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Benjamin LS Nelson
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I agree with your conclusion, though I am not sure that the analogy to Einstein will sway hardened hearts and minds. ("Ah, but these kids aren't Einstein," they'll say.) Also, a hardened heart might respond to your points about the steady inflation of standards by saying, "Ah, so it's just more competitive now, and that's a good thing." Of course, that response would miss the point, but I think perhaps we need to say a few words about what point has been missed. 1. My sense from grading in the humanities is that grades have diminishing marginal utility, such that the difference between 2.8 and 3 is much greater than the difference between 3 and 3.2, and so on. So, to put the cutoff line between 3.7 and 3.8 looks like it is a cynical exercise in 'whittling down the pile', so to speak. I don't think my experience is idiosyncratic. (Who would argue that the difference between a D+ and C- is anything like that between a B+ and A-?) 2. There is something irrational about adaptive preference formation -- i.e., the fox who wanted the grapes, and upon discovering that he couldn't get them, decided they must be sour. What is perverse about the fox's decision is that it involves a radical preference inversion that is not a function of their integrity, their core sense of what is valuable. Usually, this parable is leveled against candidates and underdogs, as a way of punching down when they are marginalized. But actually, it is a worthy criticism of people on the other side of the table. If you were to consider a set of candidates as equals in a situation of plenty and concoct non-relevant reasons for exclusion under conditions of austerity, then (absent further justification) your preferences are adaptive. To be sure, it must be granted that standards sometimes legitimately change as competitive pressures change. The problem that we see in (2) is not with tighter or higher standards, though -- it is with normative drift, as increased competition leads to the differential success of deviants whose success derives from the possession of non-task-relevant advantages. Which leads to the third argument: 3. The criterion of success for a cohort is cultural reproduction for the sake of flourishing, and not just conformity for its own sake. That is, when choosing students who are supposed to carry the philosophical torch, you need a mix of those who are capable of structured thought, and who are versatile enough to apply those structures to solve (or discover) potentially novel problems. What you don't need is a monoculture for its own sake, because that will be maladaptive when contexts change. To use a somewhat unflattering analogy: what would evolution be without mutation?
I have found most productive success doing paper exchanges with friends and colleagues over Facebook. The most stimulating conversation has occurred over blogs -- though collegiality sometimes suffers in that medium, as there is no institutional incentive for participants to behave in good faith, and plenty of opportunity for unnecessary drama. I have not had any notable success with academia.edu or Philpapers. Lately, I have been listening to podcasts by scriptwriters in the TV and film industry. I have found it profitable to compare the experience of publishing in the humanities to the experience of script-writing. While busy established writers in the film industry acknowledge how difficult it is for juniors to get scripts read, they will also bemoan their feelings of discomfort (and potential liabilities) with being solicited for that feedback. The power of the analogy has made me hesitate in 'cold calling' senior colleagues in academia. I think the most success I've gotten has come from reverse-solicitation. Offer to read and offer constructive comments. Pay it forward.
Thanks for the reply, Marcus. Appreciated. I think there's got to be a lot more to be said about this. I understand you making the following points: 1. We have established compositional genres with conventional lengths (analogous to your pop songs, opera, etc). 2. Choice of genre is and ought to be a matter of discretion. 3. Nevertheless, people make bad choices of what genres to work in, based on the arguments they have. Judgments about (3) are leveraged against the Gricean maxim of quantity. But then there's a problem, which is that applications of the maxim are based on subjective or relative presuppositions about what inferences need to be unpacked. Your suggestion is that we concentrate on creating diverse venues for diverse genres (1), given the truth of (2). And that is a perfectly apt suggestion, and I agree with it. I really like smart approaches to pluralism in philosophy. My worry is that your suggestion doesn't directly address (3), except perhaps insofar as reviewers and editors could tell the author to redirect their drafts to more suitable venues fitting a different genre. So, in contrast, my 'accordion' suggestion tackles (3) directly, because it forces the writer to accommodate the widest spectrum of readers, from the breezy to the reflexively anal. But there are other direct ways of addressing (3). e.g. -- I'm just spitballing here -- we could assume that if some conclusion has been published and defended in the last five years in a journal of note, then you are permitted (not obliged) to take that conclusion as a premise without arguing for it or expanding on it. I am sure that diverse presuppositions of this sort are at work in the journals already. What is frustrating is that their principles are not explicit. Instead, authors are invited to read other recent essays in the journal and then identify the Gricean pattern by induction. I guess these frustrations have to be related, in some way, to my current uncertainty about what to do with the monograph. I have a very clear idea about what makes my project distinctive and grounded. I also have a reasonably structured idea about its essential parts. I do not have a clear idea about what parts of that project need to be made explicit in order to attract their share of interest to the whole. So I guess my mind, out of nervousness, is telling me, "publish the chapters in journals as your Plan B", even though the experience of submitting to journals has so far been about as rewarding as playing rugby in the dark.
Hi Marcus, I think you're right about the need for diversity of length. Indeed, I think online journals should allow for short compressed articles that have subsections that can be decompressed into longer ones (using accordions). Still, there is one thing I was curious about in this post. You wrote, in reference to your own project, that it would have been a waste of time to turn your project into a book. I'd love it if you could expand on that a bit. What makes you say that, and how can you tell? I ask because I'm writing a book pitch, and having second thoughts about whether or not to send the chapters to journals.
I don't need to suggest it's necessary to make my point, I only need to say it's possible in some non-trivial way. Of course, I'm interested in seeing just how deep the connection between assertiveness and assholishness does run. But I can do no more than float at the surface of the issue at the moment, since I haven't read the book. I need to know how the author defines words like "special" and "deep-rooted" in his definition.
Hi Roberta, That's a fair point, and I think I could concede that. But I think that in the interesting cases, bravery and assholishness are inseparable. So, e.g., the child might use their feeling of pride in being able to go against the grain as a way of motivating their sense of special entitlement. That's the contrarian's impulse, so to speak.
I'd like to give a limited defence of assholes, if I may. It seems to me that being an reasonable asshole can be salutary when you are in the company of dogmatic courtiers. For example, when the Emperor has no clothes, the child who laughs might be someone who acts out of a deep-rooted sense of entitlement, a habitual and persistent belief that they deserve special treatment. But even so, the child seems to have done something right where everybody else is committed to do wrong. The child's righteousness follows from their assholishness. Mind you, being an asshole is never the ideal. The ideal epistemic communities would devote so much of their energies to honest inquiry and respect for dignity that there could be no room left over for pretentiousness. I only want to stress that assholes are not necessarily the lowest form of life, and not necessarily hostile to the common good.
I'm all for experts disagreeing about things, and for laypeople not misinterpreting experts. That's all I'll say about it for now, not being able to parse an article on psychometrics. "You say my "opening gambit" isn't good, since of course everyone knows about experimenter effects." Incorrect. I said your opening gambits aren't any good because everybody knows about and actively controls for experimenter effects. I also said that the introduction of new variables in a model does not typically undermine our sense that an outcome has occurred, it often enriches our understanding of how the outcome has come about. Just to be clear about one of your antecedent assumptions -- I think your use of the term "PC" is misplaced. As far as I understand it, to be politically correct is just to take care to say things in such a way that you do not intentionally cause unnecessary harm. That's different from what you're complaining about, which are equity norms. I happen to support equity norms on the basis of merit, and would defend them morally if asked. But I also think it's a separate question from political correctness. I did not say there was sufficient reason to reject your hypothesis. I said you haven't got very good grounds for skepticism, and that the balance of evidence is against that hypothesis. That position remains unchanged, because I haven't really seen the hordes of counter-experts you're talking about. I just saw some economists doing psychology and a paper on psychometrics. Would it be just a "genetic fallacy" for me to wonder whether perhaps those studies were (partly?) the result of political pressure? Probably not. But I don't take it that your aim in this thread is to engage in cultural criticism. So if it helps, consider my injunction as one that has been contextually crafted, not a categorical imperative. I'm not sure that it does, but why couldn't it? For instance, why do you say that it *is* an interactive kind or self-fulfilling prophecy? I agree that it might be, or might be only that. But an alternative explanation is that men endorse these stereotypes because they are well warranted in light of common human experience. (They seem pretty well warranted to me.) If that were true, men would not be *made* authoritarian by the stereotype, or male endorsement of it. Or maybe it's a little of both? I say it's an interactive kind because you can see what happens when men opt out of the cycle. Some beta men, when left to their own devices, think that other (alpha) men are needlessly stupid and annoying, so they try to find an autonomous path. Indeed, at base the libertarian ethos seems to be driven by a solid fervent desire to get the hell away from authoritarian dumdums.
Thank you for the reference to the psychological pilot study conducted by the economists Fryer et al. In that study, the authors report that they found no stereotype threat effects when they looked for them. This is potentially relevant, since on the face of it it looks to be a lack of replication of the phenomenon. This would be surprising, given that stereotype threat has been replicated on multiple occasions. If you're interested, you might take a look at some of the literature. I will quote and expand the citations from one paragraph of Schmader, Johns, and Forbes, "An Integrated Process Model of Stereotype Threat Effects on Performance", from the Psychological Review (2008): - "When a task is described as diagnostic of intelligence, Latinos and particularly Latinas perform more poorly than do Whites". (Gonzales, P. M., Blanton, H., & Williams, K. J. (2002). The effects of stereotype threat and double-minority status on the test performance of Latino women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 659– 670.) - "Children with low socioeconomic status perform more poorly than do those with high socioeconomic status..." (Croizet, J. C., & Claire, T. (1998). Extending the concept of stereotype and threat to social class: The intellectual underperformance of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24, 588–594.) - "Psychology students perform more poorly than do science students..." (Croizet, J. C., Despre ́s, G., Gauzins, M., Huguet, P., & Leyens, J. (2004). Stereotype threat undermines performance by triggering a disruptive mental load. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 721–731.) - "Even groups who typically enjoy advantaged social status can be made to experience stereotype threat. Specifically, White men perform more poorly on a math test when they are told that their performance will be compared with that of Asian men..." (Aronson, J., Lustina, M. J., Good, C., Keough, K., Steele, C. M., & Brown, J. (1999). When White men can’t do math: Necessary and sufficient factors in stereotype threat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 29–46.) - "Whites perform more poorly than Blacks on a motor task when it is described to them as measuring their natural athletic ability..." (Stone, J. (2002). Battling doubt by avoiding practice: The effects of stereotype threat on self-handicapping in White athletes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1667–1678; Stone, J., Lynch, C. I., Sjomeling, M., & Darley, J. M. (1999). Stereotype threat effects on Black and White athletic performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1213–1227.) - "In addition, Whites also show stereotype threat effects on tasks where they might fear confirming the stereotype that Whites are racist..." (Frantz, C. M., Cuddy, A. J. C., Burnett, M., Ray, H., & Hart, A. (2004). A threat in the computer: The race implicit association test as a stereotype threat experience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1611–1624.) - "Performance decrements have been observed in response to both explicit manipulations that call attention to one’s stigmatized status in a domain..." (Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M., & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4–28.) - "...and more subtle manipulations in which the researcher’s expectations for poor performance are less likely to be consciously primed." (Inzlicht, M., & Ben-Zeev, T. (2000). A threatening intellectual environment: Why females are susceptible to experiencing problem-solving deficits in the presence of males. Psychological Science, 11, 365–371; Smith, J. L., & White, P. H. (2002). An examination of implicitly activated, explicitly activated, and nullified stereotypes on mathematical perfor- mance: It’s not just a woman’s issue. Sex Roles, 47, 179–191.; Stone, J., & McWhinnie, C. (in press). Evidence that blatant versus subtle stereotype threat cues impact performance through dual processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.) As you can imagine, it goes on from there. Anyway. Figuring out what is going on with Fryer et al. will depend upon on an analysis of the details of their study, which I cannot do, since I'm a philosopher and not a social psychologist. There are many ways in which a pilot study in the area of psychology done by economists might not seem worthy of trust. (e.g., it's especially important to make sure the test is a genuinely difficult one -- something that you would get a 40% on on the best of days. I do not know whether Fryer et al. did that.) The authors do not provide that level of detail in their paper. I can ask Steve (Spencer) what he thinks about it the next time I see him, but I don't expect this study will turn many heads. I can say, though, that the "further complications" you list are bad opening gambits. Everybody in psychology knows that there are experimenter effects -- that is why they are often double-blinded! And, yes, there can be all kinds of other interesting variables which moderate outcomes, without that denying that stereotype threat exists. Those aren't very good grounds for skepticism, prime facie or otherwise; and anyway, the balance of evidence is entirely against you and Fryer et al., at least at the moment. That's not dogmatism, it's the literature. Finally, it's worth remembering that this literature and the experiments on which it is based are not happening in a political vacuum... Before you come up with an error theory, you need to demonstrate an error. Otherwise, it's an instance of the genetic fallacy. I did mention, for instance, the fact that there are some near-universal patterns in human behavior throughout history. I tend to distinguish between ability, reputation ('warranted notability'), and fame (persons who are for whatever reason cherished by the culture). From my point of view, if philosophy is itself useful, it measures ability, not reputation or fame. Hence, I think the historical record is more or less unenlightening. I must presume that there are hidden treasures, and that most of them are lost forever. It seems immodest to say otherwise. Still, if you insist on talking about reputation -- well, I guess you might start with Diotima, who is the only philosopher that Socrates ever admitted losing an argument to. Of course, you might not like what she's notable for, or you might think that her subject did not lend itself to fame. But that's a question of pubic relations, not philosophical significance or the historical record. My point was just that the frame of mind needed to *focus* relentlessly on this kind of thing in the way needed to make a name for yourself in professional philosophy -- especially given the very intense competition -- is not one that most human beings find easy or natural. Easy, or natural... or desirable. Some of us are pretty convinced that some forms of competition are perverse. Under some conditions, people can convince themselves that they are making progress, even though they're only speeding up the wheels that do no work. A philosopher who does not want to devolve into an anti-philosopher -- that is, into a sycophant, dogmatist, contrarian, or puzzle-solver -- must always ask themselves whether or not their work means anything to anyone who is not paid to believe it does. Now, as a matter of fact, it has been shown that men tend to endorse stereotypes about other men to the effect that men are more authoritarian than women. (That might explain why philosophers, when left unchallenged, descend into the four forms of anti-philosophy just mentioned. After all, when you are obsessed with the pecking order, you can't help but be driven towards sychophancy and dogmatism, for example.) This is, in part, an interactive kind, a self-fulfilling prophecy. But this provides me with no basis for believing that men are naturally authoritarian, does it?
You suggested there that women may be less motivated to pursue abstract, impersonal subjects. The counter-proposal is that women perform just as well at abstract subjects once you control for stereotype threat. Here's some evidence. I will quote the abstract at length, because the results are significant. When women perform math, unlike men, they risk being judged by the negative stereotype that women have weaker math ability. We call this predicament stereotype threat and hypothesize that the apprehension it causes may disrupt women’s math performance. In Study 1 we demonstrated that the pattern observed in the literature that women underperform on difficult (but not easy) math tests was observed among a highly selected sample of men and women. In Study 2 we demonstrated that this difference in performance could be eliminated when we lowered stereotype threat by describing the test as not producing gender differences. However, when the test was described as producing gender differences and stereotype threat was high, women performed substantially worse than equally qualified men did. A third experiment replicated this finding with a less highly selected population and explored the mediation of the effect. So the current evidence points to the idea that there are differences in social expectations. Infelicitous social expectations are an additional cognitive load which can impede processing of challenging tasks. Flatten the expectations and the results change. One other thing. It is an implication of your hypothesis that the problem with philosophy is that it is an inhuman and merely abstract sort of activity. While I do recognize that philosophy involves abstraction, I think it is not plausible to describe it exclusively or principally in those terms. Even modal logic and Bayesian probability has got a point to it.
Oh, to be sure, the insistence upon revealed preference may turn out to be a disaster for economics. And no doubt many established economists will be surprised to find that they're not doing economics. I suppose I just get excited whenever there's a fire sale.
I don't see that. The reviewer mentions the sentiments in that passage quoted in the OP, but this is surely not sufficient to believe that his intent was to critique the whole body of doctrine that goes under the title of 'moral sentimentalism'.
Eric, I didn't get the impression that anyone was suggesting that sympathy was incapable of grounding a moral outlook. Who is begging that question? Duncan, Here's how I'm reading that paragraph. First, Zamir suggests that there is a legitimate and substantive sense in which sympathy plays a role in morality. Hence: "[De Fontenay] puts her confidence in fellow-feeling, in a pathocentrism, in which the vulnerability and suffering that one shares with animals becomes the basis of one's moral outlook" (emphasis added). As far as that proposal goes, Zamir criticized De Fontenay for being going over old ground, not for being wrong. Hence: "The claim is substantive, though it has been raised by others before (Cora Diamond, Martha Nussbaum and even Derrida)." Of course, Zamir then immediately launched into a sharp criticism of a view attributed to De Fontenay -- that sympathy could be simply substituted with morality. "But to suggest that such awareness of shared pain can substitute for more principled approaches -- as De Fontenay does -- is to regressively return animal ethics into an extension of sentimental care for animals" (again, emphasis added). As I am reading it, the 'but' in this case appears to be an indicator that Zamir is now going on to criticize a different proposal. I interpret it this way because locutions like "the basis of" and "substituted for" suggest very distinct logical interpretations (as necessary and sufficient conditions, respectively), and the fact that in this sentence only De Fontenay is mentioned explicitly. In other words, I think Zamir is saying: "De Fontenay thinks sympathy is necessary for morality, and/or she thinks it's sufficient. If the former, then what she's saying ain't new (because Diamond/Nussbaum/Derrida); and if the latter, then it ain't true".
I don't think that's implied from what Zamir said. Approbative mentions that pathos can form a "basis of" a moral outlook is not the same as a proposal about whether or not that sense of sympathy is a simple substitution for a moral outlook. It's the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions.
Rawls had already argued against this with his notion of reflective equilibrium, which in turn he got from Goodman. This is something to revisit in the light of the recent attack on intuition by x-phi. In fairness, it's worth noting that Stich has reservations about the model of reflective equilibrium. Interested folks can click through here.
Mohan, I would be very interested to know if somebody can produce a clean example of intuition operating in philosophy in the way that Austin’s ordinary language analysis worked, or claimed to work. It depends on what you specifically believe counts as an "Austinian" picture, and what you think counts as "clean". Cappelen admits that Kripke's use of intuition could be interpreted as meaning something like pretheoretic opinions of the folk. Hence, from (4.3) of Cappelen: "I take 'which means nothing to the ordinary man' to spell out what he means by saying that a notion has 'no intuitive content'. To have intuitive content, for Kripke, is to have content to the non-theoretician, i.e., roughly speaking, pre-theoretically." Many of the other remarks in 4.3 (and the footnotes) are of that kind. Though of course Cappelen also has some reservations. After all, the ultimate lesson from the section on Kripke is that Kripke's remarks in N&N are not clean or unambiguous evidence of anything, owing in part to Kripke's use of the term 'intuition' as an unarticulated primitive. Still, I think it's important and interesting to see that Cappelen admits that there is some plausibility to the reading of Kripke under that sense of an Austinian picture. Whether or not you think this counts as a clean example of an Austinian method will depend on how you're inclined to interpret Kripke. The place where Cappelen really wants to 'bring down the hammer', so to speak, is when it comes to the proposal that Kripke treats reports of intuitions as a *source of* evidence. Like Cappelen, I doubt that Kripke believes that the popularity of some pretheoretic intuition among the folk gives us reason to think the intuition represents the truth. But I also don't think that Kripke believes that intuitions do not count as evidence. So what is the Austinian method committed to, in your sense? Must the Austinian treat intuitions as a source of evidence (and be condemned to an ad populum), or can you also be an Austinian and simply hold intuitions as evidence in certain stable contexts and for certain purposes?
Sorry if this wasn't clear -- I only meant to speak from the point of view of those reacting against X-phi. That seems to be one of the impressions floating around out there. In my view, intuitions obviously play a part in analytic epistemology, but whether or not they are a pro tanto form of evidence depends on the features of the context which allow them to persist. In principle, any old semantic intuition can be challenged, modified, or discarded. In practice, though, some intuitions persist because the challenges against them are not very motivating. So not all intuitions have squatter's rights (to use Owen Flanagan's term). But those that have earned their squatter's rights might as well be counted as a persuasive kind of evidence. We have nothing to lose by admitting that.
That's my recollection as well. And in fairness, I do expect that much of the reaction to X-phi is based around the fact that analytic epistemology cannot be given a simple characterization in terms of the method of cases. That's why I usually try to also remind X-phi's critics of Ron Mallon's work on motivated inference (his 'worry about dependence'), which you'll probably agree is better described as being about distorted patterns of reasoning than about intuitive responses to cases.
Just a followup to my comment above -- Cappelen does indeed explicitly assimilate intuitions to 'pre-theoretic' intuitions in his discussion of Kripke. He asserts that Kripke's use of 'intuition' was meant to shake people out of their prejudices (these prejudices not themselves being intuitions). Cappelen has a footnote, here, that is very, very striking: Note that there is no evidence that Kripke at any point treats ‘being endorsed prior to a theory’ as carrying evidential weight (or being a source of evidence), i.e. there is no evidence that he treats being intuitive as carrying evidential weight. That p is endorsed by many people prior to theorizing is of course not in general evidence in favor of p. If that is true, then by implication, I don't know how to understand Kripke when he says that "I think [some proposition's having intuitive content] is very heavy evidence in favor of it, myself. I really don't know, in a way, what more conclusive evidence one can have about anything, ultimately speaking."
On the pre/theoretical: to be fair, the distinction is often used to describe naive intuitions on a timeline of individual intellectual development. Of course, respondents to prompts won't be free of all theory (which is impossible). Still, they might be free of the specific theory for which they're being prompted. So while there might be more socially embedded ways of carving out that distinction, I primarily had the individualistic case in mind in my comment above.
Obvious mistake: I should have said "former", not "latter". Oops.
So I took it that he would deny that Moore and Kripke used intuition because they didn't use "snap judgements" as evidence for anything. That sounds as though that's the direction of his argument. It's the only way to make sense of (and render irrelevant) that famous passage from Kripke's Naming and Necessity (1972): "Some philosophers think that something's having intuitive content is very inconclusive evidence in favor of it. I think it is very heavy evidence in favor of it, myself. I really don't know, in a way, what more conclusive evidence one can have about anything, ultimately speaking." (p.42) But if that's the direction of his argument, then that would be a shame, since people who work in the area nowadays usually make a distinction between 'theoretic' and 'pretheoretic' intuitions -- the latter, one presumes, being more reflective and resistant to change. So I eagerly look forward to seeing for myself how Dr. Cappelan navigates the literature when I can get a copy of his book.
It's true that results from Google Scholar do include a lot of gray literature, so it's not a foolproof representation of research impact. It is, perhaps, a rough indicator at best. I only appeal to it on the assumption that it is telling us something or other. Maybe not; in which case, grain of salt. (It's a shame, in this connection, that the NRC evidently did not publish data related to research impact for the humanities in the linked report.) To be sure, we should expect that increased familiarity would correspond to increased impact, and vice-versa; it just sort of makes sense to think that they are intertwined. But I am not confident that we can make a warranted assertion about the relationship between familiarity and impact. As you point out, there are some awkward outliers. I like your example of Habermas's magnum opus in this regard. (Well, I might quibble a bit. The first volume shouldn't be neglected by philosophers interested in philosophy of language, though IIRC the second volume is geared towards sociologists.) The explanation is probably that publication in prestigious philosophy journals is registered as being of higher importance than actual impact. Publishing in the top journals is the mechanism which attracts both impact and familiarity. e.g., GS registers Habermas's most influential publication in a top-tier philosophy journal ("Struggles for Recognition in Constitutional States" at the European Journal of Philosophy) with 767 citations. That's still an influence which most working philosophers would envy; indeed, with numbers like that, there is no doubt that you can legitimately say of a social and political philosopher that they are out of touch so long as Habermas is not on their radar. But even so, it's nowhere near the numbers you get from his Theory of Communicative Action. Anyway, I only wanted to warn against an apriori inference from familiarity to impact and vice-versa, and especially I want to warn against making this inference in connection with PGR.
Quite a lot depends upon the sense in which we are making use of the word 'reputation'. If we are speaking of reputation in the sense of fame, then PGR certainly measures it, I agree. But I tend to think of 'reputation' as meaning something like, 'assessments based on considerate analysis by those who are familiar with the relevant work'. In that sense, PGR is at best a proxy, a measurement of the appearances. And this is not an unusual way of cashing out the idea of reputation, I think. Hence, e.g., If I understand it correctly, Carolyn linked to a study in the other thread which attempted to replicate PGR's rankings while controlling for familiarity; as it turns out, while the ranking of the top schools were indeed replicated (with some notable discrepancies), there was no valid assessment of PGR's "bottom". It is at least logically possible that PGR is an ineffective indicator of the reputation of schools which are not famous (for lack of a better word). (Needless to say, that is not to diminish the importance of PGR as a resource. For graduate students who are very career-minded, the appearances will be quite important -- possibly more important than any other measure. But those who have different expectations of what they ought to get out of a degree in philosophy might be more interested in other indicators.)
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Jun 5, 2012