APA Election Results


The results of the 2018 American Philosophical Association (APA) elections have been released. Elections were held for new divisional officers, a new at-large member of the APA Board of Officers, and two new members of the Graduate Student Council (GSC).

The new Member-at Large of the APA’s Board of Officers is R. Lanier Anderson (Stanford University).

The new Eastern Division officers will be:

The new Central Division officers will be:

The new Pacific Division officers will be:

The new members of the Graduate Student Council will be:

According to the APA’s announcement, newly elected members will begin their terms on July 1. With the exception of nominating committee members, whose terms vary by division, and GSC members, whose terms are listed below, the newly elected officers will serve three-year terms ending June 30, 2021. Divisional vice presidents serve a one-year term as vice president, followed by a one-year term as president, and finally a one-year term as past president.

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Jon Light
Jon Light
3 years ago

Wonder why all (all?) of these officers are from R1 schools, mostly t50 programs. What % of all philosophers work at such institutions? 10%? I’m sure that’s been posted somewhere, but just don’t remember how close this estimate is.

But shouldn’t there be leadership roles for people from, I don’t know, liberal arts colleges, second-tier state schools, and/or community colleges. And not just on “committees”–I tried to look up relevant ones and the APA website is predictably broken–but in actual, senior leadership roles?

I can imagine practical obstacles to such things, like having the visibility to get enough votes to win an election, but seems the digital age should be able to figure out a workaround (e.g., websites, social media, etc.). Just not sure why we need a bunch of research faculty running an organization that has a far broader mandate.Report

Eric Brown
Eric Brown
Reply to  Jon Light
3 years ago

A bigger question is why there are regional divisions at all, as opposed to “functional” and “representational” divisions given power to direct the organization in terms of the number of members of the divisions. For instance, one could belong to both the “foundational” and the “women’s” divisions if you were a white female professor w/o tenure or adjunct who had at a least a 3/4 teaching load with no TAs.Report

Matt
Reply to  Eric Brown
3 years ago

A bigger question is why there are regional divisions at all, as opposed to “functional” and “representational” divisions

The actual answer is that this is a historical development, one that started when it was a lot harder to travel across the country, and then 1) inertia is a powerful force, and 2) the divisions have, under the charter of the APA, a lot of power that the central administration doesn’t, so they would largely have to agree to get rid of themselves. Maybe that would be a good idea! I don’t have a firm opinion on the matter, though, in setting up APA committee sponsored sessions, I have found that it still makes a difference for getting people to take part if doing so is convenient for them or not, which does give at least some weight to the idea of having geographical divisions. Report

Eric Brown
Eric Brown
Reply to  Matt
3 years ago

Of course I know how it developed. It’s the same with sports leagues. The question was not a “how” question, but a justificatory one. Given the near complete lack of power that the persons who do the most work in educating people in philosophy (adjuncts, those teaching required classes, service classes in ethics for other departments) in influencing the policies and direction of the APA, it should be pretty clear that the current line up is basically illegitimate, as is the APA itself.. (The same could be said of the past.)
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Matt
Reply to  Eric Brown
3 years ago

The question was not a “how” question, but a justificatory one.

Well, then the answer is that either most philosophers like it this way or don’t care, because the APA is just a bunch of philosophers. It’s funny to say that it’s “illegitimate”, as it has no power other than what people give to it (and that’s actually not much power!) I have some serious objections to how the APA works, but it seems funny to say that it’s “illegitimate”, when literally nothing prevents people from having good careers without being members, or starting up their own systems, or even trying to change the APA (which has happened a number of times.) Report

Eric Brown
Eric Brown
Reply to  Matt
3 years ago

Yes, illegitimate was the wrong word.Report

Eric Wiland
Eric Wiland
Reply to  Eric Brown
3 years ago

Eric,
I hope to spur other officers in the APA to think harder about the wisdom of retaining our divisional structure. It is a shame that there is not a single annual meeting of the entire APA. (The Eastern used to partially serve this function, but no more.) The only people who can attend all three meetings regularly are those with large travel budgets and low or flexible course loads. So, given that the job market spits out applicants all across the country, one might never connect with old friends and potential collaborators.

While it is difficult for groups to give up power for the common good voluntarily, perhaps philosophers are critical enough to transcend these difficulties. Perhaps.

I oppose, however, introducing any new sort of division. The APA needs unity.Report

Phil
Phil
Reply to  Eric Wiland
3 years ago

Hi Eric, you wrote…

> It is a shame that there is not a single annual meeting of the entire APA.

Well, in the age of the internet and video conferencing such face to face meetings which require travel are entirely out of date anyway. As example, consider the expense involved in lots of APA members buying airline tickets, hotel rooms, eating out at restaurants etc. I can’t calculate the total expense of such a meeting but surely it must be many thousands of dollars. What is rational about spending that much money on a meeting to hear speeches one could read or watch online when those funds could help put a kid through college?

Yes, yes, I know all the rationalizations the group consensus will respond with. Well, I’m sorry, but it’s all bunk. What is the meaningful difference between talking to someone face to face, and talking to that person over Skype? What is the meaningful difference between listening to a speech in person and watching that speech on YouTube? Whatever the difference may be it’s too trivial to bother analyzing.

Big APA conferences are a public advertisement that philosophers are not rational.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Phil
3 years ago

Given your high levels of rationality, I assume you can point to appropriate empirical work to support the claim that “it’s all bunk” in the face of the fairly widespread testimony that face-to-face meetings provide something that online contact doesn’t?Report

Cain
Cain
Reply to  Phil
3 years ago

Or that philosophers enjoy each others’ company. And have found a way to justify funding it.Report

Matt
Reply to  Eric Wiland
3 years ago

The only people who can attend all three meetings regularly are those with large travel budgets and low or flexible course loads.

I am in favor of people thinking hard about how to improve the APA! I’m not completely convinced that having one meeting is better, though. In my own experience in trying to get people to take part (as part of the Committee on Philosophy and Law), I found that people are, in general, much more likely to be willing to take part in sessions close to them. This is so even when the sessions are in attractive locations. That makes sense. Short flights are still often (if not always) cheaper then longer ones, or you can drive or take a train in some cases, and the travel time is less onerous. So, I worry that if we moved to just one conference, there would be a significant number of people who now go to one or more who go to none. Maybe having just one is still better. I am honestly not sure. But, I think it’s essential to keep the likely costs in mind, too, when considering these things. Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Jon Light
3 years ago

This is exactly right and is probably the reason why the organization (a) is so completely clueless; (b) has such bizarre priorities; and (c) has almost zero credibility or authority.

I would be in favor of dismantling it completely, in all seriousness.Report

some person or other
some person or other
3 years ago

APA members can suggest candidates for office–there’s an online form if you log in to the members-only part of the website. Report

Phil Tanny
Phil Tanny
3 years ago

Given that modern civilization is racing towards collapse due to a simplistic, outdated, and dangerous “more is better” relationship which professional philosophers seem incapable of focusing on, let alone understanding, I’m finding it more than a little difficult to develop an interest who will be the new Divisional Representative to the Board of Committee Organization Sub-Group in charge of meeting refreshments.Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Phil Tanny
3 years ago

Despite the big issues in the world, I manage to find the ability to care to some degree about the people and institutions that affect my own life directly, though I don’t always pay as much attention to them as I ought to. This includes my friends and family, certain committees in my department and university, my local city council and certain neighborhood groups, and some aspects of my professional organization. I even occasionally pay attention to state and national politics!

If you find some of these things uninteresting and not worth paying attention to, that’s totally reasonable. But it’s quite odd to frequent a blog that is entirely focused on discussion of a particular professional community, and then declare earnestly that one has no interest in paying attention to the institutions of that community.Report

Phil Tanny
Phil Tanny
3 years ago

I agree I am quite odd, thank you for noticing. 🙂

I’m interested in reason, and in today’s world, an interest in elections to unnecessary organizational structures is not a great example of reason at work. As example, say you have a gun to my head, and what I wish to discuss instead is who is going to be elected president of my bowling club. Rational?Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Phil Tanny
3 years ago

More rational than having a meta-level discussion of whether or not it would be rational to discuss who is going to be elected…Report

Phil Tanny
Phil Tanny
3 years ago

Matt writes… “I am in favor of people thinking hard about how to improve the APA!”

Ok then, let’s think hard about this. What is the case for unnecessary meetings which require lots of money, when APA members could make a substantial difference in the world with the same funds?

Let’s do some hard thinking, not just some hard talking. How many people typically attend these meetings? How many meetings are there per year? What’s a ballpark estimate of how much each person spends to attend the meeting? Approximately how much is the total expense for all attendees to all meetings per year? How much money is being wasted on unnecessary fluff?

Look, I have no personal animosity towards anyone in the APA, really, I don’t. But if APA members want to do logic for a living they should be discovering that reason can be quite inconvenient. Get on with it guys, start exploring the boundaries of the group consensus. Or perhaps another career would be more appropriate?Report