Philosophy, Theology, what’s the difference? (With Update)

This at least seems to be the idea behind the UK government’s brilliant plans for its next research assessment exercise. The plan is not final yet, but it includes the idea that philosophy and theology departments from any one institution will be assessed together. As Alexander Bird writes on philos-l:

Clearly that would be very damaging. For a start we would not be able draw any inferences about the quality of philosophy research in any such institution. But more worryingly, Deans, PVCs etc with control over posts will naturally think that closer cooperation between their philosophy and theology departments would make for a stronger joint submission. They will want to replace retiring logicians or meta-ethicists with philosophers of religion, or even theologians who have a claim to be philosophically minded. Philosophy of religion may well be a good thing, but the direction of the development of our subject should not be determined by more-or-less arbitrary groupings made by Hefce on the (alleged) grounds of efficiency.

What can you do about this? Bird writes:

I have been asked how you might let your views be known to Hefce on this. The first thing to do is to make sure—straight away—that your university’s response includes a comment on this point. The crucial matter is the one in the last line of the British Academy’s response: “it is essential that distinct profiles are produced for each discipline by permitting an institution to make multiple submissions to a single panel as was allowed in the RAE.” I think you can also make your own response directly to Hefce. Go here. Complete Annex A or just send an email.

3 thoughts on “Philosophy, Theology, what’s the difference? (With Update)

  1. There is the scenario wherein the UK government’s plan may significantly contribute to blurring lines between philosophy and theology, so much so, that reputed philosophers may start falling for the Intelligent Design pseudoscience!

  2. Half-empty or half-full? Look on the bright side: maybe theologians will be improved. Years ago I explained the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions to a theologian at my place. He managed to use it to great effect in the discussion of personnel decisions and other disputes in his department, flattening his fellow theologians. He is now gung-ho on philosophy and venerates me as a Logic Goddess.

  3. […] Help UK Philosophy December 11, 2009 Filed under: academia — Jender @ 11:54 am Even if you’re not a UK philosopher, do make your feelings known about the proposals to (a) assess research quality partly in terms of its impact outside academia; and (2) assess philosophy and theology departments as one. […]

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