I am a 3-n year graduate student at a program in the top 15. I am by no means a star in my program. In fact, it's quite clear that I am one of the weakest among those in my incoming year. Although members of the faculty are confident that I can successfully navigate a dissertation in close consultation with my adviser, these same faculty members are also confident that doing so will be a struggle that is unlikely to yield future employment. Although a lot could change in the next several years, after reading many harrowing tales of the job market on this blog I'm beginning to think I should count my program's paternalism as a blessing. I like philosophy, a lot. Although it is admittedly much harder to like while constantly being reminded that I'm only mediocre at it. I am hoping those Phil Smokers that have found themselves in a similar situation might shed some light on whether to forge on. It's a dark place I find myself in.
It is, obviously, hard to find a tenure-track job in philosophy. Especially now. And it's particularly difficult if the people who are supposed to be your champions, writing letters on your behalf and stuff, aren't behind you 100%. On the other hand, the dissertation period is a pivotal time. It was for me, anyway. You might find that your skills develop a great deal as you work your way through your dissertation project; mine did. So I would advise you to give your dissertation a real try. As long as you believe in what you're doing and feel like you're making progress. And as long as your advisors do, too. (I assume you trust their advice.) If you start to not believe in what you're doing, or don't feel like you're making progress, or your advisors don't think you're making progress, then I would consider dropping out. But I'd give it at least a year.
What say you, Smokers?