Friday, February 26, 2010

You Go To School To Learn, Not For A Fashion Show

I know we've had an excessive number of "what do you wear" posts in the last couple of months, to the point where we've beyond exhausted the topic. It's probably just a symptom of general over-thinking and job-market stress--once you've sent out your applications, there's not much about the process you can control, and so the importance of little insignificant things you can control is distorted.

But it's important not to lose sight of the real goal: to get a permanent teaching job at the college level. I like teaching, and I seem to be good at it, and I want it to be my career. Being on the job market is time-consuming and stressful. And when I am super busy and stressed out, I get grouchy. And when I get grouchy, I am less patient with my students and I can tell that it affects my teaching.

Now, I know that tenure-line jobs come with more responsibilities and that they'll keep me awfully busy, but I think there's a difference between being busy because I have a full-time, permanent job I all-things-considered love with some shitty details, and being busy because I have a full-time job but which has no future, and another part-time job I don't like at all, being on the job market. Just give me a job and let me do my job.

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cleaning the inbox: 'ethical' dilemmas edition

Soon, I hope, I'll get back into this blogging business regularly (though Zero is holding down the fort quite well). In the meantime, I have two e-mailed comments/questions that have been burning a hole in my Inbox. The first from true believer Zombie, who points us towards this question sent into the NYT's Ethicist column, which left him "virtually speechless". The offending solicitation for advice:
I am a university professor. Several graduate students I advise are seeking teaching positions during one of the worst job markets in memory. Would it be ethical to discourage those who still have funding from doing so this year or to tone down their letters of recommendation if they insist on entering the work force, in order to give more senior — and more desperate — students a better chance at getting jobs? Some of my colleagues advocate this. NAME WITHHELD
Long story short, the advisor ended up writing rec's "based solely on his view of the students" hopefully of his own accord and without having to receive advice from a columnist with a B.A. in Music. Still. I wonder why the fuck the advisor couldn't just tell the students with one more year of funding not to go on the market this year, since there really isn't an ethical dilemma here. As Zombie quipped, "I hope this professor isn't a philosopher." Me too.

Second, new fellow smoker MH asks:
Does anybody else find it unacceptable that a department that is hiring would list the names of its job candidates on its website? Such lists effectively become lists of the "losers" after the winners' names are posted on Leiter's blog.
Here, MH is referring to the fact that some schools that are hiring post "Job Talk" on their events pages (or something similar) next to those they giving on-campus talks. I'm not sure I have much of a problem with the practice, after all, if you are giving a job talk, you're already a winner in most everyone's book (fuck, you are a winner if you managed an interview; or, so I like to think), but I can see how it might be offensive. Opinions?

--Jaded Dissertator

Skype Fashion

A fellow Smoker who wishes to remain anonymous writes with the following question:
...what do you wear for a Skype interview? I suppose it's a less formal occasion than a regular APA interview, but more formal than a phone interview since they can see you. What is appropriate? Jacket-and-tie? Jacket and open-collar shirt? Thanks for the help!
One nice thing about this kind of interview is that you can dress comfortably from the waist down. So while I recommend wearing pajama pants and slippers, I don't really know what kind of upper-body attire is appropriate. And I suppose that women probably have more options than men, although not obviously in a good way. Thanks everyone.

--Mr. Zero

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Conversant with the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

So it seems like (as usual) a fair number of the 1 years cropping up are at Catholic schools. First of all, great. Thank goodness for an intellectually rigorous religion that wants to create institutions to hire academics. Here's the rub. I need a job, and I'm a good teacher. I'm not religious. I didn't go to Catholic school. I don't do Aquinas or the like.

Should I just give up on these jobs? I can teach the philosophy and respect the religion.

-- Second Suitor

p.s. Pascal move aside, I got a pretty good economic argument for converting..

February JFP is Online

Apply the secret formula. 33 ads.

--Mr. Zero

Update: As commenters have pointed out, web-only ads raise the total to 70. Does it seem like there's an above-average amount of tenure-track jobs here?

U of San Francisco Offers Alternate Site for Pacific APA Meeting Events

From Leiter:
In light of the on-going labor dispute at the hotel hosting the Pacific APA, the University of San Francisco is offering alternative conference and lodging facilities for interested participants. See the website for details about how to move sessions to the USF facilities.
Details here.

--Mr. Zero

Monday, February 15, 2010

Public Service Announcement

For those heading to the central, keep in mind that the Chicago Art Museum is free in February:

-- Second Suitor

Friday is JFP Day

I will be very interested to see what this thing looks like. Based on conversations I've had, the conventional wisdom seems to be that the VAP market will be strong compared to last year and to the TT market from this past fall. But that's what people were saying last year, and we know what happened then.

Do you suppose that a relatively strong February JFP will indicate or be a sign of a comparatively strong TT market in the Fall?

My prediction: 40 ads.

--Mr. Zero

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Leiter Jobs Thread Is Up And Running

Congratulations to all the winners. I'm going to pop some popcorn, open a cold one, and watch the show.

--Mr. Zero

Friday, February 12, 2010

Zen and the Art of Negotiation

Anonymous @ 8:43 asks,
I got a job offer. (Pardon while I squeal like a child for a second.) I've yet to talk to the Dean about the details of compensation and any negotiations about salary, benefits, and so forth. And, frankly, I'm terrible about negotiating.

So does anyone know what it is reasonable to negotiate about and the process of negotiation? Will he give me an offer and then will I have a couple of days to consider it, during which time I can counter and ask for more money, or a lowering of teaching duties for the first year, or what have you? Any advice at all about how to manage this upcoming conversation would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! (And !!!!!!!! )
First, congratulations. Second, my (extremely limited) understanding is that once you receive a formal offer, in writing, a two week negotiating period is customary. You don't have to answer right away. I'm sure the Smokers can provide more info.

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leaving Las Vegas

In comments, clp asks
This is slightly off topic but it's something that I was hoping to have some discussion on. I'm an assistant professor with a tenure-track job, I went on the market this year nevertheless and managed to land several interviews and several fly-outs. However, despite these successes, I've been seriously considering leaving the profession of philosophy. I was wondering how many of you have thought about seriously leaving philosophy or have actually left philosophy, particularly for something outside of academe. What were your reasons? What were your experiences? Was it difficult? Thanks (and I apologize for posting out of place and if this has already been covered). - clp
I thought it was worth its own thread. What say you?

--Mr. Zero

A Pointless, Unnecessarily Long Response to A Comment Left By Troy Nunley

Professor Troy Nunley, author of this W4 post, has visited us and responded to a critical post I wrote. I started to draft a brief response, but there were so many wrong, misleading, or clueless statements in Nunley’s comment that I lost control of myself. I realize, of course, that responding at all was a pointless waste of time, and that responding at length was really really stupid. I should never have written this, and you definitely shouldn’t read it. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I have grading to do.

Nunley writes,
Regarding c, Mr. Zero granted the point. Thanks. However, he changes subject...
I don't see how this is a change of subject. I thought the subject was whether there is something wrong with the APA's new policy. I granted the irrelevant semantic point, pointed out that it did not affect the larger issue that anti-miscegenation policies are discriminatory and a rightful target of the APA's policy. If Professor Nunley insists that the semantic point is the important thing, then I thank him and withdraw from the conversation until he is willing to discuss an important issue. (This last sentence is obviously a lie.)
...changes subject to address whether or not discrimination upon whether one is interracially married or not is morally beyond the pale. Please don’t go there; I am in an interracial marriage.
I am in the dark here. Why can't I talk about how the policy applies to interracial marriage because Troy Nunley is in an interracial marriage? And anyways, I didn't go there; Nunley went there when he objected to the APA's use of the word 'integral' to describe why rules against interracial marriage are discriminatory. My complaint is not that Nunley is a bigot who disfavors interracial marriage; it's that the semantic point about whether this is an according-to-Hoyle integral connection is not germane.

And anyway, I think that there’s a clear sense in which anti-miscegenation policies touch something integral about racial identity. What, after all, is the (false) premise behind such policies? That (e.g.) black people are somehow morally unfit to enter into certain kinds of relationship with (e.g.) white people. (It also seems to suggest that there is something wrong with (e.g.) white people who are interested, willing, or otherwise open to pursuing certain kinds of relationships with (e.g.) black people.) It seems to me that moral equality with people of other racial groups and a concomitant moral fitness to enter into whatever relationships one wants with whomever one wants regardless of ethnic identity is something close to “integral” to being (e.g.) black. Or white. Or nonwhite-hispanic. Or gay. Or whatever.
A lot of comments on this blog give me the impression that commentors think that because Mr. Zero changed the subject that I must, in fact, be challenging him on the new subject.
Whatever. The point is, anti-miscegenation policies are wrong; they're wrong because they're discriminatory; and the APA (rightly) regards the long history of people using such policies as a tool of discrimination as sufficient reason to reject them as unethical. In so doing, they also happen to use the word ‘integral’ in an unnatural manner.

But I think it’s important to keep our eyes on the prize, so to speak. What is the upshot of all this? Does the APA’s policy condemn something it shouldn’t condemn? No, it does not. Does it condemn something it should condemn but for the wrong reason? Slightly, since anti-miscegenation policies are discriminatory because they’re discriminatory, not because of their long history of being used as tools of discrimination. Nunley’s examples demonstrate that the policy uses the word ‘integral’ in a weird way, but not in a way that actually tells against the policy.

I know we’re philosophers and we split hairs for a living, but there’s splitting hairs and then there’s splitting hairs.
...nor illegally impregnating women with one’s one [sic] sperm (emphasis on those last four words) integral to being a man.
I don't see why Professor Nunley gets to insist that those four words are of any importance whatsoever. Is it of special significance when you illegally impregnate someone with your own sperm rather than that of someone else? Suppose my wife and I each illegally impregnate various women with my sperm. Are we doing totally, completely different things, or are we doing the same thing? (Hint: the same thing.) Or imagine the cops who crack the case: "What did he do?" “He illegally impregnated women with the wrong sperm.” “No, in order to know what he did, I need to know whether it was his sperm, or somebody else’s!” “…”
I do not admire persons who switch the subject and depict me as having taken a contrary view on the new subject.
I think if you read the words I wrote, it is clear that I remain agnostic about Professor Nunley's views on the "new" subjects. All I did was point out that Nunley's various examples did not stand in counterexample to the APA's new policy and were, in fact, its rightful targets (if only in extremely bizarre circumstances). If a school made any of Nunley’s proposed counterexamples a condition of employment, the school would thereby discriminate against members of the intuitively relevant group. This calls into question Nunley’s claim that the proposed counterexamples were genuine. I did not suggest that Nunley was opposed to interracial marriage.
As for a, again, Mr. Zero changes the subject as to whether persons of a certain age or political behavior ought to be fired or not hired. Whatever views Zero has, I’m certain I didn’t contradict them.
Then Professor Nunley and I must also be in agreement about whether the relevant behaviors are the proper target of an anti-discrimination policy (they are), and whether he has managed to effectively criticize the APA’s new policy (no).
In the final paragraph (thankfully) Mr. Zero gets to the heart of the matter. ALL I said was the APA is wrong on what they consider “integral” here.
All I can say is, I totally disagree with Professor Nunley about what the heart of the matter is.
But let’s face it, the policy was not intended to target a rash of anti-pregnancy, anti-interracial colleges.
For one thing, (and I hate to have to keep mentioning this) Bob Jones suspended their policy against inter-racial relationships just ten years ago. This occurred as a result of widespread criticism generated by the publicity surrounding George W. Bush’s association with that school. The policy was changed because of outside pressure, not because they suddenly heard the voice of Jiminy Cricket. It seems to me that the Bob Jones people owe a debt of gratitude to the people who refused to give them a free pass to discriminate because of their religious affiliation.

For another thing, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy remains a problem. A friend of mine who was pregnant while on the job market was advised to keep her condition a secret from interviewing departments until after she had been offered a job. The worry was that people might not want to hire somebody who would then have to take maternity leave in her first year on the job, even though it’s clearly her right to do so and they have no right to take this possibility into consideration. This tells against Nunley’s suggestion that women are safe from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.

Finally, it would be pretty stupid for an anti-discrimination policy to omit mention of various forms of obviously unethical discrimination just because they didn’t see them as a huge problem right at that exact second. Better safe than sorry.
It was to depict the new attack on Christian schools as an extension of defenses of women and minorities. That’s why it concocted a bogus notion of “integral relations.”
This “extension” of the protections afforded to women and minorities to gays and lesbians is not bogus. It’s on purpose and it’s the right thing to do. Furthermore, it is not new; the previous policy prohibited basing employment and other decisions on sexual orientation. The new policy simply recognizes that forcing gay faculty members to remain celibate as a condition of employment, while not imposing the same burden on straight faculty members, is discriminatory. The suggestion that "practicing" gays are morally unfit to serve as college professors is as immoral and pernicious as the suggestion that black people are morally unfit to serve as spouses of white people. And the claim that white people who have black spouses are morally unfit to serve as college professors.
Too bad they don’t know what they are talking about.
A sentence ago, Nunley’s view was that the APA’s use of the words ‘integral connection’ in the policy was a display of guile; that it was “concocted” in order to disguise what he views as a purposeful attack on specifically Christian schools. But now, in this sentence, it’s a display of stupidity: they just don’t know what they’re talking about. I think he should pick one accusation and stick with it.

I have a competing hypothesis. I think that the APA saw that it is wrong for certain Christian schools to impose such a strong differential burden on gay and lesbian faculty, and took a stand against it. This is, in my view, no more an attack on Christian schools or Christian morality than the 1989 policy was, when it condemned as unethical Bob Jones’s anti-miscegenation policies (which were allegedly based on Christian ethics), for eleven years (until BJU caved to outside pressure and rescinded the policies). While it is an attack on the policies of some Christian schools, these policies are bigoted and wrong, and the fact that they are the policies of Christians is no excuse.

Please tell me you didn't read this whole thing.

--Mr. Zero

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Troubled RSS Feeds of Philosophy Journals

I subscribe to a lot philosophy journals's RSS feeds. While I think it's wonderful that almost every philosophy journal has an RSS feed, I think it's too bad that so many of them are so shitty. There are a number of common problems:
  • Many of them don't say who the author of the paper is.

  • It is best when the author of the paper is listed as the author of the post. I guess it's okay if there's no author listed in the unread list, but you really should say who it is somewhere in there.

  • It is especially bad when the person listed as the author of the post is someone other than the author of the paper.

  • Many of them don't say what the paper is about. It is better if there is an abstract.

  • (This is to the authors: When you write up an abstract, you should try to give a sense for what the paper is about.)


  • Many of them don't carry any bibliographic information. It is better when it says right in the post which issue of which journal this is supposed to be.

  • It would be really nice to have a clickable link directly to the fulltext pdf file.
So, I guess what I'm saying is, Thanks for having RSS feeds, journals. Now, could you please optimize them?

--Mr. Zero

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Sighted" Review Procedures

A little while ago, we had a brief discussion in comments about some apparent infelicities in blind review procedures. I'd like to subject this issue to a more complete discussion. Blind review procedures are deeply important; they are what separates us from the animals.*

Ideally, nobody who is in a position to evaluate a paper should be in a position to know the identity, institutional affiliation, career point, or other potential latent-bias-activating characteristics of the author. My question is, do any journals actually follow real, serious blind-review procedures? If so, which ones? Which journals almost follow them? Where do they deviate? Which journals don't follow them at all? And how can we get them all to be rigorously blind?

--Mr. Zero

* That and maybe some other things.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Selling Books

One of the perks of being a college teacher is that publishers send out lots of books in the hope that us college teachers will adopt them for our classes. I dont' have to tell you that you get a lot of free books this way. The problem is that it is unusual for these books to be any good. Luckily, there is a small army of people who are willing to buy these books from us, and all we have to do is keep them in a stack until they come around. (I guess that, strictly speaking, we're supposed to return them to the publisher if we don't want them. Failure to do this unnecessarily increases the price of textbooks the students buy. Nevertheless, I have never considered doing this. Does anybody do this?)

The school I teach at has a policy against this sort of thing. It regards these book buyers as trespassers. In the event of a book buyer, the policy says I'm supposed to tell the person to leave campus. And then I'm supposed to call the police. So this morning, when this book buyer came to my office and offered me forty free dollars in exchange for books I didn't want or ask for, I had a choice. I could take the forty bucks, or I could call the cops.

Is this a common policy?

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Eastern APA CFP

Submissions for this year's meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association are due on February 15th.

Now, there's probably a well-known, rational reason for this that totally makes perfect sense. But why is the submission deadline the day after Valentine's when the conference starts two days after Christmas? Why is the deadline almost 10 months before the conference?

--Mr. Zero