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Christopher Pynes
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Michael -- I believe the answer to both is yes for the BSA. As an atheist and inclusive person, this is bothersome to me for sure. The Scout Law requires that a Scout be reverent, which most interpret as belief in God. And we know from that big survey of philosophers a few years ago, that something like 70% of philosophers are atheists. So, this will be an impediment for most philosophers, but not the roughly 15% of philosophers who are theists. Philosophy, however, is neither atheistic nor theistic. So having it in these organizations in a way that fosters understanding, in my view, is a good thing. But I completely understand the objections to the bans on certain individuals like atheists and homosexuals.
Professor Lam -- I believe you podcasts are fantastic. The most valuable parts of these is the story telling. The important aspect of explaining the value of philosophy through story cannot be over hyped. Being able to tell someone a story with philosophical ideas is ideal and goes to the heart of how we can convince people of things. It's one natural way we can make philosophy relevant to them. It seems obvious that we have obligations to the dead when it comes to the money they have earned. But look what can happen. It's a story that everyone can now explain and talk about in a way that might have been unrecognizable if it were introduced in some other way. Philosophy through story telling has a long tradition including some of our greats: Plato, Hume, Berkeley. We often use stories in our arguments. I particularly like Van Fraassen's "The Tower and The Shadow" from _The Scientific Image_. I'm sure everyone has their favorite argumentative stories. You, however, have taken it up a notch. I certainly hope you can continue making these for the good of all those who listen.
Adam Silver the commissioner of the NBA said that Irving was providing a commentary on fake news. Here: I haven't seen Irving saying that or backing down form the flat Earth claim. And Shaq does have an Ed.D. from Barry University. Finally, here is a story with Shaq's audio. Take a listen:
Matt -- At my university, major committee chairs, like faculty senate, get a one course release to do the work. The reason is that this service is important and valuable and has to be done well. If we as a profession think that these committees are important and valuable, then these people need to have time to do the work. It can't just be another additional duty. How we pay people for jobs that are important and valuable is a good question to bring up. I believe that my showing the profession that this work is really important, then universities will give credit (even work credit) for this kind of work. Like some places do with journal editorships. I also think that having the chairs serve for three years is outdated. I think two years is probably long enough especially if they aren't getting reductions for the work.
Horace -- I considered not publishing your chart. Here's the thing. If income is correlated with IQ and IQ is heritable, then my case is even stronger.
To Anonymous: It is certainly a causal claim, but there is no evidence that it is true. Let me give you my experience. I taught for Princeton Review, a rival test prep service to Kaplan, for three years. I have been teaching logic at the university level now for 16 years. There is no way he can make this claim with any credibility! None!! It might make philosophers feel better to hear that their classes improves LSAT scores, but his story just isn't true. A 12 point improvement is massive, and generally requires advanced LSAT test taking skills and strategies -- and these are strategies that aren't usually taught in a normal logic class. I know because I do special projects with students every semester in my logic classes to help them prep for the test. Why? There is no prep service nearby, and I did the test prep job for so long. I know where and how the two mix, and it's not just 12 free points on the LSAT by taking a logic class. It requires work to connect the logic class with the test to get better. It's never obvious to the students. Next time you happen to be in the advising center, ask your advisor how he knows the 12 point improvement claim is true. Then ask him if he quite Kaplan because they were selling students a bill of goods since "the single best way" to get better at the LSAT, "in his experience of course" is by taking a logic class in a philosophy department. He won't have any way to justify that 12 point claim.
Perplexed -- let me try to clear it up a bit. The first image is a summary of the data in the 2014 LSAC report on undergraduates majors who have a valid LSAT score and APPLIED to law school (the link has the accepted and enrolled percentages for each major as well but I did not include it in the image). That's this link: I really should have sent people to this page with .xlsx files for each year as well as PDFs. These files have the majors ordered by number test takers applicants by major So, the numbers in my image are the rankings of those five disciplines. When we see those composite charts of LSAT scores, I believe it comes from this data set. Now, I think you really want to know if the LSAC data is for all test takers or just test takers who applied to law school. It is the latter. I do not believe the that LSAC provides the data for ALL test takers. In the second image I am showing the number of philosophy graduate by kind of institution in Illinois (public vs private) as reported to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. I used the CIP code as the way to define those majors across colleges and universities. Each school is responsible for classifying their major appropriately. That file lives on this blog and so read "download LSAT Illinois..." That's the file where I put all the IBHE philosophy graduates data by race. There are lots of tabs and such, but it's a lot of information about race, but I just wanted the total number of graduates. The LSAC does, however, report the data on how many test takers there are by state. That data is at the following link: But we don't know what the scores per state are. Finally, the LSAC people don't make it easy to figure out the data. The have a firm stance that you can't infer form this stuff that one major is better than the other. In fact the direct quote from the report is: "It would be a mistake to infer from them (the data) that any one major is better than another in preparing students for the LSAT, or indeed, for law school itself." I'll agree with the first disjunct about the LSAT, but not the second. I do think philosophy helps students with law school. The LSAT is something else entirely. I hope that helps.
Thanks for the comment Sara. I am not talking about a formal logic class. It is a "logic and reasoning" class or some would call it a "critical thinking class." Argument constructions, induction vs. deduction, simple truth-tables, Venn Diagrams, and fallacies. There is no natural deduction and no quantifiers. The general education math class is Math 100, and has the following catalog copy describing it: "Core Competency in Mathematics. (3) Introduction to and use of mathematics in problem solving, modeling, and drawing inferences, through a study of diverse examples and cases of real-world problems." I hope this explains the level of the "mathematical" reasoning I am talking about.
Thanks to everyone for the well wishes. The mathematicians have been very welcoming, and the philosophers are excited to be joining them. As for our philosophy classes, for now, during the teach out period, they shouldn’t change much. But we have started discussion on possible curricular collaboration. I should say that I like the idea of newspaper spots marketing the minor and LSAT success. How we would pay for that an open question, but a good idea nonetheless. The suggestion to try to get other programs on campus to require our classes is really a non-starter for us. Things are to the point where very few, if any, programs are willing to consider using “their” students to help save other program. We had an “ethics minor” in philosophy that was eliminated two years ago because of low enrollment. We were in the process of promoting it to business students, but then the provost decided to cut the ethics minor. Also, our provost just instituted a university wide gen ed review. I doubt there will be much support for a mandatory philosophy class, but if you can get that at your university, I highly recommend it. It can certainly change the fate of a department. Having just a minor is clear going to be a challenge, and I would like to hear from people in those situations as well.
Thanks for the comment Professor Kaufman. Realize that Missouri State has over 22K student. WIU on the Macomb campus has less than 9K from the Fall 2016 data. Also, we have essentially 3.3 faculty teaching philosophy. The reporting standards of the IBHE that are seen as a mandate don't take into account the size of the institution or the size of the department. If you keep the philosophy minor, you can essentially get the major for free. That is unless you think the minor can be done with one faculty member. The administration justified our low enrolled physics department's major. The same could have easily been done with philosophy. FYI -- this new reporting standard of 40 majors and 9 grads a year on a three year average is going to put more than 1/3rd of the degree programs at risk on our campus -- I think 26. I should also point out that the admin doesn't consider second majors as majors in the graduation count, but I am starting to feel like Sisyphus at this point. What every philosophy department in Illinois and other states with the low enrollment mandates should realize is that size and resources matter. Get them now or be ready for the real possibility of being eliminated.
To Shane Wilkins My point is fairly simple. The law requires that Rauner appoint a "faculty member" to the IBHE. Some might claim that as someone who teaches one class a year that Bambenek is a faculty member. In order not to beg the question back and say that Bambenek is not a faculty member, we might want an independent explanation or definition of what a faculty member is. Luckily we have just such a thing. Faculty Senates and Academic Senates define what faculty are in terms of their ability to represent faculty on these kinds of bodies. UIUC is also rather permissive in their criteria for faculty in my view. Bambenek is ineligible because he doesn't satisfy the requirements defining "faculty member" for that body. It's not difficult to see that if Bambenek is not a "faculty member" for eligibility reasons to service on the Senate at UICU, then he isn't a faculty member. If Bambenek isn't a faculty member, then he can't serve as one on the IBHE. It is my sincere view that John Bambenek is not a faculty member (understood in any reasonable or independent way) and as such he is not eligible to serve as the faculty representative on the IBHE.
If your recent email was part of a larger strategy in conjunction with Professor Audi’s email, then I would suggest in the future that you mention that in the email. Something like: “Last week you received an email from the APA Development Committee Chair Robert Audi…this is a gentle reminder that the APA is engaged in fundraising…we need your help for X...” This would indicate that your email was part of a cohesive effort rather than just another email asking for donations. Also, I appreciate the suggestion to self nominate for APA service. It’s an option many don’t know they have. If someone were to nominate me for service on the status and future of the profession committee, I would seriously consider serving on the committee again. My recent service was both rewarding and informative, and I have great respect for Julia Driver, who was the chair during my years of service. I’ll write more about my service and my view of the status and future of the profession committee soon.
Thanks for the questions. I will try to answer all three from your last paragraph in order. (1) Being a college/university professor isn't what it used to be (or what we think it used to be). Being a professor isn't an easy job, and if you are a professor who thinks it's an easy job, then you aren't doing it right, period. The struggles don't end with the tenure track job or with tenure, that's when the job gets even more demanding. So, the job doesn't end one's struggle. It is misguided to think that it does. It's just a different kind of struggle. (2) If your primary interests are philosophical teaching and contemplation, then it's the only game in town. It's not that it's a good choice, but rather it's the only real choice unless one is independently wealthy and you can teach for free and live off your wealth. But that's a rare situation. (3) This third question is a good question, and I have asked it of myself recently. The answer in my view is simple. If you do something other than philosophy teaching as a living, you will likely be consumed by it. It will become your life and your desire to teach philosophy and have a life of contemplation will be nudged out by other concerns. I know this from talking to friends who are no longer in the profession. They get involved in their lives and the philosophical concerns fade into the background. If you want to teach and do philosophy, college/university teaching is basically the only game in town. I am not sure at what point the distractions of promoting the discipline and profession become too much. That's an individual question that can only be answered when other factors like income needs and geographic living desires/needs are included. I have no simple answer for you, but I know I am not there yet. I certainly feel the push, and I certainly would like to do more philosophy with more colleagues and more students. I do, however, have one final comment. A big part of the reason philosophy is in this current situation as a profession is because philosophers of the past have let this happen by inaction and neglect. Those with the best resources and influence haven't paid much attention to the health of the profession. Being concerned for oneself at all times is bad for the profession and the discipline. If philosophers had done a better job of promoting philosophy in the past, we wouldn't have to work so hard to promote and protect it now. But we aren't in that situation. We are in the work like hell to save the profession for future philosophers. That is going to involve philosophical sacrifices by some philosophers for a flourishing future for others. I can’t do it alone. A few of us can’t do it. It’s going to have to be a full team philosophy effort. The game in public higher education has changed, and I’m just not sure most philosophers of influence realize what game we are playing now.
Dear Professor Warfield -- my point was poorly stated, and for that I apologize. I know faculty at these universities teach undergraduates, but they don't just teach undergraduates. Also it was a point in the objections of the use of the numbers that they aren't precise. If you have a 2-2 load with one of those classes being a grad seminar every year, then the access is different than someone who teaches 3-3 or 4-4 with no grad program. The point was that the only way to have a real analysis of access is through a credit hour analysis.
Gene -- I didn't do much digging to look at my colleagues syllabi, but the administrator at the time was from communications. And as strange as it sounded, I didn't have a reason to doubt her. She was a former chair and saw all that stuff. I can say that I chaired a college grade appeal committee last year and the faculty member, not from the humanities, assigned 40% of the course grade based on attendance.
Professor Brown. My next post is on assessment. So hang around and be ready to object.
Dr. Bowman -- Thank you for the comments. You anticipated one of my ideas that I am going to be putting forth next week. Perhaps a middle ground on lobbying regional accreditations agencies for changes. I'll write more about that and other suggestions for the profession next week.
Thanks for the comment. A few things. Engineers need philosophy both qua humans and qua engineers. As a point of reference, I taught every summer for seven years in the Tennessee Governor's School for the Sciences and Engineering program. The students were rising high school seniors. The director of the program, Jeff Kovac, is a chemist and he realized the value of philosophy to the educational mission of the sciences and engineering. But not everyone in the sciences agrees, N.d.T. for example. And many of my colleagues in math, the natural sciences, and business hate all the humanities classes we want students to take as part of the general education curriculum because they want the students to take more math, science, and business classes (and less of everything else). My view is that they can learn more of all that when working in those areas. They aren't going to be doing humanities work when they are professional scientists, mathematicians, or business professionals. It really is why philosophy and the other humanities need to keep focusing on defending their place in higher education. On to your other question. Why do I think engineers in particular could benefit from more philosophy. There are lots of reasons and there are some good books on these subjects. The obvious issues is engineering ethics. Huge field. So let's just take that as a given. There are actually other non-ethical concerns that I think engineers need to consider. Assumptions about design and usage of products and space. Take the idea of universal design. Make products that everyone can use even if they have limited hand dexterity. Take the door knob. Bad design. A universal knob/lever is better than a round one. People with disabled hands can push down on them without needing the hand strength or dexterity to turn a knob. So design products for everyone rather than having to make after the fact accommodations. That's a new engineering principle. But there are lots of philosophical assumptions in design. Should products be made so that they can't be repaired, but only replaced. Should a building be designed for a particular use or for a particular kind of experience while using it. The list goes on and on. Understanding and being able to evaluate one's philosophical commitments qua engineer is important. Being philosophically trained to evaluate one's beliefs and assumptions is what philosophy does, and that's part of why everyone, even engineers, need to study more philosophy. Here are two books that might be a place to start for even more answers: (1) _Philosophy and Engineering: An Emerging Agenda_ (ISBN: 978-9048128037) (2) _Philosophy and Engineering: Reflections on Practice, Principles and Process_ (ISBN: 978-9400777613) There are other books for sure and plenty more topics to discuss, but I hope this answered your question.
Thank you for your questions, Dr. Bowman. I don't want to give too much away since I have two weeks of posting to do here. So trust me that I will say more. Also let me be clear that in some sense fighting over humanities enrollment for gen ed, majors, and the like is a zero sum game. I try to point this out to administrators all the time. Just because it is a zero sum game doesn't mean that there can't be a more equitable distribution of disciplines, resources, and talent. And it doesn't mean that low performing programs, in terms of majors, need to be cut. But more on all this soon. Also, the point about history was that they were overstaffed, and that fact caused students to be denied a real opportunity for philosophy. These are not parochial concerns of a single faculty member, but bigger issues that administrators handle, often poorly, but more on administrators soon as well. I also believe that the best universities will always support and offer philosophy, and they will do it for very good reasons (that I will explain and hypothesize about soon). My desire to have more access to philosophy in the academy does not preclude a space for philosophy and the humanities outside the academy. In fact, I think the more we have it inside, the more support it will have for exterior growth. So if people want to promote places and spaces for philosophy to grow outside the academy, I am all for it. But I don't work in that space. So I am going to attempt change where I am.
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Oct 8, 2015