Friday, February 15, 2013

Leiter Jobs Thread

...is up. Congratulations to the winners, and please let me have a seat at your table sometime.

--Mr. Zero

189 comments:

Anonymous said...

And if you got a job, don't forget to post over at prophilosophy, too. Last year they had almost twice as many jobs listed as Leiter.

Anonymous said...

True, but there were a lot of inaccuracies, due to the anonymity. Also, prophil seems to be dying (a couple of weeks with nothihng new), but maybe it will come back to life for this.

Anonymous said...

Alaska-Anchorage anybody? Anybody?

Anonymous said...

I'd take a 3-3 in Alaska over my current 2-2 in California any day! It'd be my dream job.

Anonymous said...

A job I had a fly out for just rolled over to "offer made" on the wiki. And with that, another season on the tenure-track job market (my third) has come to a sad end. Maybe that conclusion is a tad premature, I guess, but only a very small tad.

Anonymous said...

How do people feel about people self-posting on the jobs thread rather than waiting for their placement directors/ department chairs? I don't think I judge other people for doing it, but I feel a bit weird about doing it myself... It feels like a very public form of bragging. But, on the other hand, I also know that avoiding self-promotion is not a good career strategy.

Anonymous said...

No: I meant has anyone heard from Alaska yet? Obviously it's a great job. (but if no one has heard, that's a bit late, right?)

-12:05

Anonymous said...

Although the sample size is pretty small so far, it looks like the best way to get a job is to have a job.

ANON CDN said...

For the Canadians out there: Anybody have an inside scoop on the Wilfrid Laurier fly-outs for the M&E job? Was recently posted on the Phylo wiki and am eager to know. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

To all those losing hope: I've been applying for TT jobs since '08. Each year I came up with nothing, save for a single one-year VAP each year; I was always 1 offer away from being unemployed for the year. I was just offered a TT job at a great SLAC. This was the result of a lot of hard work and, yes, a lot of luck. So if you've been on the market a few years and no TT job yet, and you love philosophy, don't quite lose hope yet.

Anonymous said...

Reading this blog, I am led to wonder what it is about philosophers that seems to make them constitutionally incapable of taking delight in someone else's success. Any ideas anyone?

Anonymous said...

Just so we're clear and I remain sane:

All of you who had fly-outs for the UK jobs this past week (probably a bunch of you, me included): UK jobs decide like the day of/after the interview right? So if I haven't heard by now, this means they've offered someone else, yes?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

4:04,
I don't think it is true of philosophers qua philosophers, but of philosophers who have been psychologically beaten down by the job market year after year.
My anecdotal evidence suggests to me that naive graduate students and tenured faculty do not have the failing you speak of.

zombie said...

11:15 -- not every dept has a half decent placement director (mine didn't). And not every job candidate gets a job straight outta grad school when they're still on the department's radar (I didn't). I'm in my second year of a TT job now, and my dept hasn't even noted it on their placement page yet. So... yeah, I posted to Leiter's thread myself, because no one else was going to do it.

Anonymous said...

"Reading this blog, I am led to wonder what it is about philosophers that seems to make them constitutionally incapable of taking delight in someone else's success. Any ideas anyone?"

The general sense of self-importance that allows people to achieve in academia, particularly in philosophy, tends to fight against celebrating others' success. If only because others' success reminds one of one's own failures, and academics are not trained to see themselves as failures.

Of course, many will say that it's actually the fact that this is about a career, and that we should be disappointed whenever we learn that someone else got a job...because that's one more job we won't be getting. (And what's more important than feeding one's family?) But this is also because of the above, as it's the rare academic who enters graduate school entertaining the idea that one might actually fail to land work. (Go back a few threads to the Plan B thread and you will see just how late in one's career most academics even consider the possibility that they might fail on the market. And although quite a few will claim to have an honest understanding of one's chances, their inability to produce a Plan B before meeting such failure shows just how incapable they are of honestly conceiving of their own failure.)

Anonymous said...

"Reading this blog, I am led to wonder what it is about philosophers that seems to make them constitutionally incapable of taking delight in someone else's success."

I doubt it has anything to do with philosophers. It's the steel cage death match that is the current job market. Your success is directly proportional to the failures of a lot of other people. So is it really that unusual for those people not to want to hear about how successful your job hunting has been? Now if it was just people who hated to hear about successful job candidates, with no or little personal stake in the matter, that would be inexplicable. That's not what's happening here.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that seems tacky on the Leiter jobs thread is the "also had offers from" part posted by a few each year (usually placement directors).

Anonymous said...

Wilfrid Laurier's on campuses are set, and the first rounds for Alaska have also been set.

Anonymous said...

12:05: For some reason, the Alaska job isn't on the wiki...if someone adds it, Alaska has now arranged first round interviews (notices went out Friday Feb 15th).

Anonymous said...

3:22: Laurier has moved straight to on-campus, and everyone has been contacted and scheduled.

Anonymous said...

In answer to the question about UK jobs - yes, it's true that the committee usually decide and notify the chosen candidate on the same day, although there are occasionally exceptions, if they have trouble agreeing.

But I've also always heard same day that I didn't get the job, so if you haven't, then the lead candidate is at least taking a little time to make up their mind, so there's still some possibility!

Anonymous said...

Has Aquinas College contacted candidates for on-campus interviews? The wiki was updated this morning indicating as much, but it's since been changed back to first-round.

ANON CDN said...

5:52 -- ANON CDN 3:22 here, thanks for the response. I gathered from the Wiki that things are just as you said, but I was looking for information about the finalists, specifically about their research interests. There appears to be nothing by way of news or events listed on their Departmental homepage, but I assume (perhaps erroneously) such information is neither private nor confidential.

Anonymous said...

Plea/question/vent:

I've been on the market several years now, and I don't understand the behavior of some search committees. They all promise, or at least really lead you to believe, you'll get updates at every stage. Some kind SC heads have followed through on this over the past few years, calling or emailing me to let me know I haven't gotten an offer.

But fully half of other schools I've had on-campuses at never contacted me. I found out through the wiki, and had it confirmed long after the fact through generic HR emails, that I won't get an offer. Right now, I'm anxiously waiting on a school that said they'd be in touch last week. I sincerely don't understand why this happens--- are some HR departments really this meddlesome? And if so, why shouldn't SC's tell us candidates this? And why don't SCs then update the wiki behind the scenes, adding a comment that lets us know the update is legit?

So search committee chairs: please stop being jerks or weaklings, too queasy or oblivious to tell us candidates where things stand. I don't care if I'm your second choice-- I'll be far more endeared to you knowing that than if you just keep me waiting in ignorance while your first choice decides. And to candidates who get an offer: please, if you can, update the wiki and put the rest of us out of our misery.

Anonymous said...

9:25,

Some SCs are bound by HR in ways they don't want to be. This will account for some of them. Some SCs don't get back to you earlier because, through no fault of their own, the process slows down. (One year, we had a dean who spent 2 weeks at a conference/vacation, and didn't get back to his paperwork - including our decision to hire someone - until a few days after he returned.) SCs don't always control the timeline, and trust me, they also get very angry when others slow down their timeline.

Some SCs, quite honestly, just don't give a damn. That happens. Once they decide they are not going to hire you, you cease to matter. I know that feels really shitty, but that's how some SCs operate.

So why do the shitty ones lie to you, knowing that they won't follow up on their promise to keep you informed? Because they are trying to hire you. They are going to make themselves look as professional as possible, in the event they decide on you. Not terribly unlike how candidates will often lie to SCs about any number of things (like how excited they are to work at Southern Nowhere College teaching a 5/5 load to non-majors), because they think that pretending to love a job that sounds awful might save them from unemployment.

Anonymous said...

ANON CDN: 3:32/5:52

WHAT?! Of course that information is private! When have you ever heard of a SC announcing who the candidates are?

I know who two of the candidates are (one of them is myself). The job is advertising in epistemology, and that should give you some idea. I won't say more, though, to protect the privacy of the process, which is very important.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's not down to entire SCs, but to the chair of the SC. If the chair of the search committee is bad at communicating, then other SC members might not a) know that candidates aren't being kept up to date or b) feel comfortable needling the chair to do his/her job (particularly if the needler is junior).

ANON CDN said...

12:00 PM -- ANON CDN here. Thanks for the reply. My apologies if I've offended you, and congrats on getting a fly-out.

In my limited experience observing the job market, some Departments openly list the upcoming job talks on the events page of their websites, so that information becomes public. Not sure if there are rules about when it is or is not appropriate to do this, but it does happen.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Some years ago I was flying back from a conference, and one of our finalists from the search earlier that year was on the same plane. He somewhat sheepishly asked me if there was any news on the search. I was mortified: an offer had been made and accepted weeks earlier. But the chair of the search committee hadn't seen fit to tell any of the other finalists, and the rest of us had no idea.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:00

In some cases, SC's keep the information private, but at many universities it is quite easy to find out who the candidates are because their talks are advertised internally, via departmental websites, on listservs, etc.

Anonymous said...

Any news on the Princeton assistant professorship (joint with UCHV)? That's another one that's not on the wiki.

Anonymous said...

It's not unknown for schools engaged in a job search to post the finalists on their colloquium page - not the norm, certainly, but I can think of schools that have done it. Maybe they're required to do so - or maybe they've just wanted to , I don't know.

Anonymous said...

My point in responding as I did to Anon CDN's question/posts was that if the department hasn't chosen to make that information public, then it strikes me as wholly inappropriate for others with inside information to do so.

Anonymous said...

How do people feel about people self-posting on the jobs thread rather than waiting for their placement directors/ department chairs?

We're grown-ups here, aren't we? Sometimes chairs and placement directors don't post that information.

There's nothing wrong with a candidate announcing in a public venue -- esp. one read widely in the profession -- that she has accepted a position.

Sometimes others in the profession are interested to know where a candidate is or is headed. Announcing it on Leiter's thread is certainly easier and less pretentious than emailing individually everybody whom one knows within the profession.

Anonymous said...

"The only thing that seems tacky on the Leiter jobs thread is the "also had offers from" part posted by a few each year (usually placement directors)."

There are instances where this is legitimate. For example, suppose awesome candidate got a TT job at her PhD institution. It'd be helpful for the placement director to show the philosophical community, for the sake of her current student/future colleagues, that the hire was not a merely incestuous one.

Anonymous said...

As 12:01 PM 2/16 noted, the sample size is (still) small, but everyone so far reports having been already out of graduate school this year. I am just curious whether the general consensus is that the chances in this market of an ABD candidate from a non-Leiterific program is virtually zero. Is it even worth the Interfolio fees for a person who has finished up the dissertation and planning to defend at the end of the academic year to apply for TT jobs in the fall? Or is the default now to apply for VAP jobs in the spring of one's last year and then apply to TT jobs from the VAP post the following year?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I do not (at all) share the opinion held by some here that fly-outs are confidential. I see why there might be (self-interested) reasons for the SC to want the identities to remain secret, but that seems to be no reason for interested parties not to share this information when they have it.

Can anyone give one good reason why the names of candidates selected for fly-outs ought to be secret? Why is it "wholly inappropriate" to share information that is not publicly released by SCs? Perhaps certain people have institutional obligations not to tell (like, the University binds SC members), but that can't make it inappropriate for everyone. Say I know my friend Julie has a fly-out to State U. Why not tell another friend, Adam, who asks if I know anyone flying out to State U? Should Julie care? Do I have some sort of obligation to State U? What could possibly make it wholly inappropriate to tell Adam about Julie's fly-out to State U?

Anonymous said...

"not a merely incestuous one"

Does that help?

Sure, I had sex with my brother... BUT he isn't merely my brother, he's also really hot.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 2:34. I can give you three reasons why the names should be kept secret.

1. A list of the names of interviewees becomes a list of the names of people who did not get a job. Those people would prefer not to have their disappointment made public.
2. Some interviewees may currently be employed, and may not want their current employers to know that they are interviewing. Forget the morality of keeping your job search secret from your employer; we should not jeopardize somebody's current job without good reason, of which there is none.
3. Following #2, it does not benefit anyone to know who (else) is interviewing for a position. (Satisfying curiosity is not a serious benefit worth considering.) But by #1 and #2 above, making the names of interviewees public can harm these people. So the cost outweighs the benefit, ergo...

Anonymous said...

2:34:

Maybe Julie does care because Adam's a jerk and he might pull some strings and send a bully email about Julie...this DOES HAPPEN. We keep the information private to protect the process, and to protect the candidates.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard from Edinburgh yet, regarding their Lectureship in Philosophy of Mind and Cognition? Just curious, because it's not on the wiki.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who reloads the Leiter thread like three times a day? Post your jobs, people!

Anonymous said...

@2:53 PM

If you guys use protection and are happy with it, go for it.

Mr. Zero said...

I wouldn't be willing to say that information concerning campus visits is confidential, strictly speaking. It seems to me that it's not particularly unusual to see departments list upcoming colloquia, several of which are obviously job talks, on their websites. So they're probably not confidential. But it is very unusual for departments to list "job talks," labeled as such, on their websites.

And so, I would distinguish between something's being confidential and its being none of my business, and I'm pretty sure the information Anon Canadian has requested falls into that second category, if not the first. And although nothing like this has happened or anything, I kind of want to go on record as saying that we're not going to have the comment threads here turn into some kind of rumor mill about who got what flyout or whatever.

Anonymous said...

3:44,

Reason #2 seems like a good reason to be cautious, but seriously, by the time you have a fly-out, isn't the cat basically out of the bag secret-wise?

Reason #1 seems silly to me. Sure, only one person can get a job, but the way you've put it being on the fly-out list without getting the job is shameful or something, which is silly.

Reason #3 isn't a reason not to share. It's a further consideration why you should take #1 and #2 to be good reasons. But I just don't see why that's the case.

I can see why gossip mongering on anonymous blogs might be a bad idea, but I see no reason not to share information with people more privately.

And as for the worry that Julie doesn't want Adam to know, sure. If I knew that Julie would prefer I didn't tell anyone, that would be very good reason for me not to tell. But I still see no reason to think that secrecy protects the candidates. I don't know what it would be for secrecy to protect the process, but I doubt that, too.

-2:34

Anonymous said...

3:30pm: Princeton has made an offer. Not sure whether the person has accepted.

Anonymous said...

February 18, 2013 at 2:16 PM


I know of at least one person defending later this year who was on the market for the first time and snagged a snazzy job.

zombie said...

If you are ABD, and have completed your dissertation, and your letter writers can positively confirm that you WILL defend successfully in the spring, your odds are probably about as good as a PhD-in-hand candidate. Which is to say, the odds are still against you, but there's hope.

Another reason it is worthwhile to apply while ABD, even if you don't get a job: the job market learning curve is steep. The more practice you have at it, the better (well, within reason). In retrospect, my apps during my ABD year were terrible. I got much better at it by my third year on the market.

Anonymous said...

The distribution within the small sample size is probably a selection effect. People who are currently in grad school probably feel weird posting on there themselves, especially since they're around so many others who are on the job market too. People who've been out for a few years, especially those who have worked hard in non-TT posts, are probably more inclined to be like fuck yeah I got a job!!!

Anonymous said...

"If you guys use protection and are happy with it, go for it."

...Peter? Peter Singer?

Anonymous said...

I highly encourage going on the market ABD if only for the experience crafting job materials...ONLY IF the person will actually learn from their first-round experience, and only if they won't get dejected from the inevitable rejection.

Anonymous said...

I highly *discourage* going on the market ABD, unless all of the following apply:

1. You are in the financial position to afford a (very likely) failed run on the market. It's expensive to do it right (applications, conference, etc.), and if you can't do it right, don't do it in a year where you know you will be a less desirable candidate.

2. You are in a position to defend the dissertation before you start the new job (should you land one). Finishing a dissertation while starting a new job is possible, but is also a potential hell I would not wish on anyone, especially a potential colleague.

3. You are running out of funding as a graduate student and you know that the next year won't make you a stronger applicant. If you have the chance at one more year of funding - a year you can use to finish the dissertation and perhaps add something to your CV - then take that year and do that work.

Anonymous said...

Question for SC members: if you received a post-interview thank you note from a candidate that was mistakenly addressed to another SC at another institution, would you hold this against the candidate and, if so, how much?

Anonymous said...

"1. You are in the financial position to afford a (very likely) failed run on the market. It's expensive to do it right (applications, conference, etc.), and if you can't do it right, don't do it in a year where you know you will be a less desirable candidate."

I wholeheartedly agree with this, having come off a very unproductive run of applications and being ABD. The Interfolio costs were over $300 and the airfare/preparations for the APA Eastern on the mere chance that I would get interviews was almost $800. For those non-math types: $1100 for no job. That said, I also echo the earlier comments that going out ABD can be immensely educational--but in one primary respect: I know that SOMETHING in my application package is not attracting search committees. Is it the ABD status? I don't know--my letter writers did say that I had finished my dissertation and that there was little doubt of defending before the end of the academic year. Or is it something else? Without feedback, it's hard to tell. I am going to assume that the ABD status worked pretty consistently against me and go from there.

Anonymous said...

1:29,

One man's opinion, but in my department, we never bother interviewing anyone ABD. Given the large number of very qualified people who have already finished - some of whom have picked up excellent teaching experience while adjuncting or advanced their research through a post-doc, we honestly can't see what an ABD might give us that those who have already finished cannot give us.

max said...

"we honestly can't see what an ABD might give us that those who have already finished cannot give us."

Could he be a better philosopher than the others? A better teacher?

When we're hiring, "very qualified" isn't the standard. We're trying to get the best person we can find, in as many dimensions as possible. The dimension of having finished the dissertation is low priority.

Anonymous said...

"Could he be a better philosopher than the others? A better teacher?"

Maybe. But honestly, there's no way to tell, not on the job market. Given the difficulty of determining future success, we've decided that more experience is better, more teaching is better, more publications is better. More data is better, given that the market is such a crapshoot anyway. There's a clearer track record, and more information to work with. Every department draws the line somewhere. Some won't bother with non-Leiter graduates. Some, we recently learned, won't consider "stale" applicants. We decided not to consider the untested. And honestly, this works for us. We've hired 4 people since we made this decision, and have been happy with all 4. All 4 fit the job ads they applied to, and fit in our department more generally. And all 4 brought with them experience from their post-PhD years that made them strong teachers and scholars. All 4 are talented teachers, productive scholars, and good department citizens.

"When we're hiring, "very qualified" isn't the standard. We're trying to get the best person we can find, in as many dimensions as possible. The dimension of having finished the dissertation is low priority."

We want the same thing, too. And we have found that there is often so little information with ABDs compared to those with more experience. There's often a better track record. The fact is, most ABDs simply don't have the kind of experience needed to show us all those dimensions that I'm sure we both look for. Those who have secured post-docs often have a better, richer research profile. Those with time adjuncting post-PhD often have a more varied teaching background. In both cases, applicants are often more familiar with the demands of the profession than grad students who, quite honestly, are often sheltered or limited by their home departments.

Our decision works for us. Perhaps you find it doesn't work for you. That's fine. By all means, run your searches as your department sees fit. I'm simply telling the readers here that, yes, there are some SCs that will immediately dismiss ABDs.

Anonymous said...

max:

you right. but as an abd on the market this year, i've heard whoever the lazy jerk is that commented before you's story told more than once this year. a lot of philosophers seem, to me, to have a poor understanding of what is good for their department and school.

Anonymous said...

Me at hire: ABD. (Completed that year.)

My competition: two PhDs with experience--one the internal candidate.

Since 1 state teaching award; 2 national awards; two dozen pubs plus while teaching 4/4.

I think I'm not at all exceptional; give ABDs a chance.

max said...

“Given the difficulty of determining future success, we've decided that more experience is better, more teaching is better, more publications is better.”
Those should all be considerations. And having the degree in hand could also be a consideration. But you said you don’t even consider ABDs, and I think that’s just a mistake. (It would be like saying you wouldn’t even consider someone who hadn’t published five articles.)
Look, I’m not claiming I could have identified ABD 7:26 who turned out to be so great – I admit I probably couldn’t have, because as you say it’s really hard on the information we get. But I am going to give our department a chance to get someone like that instead of eliminating all the ABDs from consideration. I guess I should be happy you're leaving those people to us!

(I should also admit that I was ABD when hired, so I might be a bit biased in favor of candidates like 7:26.)

Anonymous said...

I don't get it, 6:22. Are you saying you won't consider ABDs on principle? You point to some reasons why ABDs are unlikely to have features you find attractive, but of course some ABD could have great publications, ample teaching experience, etc. So why rule them out simply because they are ABD? If your claim is that you don't want to hire someone "untested" (e.g., someone with minimal teaching experience, no publications, etc.), then I get it, but it isn't necessarily the case that an ABD is untested in these or other ways.

Anonymous said...

It might not be fair to eliminate all ABDs out of hand, but I find myself pretty sympathetic. The person's motives seem pretty good. If you're selecting a group of people to interview, more data is going to be a better predictor of future success than murky criteria like "promise" or even a fantastic writing sample.

If I were on a search committee and I saw an ABD who had 3-4 years solo teaching experience, a couple of solid articles, maybe a book contract, etc., I'd take the candidate seriously. But, then again, if someone with a Ph.D. in hand and one year of postdoc/VAP experience, but otherwise the same profile, applied, I'd still take the postdoc/VAP over the ABD.

Why?

Because that person has experience working in multiple environments, dealing with different groups of people and students, etc.

Being an ABD shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but it *is* an inherent limit on how good you are as a candidate. And, in this job environment, you can't really afford having those kind of limits.

Anonymous said...

This is 7:52.

7:53, it sounds like ABD status is not the issue for you. Sure, all else being equal, experience at multiple places might be a plus. And sure, ABDs are less likely than finished PhDs to have experience at multiple places. But some ABDs do have such experience: adjuncting, MAs at institutions distinct from their PhD institution, pre-doctoral fellowships, etc. So again, why treat ABD status itself as a demerit (or whatever we call it)?

Anonymous said...

OK, so the sample size is still pretty small, but it seems that TT jobs go to people who previously had TT jobs or post-docs.

So 5:59, what "snazzy job" did your ABD friend snag, and when will it be posted?

I want to see evidence that ABDs can get TT jobs before I consider going out on the market next year ABD.

zombie said...

"I want to see evidence that ABDs can get TT jobs before I consider going out on the market next year ABD."

What kind of evidence? ABDs do get TT jobs. But not every ABD gets a TT job, any more than every PhD gets a TT job. Are your odds better as a PhD? The anecdotal evidence suggests that your odds with a PhD are a little better in the current market, in which there is a glut of unemployed PhDs, many with excellent qualifications.

The current thread on Leiter shows relatively early hires, which is why it is leaning towards people who already have TTs or post-docs. They are people whom SCs have made early offers to, in hopes of snagging them. But obviously, every TT vacancy can't be filled by an existing TT prof, or we'd have an endless cycle of vacancies rather than the current widely acknowledged shortage of positions. There are still fly-outs happening, contracts are still being nailed down, offers being made etc. (I know this for a fact b/c I have friends for whom all of these things are happening TODAY.) It is early days to see the full range of hires for this year.

Anonymous said...

My own anecdotal evidence here:

My Ph.D. program is quite Leiterrific. I went out on the market the first time ABD and no pubs, but with six letters of rec from well-known scholars in my field (which were described to me by my Placement Director as being exceptionally strong).

I got completely skunked. Not even a cheapo Skype interview at a South Nowhere State.

The next year I had one publication and defended during the application process. I sent letters and emails to all the SCs where I had applied telling them I had just defended. I got a number of very pleasant notes of congratulations in response, along with a couple PFOs that I was glad to get so early. I also netted 5 interviews that turned into three flyouts and one offer.

Here's the important point: in every single interview, one of the first things anyone said to me was "Congratulations on defending!"

It was very clear to me that either defending or *notifying* people of my defending had a significant effect on my prospects. My suspicion is that adding an important piece of good news to my file during the selection process drew more attention to my file than I otherwise would have gotten.

Did defending make me a better philosopher? Of course not. But it did, I think, make me a better candidate in the eyes of several SCs, and for that I'm grateful.

Now, when we're hiring, we don't automatically toss ABD applications out of consideration, but given the large number of highly qualified applicants with PhDs, an ABD applicant would have to show significant accomplishments to make our short list. Why? Because we have an unhelpful Dean who has been known to deny departments their candidates of choice for lots of bad reasons. And because the risk that a candidate doesn't finish before they start, no matter how small, is still a risk that we can't afford to run unless the potential upside is both significant, and meaningfully demonstrated.

Anonymous said...

So I was hired at a top 20 department ABD 3 years ago. I had two publications in good places and had the opportunity in grad school to teach both as a TA and independently.

What evidence is missing. I had teaching experience with letters attesting to my quality as a teacher. I had publications. I had a writing sample that everyone can read and assess. And I continue to teach well (I presume) and publish now that I am hired.

Perhaps the policy of not looking at ABD students is more common for non-top departments. If I didn't trust my own ability to assess the quality of a candidate, I would use the considerations many are bringing up as a crutch. I am glad that I am at a department that feels that they do possess the requisite skills to recognize good philosophy when they see it.

Since I have been here, we have hired ABD candidates with NO publications. What evidence did we have? We read the writing sample! It was great! They came and gave a talk. It and the discussion that followed were great! We had conversations during the campus visit. Those were great too!

What else do you want? Do you really need the validation that comes from seeing lots of peer reviewed articles. Most peer reviewed articles stink. Why not just look at ALL the candidates and pick the one who is doing the best philosophy. It really isn't that hard. Unless, of course, you are afraid that you can't recognize good philosophy for what it is.

Anonymous said...

I am in a SC for an R1 university. Our top 5 candidates recently were all ABDs from top 3-4 Leiter schools. This wasn't on purpose but my feeling is that since we placed a lot of weight on writing samples, these individuals have a great advantage because they have the best philosophers in the world give them close guidance on their papers. Often this writing sample is better than many of the subsequent publications the candidate might gather in a few years (except, of course, for the publication that directly comes out of their writing sample). And these writing samples are probably better than publications of more seasoned philosophers from lesser ranked schools--since they never got the attention from those top philosophers.

Anonymous said...

"What evidence did we have? We read the writing sample! It was great! They came and gave a talk. It and the discussion that followed were great! We had conversations during the campus visit. Those were great too! What else do you want?"

That's a great policy to have ... if you're one of the 20 schools *in the world* that has the institutional and administrative support that necessarily any program would have to have in order to become a Top 20 program. But for the other 99.9% of universities out there, chances are there is a Dean or a Provost somewhere up the chain who wants concrete *evidence* of excellence, and not just reports of the warm fuzzies you got from chatting with ABD Candidate from Fancy U.

Last time I checked, there's no place on a tenure application for warm fuzzies. And the one thing non-Top 20 programs hate more than hiring someone bad is losing someone good who can't publish enough to be tenured. *That* is why actually defending and actually publishing counts more heavily than (almost) any amount of promise an ABD candidate might show.

Anonymous said...

Do you really need the validation that comes from seeing lots of peer reviewed articles. Most peer reviewed articles stink.

Okay, so the reviewers of most articles must not be very good at identifying good philosophy, even though reviewers by and large have AoSs that are relevant for the papers they are reviewing. Nonetheless, search committees, which often include members with AoSs differing from the area that is being hired for, should comply with 11:14's sagacious counsel:

Why not just look at ALL the candidates and pick the one who is doing the best philosophy. It really isn't that hard.

Sounds reasonable.

Anonymous said...

>>Okay, so the reviewers of most articles must not be very good at identifying good philosophy, even though reviewers by and large have AoSs that are relevant for the papers they are reviewing.

I actually think this is right. Most philosophers are bad and most philosophy is bad. These are not unrelated facts.

zombie said...

"Most peer-reviewed articles stink."
Virtually every department everywhere will require *some* peer-reviewed articles for tenure.
The philosophers most likely to get tenure, then, will write publishable articles that stink.
Therefore, the candidates who stink the most ought to be hired.

Yeah, that sounds right. All you good philosophers with no pubs should quit while you're ahead, unless you're ready to demonstrate how much you stink.

Anonymous said...

"Why not just look at ALL the candidates and pick the one who is doing the best philosophy. It really isn't that hard."

And I'm sure that everyone would agree on what the best philosophy is, right?

Anonymous said...

>And I'm sure that everyone would agree on what the best philosophy is, right?

Of course not. Like I said, most philosophers are bad. But you would be surprised how much consensus there is on these matters both from specialists and nonspecialists. I happen to be in a department with many good philosophers in it. And I trust the opinions of some of these individuals more than others (they have a long track record of being able to identify philosophical talent). The individuals on our short list (of 5) were all hired by top 20 departments. We do know what we are doing.

Anonymous said...

11:22,
I once sat in the audience of a conference panel on political philosophy. One of the panelists was a grad student of the famous political philosopher Michael Sandel at Harvard University. The student made the absurd claim that John Rawls was a virtue theorist because he wrote that justice is the "first virtue" of social institutions. I laughed out loud when he said this. But most of the audience stayed quiet. There were hushed remarks and expressions of shock after the panel was over, but the amount of groupthink in the room ("He must know what he's talking about because he's Sandel's student") astonished me. I suspect that this student did not get the attention and supervision he needed from his big-name advisor. The point is: Don't believe the hype and give into the groupthink. Be skeptical. It's always possible that the advisor composed the writing sample for his student!

Anonymous said...

"This wasn't on purpose but my feeling is that since we placed a lot of weight on writing samples, these individuals have a great advantage because they have the best philosophers in the world give them close guidance on their papers. Often this writing sample is better than many of the subsequent publications the candidate might gather in a few years (except, of course, for the publication that directly comes out of their writing sample). And these writing samples are probably better than publications of more seasoned philosophers from lesser ranked schools--since they never got the attention from those top philosophers."

Hmmm--and these candidates will bring their top philosophers with them? How will you know that they will continue to produce work of such merit? This raises a point made a few months ago at the NewApps blog. If the candidates from the top programs produce stellar work based on their close proximity to top philosophers, while some of the second tier candidates produce work of exceptional merit, but arguably without the advantage of having top philosophers on demand, what reason is there to prefer the candidates who excelled in part because of the guidance given by the top philosophers? Shouldn't we go with the second tier candidates who have demonstrated the ability to produce good work WITHOUT such close guidance? Of course, the argument could be made that the top philosophers have done more than assist the candidates in writing their papers--i.e., teaching their students philosophical skill. But it seems that making great writing samples a major criterion for interviews and recognizing that the reason these samples were so good might be the close guidance received from the top philosophers might NOT be the way to get candidates who have the potential to produce exceptional work in the future.

Anonymous said...

"(they have a long track record of being able to identify philosophical talent)"

What criteria determine the quality of this track record? Can't be the publications of those who have been recognized, right? What is it then? That those recognized gained employment in a top 20 dept.?

I'm half posing these questions out of smart-assy-ness, but also half out of genuine curiosity.

Anonymous said...

This, in a nutshell, perfectly explains philosophy:

"Like I said, most philosophers are bad. [...] I happen to be in a department with many good philosophers in it."

Translation: "Philosophy not done in my department is bad."

Anonymous said...

"I once sat in the audience of a conference panel on political philosophy. One of the panelists was a grad student of the famous political philosopher Michael Sandel at Harvard University. The student made the absurd claim that John Rawls was a virtue theorist because he wrote that justice is the "first virtue" of social institutions. I laughed out loud when he said this. But most of the audience stayed quiet. There were hushed remarks and expressions of shock after the panel was over, but the amount of groupthink in the room ("He must know what he's talking about because he's Sandel's student") astonished me. I suspect that this student did not get the attention and supervision he needed from his big-name advisor. The point is: Don't believe the hype and give into the groupthink. Be skeptical. It's always possible that the advisor composed the writing sample for his student!"

Yeah, or DON'T. Too many people think that women philosophers who worked with famous philosophers (or, well, *any* male philosopher) had their writing samples (or published papers) written for them. Unless you have very, very strong reason to think this (i.e., proof of plagiarism), keep your skepticism to yourself. Better yet, take your head out of your ass. What famous philosopher (or *any* philosopher, really) will write the writing sample for their student and let the student claim it as the student's own?

Anonymous said...

"This, in a nutshell, perfectly explains philosophy:

"Like I said, most philosophers are bad. [...] I happen to be in a department with many good philosophers in it."

Translation: "Philosophy not done in my department is bad.""



That is not at all what I said, nor can it be inferred from what I said. There are departments that are far better than mine with many more individuals who do good philosophy. and there are individuals in many departments that do good philosophy. and there are individuals in my department that are not very good. All of this is consistent with the claim that most philosophers are bad and that my department has many good philosophers in it.

Perhaps when you said that this "in a nutshell, perfectly explains philosophy" you were referring to what was about to happen, namely, terrible reasoning. I think we may actually agree.

Anonymous said...

12:30 wrote,

>>Okay, so the reviewers of most articles must not be very good at identifying good philosophy, even though reviewers by and large have AoSs that are relevant for the papers they are reviewing.

I actually think this is right. Most philosophers are bad and most philosophy is bad. These are not unrelated facts.


But it would be silly to go on to suggest, as 11:14 does (are you him or her, by chance?), that evaluating good philosophy is not difficult and that search committees should just hire the best philosopher. If most of suck at identifying good philosophy even when reviewing in our own AoSs, how can we hope to identify good philosophy when hiring outside our AoSs?

Anonymous said...

"But it would be silly to go on to suggest, as 11:14 does (are you him or her, by chance?), that evaluating good philosophy is not difficult and that search committees should just hire the best philosopher. If most of suck at identifying good philosophy even when reviewing in our own AoSs, how can we hope to identify good philosophy when hiring outside our AoSs?"

I'm not the original poster, but looking over what he (or she) said, this doesn't seem to be a problem for his (or her) view. There will likely be a lot of people who aren't in a position to identify good philosophy. They should use measures like quantity of publications to guide them. Others are in a position to recognize good philosophy. For them, it isn't that hard.

But the main point was to show that the policy of not even looking at ABD's is beyond stupid.

Now, perhaps you aren't trying to find the person who does the best philosophy. Perhaps you are looking for someone who publishes a lot (who cares if what is published is good). Well, then use measures like quantity of publications, by all means.

Anonymous said...

To get back to the earlier question of whether it's worth going on the market ABD:

I'm ABD and have just gotten a TT. The job isn't at a Leiterific program, but it's got a low teaching load and it's in an interesting department. And I'm not from the kind of Leiter-ranked place that makes you a star candidate.

Yes, go on the market! It's possible to get a job without being exceptional - and if you don't get one, well, then it's stil great practice, as everyone has said.

Anonymous said...

Summary of this discussion thread so far: blither, blather, blither, blather, blither, blather...

Anonymous said...

"Summary of this discussion thread so far: blither, blather, blither, blather, blither, blather..."\

Thanks for your insightful contribution. This is what I really want to be reading.

Anonymous said...

Summery of pretty much every discussion thread on this blog so far: blither, blather, blither, blather, blither, blather...

But I keep reading them all :-)

Anonymous said...

There you go. an ABD with no pubs gets a job. Can everyone stop giving bad advice now.

Anonymous said...

@5:36 You know that there are measures of likelihood that are between 0 and 1, right?

Anonymous said...

we are all pedantic losers! perhaps some philosophy departments do earn to be shut down... for they seem to produce a lot of self-infatuated douches that really do not do any real good things for anything, not even philosophy, perhaps all they do is damage philosophy... oh the good ole days of Socrates, why can't we live as he did anymore? at least philosophy would be much better off...

Toots said...

Blither, blather, blither, blather?
Dilly dally, dilly dally, dilly dally!

Anonymous said...

To all of you suggesting that we should hit the market ABD, how do you pay for it?

Anonymous said...

"To all of you suggesting that we should hit the market ABD, how do you pay for it?"

With money!

Anonymous said...

"To all of you suggesting that we should hit the market ABD, how do you pay for it?"

I recognize that many don't just have 1 to 1.5k sitting around. But really, one has only a few chances to do this successfully. The chances of success are low every year. Perhaps they are lower if you are ABD (by how much, if at all, who knows). But not every university searches every year and if you don't go out, you may be missing the only chance you have to present yourself to that school with which you have that ever-elusive quality: fit.

Do whatever it takes! Do you really want to look back and say, 'well, I didn't get a job, but at least I have this thousand dollars'.

And isn't being stale worse than being ABD? You have a very small window. Start saving up now!

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who was ABD last year and who landed a wonderful job at a SLAC then. No pubs, but an excellent teaching record (including a teaching award), and the job fitted that person's AOS excellently. If s/he had not gone ahead and spent money (for instance to attend the E-APA, to buy a nice suit), s/he would not have landed the job that is such an excellent fit. So I second 10:28.

Asstro said...

There are other good reasons to go on the market as an ABD, even if it doesn't eventuate in a job: going on the market is hard. A trial run is a damned good idea. Even if you don't get an interview (which you very well might), prepping a dossier will help you get a sense of what it takes to get a job.

A second good reason is that there is always a chance that you'll get a job, or a fly-out, or an interview, that is particularly well-suited to you, in that very year. Why pass up that chance? Does it hurt you? No. The same school probably won't be hiring next year.

A third good reason is that sometimes these things eventuate in VAPs, and a VAP is better than a zilch almost any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

"And isn't being stale worse than being ABD?"

Are those the only 2 options? Are we really stale the moment we defend?

Anonymous said...

""And isn't being stale worse than being ABD?"

Are those the only 2 options? Are we really stale the moment we defend?"


Not what I was saying. You have a sweet spot that lasts about two years. If you want to extend that window, you can add a year as an ABD. Or you could extend it indefinitely into the future and become more and more stale. I think the former is preferable.

Anonymous said...

I think someone said this before, but there are many relevant differences that can obtain between two people going on the market ABD. One such difference is of course that X may have and Y may lack a relevant range of publications, teaching experience or (to a lesser extent, because I doubt anybody cares about those) conference presentations. But another big factor is how 'ready' X and Y are. If X's letter writers can say that she has all her chapters written and is ready to defend, this may put X very close if not identical to those who have a PhD in hand. On the other hand, if the letters contain no specific reference to work that Y has already done, this may raise a concern.

I'd advise to go on the market ABD if you can be certain, and if your advisors think that it is certain that you can defend in the spring or summer.
I got hired into an R1 position coming out ABD. I had all my chapters written, and some even polished, in the fall before going on the market.

Anonymous said...

How do people support themselves during the year after getting the PhD if they don't go on the market while ABD? Even if you aren't fortunate enough to come out with a tenure-track job (and most aren't), don't you need to go on the market to land VAP positions and postdocs?

zombie said...

Yes, you must apply for VAPs and post-docs. Many of them will be posted the same time as TT jobs, but some come out later in the season.

The issue with many VAPs and all post-docs is the same for ABDs. You have to have your PhD in hand when you start. My ABD year, my diss was done by the summer before, and I had only to defend it. I landed a post-doc, and was able to use that to get my committee to stop dragging their feet on my defense.

Many postdocs have a five year post-PhD limit (they are, after all, training positions), but I think the issue of staleness, up to that five years, is less of a problem. I've got friends who've had multiple post-docs.

How to support yourself after you graduate? The usual: get a job. Some people get post-docs, or VAPs, or adjunct jobs. Some people have to get "real" jobs.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe bitchin' philosophers haven't colonized the Academic Job Wiki yet. Let's spread the gossip! http://academicjobs.wikia.com/wiki/Universities_to_fear

Anonymous said...

Is there any hopes for adjuncts at all?...Considering everyone that seems to be getting a bloody interview is from a top program, coming out of a VAP position, or leaving a cushy post-doc.

Anonymous said...

"Is there any hopes for adjuncts at all?"

Is there ever?

Anonymous said...

Now that I have accepted a position and can delete my Interfolio account, I downloaded the history of my transactions. I spent $429 on Interfolio services this year and applied for 68 jobs/post-docs. Not all of those positions required me to use Interfolio to complete the application, but most of them did. I wonder how much money other candidates have given to Interfolio this year.

Anonymous said...

I could go look, but it'd surprise me if it were >$100 this year (it was more last year). Fewer places require Interfolio, and I think they're moving in the right direction.

I only applied to about 35 positions, though. I was fairly selective -- although, I ended up interviewing for a couple I definitely wouldn't have taken.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to post your jobs here: http://prophilosophy.wordpress.com/tenure-track-hires/2012-2013/

Junior PhD Student said...

"Is there any hopes for adjuncts at all?...Considering everyone that seems to be getting a bloody interview is from a top program, coming out of a VAP position, or leaving a cushy post-doc."

It's madness how students of leiter-20 depts dominate the leiter hiring thread (say, ~90% of postings). I'm genuinely surprised at the role pedigree plays.

Anonymous said...

"It's madness how students of leiter-20 depts dominate the leiter hiring thread (say, ~90% of postings). I'm genuinely surprised at the role pedigree plays."

Top departments take in the best students. Top departments produce the best philosophers. There are exceptions of course. I don't see why this is madness. Now, if you are suggesting that the only thing different from people coming out of top programs and those that don't is a fancy name, then that would be madness. But that isn't what is happening. I'm sure it has some modicum of influence. But has anyone given any evidence that this influence is large. The number of people who get jobs from top departments is no way evidence for this.

Anonymous said...

Not everybody posts their jobs on Leiter's site. Is it really that surprising that Leiter's tenure track post is dominated by top twenty Leiter ranked programs. Last year when all of the tenure track jobs were accounted for on a different site there were plenty of people from lowly ranked and even unranked programs that got jobs. Not necessarily fancy smancy jobs. But cash-earning teaching jobs. Many a lot of those people do not choose to participate in the rather bizarre academic culture of self-adoration.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that not everyone posts jobs to the Leiter thread. I know two people who got jobs this year who didn't post. I got two jobs I could have posted in the last ten years and I didn't post either of them.

I suspect that (roughly) the closer to the top of the Leiter rankings your Ph.D. program or your hiring school is, the more likely you are to post.

zombie said...

I maintain that one reason the grads from top programs are more likely to appear on the Leiter thread is that they have better placement directors, who actually pay attention and post there. You'll notice that Jeff McMahan (Rutgers) currently has four posts there, and every year, he consistently has several students land jobs. He rocks as a placement advisor, no doubt. (And, you know, good philosopher too.)
Lesser-ranked programs are probably both less-attuned to the Leiter blog in general, and correspondingly care less about posting their successes there.

zombie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It is amazing that MIT today sent out PFO e-mails, two months after actual candidates were contacted, that are intended to sound personalized. "This decision reflects our assessment of current departmental needs rather than any negative judgment on your academic record or qualifications, which are impressive." Oh super! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Yep, I received the same PFO. And figured that it was bullshit -- that everyone who applied and not interviewed got the same "personalized" email saying that their record/qualifications were impressive.

Anonymous said...

While I am sure there is some bias towards top-20 departments in hiring, 8:55 is right. I transferred from a 30-ish ranked program to a top 15 program and there is a really extreme, noticeable difference in the quality of the students--and I don't just mean students who have gotten through most of the program, but the incoming students. There's also a really noticeable difference in how well the department prepares its students for the job market. of course this is only anecdotal evidence, but I suspect it generalizes somewhat well, and I don't see why we should be surprised that most jobs go to graduates of top 20. Especially when the job market is so competitive.

Anonymous said...

10:28 and 8:40

Ditto! I got the same BS email. Maybe we all should send them individual emails and ask what exactly they found impressive in each of our files...

Anonymous said...

What bothers the rest of us is that some of us are coming from non-ranked schools with lots of publications in top 15 journals...and we're not even getting first round interviews, whereas the people hired have ZERO but come from a top 10 program.

(BTW, I have a job offer, but it's stark which positions wouldn't even give me a first round.)

Anonymous said...

Not having a job sucks ass! It gets even worse when you get BS emails like the one MIT sent out. Our phd's don't mean a thing if we cannot make a living because of it... Any department who still admits phd students is doing it out of sheer institutional greed to have more cheap labor. They don't give a damn for us when we are left unemployed and pennyless after spending 5 or more years, teaching courses and becoming the expert on some highly specific issue. I don't know about you but this really really pisses me off rotten!!!! I will not accept any consolation from people who have held positions for more than 10 years. You don't know what this is like, so either try to do something or just shut the fcuk up! At this point, not even a big retire-off or serious discouragement of phd applicants will help... The situation sucks for those of us unemployed phd's and that's it... Take my vitriolic, angry rambling, because I am angry...

Anonymous said...

"What bothers the rest of us is that some of us are coming from non-ranked schools with lots of publications in top 15 journals...and we're not even getting first round interviews, whereas the people hired have ZERO but come from a top 10 program. "

It may bother you, but it is often the right call. We read the dossiers. We read the writing samples. These writing samples are often better than anything published by those productive students from lower programs. Publishing philosophy isn't that hard. Writing good philosophy is.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what is going on with Emerson College? Any news?

Anonymous said...

"It may bother you, but it is often the right call. We read the dossiers. We read the writing samples. These writing samples are often better than anything published by those productive students from lower programs. Publishing philosophy isn't that hard. Writing good philosophy is."

That is just silly. The top 15 journals together publish less than 200 articles a year. There are at least 4 times that many people employed in Leiter-ranked departments in the United States alone. Thus, if someone is publishing at the rate of 1 paper per year in one of these journals (the poster you respond to said he or she has "lots" of these publications) he or she is doing better than at least 75% of the people employed at Leiter-ranked institutions. If it were so easy, why wouldn't more people be doing it? There are philosophers out there who had multiple offers at top-ranked departments who have yet to publish a single article, several years into their job. Since they have every reason to publish and were thought by people like you to be in the best position to publish, it doesn't seem likely that publishing in these journals is as easy as you suggest. What is likely is that one's expectations of goodness heavily influence one's willingness to perceive and proclaim it. But glib justifications of such proclamations are likely more noxious than the poor judgment they reveal. (Finally, to replace "lower-ranked" with "lower" is pretty cavalier, given the ranking system you are likely referring to, which is at best woefully inaccurate, and at worst a conspiracy for self-promotion.)

Anonymous said...

10:49

Ditto! Well said! It is because of the shallow rankophiles like 7:31 that people with no pubs and perhaps a few grad conference talks get offers just because Leiter's "ranking" suggests they must be good while highly able and deserving philosophers are left in the cold just because their program was not "ranked high." The pitiful display becomes a seriously horrible crime when the rankophiles equate "high rankings" with good philosophy... When did this field become so shallow?

Anonymous said...

10:49,
Most philosophers at Leiter-ranked universities have tenure. They don't really have a big incentive to publish in top 15 journals. And a lot of them publish most of their papers in invited volumes. So the fact that there isn't enough journal space for all those Leiter-employed philosophers to publish a paper a year can't be used the way you want to use it.

Anonymous said...

"10:49,
Most philosophers at Leiter-ranked universities have tenure. They don't really have a big incentive to publish in top 15 journals. And a lot of them publish most of their papers in invited volumes. So the fact that there isn't enough journal space for all those Leiter-employed philosophers to publish a paper a year can't be used the way you want to use it."

Ok, let's review those assistant professors at a department that normally warms the heart: Princeton.

A. PhD in 2009 (NYU), 5 publications, 1 top 15 publication.
B. PhD in 2005 (Princeton), 5 publications, 3 top 15 publications.
C. PhD in 2007 (Princeton), 14 philosophy publications, 3 top 15 publications.
D. PhD in 2002 (MIT), 15 publications, 4 top 15 publications.

Total: at least 25 years on the tenure track, 39 publications, 11 publications in top-15 journals. That is less than 1 paper in a top-15 journal every 2 years. Not one of those people matches, after several years on the job, the rate of 1 paper in a top-15 journal per year.

Publishing is hard. Just because you see lots of candidates with stellar publication records does not mean that it is easy. It means that many candidates are scared that their fate was written for them long before they entered graduate school and will do anything to change that. That they have to do so, while others don't, is likely a fact. That this means their philosophy is less good, I maintain, is a silly, thoughtless thing to say.

12:29 said...

10:49/2:06,

I think I've lost track of what is being argued. If someone said that it's easy to publish in top-15 journals, that *was* silly, you're right. (I know first hand, as probably most of us do.) But the Princeton junior faculty doesn't exactly make your point that having a great pedigree is a substitute for doing great work (and my apologies if that was not your point). I'm not going to get into a discussion of specific professors, but I happen to be pretty familiar with some of those four and that work is truly outstanding and influential.

-12:29

Anonymous said...

"Any department who still admits phd students is doing it out of sheer institutional greed to have more cheap labor."

I suspect you didn't give a damn about this when you applied to your PhD program. Or, perhaps, you didn't even consider it. Which is pretty much the same.

Honestly, I'm sick and tired of listening to grad students blame PhD programs for being greedy. OK, so maybe we are. This did not stop you from applying. From accepting a spot. From making this your career choice. I'm sorry it's not working out for you. But don't you dare try to avoid any blame in this. How about this: "any graduate student who stays in graduate school is doing it out of sheer narcissism." The market sucks, and *everyone knows it.* What reasons did you tell yourself to keep you playing a losing game?

Anonymous said...

"When did this field become so shallow?"

You're suggesting there was a time when it wasn't? When, exactly, was that? What period of time are you thinking of when the vast majority of jobs did not go to people graduating from the highest-ranked and best-known programs?

Anonymous said...

"Ditto! Well said! It is because of the shallow rankophiles like 7:31 that people with no pubs and perhaps a few grad conference talks get offers just because Leiter's "ranking" suggests they must be good while highly able and deserving philosophers are left in the cold just because their program was not "ranked high." The pitiful display becomes a seriously horrible crime when the rankophiles equate "high rankings" with good philosophy... When did this field become so shallow?"

You COMPLETELY missed the point (I'm not the original commenter either). It is not because they come from highly ranked programs that they are chosen. It is because they are good! And it is not because you come from a low program that you are not chosen.

There are exceptions. there are many good people from lower-ranked programs. but there are far fewer of them than come out of top programs. The reasons why this is so should be obvious.

you have the order of explanation backwards.

Anonymous said...

7:21

When I was a grad student, my advisors told me either of two things when I raised the job market issue. One, they said it was going to be OK by the time I got my phd and I'd get a job; two, they said to just ignore the job market and focus on my dissertation. If this does not answer your "question" then I don't know what will, perhaps nothing... You're so afraid of the possibility that the departments had a role in this big ugly mess that you may say anything to dodge blaim...

I am sick and tired of phd programs still continuing in futility to deny that they are to blame at least partially in the creation of this ugliness!

Honestly, I really do not believe you give a crap about what happens to grads after they get the phd. You want them to grade your tests and student papers and teach elementary courses. If they happen to be good enough to get a phd then that's just a bonus for the dept and perhaps one or two co-authored papers for you. This is what I honestly think of most phd granting departments as a recent phd.

7:28

I haven't been around for long, so I really don't know. But I think there must have been a time when shallowness, favoritism, and institutional greed did not shamelessly rule our field... Perhaps I'm just being naive, but I will not apologize for it. I still love philosophy so much that I cannot leave it, but I can't say the same thing about some philosophers... I have nothing but contempt for those philosopher gate-keepers who implicitly or explicitly base their hiring decisions on rankings!

Anonymous said...

"10:49/2:06,

I think I've lost track of what is being argued. If someone said that it's easy to publish in top-15 journals, that *was* silly, you're right. (I know first hand, as probably most of us do.) But the Princeton junior faculty doesn't exactly make your point that having a great pedigree is a substitute for doing great work (and my apologies if that was not your point). I'm not going to get into a discussion of specific professors, but I happen to be pretty familiar with some of those four and that work is truly outstanding and influential."

I am mainly arguing that people like 9:36 are doing remarkably well, given reasonable publishing standards, as a retort to 7:31’s claim that “Publishing philosophy isn't that hard.” One standard I raised is that of the average person employed at a Leiter-ranked department (which must be less than 1 paper in a top-15 journal every 4 years). You justly pointed out that many person employed by these departments may not care to publish. So I presented evidence on those most likely to care: those on the tenure track. I chose Princeton because I think those on the tenure track at places like Princeton should set the upper limit to what we call a reasonable rate of publication (which happens to be less than 1 paper in a top-15 journal every 2 years). And that rate is less than what 9:36 claims can be found in candidates who are getting "zero interviews" (who with “lots of publications in top 15 journals,” are probably closer to 1 paper in a top-15 journal every year). I think that this is a matter of concern and that these candidates deserve more attention than they are getting, since those in the best position to publish and with good motivation to publish are publishing less, and since publishing in this field is probably the best marker of success (even if to be a good philosopher you need to do more than this). Why so? Their papers have been read and granted the seal of quality by at least two experts for each paper. One (likely) non-expert reading a writing sample should take this fact to weigh heavily against his or her own judgment of quality.

As to your point about the quality of the above listed work, whether this is relevant to the secondary claim I want to make will depend on your reference class when you report "that work is truly outstanding and influential." I doubt that you will find four people from un-ranked departments who have had the same opportunities post-graduation that these four have had. I know of one such person, but his case is so legendary that you probably know his name. And his work is very good. Is the work of these four people outstanding when compared to the work that would have been produced by 9:36 and his or her friends, had they been given the same opportunities? We will never know. Is it likely that people like 9:36 deserve more opportunities than they are getting, given the fact that they have passed the gauntlet of publication at a rate unmatched by the best of their profession? I say yes. Another, less civil way of putting this secondary claim is that some people being hired do not deserve to be hired, and are being hired on the grounds of "great pedigree" as a substitute for "great work." But the list of Princeton faculty was not intended to be evidence for this secondary claim, and I am not even sure that I can produce good reason for it, beyond personal observations that are likely to be just as tainted by bias as those that I want to criticize.

12:29 said...

3:44,


On the first stuff: okay, that’s perfectly fair; I didn’t mean to disagree with any of that.

On my reference class: yes, I knew when I wrote that sentence that it might be ambiguous but was too lazy to fix it.
However, I don’t see how I can now say anything more helpful without getting into particulars that I believe are not appropriate; neither of us wants to debate the merit of particular junior philosophers, I’m sure.

Anonymous said...

7:24 here.

"You're so afraid of the possibility that the departments had a role in this big ugly mess that you may say anything to dodge blaim..."

I'm afraid of no such thing. I also admitted that perhaps we are in part to blame. I was simply reminding you that we shouldn't take the entirety of the blame. You were given bad advice. Maybe it was well-intentioned (though I can't believe that to be the case), but it was bad advice. And honestly, you should have known that. With just the tiniest bit of research, you could have seen how shitty the market was. Perhaps you're good; perhaps you're outstanding. But that rarely matters; the number of outstanding applicants who don't get jobs is far greater than the number of those who do. And this has been a trend since before you started graduate school.

Yes, departments are part of the problem. But own up to just a little of this and admit that you walked into a losing game. Hell, the way I see it, anyone applying to PhD programs is walking into a *rigged* game; and unless you're at one of the very best programs, the game is already rigged against you.

When you know the game is being played by rounders, and you can see the mechanic dealing from the bottom of the deck, don't then turn around and blame them when you run out of chips. Or, at the very least, admit that you sat at the wrong table and played out a losing hand, instead of walking away.

"I am sick and tired of phd programs still continuing in futility to deny that they are to blame at least partially in the creation of this ugliness!"

So am I. I didn't say we are blameless. And anybody involved in the process who doesn't honestly tell students their chances are slim, should not advise graduate students. Anyone who continues to peddle the crappy advice that "oh, you're the exception," I'm certain of your success," should be barred from working with graduate students. But graduate students who *know* how bad the market is and decide to continue, do so at their own peril. I am sure you got lousy advice. But that doesn't make you innocent. If you only just now discovered that the market was bad, then you are painfully ignorant. If you knew well before this and finished anyway, then you took a gamble. A huge gamble. And lost. But it was *your* gamble.

"Honestly, I really do not believe you give a crap about what happens to grads after they get the phd."

I very much do, but I doubt there's any convincing you of it.

"You want them to grade your tests and student papers and teach elementary courses."

Nope. I want them to get jobs. Tenure track jobs. But more importantly, I do all my own grading. And while I do like that they teach elementary courses, I do what I can to get my students the widest variety of teaching possible, including upper-division courses in their AOS. Aside from good advising, it's incredibly helpful on the market.

"If they happen to be good enough to get a phd then that's just a bonus for the dept and perhaps one or two co-authored papers for you."

You like your straw men. I've never co-authored with a graduate student.

"This is what I honestly think of most phd granting departments as a recent phd."

And that's fine. Be angry. You should be angry. It's a shitty system. And no doubt, many departments feel the way you assume they do. Some faculty in my department feel that way. But painting the entire field with the same brush is absurd.

Anonymous said...

To the person counting Princeton faculty publications: at least two of those people have books with Oxford University Press, which aren't included in your article totals. Changes your argument a bit, no?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering to what extent there is an assumption of quality-leak made in the discussions about how good people from top-20 programs are. Here's what I mean:

On many explanations for why people from top-20 programs get so many interviews and jobs is that they are just good--maybe they are already good coming in, but the main claim seems to be that they are also made good by their mentors, the top philosophers in the profession who are teaching in the program. Fair enough. Let's assume that.

One thing that gets overlooked is that it's also these good philosophers who end up teaching in the departments with PhD programs ranked at the bottom of the Leiter list. It's almost impossible for people from programs at the bottom to find jobs at any of the ranked programs. So those good philosophers coming out of the top-20 programs? Many of those are actually teaching in the lower-ranked programs. Why then do so many people discount job candidates coming out of these lower-ranked programs? I guess there are three possible explanations.

1. It's assumed that the top philosophers at the top 20 are good teachers of philosophy while their students who go on to teach at PhD granting programs are not as good as teachers.
2. It's assumed that the students at the lower-ranked programs are just not smart enough to utilize the good teachers of philosophy coming out of the top-ranked programs.
3. It's assumed that as good as these students of top philosophers are, they aren't as good as the top philosophers themselves. Similarly, as good as students are at some of the lower-ranked programs, they aren't as good as the students of top philosophers who are now teaching at the lower-ranked programs. In other words at each link in the chain

top philosophers---> students of top philosophers--->students of students of top philosophers ....

there is some quality leakage.

Explanation (1) belies the original argument, which says that good philosophers create good philosophers (unless departments have no concern for quality of teaching, which is doubtful). Explanation (2) hardly seems plausible as an a priori claim. And if we want to use anecdotal evidence, we have to consider the fact that pedigree bias does exist and that many people at the lower-ranked programs might be thought to be less smart than others simply because they never get the chance to realize their potential, having to take on heavy teaching loads or leaving the profession altogether.

This leaves explanation (3). If my advisor was a student of top philosopher P, but I come from a lower-ranked program, why assume that I must be a worse philosopher because I am not being advised by another top philosopher? Because my adviser isn't as good as top philosopher P--otherwise, she would be at one of the higher-ranked programs. But now the claim that the students of P are good because they studied under P is less convincing. So there seems to be an implicit assumption that there is quality leakage. No one teaching at the lower-ranked program is as good as the advisers they had at the top-ranked programs. And the students coming out of the lower-ranked programs are not as good as the professors in their own department who themselves came from the top programs. Does anyone find this assumption compelling, however?

Anonymous said...



Here is a fourth explanation for why students coming from top-ranked programs are perceived as better:

4. Students coming out of the top-ranked programs have much more time to do research than those at the lower-ranked programs, because of their funding packages.

If explanation (4) is right, however, then the people coming out of the lower-ranked programs with more publications than those coming from the top-ranked programs are actually better candidates than those coming from the top-ranked programs, because they have shown they can publish while having heavier teaching loads. Unless someone comes out of the top program into a 2/2 teaching load, they are going to have much less time for research than they had in grad school. Of course, if they're hired with no pubs, they'll still probably get tenure, since they can mine their dissertations for articles. Unfortunately, since people from lower-ranked programs have to publish even to be considered, they will probably have mined the dissertation for papers prior to going on the job market. But that means that for them to get tenure, they will have to come up with new research--either new projects or extensions of the dissertation research. There seem to be factors having less to do with quality and more to do with circumstance that distinguish top-ranked program candidates from lower-ranked program candidates. And some of these factors, if we get rid of mere prestige bias, might actually speak in favor of candidates coming out of lower-ranked programs.

Anonymous said...

7:23,

The problem with your position is that not all publications are created equal, so counting publications does very little good. And given how often people who comment here note that there's a lot of crap that gets published, giving serious consideration to someone just because they have published could be detrimental in the long run if their work isn't very good.

Of course, I have no doubt that you are already thinking, "well, SCs can read those publications and judge the quality of the work." And this is true. And what they are already doing, with the writing samples. The applicant with excellent funding - that allowed for time to devote to research - may have used that for her dissertation without trying to publish any of it yet. Her writing sample may shine in ways her competitors' do not. Should she be discounted just because she hasn't yet published?

The sad thing is, however, that when applicants from top programs don't publish, the assumption is that they are devoting their time to research to be published later. But when applicants from lower-ranked programs don't publish, the assumption is that they are not capable of publishing. This is certainly attributable to prestige bias.

Anonymous said...

7:59, it's 7:23 here:

I recognize the point about the different qualities of publications. I was building off of the example used earlier of someone from a lower-ranked program having "lots of articles in top-15 journals." If indeed there are situations in which someone who has lots of high quality pubs from a low-ranked program gets no interviews while people from high-ranked programs with no or few publications are getting interviews, something is amiss.

Anonymous said...

"To the person counting Princeton faculty publications: at least two of those people have books with Oxford University Press, which aren't included in your article totals. Changes your argument a bit, no?"

No. The argument was about publications in top-15 journals. Book contracts/books, even with top publishers, do not benefit from the same rigorous standards. The record of the junior faculty at Princeton is impressive, no doubt. The record of some people on the job market who are not getting interviews is also impressive. That is my point.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, however, that when applicants from top programs don't publish, the assumption is that they are devoting their time to research to be published later. But when applicants from lower-ranked programs don't publish, the assumption is that they are not capable of publishing. This is certainly attributable to prestige bias.

It might be so attributable, if it's true. I've never known anyone to make these assumptions, so I have my doubts.

Anonymous said...

It might be so attributable, if it's true. I've never known anyone to make these assumptions, so I have my doubts.

Why do we need things like IAT when we've got you to detect implicit biases?

Anonymous said...

6:25AM,

Huh?
I don't get it. I never claimed to be able to detect implicit biases.

-3:47

Anonymous said...

"If indeed there are situations in which someone who has lots of high quality pubs from a low-ranked program gets no interviews while people from high-ranked programs with no or few publications are getting interviews, something is amiss."

Not at all, if you accept that those with no or few publications might be doing better work, which may be demonstrated in the writing sample.

You also need to consider that the rest of the application may not be particularly strong. There have been people on this blog who have noted that while one can publish quality material, one may not be a very good teacher. That will certainly matter to some programs who may look at the person with many publications (from any school) and not pursue the application (if there are indications of questionable teaching). The people not getting interviews may have luke-warm letters of reference (another issue that has been brought up in other threads). Or may have written remarkably bad letters of application.

Looking at one aspect of applications as evidence of any kind of bias is short-sighted.

Anonymous said...

"Why do we need things like IAT when we've got you to detect implicit biases?"

Would you please show me the IAT results that indicate differential responses to the publication records of philosophers coming out of differently Leiter-ranked Ph.D. programs? What, you don't have any? Oh, that's right, you're just talking out your ass. Pot, meet kettle.

Anonymous said...

2:38: I'm the one who mentioned books. Sorry, I thought you were the same person as the person arguing:

"Thus, if someone is publishing at the rate of 1 paper per year in one of these journals (the poster you respond to said he or she has "lots" of these publications) he or she is doing better than at least 75% of the people employed at Leiter-ranked institutions. If it were so easy, why wouldn't more people be doing it?"

While that person is doing better in terms of quantity of journal articles than Princeton faculty, he is not doing better in terms of research productivity, because research productivity includes peer-reviewed books. (It's like saying: "I've published two articles in Phil Studies, which no one at Princeton has done, even given their opportunities" -- publications in Phil Studies is just not a meaningful measure, by itself, of research productivity.)

FYI, in case you're looking for some sort of quantitative comparison, in my department a monograph at a place like OUP or CUP or Harvard counts as the equivalent of 6 world-class journal articles.

That said, if there are any candidates who are coming from schools at any rank and have 2 articles in top-5 journals, and they are not getting interviews, I think something is seriously wrong. I am a professor at one of the higher-ranked schools (not Princeton). I am confident that we would look seriously at those candidates, so I would like to know whether my confidence is misplaced. (I say 2 publications in top-5 journals not because we expect that, but because that would be "overkill" in the sense that I can't imagine a better candidate. I would be neutral between such a candidate and a candidate with that plus additional publications (leaving aside other factors), and I would prefer that candidate to one with more publications but in even slightly less prestigious journals.)

Finally, I want to add that I do sympathize with the worry that there's a rich-get-richer scheme going on. I think the main way in which this reveals itself is the frequency with which higher-ranked-school faculty are invited to present our work, either at talks or in edited volumes. Prestige begets more prestige. I'm actually not sure what to do about this, but I am open to suggestions, particularly with respect to what faculty like me could do about it.

Anonymous said...

7:02:

I take the comment to be tongue-in-cheek. Just because people haven't manifested prestige bias explicitly doesn't mean it's not an unconscious driver of their shortlist decisions.

8:49:

Wait, do you think implicit biases don't exist unless they're tested by IAT? That's a rather skeptical position.

I take it that IAT are pointing to *psychological mechanisms* that drive specific biases in certain cultural / social / whatever contexts. The same psychological mechanism can drive a bias with respect to institutional prestige in a context such as the philosophical job market.

Anonymous said...

"Finally, I want to add that I do sympathize with the worry that there's a rich-get-richer scheme going on. I think the main way in which this reveals itself is the frequency with which higher-ranked-school faculty are invited to present our work, either at talks or in edited volumes."

I think that this is one of the most dangerous trends currently manifested by the discipline - designed purely to keep those who are up up, and those who are down down. As a well-known person from a highly ranked institution, you can at some point completely opt out of the arduous procedure to submit your work to standards of blind peer-review. Your name and fame guarantee that your name and fame will get bigger and bigger.

Anonymous said...

To 12:05,

I'm not the original poster, but I
wanted to make two remarks about your criteria involving "Top 5" journals.

1. A logician can expect her work to get better referees and more readers if she publishes in a specialized journal. Similarly for much of philosophy of science. So there's a great incentive for philosophers working in certain areas of philosophy to publish in the Journal of Symbolic Logic or the British Journal for Philosophy of Science rather than a "Top 5" journal. I hope you consider such facts when hiring.

2. I appreciate that you consider candidates of "all ranks." Not everyone does, however. I have known individuals on search committees at two different institutions, both in Leiter's top ten, that have discarded applications, without review, based upon (a) Leiter rank or (b) lack of familiarity with *one* of the applicants' referees.

I'm sorry to say that prestige does play an insidious role in hiring.

Anonymous said...

"Just because people haven't manifested prestige bias explicitly doesn't mean it's not an unconscious driver of their shortlist decisions."

Obviously.
And just as obviously, I said nothing to suggest otherwise.

7:59 said:

"when applicants from lower-ranked programs don't publish, the assumption is that they are not capable of publishing."

But I haven't seen any evidence of this assumption.
You seem to have made some bizarre leap from what I actually said to some crazy thing about my *knowing* that there is no such thing as prestige bias.

Similarly, you say to 8:49:

"Wait, do you think implicit biases don't exist unless they're tested by IAT? That's a rather skeptical position."

But 8:49 obviously didn't say that the biases don't exist unless they're tested. S/he said that there isn't any evidence of this particular sort of bias.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sorry to say that prestige does play an insidious role in hiring."

Why is it "insidious"?

Or, better yet, let me put it this way. If as grad students we apply to schools (in part) based on their prestige, if we rank the jobs we apply to based (in part) on their prestige...why is it so terrible that SCs consider prestige when judging applicants?

Please stop with the silly notion that it's only SCs that care about the prestige of an institution when making their decisions. When Southeast Arkansas College receives as many applications as Princeton for a job in the same AOS, then you can bitch about "prestige bias."

Anonymous said...

"Or, better yet, let me put it this way. If as grad students we apply to schools (in part) based on their prestige, if we rank the jobs we apply to based (in part) on their prestige...why is it so terrible that SCs consider prestige when judging applicants?"

Where's the evidence that people apply to graduate schools based solely on prestige? If this were the case, the programs at the bottom of the Leiter list would be very small in terms of numbers. They aren't. Therefore, not everyone applies based on prestige.

A better point to make here is that people actually SHOULD apply to graduate school based (in LARGE part) on prestige. Why? Because one's chances of getting a TT job from a lower-ranked program are becoming smaller and smaller. But notice that this is different from prestige bias. No claim--implicit or not--is made about the prestigious departments being that much better. The move would be based on the prudential recognition that prestige bias plays a large role in job interviews and hiring.

And also--why should we excuse prestige bias on the part of professional philosophers because the same kind of reasoning is found in undergraduates looking for a graduate department?

Anonymous said...

"Where's the evidence that people apply to graduate schools based solely on prestige? If this were the case, the programs at the bottom of the Leiter list would be very small in terms of numbers. They aren't. Therefore, not everyone applies based on prestige."

This doesn't make any sense. Someone applying to graduate school (just like someone applying for jobs) probably has a list of schools that they would really really like to get into (prestige schools) and a whole slew of schools they would consider going to if they don't get into one of the prestiges. The existence of graduate school programs (and their current relative sizes) would be perfectly in line with people applying to grad schools based purely on prestige/Leiter-ranking.

At my old Leiteriffic department we had an acceptance rate of 7-15% depending on the year. I'm assuming that people who weren't accepted into my old program probably ended up *somewhere.*

Anonymous said...

12:05, 2:38 here.

I take your point: I could have done more to qualify my statements above. But even if a book is six times as hard to write as a (top-15) journal article, I don't think it is six times as hard to publish. I wouldn't be surprised if it were half as hard, even with a publisher like OUP, so long as one has the right background. In fact, there are people with the right background, with zero peer-reviewed publications, who get these contracts.

"Finally, I want to add that I do sympathize with the worry that there's a rich-get-richer scheme going on. I think the main way in which this reveals itself is the frequency with which higher-ranked-school faculty are invited to present our work, either at talks or in edited volumes. Prestige begets more prestige. I'm actually not sure what to do about this, but I am open to suggestions, particularly with respect to what faculty like me could do about it."

I think we would avoid shutting out those with real skill if we read the writing samples blind. Better still would be to mark them, to discourage altering blind judgments. The entire process could benefit from the predetermination of desirable qualities, whether or not other documents are read blind, just so that they are read with the desired qualities strongly in mind.

To overcome prestige bias in a more general way is probably impossible. We detect social hierarchy almost as soon as we enter this world, and it is one of the most important features of the world for us to know. If we strike for quality over power in a few key places, such as in hiring, we would probably go a long way toward shifting the balance.

not 6:48 said...

I love Smoker comments.

6:48 writes:
If as grad students we apply to schools (in part) based on their prestige…

And 8:25, after quoting this verbatim, retorts:
Where's the evidence that people apply to graduate schools based solely on prestige?

Say, friend, I think I might know why you aren’t getting a whole lot of job interviews.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those 'Smoker' comments are sure funny. Almost as funny as jerks who make 'Smoker' comments that ooze condescending remarks about how funny and stupid the other comments are and somehow manage to illustrate what they are trying to ridicule!

Anonymous said...

"In fact, there are people with the right background, with zero peer-reviewed publications, who get these contracts."

Can we please stop fetishizing the publication of articles? Why on earth do so many people still place such importance on this one thing? Do SCs consider things outside publications? Absolutely. The job list demonstrates that. Do academic publishers need to see that someone has published in journals before giving them a book contract? Absolutely not, and it's pretty easy to find evidence for this.

Yes, publishing articles - especially in top journals - is a good thing. But can we please stop with the assumption that it's the most important marker of one's skills as a philosopher? Getting a book contract without having published articles just may be a reflection that the book proposal was strong and the press is interested in publishing the work given it's strengths.

The longer this conversation drags out, the more it seems like there's a small group of people here who honestly believe that successful people from top programs must have been successful *because* of their letterhead. They couldn't possibly have earned it otherwise.

But I'm forgetting the most important fact here. I'm forgetting that the work that comes out of Princeton, Rutgers, NYU, Texas, etc., is pure shit. I forgot that the only reason any of those faculty - and any of their students - have ever been successful is prestige bias.

To return to: "In fact, there are people with the right background, with zero peer-reviewed publications, who get these contracts." Show me the philosopher who earned a book contract without prior publications, where that book is bad philosophy, and must have been published as a result of prestige bias. You allude to examples, that there are such people out there. Pony up; who are they? I want your examples.

epimenides said...

7:31, I don't think your comment is exactly oozing. Maybe seeping. But I do appreciate that you've posted the Liar Sentence of Smoker comments!

Anonymous said...

"I love Smoker comments.

6:48 writes:
If as grad students we apply to schools (in part) based on their prestige…

And 8:25, after quoting this verbatim, retorts:
Where's the evidence that people apply to graduate schools based solely on prestige?

Say, friend, I think I might know why you aren’t getting a whole lot of job interviews."

Yep, sloppiness in posting to a blog is definitely evidence of someone's being a SHITE philosopher. Thank god for Smoker comments like this.

Anonymous said...

"This doesn't make any sense. Someone applying to graduate school (just like someone applying for jobs) probably has a list of schools that they would really really like to get into (prestige schools) and a whole slew of schools they would consider going to if they don't get into one of the prestiges."

Certainly some people do this, but there are plenty of people who apply only to non-Leiterific programs, and this for a number of reasons--like the recognition that such programs still have solid, high-quality professors who do good work and are good at making others good philosophers. The assumption that prospective grad students all have their sights set on the top-20 programs--and accept spots at lower-ranked schools only when they get rejected by the top programs--is as egregious as the assumption that people who come out of these top-ranked programs are by that virtue better philosophers than those coming out of lower-ranked programs.

Anonymous said...

12:05 here.

"But even if a book is six times as hard to write as a (top-15) journal article, I don't think it is six times as hard to publish. I wouldn't be surprised if it were half as hard, even with a publisher like OUP, so long as one has the right background. In fact, there are people with the right background, with zero peer-reviewed publications, who get these contracts."

I've written both top-15 articles and a book (with OUP or the equivalent), and my take is this. A book is *way* more than 6 times as hard to write as one journal article (maybe: 15 times as hard? it's the length of 10-15 articles, but also has to fit together and so forth and can't leave anything "beyond the scope of this work" (but I could just be bad at writing books and/or my book might be much better than my journal articles)). I agree that it is easier to get books accepted -- in the sense that books have a higher acceptance rate, not in the sense that the quality can be lower. So, on balance, I think it's at least 6 times as hard to write a book and get it published as it is to write a top-15 article and get it published. I believe of myself that if I hadn't written my book and had instead used that time for articles, I would have at least 6 more articles in top-15 journals, though of course I could be wrong about that.

Although I do grant you that prestige does play a role in book contracts - they are not blinded for a reason - I think that role is small. (Or are you really claiming that books are in general of lower quality than articles?) Also, part of the reason that a higher percentage of books gets accepted is that not everyone even attempts them in the first place.

I appreciate your thoughts on blinding the writing samples. Nonetheless, what I am really interested in is how to overcome the sort of social networking thing that happens once one gets a job, that over-privileges people in my position. From my point of view, the job process for hiring new Ph.D.s is relatively fair, but the small disparities in initial job placement (justified by small differences in candidates) lead to vast disparities as a result of the fact that once hired, a professor at a top school can expect a massive amount of invitations to conferences and volumes, whereas a professor at even a mid-level school can expect *far* less of these. Any thoughts on what individuals like me can do about that?

I'm sympathetic to the situation of everyone here, and I realize that it's easy to speak when one is in a position of power, so I apologize if I've contributed to anyone's depression!

Anonymous said...

On a different note... a must read for any committee that talks about "fit". http://www.asanet.org/journals/ASR/Dec12ASRFeature.pdf

Anonymous said...

3:07 here.

6:48 asks, "Why is it "insidious"?"

Read my post. I know of search committee members on two schools in Leiter's top 10 that throw out applications, without reading them, based solely on considerations of prestige of institution of letter writers. In addition to finding this to be an utterly stupid way of narrowing the applicant field, I think it's insidious for the following reasons.

Entry into a graduate program is determined, for many philosophers, when they are in their early twenties. Some students discover they love philosophy later in college and, as a result, have less strong applications to PhD programs.
Further, graduate student admissions are not nearly as careful as faculty searches: good students can be cast aside and end up in less prestigious PhD programs by mere chance. Also, undergraduate pedigree strongly influences admission to graduate school, and so if one attended a less prestigious undergraduate program, one's chances at attending a Leiterrific PhD program are smaller. Finally, financial considerations can lead individuals to attend less prestigious schools (NYU's stipend is sufficient for a single individual, but makes life difficult for a family).

So when an applicants' file is tossed out because she attended a less prestigious graduate institution, I am more than happy to use the word "insidious" because the cause of the applicant's choice to attend a particular graduate school could be
i. Bad luck
ii. A one year lag in one's discover of a love of philosophy
iii. Undergraduate pedigree, which was influenced by one's academic record in high school, and/or
iv. Financial considerations

I assume that (i)-(iv) are not good reasons to dismiss applications.

6:48 says, "Please stop with the silly notion that it's only SCs that care about the prestige of an institution when making their decisions."

I didn't say that. No one on this thread has said that.

6:48 says, "Or, better yet, let me put it this way. If as grad students we apply to schools (in part) based on their prestige, if we rank the jobs we apply to based (in part) on their prestige...why is it so terrible that SCs consider prestige when judging applicants?"

Institutional hiring decisions are morally and legally different from individual decisions about where to apply for school and jobs. A female or black philosopher might rightfully refrain from applying or taking a job because the department is exclusively white men and that would make her uncomfortable. A department should not (and cannot legally), however, discriminate against a philosopher because of her sex and/or race.

Finally, from a personal perspective, I care very little about the "prestige" of a university that is willing to hire me. I care about whether I will be paid well, where the institution is located, what types of colleagues I will have, and so on. You might claim that prestige of a university is correlated with such important factors about one's job, just as prestige of PhD program is correlated with the "quality" of the applicant. Here, I assume "quality" means something like research and teaching abilities.

But then, why wouldn't you recommend that hiring decisions be based upon solely on writing samples, publications, and teaching portfolios, which are better indicators of an applicant's skills than the institution from which she graduated?

Some on this blog claim pedigree is a short cut used because department's have insufficient time. That's bullshit. Large numbers of applications can be read carefully, and conscientious search committees have an incentive to do so: they may be hiring someone for 40+ years.

Anonymous said...

FYI If you haven't published articles and are looking for a book contract (or even if you are a relatively junior person of any kind looking for a book contract), you generally have to submit the whole manuscript before you get a contract, not just a proposal. So books from people with no or few articles will generally have been peer reviewed in entirety.

Anonymous said...

12:05/10:03,

You make lots of good points on book writing and publishing. My failure to leave out the books was an oversight, and I do think now that the book issue undermines my attempts at comparison. So, thank you.

"I appreciate your thoughts on blinding the writing samples. Nonetheless, what I am really interested in is how to overcome the sort of social networking thing that happens once one gets a job, that over-privileges people in my position. From my point of view, the job process for hiring new Ph.D.s is relatively fair, but the small disparities in initial job placement (justified by small differences in candidates) lead to vast disparities as a result of the fact that once hired, a professor at a top school can expect a massive amount of invitations to conferences and volumes, whereas a professor at even a mid-level school can expect *far* less of these. Any thoughts on what individuals like me can do about that?"

This is a nice point and I have no easy solution. If and when the Eastern APA becomes more of a conference, and less of a job fair, this may be an even better place for junior people from less prestigious institutions to find recognition, at least for the submission-based talks. In general, submission-based talks are likely to be better off than invitation-based talks on this point, I think, so increasing venues for the former might help. To improve invitation-based talks, more widely available information about who is out there doing what might help. The Bourget/Chalmers projects (e.g. PhilPapers) might be the best place to look for this in the future.

9:24 AM

"But I'm forgetting the most important fact here. I'm forgetting that the work that comes out of Princeton, Rutgers, NYU, Texas, etc., is pure shit. I forgot that the only reason any of those faculty - and any of their students - have ever been successful is prestige bias."

I don't hold this view, and I don't think a reasonable person should. In my few comments here, I have been responding to this comment (and defending my response):

"Anonymous said...
"What bothers the rest of us is that some of us are coming from non-ranked schools with lots of publications in top 15 journals...and we're not even getting first round interviews, whereas the people hired have ZERO but come from a top 10 program. "

It may bother you, but it is often the right call. We read the dossiers. We read the writing samples. These writing samples are often better than anything published by those productive students from lower programs. Publishing philosophy isn't that hard. Writing good philosophy is.

March 3, 2013 at 7:31 AM"

Perhaps my response was too strong for a brief comment like this, and that led you to believe that I mean to entirely devalue philosophers from top ranked departments. In fact, I think many of the philosophers in these departments (grad students and faculty) are outstanding. What I think is a problem is the degree to which philosophers of these departments are valued in comparison to philosophers of other departments. I think the difference in admission to graduate programs normally comes down to being a good student, not a good philosopher, since most students applying to graduate school have only been doing philosophy full-time for two years at that point, and philosophy is a slow blooming flower. I think that many of the more highly-ranked programs do provide a better education, and maybe even an education twice as good as the education provided by lower-ranked programs, but I also think that the influence of this difference is overestimated. I admittedly do not have sufficient evidence to convince the unsympathetic ear, especially without looking at particular examples (which I will not do here). In any case, all of this is more of a background concern. My primary concern in the statements I have made is about the quick dismissal of job candidates with multiple top-15 (or top-5, if there are these) publications. All of my comments have this issue as their target.

Anonymous said...

I'm in a SC. I tend to prefer candidates from higher Leiter ranked departments for a lot of reasons. But one reason is that they come out of their PhD program with a better network of smart philosophers (students and professors). This network will help them along as their careers progress with paper revisions, people to talk to, invitations to conferences etc. They are more likely to become better philosophers because they have better networks. Philosophy is a social enterprise. It's not just an individual thinking stuff up on their own. You want to hire an individual with a good network behind them.

Anonymous said...

2:07, Your comment is ambiguous. Do you mean that people from higher-ranked programs tend to have better networks--and the better network is the reason you are interested in a candidate? Or that they tend to have better networks, so the chances are greater that if you hire someone from a higher-ranked program they will come with a better network. If it's the former, then I assume a person from a lower-ranked program with evidence of the same kind of strong networks, all other things equal, would be on the same list as the people from the higher-ranked programs. And if it's the latter, then it's just an assumption that might or might not turn out true. Surely not every--and maybe not even a large majority--of people from higher-ranked programs have the kind of network you're describing.

Anonymous said...

"But then, why wouldn't you recommend that hiring decisions be based upon solely on writing samples, publications, and teaching portfolios, which are better indicators of an applicant's skills than the institution from which she graduated?"

Actually, I do. And have done so on previous threads, to be told (by multiple people) that those various criteria are imperfect measures and have little to no value as indicators of either present worth or long-term predictors.

I find it all pretty amusing, because for everyone who suggests there are some criteria that can serve as an indicator of future success, there are others who argue the opposite. For every SC member who gives a reason as to why he/she makes the decisions he/she does, there's a chorus of people who explain why that's idiotic and unfair.

Discussions of the job market on this blog are amusing, as they amount to little more than failed attempts to impose order on chaos.

Anonymous said...

I find it astounding that 2:07 gives worse networks as a valid reason not to hire candidates from weakly or unranked PhD programs. Relying on someone's networks as a proxy for how good they are is an unfair and unwarranted form of bias. Apparently, the days when old boys networks mattered are not behind us. Indeed, we now have justifications for such biases. It's pretty well established by now that white, straight men have, on average better networks, because of various reasons: advisors and other senior people prefer people similar to themselves, males often have less caring responsibilities and can go and bond more with their colleagues etc. So, why not just hire white straight men, since members of minorities undoubtedly will have a less good network. After all "philosophy is a social enterprise". If I hire a white guy from a top-Leiter school, I'm hiring someone who is likely to become a better philosopher because he has a better network???

Anonymous said...

12:05,

You make lots of good points on the difficulty of writing and publishing books. I am willing to agree that I overstated my earlier case (in fact, excluding the books was an oversight I was attempting to excuse after the fact).

“I appreciate your thoughts on blinding the writing samples. Nonetheless, what I am really interested in is how to overcome the sort of social networking thing that happens once one gets a job, that over-privileges people in my position. From my point of view, the job process for hiring new Ph.D.s is relatively fair, but the small disparities in initial job placement (justified by small differences in candidates) lead to vast disparities as a result of the fact that once hired, a professor at a top school can expect a massive amount of invitations to conferences and volumes, whereas a professor at even a mid-level school can expect *far* less of these. Any thoughts on what individuals like me can do about that?”

All good points. Submission-based conferences and talks probably do better at including faculty from less prestigious departments than invitation-based conferences and talks. If information about who does what was more widely available and easier to access, invitation-based conferences and talks might do better here (i.e. I think the failure to invite some people is a mere oversight). Finally, senior faculty or faculty at prestigious departments could suggest symposia at places like the APA that include faculty from less prestigious departments.

9:24,

My comments here are a response to this commentator, following a post by 9:36 (and defenses of that response):

"Anonymous said...
"What bothers the rest of us is that some of us are coming from non-ranked schools with lots of publications in top 15 journals...and we're not even getting first round interviews, whereas the people hired have ZERO but come from a top 10 program. "

It may bother you, but it is often the right call. We read the dossiers. We read the writing samples. These writing samples are often better than anything published by those productive students from lower programs. Publishing philosophy isn't that hard. Writing good philosophy is.
March 3, 2013 at 7:31 AM"

Perhaps my response was overkill, and that led you to believe that I hold beliefs like the following:

"But I'm forgetting the most important fact here. I'm forgetting that the work that comes out of Princeton, Rutgers, NYU, Texas, etc., is pure shit. I forgot that the only reason any of those faculty - and any of their students - have ever been successful is prestige bias."

But I don’t. I don’t think a reasonable person could hold these beliefs. This statement better reflects my beliefs: “Is it likely that people like 9:36 deserve more opportunities than they are getting, given the fact that they have passed the gauntlet of publication at a rate unmatched by the best of their profession? I say yes.”

11:49,
Thanks. I didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

5:51,

Could you please explain the following?

First you write: "Publishing philosophy isn't that hard."

Later, you write: "Is it likely that people like 9:36 deserve more opportunities than they are getting, given the fact that they have passed the gauntlet of publication at a rate unmatched by the best of their profession? I say yes."

If publishing philosophy isn't hard, why then is publishing a "gauntlet"? Or, what's the point of "pass[ing] the gauntlet" if the gauntlet isn't terribly difficult to begin with?

Anonymous said...

It’s clear nobody thinks publishing philosophy is worthless; it obviously shows something to get published in top 15 journals. Everyone agrees, despite some careless remarks and overreactions to them here. Equally clear, nobody thinks pedigree counts more than publishing; again – obvious.

Less clear, but equally true I think, is that publication record only shows so much – you have to be good, but not necessarily great, to publish well (though yes, yes, we know it's hard).
Equally true, you can be great but underpublished, at least at the moment you hit the market. And SCs and department faculty consider themselves qualified to judge that someone falls in this last category.

When they do judge a candidate that way, there is no good argument against hiring her, or none that has been offered here so far. It sucks to be the published candidate who loses the job to her, but that’s about the worst you can say about such decisions. They're not wrong or unfair.

Anonymous said...

2:37,

The entire quoted entry, from "Anonymous said..." to "7:31 AM" belongs to someone else. I was initially responding to that entry (I did not include my response in the latest post), which was itself a response to a previous entry by 9:36. So you are right to point out that my beliefs and those seemingly expressed by 7:31 are opposed. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused.

Popkin said...

"equally clear, nobody thinks pedigree counts more than publishing; again – obvious"

Wait, what? Don't most hiring committees think pedigree is more important than publishing? Isn't that the whole problem?

In addition, surely there's a plausible case to be made that the general practice of hiring people based principally on where they went to school and who they know is both "wrong and unfair." (Even if you can't establish that that's what's going on in an any individual case, the frequency of such hires suggests decisions are often based on such considerations).

Anonymous said...

The comment by 8:25 is the perfect example to the indifference of the majority of the people in the field who do not have to worry about getting a job and putting food on the table! For me, their word or "opinion" does not count at all. How can I listen to someone's words about the horrible situation I'm in, if I know that he/she does not give a damn about me or others in the same situation... He/she does not care even if I have published in top journals and just says to me "tough shit published philosopher, you made a bad decision huh getting a phd in philosophy..."

This is just terrible at so many different levels that I do not know where to begin listing the ways in which 8:25's words offend, disrespect, annoy, and infuriate me!

But it shows me yet again that these people just do not give a rat's ass about us! They just pretend that they are concerned even saddened about the sorry state of the field but then go on whiting out the year on their old syllabi and teach the same intro class that they've been teaching for the last few decades... Publications? Are you kiddin? They got tenure about 20 years ago, what publications? What a sham academic philosophy has become... The really funny thing is that we still want to be colleagues with such people...

Anonymous said...

I've served on multiple searches, and while I am sensitive to many of the issues raised here, I'd like to point something out that (from what I can tell) has not been noted.

When you apply for a job, you should be sending in your best writing sample. I'm working under that assumption. This is you at your finest. In some cases, your best writing may have been published, so you send off-prints of the article. In some cases, your best writing comes from the dissertation. In some cases, maybe your best work is an article you are developing that is not from the dissertation (from my limited experience, this is more common from applicants who are at least a year removed from their PhD). But the point is, this is your best writing, at this point in your career.

Whether or not that work has been published, to me, isn't relevant. But more importantly, whether or not the applicant has been previously published is also not terribly relevant to me, either. I like that someone has published, not because it means anything about the inherent worth of the work, but because I know that it takes no small amount of work to go through the motions necessary to get a piece in print, especially at a good journal. But in my mind, the fact that some applicants have published and some have not simply doesn't matter.

It *especially* doesn't matter if your writing sample isn't one of those published articles. If you have published multiple articles and you send me something else, my take-away is that the work you're doing now is demonstrably better than what you have published. On the one hand, that's good, as it shows that you continue to grow as a philosopher. On the other hand, however, it tells me that your previous work is inferior, and why would I want to consider inferior work as part of your application?

The thing is - and maybe this is due to my particular AOS - I can't think of a single major work that was produced by someone while she was in graduate school. Can I point to good works published by grad students? Certainly. Can I point to something that shows the potential for future promise? Absolutely. But I can find the same markers for potential in an unpublished writing sample.

The fact that someone has published in grad school, in and of itself, means almost nothing to me. Having multiple papers published while in grad school means almost nothing to me. And it means even less to me when applicants have published multiple articles and send me *something unpublished* as a writing sample. If your published articles do not represent your best work, then you shouldn't be surprised when SCs don't pay much attention to them.

Anonymous said...

"Wait, what? Don't most hiring committees think pedigree is more important than publishing? Isn't that the whole problem?"

No. We do not. And no, it is not. It is not pedigree that is more important than publishing. it is the quality of the work being done that is more important that whether that work is published or not. And the best work, more often then not, comes from highly ranked programs. There are always exceptions. We are all aware of this.

How many times do we have to say this? Perhaps it is easier to think you are being passed over because of prestige bias. "It's not my fault. My work is great! The only reason I'm being passed over is because I went to Sad-Sack University. INJUSTICE!" no one denies that there are biases of all sorts that are engaged in this process. But this self-serving narrative does not get to the heart of what most often is the true explanation:

You are being passed over because of the quality of your work. Many of you are not that good.

"But I must be good; I have x papers published!"

nope.

Anonymous said...

9:45, I would reconsider this assumption:

"It *especially* doesn't matter if your writing sample isn't one of those published articles. If you have published multiple articles and you send me something else, my take-away is that the work you're doing now is demonstrably better than what you have published. On the one hand, that's good, as it shows that you continue to grow as a philosopher. On the other hand, however, it tells me that your previous work is inferior, and why would I want to consider inferior work as part of your application?"

if for no other reason, then because some of your colleagues hold positions like this:

"Unfortunately, since people from lower-ranked programs have to publish even to be considered, they will probably have mined the dissertation for papers prior to going on the job market. But that means that for them to get tenure, they will have to come up with new research--either new projects or extensions of the dissertation research. March 4, 2013 at 7:23 PM"

which puts those with publications from lower-ranked programs in a tight spot. If they send you their best published work you may well assume that they have no other good work and that they have exhausted their supply (I have heard this said by committee members). If they send you their best unpublished work then you (perhaps only you) will assume that their other, published work isn't as good. Thus, one reason to abandon your assumption is that some of your colleagues have exactly opposed assumptions and the applicant may have decided to bet on the other assumption in making their choice of what to send.

Another reason to abandon the assumption is that multiple papers can be of the same high quality.

Another is that the paper has been vetted, when we are talking about the best journals, by the most qualified people. Even if you do read the published papers, unless you are a reviewer for that level of journal in the subject area you are reading, you have good reason to cede judgment to those reviewers who carefully read the paper to determine if it should be published.

Anonymous said...

To 10:17:

"You are being passed over because of the quality of your work".

Given the high degree of specialization in the field I doubt you or most SC members are competent to judge the quality of dissertations or the papers produced from them, esp. in the fields of phil. language, phil. logic and mathematical logic. So you are selecting for the generic "philosophy of time", "modal metaphysics", "game theory" and other well-worn topics over anything truly exceptional or outside of immediate philosophical convention. Indeed, I suspect you select for hacks over innovators, suggesting that the best strategy for getting a job in philosophy is to remain as intellectually conservative as possible.

I'm not implying that those who don't earn a good position are all worthy. I do know that some of the finest philosophers of mathematics, logic and language spend their lives in obscurity, stuck in adjunct hell.

As you attack those of us who frequent this blog as not being "good" (by your own limited and rather pedestrian judgment) I suspect your own bibliometrics, when adjusted for self-citation, are vanishingly close to zero. I suspect are not that good, either.

Anonymous said...

Thinking just about research, I think a rational search committee should care about two things: EXCELLENCE of the work, and REPEATABILITY of the standard of the work.

I agree with people that writing sample is much better evidence for EXCELLENCE than publication records. So some people can be ruled out on those grounds. But isn't publication record much better evidence for REPEATABILITY than writing sample? More importantly, it can show something like the ability to produce good quality articles in reasonable timeframes for the tenure clock.

We can all agree that publication record is not everything, but people's complaint seems to be that it should be worth a lot more than it seems to (based on things like Dicey-Jennings's analysis).

Anonymous said...

9:45 here:

"If they send you their best published work you may well assume that they have no other good work and that they have exhausted their supply (I have heard this said by committee members)."

I don't assume that. I assume that if someone can do good work once, they can do it again. I've yet to meet any philosopher who maxed out her potential in one publication. (If I didn't assume this, I would never want to hire someone fresh out of grad school.)

"If they send you their best unpublished work then you (perhaps only you) will assume that their other, published work isn't as good."

Or perhaps it's just as good, which makes it a wash. Mostly because of my previous assumption that someone who does good work once can do it again. The reason we only ask for one writing sample is because that's all we need. Though if there's a consensus among grad students that SCs should start demanding *multiple* high-quality writing samples, I'd be fine with it. It's not necessary, but if some people think it is, I won't object.

"Thus, one reason to abandon your assumption is that some of your colleagues have exactly opposed assumptions and the applicant may have decided to bet on the other assumption in making their choice of what to send."

And of all the things I don't care about when serving on a SC, it's what other SCs might be doing, or what they might assume. What other SCs think have no bearing on how I'm building my department. And while this sucks for applicants (perhaps), they should remember that the only absolute on the market is this: there is no uniformity among SCs. None. The more you prepare for one kind of SC, the more you work against what another might want.

"Another reason to abandon the assumption is that multiple papers can be of the same high quality."

Right. See above. Makes it a wash. One good paper, two good papers, three good papers...whatever. I assume that if you are brilliant in your writing sample, your brilliance doesn't end there. In fact, I'll grant that anyone who sends a brilliant writing sample is capable of sustained brilliance. But the same holds true if you send me a mediocre writing sample. I'm going to assume that the rest of your work is mediocre, and that mediocrity is your limit. Your writing sample is your chance to show me you at your best. If you aim low, you just may hit that target.

"Another is that the paper has been vetted, when we are talking about the best journals, by the most qualified people. Even if you do read the published papers, unless you are a reviewer for that level of journal in the subject area you are reading, you have good reason to cede judgment to those reviewers who carefully read the paper to determine if it should be published."

No, I really don't. Though if there is something I don't quite get, I will talk to my colleagues, some of whom are readers for top journals, some of whom have published in top journals. Unless you're assuming that people who don't review for journals are not capable of reviewing for journals, which I don't think you are. If we should cede judgment to journal reviewers, let's stop asking for writing samples entirely. Instead of asking for writing samples, job ads should simply say, "must be published in [name of top journal]."

Actually, now that I think on that, I rather like it. Would do wonders for trimming down the number of applications I need to read.

Popkin said...

"It is not pedigree that is more important than publishing. it is the quality of the work being done that is more important that whether that work is published or not. And the best work, more often then not, comes from highly ranked programs. There are always exceptions. We are all aware of this."

The claim is that the judgement that members of hiring committees make about the work of people coming out of top programs is biased. Someone who has published multiple articles in, say, top-10 journals has convinced referees who don't have the opportunity to be influenced by pedigree that their work is excellent. The fact that such candidates are frequently passed over for candidates with no publications from top programs is a reason to think that the judgments of hiring committee members have been influenced by factors that have nothing to do with quality of work.

Also, try to keep in mind that a person on the other side of things telling themselves that, while there might be exceptions, jobs typically go to the best people, is every bit a self-serving narrative.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, I'll grant that anyone who sends a brilliant writing sample is capable of sustained brilliance."

I'll assume since "Call Me Maybe" is like the best song ever, everything else Carly Rae Jepson does will be amazing.

I'll assume since Anastasia Myskina won a Grand Slam, she'll continue to win lots of Grand Slams.

I'll assume since To Kill A Mockingbird is great, everything else Harper Lee writes will be great.

I'll assume ... okay you get the idea.

But no, philosophical brilliance is deeply essential inside the heart inside your gut.

Anonymous said...

""In fact, I'll grant that anyone who sends a brilliant writing sample is capable of sustained brilliance."

I'll assume since "Call Me Maybe" is like the best song ever, everything else Carly Rae Jepson does will be amazing.

I'll assume since Anastasia Myskina won a Grand Slam, she'll continue to win lots of Grand Slams.

I'll assume since To Kill A Mockingbird is great, everything else Harper Lee writes will be great.

I'll assume ... okay you get the idea.

But no, philosophical brilliance is deeply essential inside the heart inside your gut."

" is capable of" is a possibility claim. Hence,

I'll assume since "Call Me Maybe" is like the best song ever, everything else Carly Rae Jepson does COULD be amazing.

I'll assume since Anastasia Myskina won a Grand Slam, she COULD win lots of Grand Slams.

I'll assume since To Kill A Mockingbird is great, everything else Harper Lee writes COULD be great.

FTFY since these inferences are mostly unobjectionable. And I believe the thought is that since someone has a brilliant writing sample they are ceteris paribus more likely to produce brilliant future work than someone without such a sample. Not objectionable at all, given the ceteris paribus clause.

Anonymous said...

here is what i take to be a relevant summary of the above 180-comment exchange.

ONE
standard question about the discipline: how might phd's from non-leiterrific departments improve their chances of landing a tenure track job? (implicit here is also a broader disciplinary concern with how phd's from non-leiterrific depts might achieve professional *visibility.*)

what was once the standard answer: publish! but in good places, of course.

new answer and why the above exchange is important: publishing in good places is not enough! the reason, we are told, is that candidates from leiterrific programs have at least two attributes which, as it happens, are surer signs of philosophical promise. they have, firstly, professional connections. these are significant even if they only serve to aid the trajectory of this candidate. also, they have, and much more importantly, an amazing writing sample, whether published or unpublished does not matter. this attribute very nearly trumps everything else.

TWO
question: does this new answer to a standard question confirm the rampant pedigree bias in the discipline?

answer: no! it explains, as it has been adamantly argued, why more or less rational hiring practices favor candidates from leiterrific departments. (gone is the standard suggestion that the job market, as terrible as it is, forces search committees to use pedigree as a guide, even if a fallible one, to eliminate candidates.)

THREE
ok, suppose this is true. what does this mean for phd's from non-leiterrific departments? i take the answer to be something along the following lines. boot-strapping, or publishing one's way up in the profession or even *into* professional visibility, which is a substantial challenge all on its own and the hope for many non-leiterrific candidates, is becoming less and less of a viable option for a successful career in academia.

Anonymous said...

10:57, This seems to me an adequate summary.

One thing that occurred to me as I read this is that writing samples, because not read under the veil of anonymity, might take on positive features based again on where the author received his/her PhD. We value blind reviewing in publishing decisions (see discussions at other blogs about how inconsistently this is actually practiced), primarily because a paper can appear to be better or worse based solely on who wrote the paper or where the author has gotten an education or teaches. What makes us think that the same kind of biases won't kick in during job searches? They obviously can and do. It's not clear then why it makes sense to prioritize writing samples over pubs, unless SC members are "certain" they don't allow extrinsic considerations to affect their judgments of writing samples.

Anonymous said...

@1:20 Your rephrases are only unobjectionable because they are trivial. Who COULDn't be capable of producing future brilliant works? (Or, to be more precise with respect to the original post: Who COULDn't be capable of sustained brilliance?) Certainly one less than brilliant work would be no evidence against the possibility of future brilliance. The original post's inference wouldn't work unless one assumes the tiny sliver of actuality that one has access to is a good guide to possibility.

Even stated as a ceteris paribus claim, I still don't see any evidence for it. I am, however, aware of the human tendency to overascribe performance to innate trait, especially when the performance conforms to their existing stereotypes. So, insofar as we're doing something like burden of proof, the onus is on the person who wants to claim there's not something like the fundamental attribution error going on here.

Jed said...

I have a feeling this is a very stupid question, but I'll ask in the hope of hoping about a job for just a few more days... Question: if the jobs wiki says that first-round interviews have been scheduled for some position a day or two earlier, and you've not been contacted, is it all-but-certain you're not going to be? Or is there some plausible story I can tell myself to string myself along for a bit longer?

Anonymous said...

I’m not 1:20, but…

@1:20 Your rephrases are only unobjectionable because they are trivial. Who COULDn't be capable of producing future brilliant works? (Or, to be more precise with respect to the original post: Who COULDn't be capable of sustained brilliance?)

You misstated what 1:20 said. Not to pick nits, but the issue isn’t who *could be *capable. That’s too many modals. The question is one that can be asked with one, modal ‘could’.
So if you mean, which philosophers we know of couldn’t write some really brilliant stuff in the future… well, sadly, I know many. Are you really so fortunate as never to have met any such philosophers?

I am, however, aware of the human tendency to overascribe performance to innate trait, especially when the performance conforms to their existing stereotypes.

But it’s utterly irrelevant whether the trait in question is innate. Isn’t it?

Anonymous said...

74th entry on Leiter:
"Jorge Mario Bergoglio (San Miguel) hired by the Holy See, Vatican City. AOS: Philosophy of Religion. Previously Cardinal at Buenos Aires."
Go, David Morrow!!!!

Anonymous said...

Re: 6:15pm
I don't see that update on the Phylo wiki...