Saturday, September 7, 2013

The REAL Pluralist Guide, 2013 Edition

As with previous editions of the REAL Pluralist Guide, with respect to methodology and other crucial matters, you'll just have to trust the organizers that they have polled an appropriately diverse and informed representative group of professionals.  Don't fuss.  If you need a guide for choosing a graduate program, you're not in a position to judge such matters anyway, so you simply don't need to know how this Guide was constructed. 

One thing to note is that this version of the REAL Pluralist Guide is importantly different from the previous version.  We needn't discuss those changes here, nor explain the errors in our previous version and our attempt to correct them, nor really reveal much of anything about what's new.  But the following should be clear: trust us.  After all, we're the pluralists.  No matter how few in number we are, nor how unanimous we are in our philosophical views, nor how unified we are in conceiving ourselves as anti-mainstream, and no matter how ignorant we are of the trends in philosophy we claim to oppose.  Again, that you have to trust us only proves how little information you really need about what we're doing here. 

That said, our REAL Pluralist Guide actually functions like this.  Go to the FAKE Pluralist Guide. Review their recommendations for whatever category of "pluralist" philosophy that interests you.  Then visit the websites of those departments, and take note of where the younger and mid-career specialists in the area that interest you did their degrees (the really senior people are no longer good sources of the kind of information you need).  Then apply to those other places. 

What you'll find is that the departments recommended by the FAKE Pluralist Guide rarely hire from the other departments recommended by the FAKE Pluralist Guide.  The departments recommended by the FAKE Pluralist Guide are populated by specialists in "pluralist" areas who were trained in departments that are NOT recommended by the FAKE Pluralist Guide.

This confirms conclusions reached in the earlier version of the REAL Pluralist Guide. The best places to do cutting-edge work in the "pluralist" areas are places that are especially strong in mainstream areas, and thus strong overall.  That is, one who is interested in, say, Continental Philosophy, would likely get better training at, say, Austin, Columbia, Chicago, or Toronto than at any of the departments "strongly recommended" by the FAKE Pluralist Guide.  These former departments are the ones that have trained the people who get the jobs at the FAKE Pluralist-recommended departments.

The reason is simple: Doing excellent work in any area of philosophy ("pluralist" or not) requires one to get excellent training in philosophy as such.  Self-declared "pluralist" departments are not pluralist in any sense worth valuing.  They are typically not open-minded diverse places where a vast variety of philosophical issues are worked on.  They are more commonly enclave departments that impose on their students an especially narrow conception of what's going on in Philosophy, while also enlisting their unwitting students as pawns in a futile disciplinary crusade to invert existing norms and standards so that, conveniently, the things they do come out as the only kind of philosophy that really matters.  Do not allow self-declared pluralists to use you and your professional prospects as chips in their play for disciplinary hegemony. Do philosophy instead.  And the best places to do philosophy (of any kind) are the places that do not wrap themselves up in the ridiculous garb of "pluralism."

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nailed.

Anonymous said...

Word.

Anonymous said...

"That is, one who is interested in, say, Continental Philosophy, would likely get better training at, say, Austin, Columbia, Chicago, or Toronto than at any of the departments "strongly recommended" by the FAKE Pluralist Guide."


Well, Toronto is one of the "strongly recommended" departments in the "Continental" ranking this time, along with Notre Dame, McGill, and Northwestern. Not every department on that "strongly recommended" list is as shitty as you imply (but their hiring practices are certainly revelatory).

Anonymous said...

The best thing about the hiring practices of these recommended departments is that it means that their narrow, misguided view of "pluralism" is phasing itself out of existence.

On the other hand, a number of excellent departments that were once not very pluralistic in any sense are becoming more so (Columbia, for example). So I think we're seeing improvement on all sides.

Anonymous said...

Amen to 7:24 am.

Owen Schaefer said...

An interesting theory - but, I think it’s quite inaccurate that pluralist schools rarely hire from pluralist schools. I tested this hypothesis for a small sample of 3 schools in continental philosophy recommended by the so-called fake pluralist guide (http://pluralistsguide.org/program-recommendations/continental-philosophy/) : Boston College, DePaul and Duquesne. The results are as follows:

BC: Of 14 assistant/associate profs, 11 are from places ranked by the pluralist guide, 3 from institutions not in a primarily-English-speaking country, and 0 from a school ranked by the PGR general but not ranked by the pluralist guide. Similar for adjuncts and part-timers: 9/11 from pluralist-ranked places, 2 from PGR-but-not-pluralist places. Source: http://www.bc.edu/content/bc/schools/cas/philosophy/faculty.html

DePaul: Of 6 assistant/associate profs, 4 are from pluralist-ranked school, 1 from non-Anglophone school and 1 from PGR-ranked but pluralist-unranked school. Adjuncts/part-timers not listed. Source: http://las.depaul.edu/philosophy/People/Faculty/index.asp

Duquesne: Of 12 assistant/associate profs plus instructors/VAPs, 10 are from pluralist-ranked schools, 1 from PGR-ranked but pluralist-unranked, and 1 from a school ranked by neither. Source: http://www.duq.edu/academics/schools/liberal-arts/departments/philosophy/faculty-and-staff

I realize this is a small sample, but it strongly goes against the claim by Spiros that “the departments recommended by the FAKE Pluralist Guide rarely hire from the other departments recommended by the FAKE Pluralist Guide.” On the contrary, if other schools follow the same pattern, they primarily hire from schools recommended by the guide.

HOWEVER, the hires from schools that are cross-ranked, i.e., ranked by both PGR and the pluralist guide, are more mixed. At BC, 9/14 assistant/associate profs are from cross-ranked schools (vs. 2 from schools ranked by pluralist only); DePaul: 2/6(vs. 2 from schools ranked by pluralist only; Duquesne: 4/12 (vs. 6 from schools ranked by pluralist only).

More robust data-gathering than what I’ve done is needed to determine whether a more reasonable recommendation is warranted: apply to cross-ranked pluralist/PGR schools, if your interests fall into one of the pluralist categories. Also, one would have to check whether the same held true for sub-specialties outside of continental philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Owen, were there any noticeable patterns in the exceptions--in the rare cases where they hired from outside their faux-pluralist picks?

I'd hope, for example, that the real-pluralist hires were more recent, a sign of move toward less insularity. Just a hope, of course.

G. Owen Schaefer said...

I didn't notice any large patterns of a generational shift - there seemed to be a roughly similar proportion of pluralist-ranked people in the permanent faculty as the younger faculty (in fact, at BC, the only two people from PGR-ranked, pluralist-unranked schools are full professors). But then, I haven't done anything close to a rigorous statistical analysis.

I did notice, though, that certain schools popped up much more often than others - Toronto, Notre Dame, Northwestern, UChicago, SUNY Stony Brook, and Boston College in particular. Others on the pluralist list like NSSR, Rice and U of Oregon were completely absent, at least at the PhD level. Though, again, take those details with a grain of salt in the absence of rigorous statistical analysis.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the sentiment and need for a Real Pluralist guide. I for one am disappointed by the whole endeavor. However, the arguments you use against the Fake one are the same that can be used about the Gourmet Report.

Moreover, I disagree, respectfully of course, with your previous Real rankings, especially for Continental Philosophy. Brown and NYU are absolutely horrible suggestions to study such. There are much better options, some not so-called SPEP schools and some that are. Moreover, there are some really good schools that do American philosophy, normally derided as SPEP schools, that aren't listed and should be.

While I applaud the effort and it is much needed, I think the philosophical community needs a honesty arbitrator that can give partisan-free advice to prospective students about programs, both Gourmet and SPEP, that are strong in areas like American, Continental, etc.

Jamie Dreier said...

Just out of curiosity, why is Brown a horrible place to study such?

PA said...

What I want to know is why you bastards start commenting here only after Leiter has linked to one of Spiros' posts? Don't you realize that Philosophers Anonymous -- and not Leiter Reports -- is the premiere philosophy blog? Bastards.

Anonymous said...

Hey Spiros, what do you take "pluralism" to mean? I get the sense that different people use this term very differently.

Anonymous said...

"I think the philosophical community needs a honesty arbitrator that can give partisan-free advice to prospective students about programs"

Here goes: don't go to any of them. Do something useful and lucrative instead.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, why are NYU and Brown "absolutely horrible" places to study continental? NYU offers the opportunity to take courses at Columbia uptown, plus the closest to an employment guarantee you can get these days in philosophy; Brown,with people like Bernard Reginster and Paul Guyer seems actually a pretty good place for such study...
Explanation please?

Anonymous said...

I don't really want to get into a blogging dispute about NYU or Brown. Both are great schools, with great faculty. However, they really aren't good schools if you want to study Continental Philosophy.

Paul Guyer does Kant. There is no way that counts. Sure, continental thinkers work on Kant, however, not in they way Guyer works on Kant. Reginster should count, and Larmore maybe. Brown is a small department anyway. However, just look at their classes. In the past 5 or so years I have been trolling graduate department websites I haven't even seen a Reginster class. There is definitely not one this term, and I think that is par for the course. You would better served by applying to their Comp Lit program.

NYU only has Richardson. And if you check the course archives he has only taught one graduate class in the last 3 years. If you want to go to Columbia, where there are more Philosophers working on such issues, then apply there, recommend that place (which isn't even recommended!!). And the same could be said about other departments like Fordham, Stony Brook, and New School which also have those opportunities to study at other schools in the New York area. Fordham being one that you could actually make a claim it is pluralist department.

So... you highly recommend to students who want to study Continental Philosophy to go to a place where you 'might' have ONE class offered while you are doing your course work. That is a bad suggestion. Moreover, one person studying Nietzsche or Heidegger, is not constitutive for a well rounded knowledge of the major issues in Continental Philosophy.

That being said, NYU and Brown are good schools, offering great education, from amazing philosophers. I am not trying to say anything bad about that. But someone needs to do a better job actually suggesting programs for future students.

Anonymous said...

We have a real live SPEPPie AT 5:10 pm--who else would suggest Stony Brook or Fordham or the New School, when one could go to NYU or Brown?

Faculty working on Continental at NYU: Richardson, Longuenesse, Shaw. Guyer at Brown works on Hegel. You can't do serious work on Continental if you don't know your Kant--none of the schools the SPEPPie recommends have anyone even comparable to Guyer.

It is true that there are lots of courses on Continental figures at Stony Brook and New School. But they are taught by hacks, whom noone takes seriously outside SPEP.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Guyer has published on Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche (his aesthetics, mostly), as well as Adorno's aesthetics at least. While at Penn he regularly taught a class called "post Kantian epistemology" that considered Heidegger, among others. Several of his grad students did work on post-Kantian German idealists (and got good jobs) so the idea that you could only study Kant with him is clearly wrong. Whether that means one should go to Brown to study continental philosophy is something I can't say, but the remark on Guyer is clearly wrong. (I'm pretty sure that Estland has some interest in Habermas as well, though I don't know that it would be a great place to focus on Habermas.)

Jamie Dreier said...

In the past 5 or so years I have been trolling graduate department websites I haven't even seen a Reginster class.

Then you are not good at trolling.
Last semester he gave a seminar "Self and Others", and last Fall he taught existentialism. (He chairs the department so he does have a reduced teaching load.)

There is definitely not one this term, and I think that is par for the course.

Bernard is on leave this semester. So am I, as it happens. We both wish that were par.

Guyer taught "The Reception of Kant's Ethics" last semester, with readings from Schiller, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, among others. He's in the middle of a two-semester course on "Realism, Idealism, and Modernity".

Thanks for clarifying, but I think you were misinformed.

People interested in what's being taught at Brown can go to Brown's BANNER site and poke around. (The Mocha interface, written by some CS undergrads, is easier to use but only works for the current semester.)

Anonymous said...

6:54 said: "It is true that there are lots of courses on Continental figures at Stony Brook and New School. But they are taught by hacks, whom noone takes seriously outside SPEP."
This is a sweeping remark. Is it true of every professor teaching continental philosophy at these schools, really? Can you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

6:54 said: "It is true that there are lots of courses on Continental figures at Stony Brook and New School. But they are taught by hacks, whom noone takes seriously outside SPEP."
This is a sweeping remark. Is it true of every professor teaching continental philosophy at these schools, really? Can you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

6:54 said: "It is true that there are lots of courses on Continental figures at Stony Brook and New School. But they are taught by hacks, whom noone takes seriously outside SPEP."
This is a sweeping remark. Is it true of every professor teaching continental philosophy at these schools, really? Can you elaborate?

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