Sunday, February 27, 2011

Top Continental Philosophy Programs

 The top continental philosophy programs from, Brian Lieter responds. GonePublic is written by Noelle McAfee. He is an associate professor of philosophy at Emory University and the associate editor of the Kettering Review.

I just noticed Brian Leiter’s list of what he deems to be the top continental philosophy programs. Save for a few that obviously belong, the list is bizarre. The ones that seem most to belong here are those with asterisks or pound signs, meaning ones that had to be ad-hoc’d into the list.
Objectively speaking, the best measures for success in any given area of philosophy are these: getting published in the major journals of the field and by the major publishing houses of that field, getting papers accepted at the major conferences in that field, and excelling at  job placement.  Data on the 3d point is lacking because of lack of will or coordination, but the first two are simple enough to assess.  For continental philosophy just look at the programs of the past years’ meetings of the major societies, e.g. SPEP, which is the second largest philosophical society in the U.S. and identify the leaders of these organizations, whose papers are getting accepted, and which doctoral programs are training emerging scholars. For publications, look to who is getting published in the leading journals in continental philosophy (such as Continental Philosophy Review, Philosophy Today, Constellations, and Philosophy and Social Criticism) and by the academic publishing houses that have lists in the field.
Any student serious about going into continental philosophy would be wise to dismiss this obviously biased ranking.
Any reputational ranking has serious limitations, but at the very least a reputational ranking of a field should consult those who know the field well: for continental philosophy this would include the leaders of SPEP and other continental societies; the authors and editors of series published by Columbia, Indiana, SUNY, Routledge, Rowman & Littlefield; and the editors of the main journals in the field. 
Group 1 (1-3) (rounded mean of 4.0) (median, mode)
Georgetown University (4, 4.5)
University of California, Riverside (4, 4)
University of Chicago (4, 5)
Group 2 (4-10)  (rounded mean of 3.5) (median, mode)
Cambridge University (3.75, 3)
Columbia University (4, 4.25)
#University at Stony Brook, State University of New York
*University College Dublin
#University of Essex
University of Notre Dame (4, 4.5)
University of Warwick (3.5, 4)
Group 3 (11-31) (rounded mean of 3.0) (median, mode)
*Boston College
Boston University (3, 3)
Harvard University (3, 3)
*Loyola University, Chicago
*New School University
New York University (3, 3)
Northwestern University (3, 3)
Oxford University (3.5, 3)
#Pennsylvania State University
Stanford University (3, 3)
Syracuse University (3.25, 3)
University College London (3, 3)
University of Auckland (3, 3)
University of California, Berkeley (3, 3)
University of California, Santa Cruz (3, 3.25)
*University of Kentucky
*University of New Mexico
University of South Florida (3, 2)
*University of Sussex
University of Toronto (3, 3)
*Vanderbilt University
* inserted by Board
# based on 2004 results, in some cases with modest adjustments by the Advisory Board to reflect changes in staff in the interim

Comment from Lieter (must read full article (link at bottom) for full context.
You write: “I have been involved in continental philosophy circles for over many years, but I only recognize four of these philosophers as in any way qualified to assess continental philosophy overall.”
It would be more accurate to say that you’ve been involved in SPEP circles for many years, but SPEP represents a decided minority of philosophers who work on Continental philosophy. And the breathtaking admission that you “only recognize four of these philosophers” who participated in the PGR evaluations as “qualified to assess continental philosophy” would support a reasonable inference that you are not competent to evaluate work in the field, since you’re apparently unfamiliar with many of the best scholars in the field.
On a factual point, evaluators are nominated sometimes by me, but more often by members of the Advisory Board. 

Leiter responds  to criticism, check out the full article and comments

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