Leiter says that “what will actually be crucial to the success of JAPA is that it publish high quality work, not that it represents every “constituency”.” …There is now a huge scientific literature on expert over-confidence, tacit bias, and the role of non-truth-tracking heuristics in our intellectual judgments. So, I would think the real worry goes in the other direction: a journal that publishes more of the (let’s stipulate Leiter approved) high quality same, me-too-research, while welcome in many ways and not to be judged an outright failure, certainly ought not count as a “success” from the point of view of the APA’s membership (and counterfactual would-be memberships). This result would also not count as a ‘success’ from the point of view of the long-term interests of professional philosophy.
Eric Schliesser on the APA journal August 21, 2014
Louise Antony (Guest Post) on Hilde Lindemann’s comments August 20, 2014
Louise Antony writes:
In light of the discussion on Brian Leiter’s blog, I want to say something in support of Hilde Lindemann’s comments in the recent Chronicle of Higher Education article on the East Carolina U/Colin McGinn incident. Many commenters are incensed that Prof. Lindemann seemed to endorse the use of “unofficial information” (as Daily Nous put it) in decisions such as the ECU Phil. Department’s vote to offer a distinguished visiting position to Colin McGinn. I’m baffled by this. Is there anyone out there in Bloggo-land who wants to say that scholarly achievement is the only consideration that should count in deciding whether or not to offer someone a position? (Anyone who says that it is the only thing that counts is simply wrong.) Every department I’ve ever been affiliated with has always – and quite rightly — taken into account both the candidate’s likely collegiality and his or her potential as a teacher and mentor. So now the question is: what kind of evidence can one use in assessing a candidate’s collegiality and potential as a teacher and mentor? Postings on a public blog can provide evidence. Disciplinary actions taken by a candidate’s previous employer can also provide evidence. What about the appropriate standard? Bearing in mind that a hiring meeting is not a criminal trial, that there is no “presumption of innocence” to be overcome, and that an individual’s being brought up for consideration does not engender any presumptive right to the position, it’s clear that the appropriate standard is the one typically used in normal hiring deliberations: what, given the evidence, is it reasonable to believe about how this colleague will behave toward his or her colleagues and students? An official finding that a person has engaged in sexual harassment is certainly very strong evidence that that person is untrustworthy – but it’s not the only evidence that can support that conclusion.
I understand that there’s tremendous concern about false accusation and innuendo – at least when the case at hand involves men and sex. So yes, the evidence needs to be looked at carefully in any particular instance. But are hiring committees supposed to ignore the evidence that exists? Are they supposed to disregard the fact of disciplinary actions taken by a previous employer? Are they supposed to ignore what the candidate has to say about the matter on a public blog? A decision not to offer a position to someone because there’s good reason to think the person is a danger to students is not a violation of anyone’s rights. A decision to go ahead and appoint such a person despite the evidence is reprehensible.
Study Raises Questions About Why Women Are Less Likely than Men to Earn Tenure Research August 18, 2014
You can read the article here.
“Not only are men more likely than women to earn tenure, but in computer science and sociology, they are significantly more likely to earn tenure than are women who have the same research productivity.”
““It’s not that we need to make women more productive. It’s that we need to change the processes,” said Kate Weisshaar, a graduate student at Stanford University who did the study.”
Administrators at East Carolina University have turned down the philosophy department’s request to award a one-year endowed professorship to Colin McGinn—a prominent philosopher who resigned from the University of Miami in December following allegations of sexual harassment by a female graduate student.
For the Chronicle story, go here.
For words of wisdom from Eric Schliesser, go here.
For a discussion about use of unofficial information in hiring go to the Daily Nous.
“Why I Left Academia: Philosophy’s Homogeneity Needs Rethinking” August 15, 2014
“The pressure to accept and conform to a narrow conception of philosophy was pervasive. [...] While much of the rest of the academy has evolved to reflect these demographic changes, philosophy remains mired in a narrow conception of the discipline that threatens to marginalize philosophy even further. [...] I loved studying philosophy, and truly have no regrets about devoting nearly a decade of my life to it. But I also grew tired and frustrated with the profession’s unwillingness to interrogate itself. Eventually, I gave up hope that the discipline would ever change, or that it would change substantially within a timeframe that was useful to me professionally and personally.”
“It’s not that women and minorities are (inexplicably) less interested in the “problems of philosophy”—it’s that women and minorities have not had their fair say in defining what the problems of philosophy are, or what counts as philosophy in the first place.”
Naomi Wolf on Aging: What do you think? August 12, 2014
Is the following just a description, or in part a recommendation? In any case, it carries a lot of information about values, though just whose may not be clear. In any case, what do you think about it? definitely on the right track? Spending too much on yoga, pilates, organic food and expensive hair stylists? Some big flaws? Just wait untill she gets to 65?
When I am at a social occasion, the showstoppers are no longer the young beauties in their 20s. Rather, those who draw all the light in the room are the women of great accomplishment and personal charisma — and these are usually women in midlife. (Indeed, at events I have attended recently, cadres of conventionally beautiful young women seem now to be treated almost like wallpaper or like the catering staff.)
The change in social norms around the issue of women’s aging is immense. There is now an influential and growing demographic of educated, well-off women whose status, sense of self-esteem and sexual cachet rise rather than fall as they head toward midlife. I do not see younger women looking at accomplished women in their 40s with pity or derision: I see them looking ahead with admiration and even envy...
Because of advances in health and well-being awareness, many women I know are entering midlife feeling as good as (and looking better than) they did in college. But they also have professional success, self-knowledge, sexual magnetism and awareness, and even thriving children, admiring husbands or ardent lovers. These signs of accomplishment merely add to the allure of many midlife women — women who, when asked if they would like to be in their 20s again, think of doing so with a shudder.
So male philosophers who hit on young women in classes or conference are what? Incredibly insecure? Following the pro-creation narrative? Out of touch with the values of the cultural elite?
Lorna Finlayson writes:
I’m emailing on behalf of a group of philosophers and political theorists who, in light of the ongoing violence in Gaza, are expressing our support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This includes our support for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions (not individuals). We believe that as people who think about justice and morality as part of our jobs, we have a particular responsibility to speak out publicly on this issue. We are inviting fellow philosophers and political theorists to express their support by signing our statement. We believe that our action may be of interest to your readers, and so we would be very grateful if you could share the link to our website.
This is obviously an issue on which reasonable feminists can and do disagree. We are posting it because the fact that philosophers and political theorists are organising in this way is News Feminist Philosophers Can Use.
John Protevi is urging philosophers to pledge not to visit Illinois Urbana-Champaign until Salaita is reinstated. If you’d like to sign up, go here.
Salaita August 10, 2014
A few weeks ago Steven Salaita had reason to be pleased. After a full review by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he had received a generous offer of a tenured, associate professor position there — the normal contract was offered, signed by the school, he had received confirmation of his salary, a teaching schedule, everything except the final approval of the UIUC chancellor.
In academia this is not at all unusual; departments and schools are told to go ahead with the offer, so as to be competitive with both the candidate’s current school and others that might be bidding for their talent. Salaita is a world-renowned scholar of indigenous studies (and also a frequent Salon contributor). At that point, as required by academic protocols, upon accepting the position he resigned the one he held at Virginia Tech.
But final approval never came. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that “Phyllis M. Wise, the campus’s chancellor, and Christophe Pierre, the University of Illinois system’s vice president for academic affairs, informed the job candidate, Steven G. Salaita, on Friday that they were effectively revoking a written offer of a tenured professorship made to him last year by refusing to submit it to the system’s Board of Trustees next month for confirmation.”
According to Inside Higher Education: “Sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita’s tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.” Nevertheless, IHE goes on to report: “But as recently as July 22 (before the job offer was revoked), a university spokeswoman defended Salaita’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere. A spokeswoman told the News-Gazette for an article about Salaita that “faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”
Many academics are speaking out on this, regardless of their views on Gaza, for reasons like these:
But above and beyond this academic exercise, do we really want our tweets or other social media communications used against us in ideological witch hunts? Do we want to allow a cloud of suspicion to hang over our heads? Do we want to constantly be checking ourselves as we voice our opinions on social media, and worry that by advocating a certain political position our employment might be jeopardized? By not protesting this instance, we are opening ourselves up to a world in which these kinds of denials of employment will be acceptable. What use, then, will social media be but to be a platform for the most mild forms of expression and banality with regard to controversial subjects?
If you want to take action, there is a petition here.