program that gets him or her a job, is that a good? What about the student who would otherwise have gotten that job? Why is the former’s career success more valuable than the latter?”

The PGR seems to offer a sort of equalizing effect. The amount of information one has available from the faculty at their undergraduate institution presumably correlates with general quality of institution. In the application process, people from worse schools are already at a disadvantage. For one, it doesn’t look as nice on a degree. Someone who can put a big name on their application already has an edge. For two, the higher quality education gives them an edge in actually being good enough at writing philosophy to craft a good writing sample. In the absence of rankings, they would have the additional benefit of better knowledge regarding which schools to apply to. Granted, this may be also a function of department size. I came from a department with four professors. My interests lined up a bit with some of them, but I was left having to figure out the existence of some subfields on my own. Students at larger departments are generally more likely to have access to guidance on a wider breadth.

Given all of the usual reasons to resist pedigree, something to mitigate the third factor seems good. The first two are at least tracking qualification to be in a program. There’s nothing good coming from the third. (And as much as which graduate program someone is at has to do with factors like economic background, which undergraduate program someone is at has even less to mitigate that.)Report

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

Yes, this is a popularity contest.

No, that does not mean it’s useless for prospective graduate students.

Considering that the reputation of your professors is something that affects job placement, it is extremely relevant for students to know what departments are more respected than others.Report

Keith DeRose
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

This is how I suggest using the PGR, together with other sources of information (including a good adviser, up on the current state of graduate programs, if a student is fortunate enough to have such an adviser) in deciding on which programs to apply to and then attend. I think the PGR is mostly valuable in the early, locating possibilities, stage. (This is a fairly old post now, but I’d still give roughly the same advice.)
http://certaindoubts.com/some-thoughts-on-how-to-choose-a-graduate-program-in-philosophy/Report

Sal
Sal
3 years ago

There are a lot of women who work in philosophy of art… how on earth is THAT the list of evaluators.Report

Michel
Michel
Reply to  Sal
3 years ago

That’s a good question. Since evaluators now come from the same general pool and decide which areas to evaluate, a look at that big pool holds the answer: the women in that pool don’t specialize in the philosophy of art. Also: there aren’t all that many women in the first place–33/374 by my count, or ~9%.

The list of evaluators doesn’t do a good job of representing the subfield, but at least now that’s not just the direct result of who the organizers decided to invite to evaluate the subfield (not much of an up-side, I know). But there have at least been a few important improvements to that ranking: (1) it actually makes a lot more sense this time around than it has in years, and (2) the pool of evaluators is significantly larger than it was (though still too small in my books!). Those are big improvements.

What I find much stranger is that feminist philosophy is tied with american pragmatism and chinese philosophy for the smallest number of evaluators: 5. It’s a much bigger subfield, and it should be easy to find far, far more evaluators (although again, it’s not entirely surprising, given the representation of women in the initial pool).

One last observation: I think this iteration of the report does a much better job of evaluating non-US departments and integrating them into the overall rankings.Report

Graduate Applicant
Graduate Applicant
3 years ago

I’m not “in the know”, but it seems like the critique that continental philosophy is marginalized in the report remains true. Many of the top continental programs were not even evaluated, leading to them not appearing on the overall rankings, and mostly analytic programs with only one or two continental thinkers topping the continental sub-rankings. Furthermore, the vast majority of philosophers polled by the report are thoroughly analytic in their work.Report

moderate
moderate
Reply to  Graduate Applicant
3 years ago

Many programs are invited to be ranked, but choose not to be. This was the case for my (continental-leaning) alma mater, and I would not be surprised if it is the case for many other programs, perhaps especially continental ones. If that’s the what’s going on, then the blame doesn’t really lie with the PGR.Report

Ken
Ken
3 years ago

The previous draft (posted to Leiter’s blog) included a “philosophical logic” category. Am I the only one not able to find that category now?Report

Logician
Logician
Reply to  Ken
3 years ago

I’d also like to know why that was removed. I remember thinking the ranking looked a bit off. (It seemed, if my memory is serving me correctly, to disproportionately rank departments that are strong primarily in mathematical logic, even though there is a separate ranking for mathematical logic.)Report

Ken
Ken
Reply to  Logician
3 years ago

I agree, either that or formal semantics (which is philosophy of language if an area of philosophy).Report

Matt
Reply to  Ken
3 years ago

“Philosophical Logic” is included – scroll down to the 5th entry here: http://34.239.13.205/index.php/metaphysics-epistemology/

As someone who has casual interest in the area and took some relevant course work in grad school, but who isn’t at all an expert, the rankings look plausible, though I’m sure disagreement is possible.Report

Ken
Ken
Reply to  Matt
3 years ago

Thanks – I guess I mistakenly assumed that it would be in the same category as mathematical logic. The original draft that I saw didn’t divide up the areas into separate pages either, so I wondered if it had gotten pulled.

I do disagree with the rankings pretty heavily as a specialist in the area, but I don’t think it’s super helpful to quibble about those. Instead I’ll point to the – to my mind – very strange set of evaluators. For example, the following do not strike me as qualified to assess this area (although they strike me as very qualified at other areas of philosophy):

1. Jeffrey Barrett (does not even list logic in his AOIs on his webpage; does on his CV but the last of six (!) areas, and has never published a paper I would consider in the area)
2. David Braddon-Mitchell (does not list logic as one of his AOIs, has never published a paper in any area of logic)
3. Anthony Gilles (does not list logic as one of his AOIs on webpage; does on CV but as the sixth of seven areas, and publishes mostly in formal philosophy of language)

Perhaps this tells us that a brief description of what each AOS would be helpful – for example, maybe others consider formal semantics as part of philosophical logic, while I (and everyone else I know working in the area) typically do not. That would take care of the last case, but not the former two, who I can’t see any reason to include as evaluators for this area.Report

Logician
Logician
Reply to  Ken
3 years ago

Let me also register that, as someone who often publishes in philosophical logic, the ranking strikes me as weird. (Having had a chance to have another look I don’t think my conjecture that the ranking was tracking strength in mathematical logic bears out, so I’m not sure what’s up.) I also found the choice of evaluators odd.Report

IGS
IGS
3 years ago

Suppose for the sake of argument that PGR had zero correlation to the actual quality of the department in teaching, advising, and research. Instead, suppose that it only measures pure bias of the evaluators based off unreliable information. I would still find PGR useful as an undergrad because philosophy is a prestige based discipline, and assuming biases are slow to change, I want to know what bias will applied to me on the job market coming out of whatever program I attend.Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  IGS
3 years ago

“philosophy is a prestige based discipline”

Am I the only one who thinks this wrong? I don’t mean the facticity of the system, but the principles.Report

Questionguy
Questionguy
Reply to  IGS
3 years ago

You do realize that the PGR is a large driver for the fact that “philosophy is a prestige based discipline”?Report

Graduate Applicant
Graduate Applicant
Reply to  Questionguy
3 years ago

I’m not sure I buy this. Prestige hiring seems to be endemic across all academic fields, even though most don’t have a PGR equivalent (well, they have US and World News, but I don’t think anybody takes them that seriously for graduate school). If prestige is going to be apart of hiring, then the information might as well be publicly available to graduate applicants entering a field with a terrible job market.

See these articles for examples of the issue:
http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2016/03/how-prestige-shapes-professoriate
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2015/02/university_hiring_if_you_didn_t_get_your_ph_d_at_an_elite_university_good.html
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/03/study-examines-trends-phd-programs-produce-political-science-professorsReport

Questionguy
Questionguy
Reply to  Graduate Applicant
3 years ago

Prestige hiring appears to be less of a problem in many other academic fields, many of which don’t even have USN&WR (which does not rank most graduate programs). Certainly many of those in prestige-focused fields would still find the whole idea of the PGR in poor taste and counterproductive.

(As a side note, I put “anon_guy” as my name, and it has changed it to “questionguy” in my posts for some reason)

[JW: As noted in the comments policy, no handles with the “anonymous” or “anon” (etc.) are allowed. Usually comments with these handles are simply blocked, though if I have time, I do the commenter a favor and provide an alternate handle.]Report

sahpa
sahpa
Reply to  Graduate Applicant
3 years ago

Yeah. And, in fact, philosophy is one of the least prestige-biased humanities (English being the worst, IIRC). The PGR might be a driver for *that*, actually (also the fact that philosophy, unlike English or History, has rigorous and somewhat objective standards). It could be a big part of why depts from non-fancy-named schools can still place their grads well (I’ve heard testimony to this effect, actually; depts can use the PGR to convince their Dean, who is otherwise oblivious, why hiring a philosopher of science from Madison or San Diego is a better bet than from Brown or Yale, for example).Report

Ian
Ian
Reply to  sahpa
3 years ago

Um…. English and History do have somewhat objective standards. Please don’t criticize other fields just because you don’t understand them.Report

sahpa
sahpa
Reply to  Ian
3 years ago

It was a joke, dudeReport

Ian
Ian
Reply to  sahpa
3 years ago

Your argument wants to defend the PGR because you think it helps to explain why philosophy is not as prestige based. Then you decide to switch to sarcasm when you give another part of the explanation (e.g. English and History not having objective standards)?

I’m having a hard time buying your ‘it was a joke, dude’ comment in reaction to my objection.

I should also mention that I appreciate the overall insight that the PGR might be used as a way to combat the prestige-dominated philosophy field. I just could do without the condescension towards other fields.Report

sahpa
sahpa
Reply to  Ian
3 years ago

You can tell it was a joke because you can delete it and what is left is a (somewhat) reasonable set of interlocking claims, none of which have anything to do with the joke.Report

Jon
Jon
3 years ago

Why is UBC (#36, top) the only name apparently unbolded? Wonder if there’s some hidden meaning there.Report

ambivalent_prospective_gradstudent
ambivalent_prospective_gradstudent
3 years ago

I got accepted into a low-rank Ph.D program this cycle (well, I should still be glad that it is in US Top 50). I still have a few more waitlisted programs, but I feel like this is going to be the school I’m getting in this Fall (I already did my MA., and I am now completely exhausted to do it one more year risking this year’s result). I fully understand that those who got into top-notch programs must be more well-qualified than I am, and also realize that I should still be grateful for my result given that many of my brilliant peers got shut out this cycle for the reason that I cannot figure out. But I still feel a bit depressed to be honest. I feel like my one-time dream of becoming a philosopher working on state-of-the-art research topics can hardly be fulfilled anymore (http://dailynous.com/2017/10/23/philosophy-graduate-programs-reputation-track-placement-rates-guest-post/), and the likely the best prospect I can pursue is seeking teaching jobs. I believe that teaching philosophy is such a valuable task that contributes to the society, but being (almost) destined to follow this track from now on is not very encouraging. Maybe I should appreciate the overall process for making me realize the reality, but I still find it a bit painful.Report

Derek Bowman
Derek Bowman

As an addition to Post Doc’s advice below, I would add: Look in the department or graduate school’s student handbook or similar policy document to see how feasible it would be to leave with a Master’s Degree in a couple of years of you decide the program (and likely career path) isn’t right for you.

There are a lot of intrinsic and collateral benefits to studying philosophy, but there are also lots of opportunity costs. 2 years of philosophy grad school before moving on to another path is much less (opportunity) costly than 5-10 years.
(Apologies for contributing to the thread derail).Report

Post Doc
3 years ago

@ambivalent: I would highly recommend looking deeply into the placement record at your desired institution, and seeing if the jobs people are getting line up with the job you would want someday. I would also consider how prominent your prospective advisors are. (all this because there are low leiter-ranked schools that have amazing placement records and also there are people whose advisees do well regardless of institution). But at the end of the day, if I may presume, I’d also recommend some soul searching about whether this is the best path. If you are going into a long Ph.D. program feeling tired, worn down, and like possibilities are being closed rather than opened, this seems like a surefire recipe for psychological hardship down the line.Report

ambivalent_prospective_gradstudent
ambivalent_prospective_gradstudent
Reply to  Post Doc
3 years ago

Thank you for your kind advice. It seems like some graduates of the program managed to get in R1 or R2 schools in the last few years, so I guess I should do my best to follow their trails. I also appreciate for your recommendation for soul-searching, but I’m afraid that there’s no turning back for me since enrolling to the program is still better than the status quo and I cannot stand it anymore. Maybe I should still do something about my mental health prior to the enrollment anyway (maybe to enhance my defense mechanism :-)) .Report

Grad
Grad
3 years ago

Does anyone know why Baylor isn’t on the PGR?Report

Ken
Ken
Reply to  Grad
3 years ago

Google found this statement on their website from 2014 which says they’re too young of a program?: https://www.baylor.edu/philosophy/news.php?action=story&story=150290.Report

Kathleen Stock
Kathleen Stock
3 years ago

Anyone interested in the Philosophy of Art rankings might want to see here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WmwdREAgVylY33HZxHNLYTc8NCkw075vh9W_yGS_cY8/editReport

IGS
IGS
3 years ago

Honest question: Is the relevant inquiry how many women were asked to contribute to the PGR or how many agreed to contribute? These could diverge significantly, especially in small sample sizes, and it would be helpful to nail down which is most relevant and why.

As an editorial, it seems unnecessary to your broader points to question Nussbaum’s qualifications as a contributor, especially at the start of the letter.Report

Kathleen Stock
Kathleen Stock
Reply to  IGS
3 years ago

Nussbaum is a truly wonderful philosopher, who I teach on my classes every year. Her contribution to the discipline is enormous. Nothing I say in the letter implies any different. But the point remains. Having produced brilliant work in a given area in the past is not a sufficient condition of being competent to evaluate graduate programmes in that area. And with respect, at Nussbaum’s level of seniority and influence, she doesn’t or shouldn’t need protecting from a bit of reasonable and well-intentioned critique, made by a far less powerful person, in the intended interests of a much larger, far less powerful group of people (myself included, of course – I don’t pretend otherwise).

The main point is structural. If you ask people what they are competent to evaluate, they will sometimes overreach. For this reason, evaluators on the PGR should not be asked to self-identify their areas. The point is sharpened by this particular concrete illustration.Report

IGS
IGS
Reply to  Kathleen Stock
3 years ago

I don’t necessarily disagree with your point, though I would have to know more about the procedures and the feasible alternatives to render a judgement. Either way, it just doesn’t seem like a particularly important reason as compared to your other points or to your requests; hence the editorial suggestion. Perhaps if you spent less space on that you could dedicate some space to considering impacts on students?Report

Avram Hiller
Avram Hiller
3 years ago

A quibble (large or small – you be the judge) that I’ve not seen addressed: The subtitle of the Report is “A Ranking of Graduate Programs in Philosophy in the English-Speaking World”. But there is much more to a graduate program than the reputation of its faculty. An incomplete list: program requirements; funding opportunities for graduate students; reciprocity with other departments within and outside its university; formal preparation for future research and teaching; departmental collegiality.

The current description of the report says “This report ranks graduate programs primarily on the basis of the quality of faculty.” A seeming presupposition of that statement is a rejection of the possibility that factors such as those I note above can make an enormous difference in quality of the program. Why not simply subtitle the report “A Ranking of Faculty Quality in Philosophy Programs in the English Speaking World”? For that is all that it aspires to be.Report

Joe
Joe
3 years ago

I too find some of the lists of evaluators in specialty rankings a bit odd – either because of the size, or because of the various biases or oddities that, once one works in a certain field for a while, become apparent (I am particularly concerned with Chinese, Race, Ancient, Medieval, and Logic rankings which happen to be areas in which I have either expertise or at least some knowledge of the field). For example, why is UC Riverside ranked at all in Philosophy of Race? Not a single faculty works in it, as far as I can tell. In Chinese, the pool is 5 people – what? In Ancient, the pool is completely skewed towards Plato/Aristotle and with little international presence (esp. UK) while this is a heavily international field (i.e., some of the best work is done outside of anglophone world strictly speaking and this is not something easily divorced from one’s understanding of the field). .But a lot of people from US Midwest and some who do not really actively work in Ancient? Besides 2-3 people, I do not understand the list of evaluators for Medieval philosophy at all. The logic was noted above. It’s not so much that the programs listed are not the ones that should be listed, but it seems like the rankings could be changed by adding 2-3 people. So I would be wary of treating the ranking, as opposed to the list, too seriously.Report

JoJo
JoJo
Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

Myisha Cherry at UCR works on philosophy of race, as does Georgia Warnke. Many comments about rankings that seem “strange” may reflect ignorance on the part of the commenter, not the evaluators. Just a thought to keep in mind.Report

Joe
Joe
Reply to  JoJo
3 years ago

Ok, but I don’t see either on the faculty list! Warnke seems to be in a different department and I can’t see any grad courses or students advised from her. And Cherry has not even finished her PhD yet in moral psychology?Report

JoJo
JoJo
Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

I took the survey and printed out the faculty lists. Cherry is there. There are hardly any people who work in philsophy of race, so the fact that she has not completed her PhD doesn’t matter, she is already known in the field. Warnke is an affiliated member of the philosophy department and works sometimes in philosophy of race.Report

Joe
Joe
Reply to  JoJo
3 years ago

OK! Wow! If this is the way – I mean PennState is mentioned but was not evaluated (with a bunch of senior faculty), Memphis (!) is not even mentioned…MIT is in group one with one faculty who has it as a marginal interest (not even listed on the main website)…many other places omitted – there are actually a LOT of people in philosophy of race. It’s really amazing! In other words, places that regularly produce people working in the area are worse than places that never did…Report

JoJo
JoJo
Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

You think Sally Haslanger at MIT counts as someone with a “marginal” interest in philosophy of race???Report

Joe
Joe
Reply to  Joe
3 years ago

Well, it’s one of her interests, not the primary one listed. She has indeed written a lot on social construction and, as part of that, on race. But I have hard time seeing MIT as better than, say, Emory with Yancy and at least 1 or 2 other people interested in that field. Again, Emory is not even mentioned.Report