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Helen De Cruz
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I'm organizing a short story competition for philosophical fiction, funded by a grant from the American Philosophical Association's Berry Fund for Public philosophy. The aim of this competition is to encourage philosophers to use fiction to express their philosophical ideas. Some philosophical ideas as better expressed in a story than... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
An anonymous Cocoon reader asks the following: I’m a postdoc so I do not have a permanent or tenure-track job yet, and I am wondering about publication strategies. I’ve noticed that there are some "hot topics" in philosophy that seem to get a lot of airplay in general high-prestige philosophy... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In the article Getting out of a hole, the pseudonymous blogger Acclimatrix writes about the challenges of being in a low point in their pre-tenure life. One particular bit caught my attention The hardest part about being in a hole is that you feel like you, really need a “win”... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Hi Marcus - thank you very much for raising these concerns. It's important to get more junior people in here, to talk about the challenges of the job market. As for the second horn of the trilemma: While I agree about the dangers of blogging about the challenges in my current stage of career, I still think there is value in this, and that some of the challenges are faced with junior people. Most job market candidates hope to get a permanent job some day, so these things impact them too. But ultimately, we need more early-career people to keep the finger on the pulse.
Many thanks to Helen for inviting me to contribute to this series. I am assistant professor at Mount Holyoke College in Western Massachusetts, which is a small, liberal arts college for women. Career path. I have been at MHC since 2012. Before that, I was a post doc at Amherst... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Procrastination usually does not encumber my work, but when I had to grad 93 intro to ethics exams and an equal number of final-term essays, it was becoming a problem. I want to do justice to the students, and not read too many essays/exams a day but all I seemed... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
This Real Jobs in Philosophy post comes with an opportunity to become my colleague by getting a real tenure-track job like mine! More information is at the end of this post. Career Path In my first year at Harvard, my chemistry grades fell from an A first semester to a... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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In recent years, it has become painfully clear that most non-surgical interventions against being overweight/obese are ineffective. Extensive clinical trials show that the vast majority of people who undertake to lose weight initially lose substantial amounts, but they gain it back again (and some more) within three to five years.... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
I'd like to draw Philosophers' Cocoon readers' attention to this compelling personal story by Elisa Caldarola, an Italian philosopher who has relocated several times in pursuit of her dream to become a professional analytic philosopher working in aesthetics: https://www.che-fare.com/philosophy-women-english-as-a-second-language-and-international-careers/. She tackles several issues that are familiar to European (non-UK) philosophy... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I've worked for several years in the UK now, and from conversations I've had with UK academics (particularly philosophers), I found the following as a typical career trajectory for recent PhDs. I'm not saying this is the only path to a permanent job, but I've heard many UK lecturers describe... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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By Liz Goodnick I’d like to thank Helen De Cruz for inviting me to participate in this series. I will continue to (roughly) follow the pattern of previous posts in the series. Career Path I earned my PhD from the University of Michigan in 2010, after starting the program in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Career Path I am Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Humanities and Philosophy Departments at Saddleback College. Two years ago, I was granted tenure. I never thought I’d get here. In 1988, when I started studying Philosophy at Purchase College, my interests were interdisciplinary. After completing my B.A. in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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If you are reading this blogpost, chances are you have relocated recently for your academic position. Many of us have relocated several times in pursuit of a permanent (tenure-track or equivalent) academic job. This frequent relocation has large financial costs - with employers providing limited (in the best case scenario)... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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Along with other people who work in experimental philosophy, I think the time is ripe for experimental philosophy to have its own journal. X-phi should of course still be published in mainstream journals, which is its main venue today, but a specialist journal would greatly benefit the visibility of experimental... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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I get a lot of referee requests. I accept what I believe is a fair number (maybe about 10-12 a year). Lately I have revised my refereeing practice to be less micromanaging and briefer, also to be more efficient with my time. I do not think reports of 3000 words for an 8000 word paper are ultimately helpful for the author, and they are a huge time sink for me. So I currently write referee reports that are about a page, and never more than 2 pages (about 500-1000 words) long, also if I recommend revisions. They are shorter if I recommend rejection, especially if the paper is of very poor quality. I begin by saying what I think is good about the paper, and then briefly review the worries I have about it. I try to balance being honest and being useful: if a paper is poorly written, the author has to know this or else they would be sending around a paper forever that is rejected on those grounds. If it misses discussion of key portions of the literature, I give a few examples but I do not think it is my task to help the author to all the sources they miss. If there are flaws in the argument, I point them out. I try to restrict myself to no more than 3 big comments and a couple of smaller comments.
Helen De Cruz graciously offered me the opportunity to contribute to this series as a contingent faculty member. I want to commend her and the other Cocooners for including VAPs in this, since fixed-term appointments are the “real job” reality for a HUGE portion of folks working in our field.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
The Cocoon is foremost a forum for early-career philosophers, but I have decided to put together some advice for mid-career academics. This is partly because I am in this situation (I am now senior lecturer, which is the equivalent of an associate professor), after a long period of temporary positions.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
We are starting a new series called New jobs in philosophy. The aim of this series is to give graduate students a sense of the wide diversity of philosophy jobs out there. We give a sense of the nuts and bolts of teaching, across a large range of institutions (from... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
The job market is extremely competitive. And even once one has secured that coveted tenure-track or permanent position, there is the continued pressure to be excellent. We are pressured to publish in the best venues (journals conveniently ranked by prestige), to gain external grant funding (preferably a large grant), to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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Axel, if I may (you can call me Helen), I think what I'm getting at is something like this: According to David Wong, and I agree with him it's fine to refuse to accommodate (let the disagreement be a dealbreaker) if one is part of a disempowered group and the expressed opinion further disempowers one, for example, someone who is a women who hears a friend or acquaintance say all sorts of sexist things, or a Black person who hears a friend say all sorts of racist things. The idea is then what the justification would be of not taking issue with such views if they don't concern me personally but other groups. For example, suppose someone who says trans women aren't women. While this does not personally affect me, I know several trans women who have to deal with this sort of remark on a daily basis. It would then seem egocentric to take issue with moral views that affect me personally. But it seems equally counterintuitive to take issue with views on the basis of this given how widespread these are and my earlier worries about echochambers.
Last year in Amsterdam, I got my first opportunity to teach Introduction to Philosophy. I found this a daunting task, especially given the student body: there were 250 non-philosophy majors enrolled in the course, people mostly from STEM fields and something called business analytics. As an undergraduate, the intro to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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I am glad and honoured you liked this blogpost - I taught your paper to students in intro to ethics last week, and they found the paper very thought-provoking.
Many thanks for your testimony - I agree there is value in having friends with different opinions. But do you ever feel a tension when the views are particularly problematic (e.g., deeply sexist or racist views?) For instance, I can see how one could be friends with someone from a pro-nazi family (as you say), but would it be possible to cultivate a friendship with someone who was a nazi? I am not sure this discomfort is without significance.
This was the tension I also felt - I thought that although David Wong was right that if you are part of an oppressed group that is marginalized there is no reason why you should be friends with people who have such opinions. But I thought that then the same would apply to people who hold views that are harmful to other groups one does not belong to (e.g., people who have anti-semitic views or anti-Muslim views). And given that views typically do have harmful implications for some group or other, I could not reach a conclusion about how to deal with this.
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By Helen De Cruz How can you maintain a friendship in the face of a serious moral disagreement? When should you accommodate - which should not mean that you should agree with the other, but at minimum agree to disagree - to let it rest and remain friends in the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
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