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It’s Time for Democrats to Read the Bible Verses on the Wall and Stop Courting White Evangelicals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/11/2020 - 4:35am in

I’ve always been fond of the “Charlie Brown with the football” series from Peanuts. The...

What the Public Thinks of Philosophy and Other Humanities Fields

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/11/2020 - 10:00pm in

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data

A new report from Humanities Indicators (a part of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences), based on a survey of over 5,000 U.S. adults, reveals and discusses various beliefs and attitudes the American public has towards the humanities, and includes information specifically about the public’s perception of and engagement with philosophy.

 “The Humanities in American Life: A Survey of the Public’s Attitudes and Engagement,” covers how the public engages with the humanities and how often, what they take to be the various kinds of benefits of the humanities, their views about the humanities and childhood, and the role of humanities in the workplace. Some findings include:

  • There is substantial engagement with the humanities in American life. However, very few people engage regularly in the full range of activities, or even in all the activities associated with a given discipline (e.g., someone who watches history shows is not very likely to also research history topics online).
  • Though Americans hold a generally favorable view of the humanities, especially as an area of education, their enthusiasm is relatively attenuated in comparison to other intellectual fields and even to some of the humanities’ component disciplines (especially history).
  • Many Americans do not recall being exposed to the humanities by their parents, and most adults wished they had taken more humanities courses in school.
  • And finally, a substantial share of Americans has been hampered at work due to a deficiency in one or more humanities skills, though the survey also reveals that many Americans do not think they need humanities skills in the workplace.

You can get a sense of what people take to be the value (and disvalue) in studying the humanities from the following chart:

How do things look for philosophy specifically?

Let’s start with the bad news. Philosophy is the least favorably / most unfavorably viewed humanities discipline:

True, it’s not the most loathed of the humanities, but that we could use “You Probably Hate French More” as a tagline for the discipline is not much consolation.

The report does not offer an explanation for philosophy’s comparatively poor showing, or how bad this is. After all, 77% of respondents had a “very” or “somewhat” favorable impression of philosophy, and that is only 12 points lower than the most favorably viewed of the humanities, history. One does wonder, though, how respondents interpret the “somewhat favorably.” If they take it to mean “at least a smidgen of positive feeling” then the “very favorable” category is probably the more informative indicator, and there, philosophy is 19 points behind history.

Here are some more specific details on the public’s impression of philosophy, courtesy of Robert Townsend, director of Humanities Indicators:

  • 37% of Black Americans have a very favorable impression of philosophy, compared to 24% of Asian Americans and 27% of White Americans
  • Americans in the lowest income quartile are somewhat more likely to have a very favorable view of philosophy than those in the highest quartile,
  • Self-identified political liberals are substantially more likely than conservatives to have a very favorable impression of philosophy. While 41% of liberals have such a favorable impression of the term, only 17% of conservatives are similarly disposed.

Despite philosophy’s relatively low favorability ratings

  • 25% of Americans said they wish they had taken more courses in it, and
  • 87% of Americans feel that teaching both ethics and logic to K–12 students is important (though about a third thought that elementary school is too early for these topics). 

Additionally:

  • Women are no more likely to wish they had studied more philosophy than men,
  • Black and Hispanic Americans are somewhat more likely than White Americans to wish they had taken more classes in the subject,
  • Americans identifying as politically liberal are twice as likely as conservatives to wish they had studied more philosophy,
  • 29% of Americans recall their parents often discussing ethical issues, though that is smaller than the share who remembered their parents rarely or never engaging in those conversations (36%),
  • Though a large majority of every age group consider the teaching of ethics important, older Americans are more likely than the youngest adults to see the value of teaching the subject to children,
  • Approximately three-quarters of Americans believe ethics ought to be taught both in school and outside (in the home, church, or community).

When it comes to engagement with philosophy:

  • 23% of adults “often” think about or researched the ethical aspects of a choice in their life (another 31% do so “sometimes”), and
  • The youngest adults, ages 18 to 29, are somewhat more likely to engage ethical questions than older Americans,
  • Americans with a college degree are more likely to engage in ethical questions than those with a high school diploma or less.

There are more details in the full report, which you can view here, along with philosophy-specific information here.  Many thanks to Robert Townsend for his work on this project and for sharing its findings.

The post What the Public Thinks of Philosophy and Other Humanities Fields appeared first on Daily Nous.

APDA Adds Board of Advisors

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/11/2020 - 8:30pm in

Tags 

data, philosophy

Academic Placement Data and Analysis (APDA), a project led by Carolyn Dicey Jennings (UC Merced) to gather, analyze, and present data about philosophy departments, including information about job placement, student experiences, departmental strengths, and diversity, has established a Board of Advisors.

The Board of Advisors will be tasked with, among other things, guiding APDA towards a Board of Directors organizational model in the coming years. Its current members are listed below, along with their appointment terms:

Marcus Arvan (Tampa), 2020-2022
Berit Brogaard (Miami), 2020-2023
Amy Ferrer (APA), 2020-2022
Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera (Bern), 2020-2021
Linus Huang (UC Berkeley), 2020-2021
Quill Kukla (Georgetown), 2020-2023
Mohan Matthen (Toronto), 2020-2022
Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam), 2020-2021
Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside), 2020-2023
Amia Srinivasan (Oxford), 2020-2021
Janet Stemwedel (San José State) , 2020-2023
Morgan Thompson (Bielefeld), 2020-2023
Manuel Vargas (UC San Diego), 2020-2022
Brian Weatherson (Michigan), 2020-2021
Kevin Zollman (Carnegie Mellon), 2020-2022

The Board held its first meeting last month and approved some initial changes to the APDA website, discussed here.

The post APDA Adds Board of Advisors appeared first on Daily Nous.

Much Fewer Academic Philosophy Jobs Advertised This Season

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 02/11/2020 - 10:00pm in

Compared to previous years, the number of academic jobs advertised this season is much lower.

According to an analysis by Charles Lassiter (Gonzaga) posted at his blog, “there are 53% fewer jobs posted on PhilJobs in 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019.” By this time in 2018 there were 270 jobs posted, and in 2019 there were 267. This year: 126.


Graph by Charles Lassiter

There was a 73% decline in advertisements for tenure-track positions this season, compared to last fall:


Graph by Charles Lassiter

There hasn’t been much of a decline in post-doc positions, though:


Graph by Charles Lassiter

Dr. Lassiter notes:

The long-term effects of this are hard to discern, but of this much we can be confident: there’s going to be a hell of a backlog of job-seekers for the foreseeable future. The job market wasn’t pretty before, and it’s only going to get worse. It’s not as though the jobs are going to spring back right away, if at all…. In light of this, I hope that departments and the APA increase their efforts to promote non-academic careers… The situation was already unsustainable, and the pandemic has only made matters worse. The profession can’t keep continuing to prioritize academic over non-academic careers. This is an opportunity to grow and adapt.

 

Related posts: Daily Nous Non-Academic Hires Page; Supporting Non-Academic CareersGrad Programs and Non-Academic CareersDuties to Graduate Students Pursuing Non-Academic CareersProgram Funds Non-Academic Internships for Philosophy PhD StudentsNew Site Interviews Philosophers With Non-Academic CareersProfiles of Non-Academics with Philosophy DegreesAPA Issues New Guide For Philosophers Seeking Non-Academic Jobs

The post Much Fewer Academic Philosophy Jobs Advertised This Season appeared first on Daily Nous.

2020 PhilPapers Survey Begins

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 4:13pm in

In 2009, the PhilPapers team—David Bourget of the University of Western Ontario and David Chalmers of New York University—conducted a survey of the views of professional philosophers in the English-speaking world. How have those views changed in the past 11 years?

That’s one thing we’ll learn from the 2020 PhilPapers Survey, which was launched on Thursday.

We’ll learn more than just that, though, as the survey has some new questions. The original survey had 30 questions about philosophy. The new version has those plus 70 more. Respondents will initially be asked to answer 50 of the questions (the original 30 and an additional 20); when they’re completed, they’ll have the option of answering the other 50.

“The aim of the survey is to discover information about the distribution of philosophical views among professional philosophers and others, and to make longitudinal comparisons with the 2009 survey for research purposes… The philosophical questions range across many areas of Western philosophy. Most of the questions are drawn from the analytic or Anglocentric philosophical tradition, though there are also a number of more general questions,” the authors write in the introduction to the survey. The survey also asks for some demographic information from respondents.

In addition to more questions, the new survey has a new answer option: “Evaluate multiple options (e.g., accept more than one, reject all)”. Respondents can also submit written comments on the questions.

Here’s what a sample question looks like:

Invitations to partake in the survey are being distributed by email to the “target group” of 8,000 professional philosophers in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as some faculty members who publish in English in selected departments in other countries. Others are permitted to take the survey and can do so here (you’ll need to log in or create a PhilPeople account).

Professors Bourget and Chalmers plan on running the survey for approximately two weeks, and are aiming to share the results sometime in November.

The post 2020 PhilPapers Survey Begins appeared first on Daily Nous.

The Philosophy Major Is (Kind of) Back on the Rise (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 8:00pm in

Tags 

data, philosophy

New data shows a recent slight uptick in the percentage of undergraduates earning philosophy degrees.

The following is a guest post* by Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside). A version of it originally appeared at his blog, The Splintered Mind.

 

The Philosophy Major Is (Kind of) Back on the Rise
by Eric Schwitzgebel

Back in 2017, I noticed that the number of students completing the Philosophy major in the U.S. had plummeted from a high of 9431 in 2013 (0.54% of all Bachelor’s recipents) to 7305 in 2016 (0.39% of Bachelor’s recipients)—a shocking 23% decline in just four years, despite Bachelor’s degree completions across all majors rising overall. This appeared to be part of a general decline in the humanities. English, History, and foreign languages showed similar declines in the same period. This week I’ve been rummaging through three years’ more data, and the Philosophy major is back on the rise—kind of!

All data are from the National Center for Education Statistics’ excellent IPEDS database, confined to “U.S. only”, Philosophy major category 38.01, and combining first and second majors.

Here’s the breakdown year by year for philosophy since 2011 (i.e., the 2010-2011 academic year):

Graduation Year
Number of
Philosophy
Majors
Percentage of
BA Recipients
Majoring in
Philosophy

2011
9301
0.57%

2012
9371
0.55%

2013
9431
0.54%

2014
8826
0.48%

2015
8190
0.44%

2016
7498
0.39%

2017
7577
0.39%

2018
7670
0.39%

2019
8075
0.40%

Given the large numbers involved, the recent recovery cannot be due to statistical chance.

Of course, the absolute numbers look better than the percentages, but the percentages are at least stable and have been now for four consecutive years.

Meanwhile, the other big humanities majors continue to decline, as shown in this graph:

For a longer-term perspective we can look back to the 2000-2001 academic year (the earliest year in which information for second majors is available). The percentage of Bachelor’s degree recipients completing a major in Philosophy fell from 0.48% in 2001 to 0.40% in 2019. The percentage completing in English fell from 4.5% in 2001 to 2.1% in 2019; in History, from 2.2% to 1.3%; and in foreign languages, from 2.2% to 1.1%.

The post The Philosophy Major Is (Kind of) Back on the Rise (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Fact Check: Is the Evangelical Youth-Inspired Great ‘Awokening’ Just Around the Corner?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 4:44am in

Early in George W. Bush’s second term, not long after I started my Ph.D. work...

Book Review: Data Feminism by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/10/2020 - 7:00pm in

  This review originally appeared on LSE Review of Books. If you would like to contribute to the series, please contact the managing editor of LSE Review of Books, Dr Rosemary Deller, at lsereviewofbooks@lse.ac.uk   In Data Feminism, Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein use an intersectional feminist lens to examine unequal power structures in the realm of data, and … Continued

Some Good News, Some Bad News in the APA’s State of the Profession Report (guest post)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 01/10/2020 - 12:59am in

The American Philosophical Association (APA) today released a new report, “State of the Profession 1967-2017 and Beyond: Institutions and Faculty.”

The report, drafted by Debra Nails (Michigan State University, emeritus) and John Davenport (Fordham University), “gives a detailed picture of the profession of academic philosophy—that is, the makeup of philosophy departments and philosophy faculty in North America—and how it has evolved over five decades.”

Its information comes from past editions of the Directory of American Philosophers published by the Philosophy Documentation Center (PDC) and other data from the PDC, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the APA, and departmental sites.

The report, its authors say, “provides more detail on the state of the profession than has previously been available, including more specific information on gender, institutional types and affiliations, and regional differences among philosophy programs” and “explores the types of institutions that teach ad hoc courses and those that offer degrees, identifying where faculty in contingent positions are most concentrated, and where women philosophers are most concentrated.” It also provides information on the types of positions philosophy professors hold.

The full report is available here. In the following guest post*, Carolyn Dicey Jennings (UC Merced) and Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside) cover some of its key findings.

Some Good News, Some Bad News in the APA’s State of the Profession Report
by Carolyn Dicey Jennings and Eric Schwitzgebel

We were recently provided with a report from the APA that recounts work by Debra Nails and John Davenport to collect, organize, and analyze available data on the discipline over the past 50 years, including data from the Philosophy Documentation Center, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the APA itself. We are grateful for the efforts of Nails and Davenport in creating this important report on the state of the profession. As colleagues on the Data Task Force, we have some insider knowledge of how challenging this task was, and how much time it required between 2016 and now. In reviewing the report, a few threads stood out: good news, bad news, and supporting news. Let’s start with the good.

Contingent Faculty

While some use the language of “adjunct” or “part-time” faculty, we follow the report in using “contingent,” since it is possible for adjunct and part-time positions to be permanent ones. The national issue of increasing contingent labor in academia has come up many times at the APA Blog and Daily Nous, and there was recently an APA session dedicated to the topic. As one report puts the problem:

For many part-time faculty, contingent employment goes hand-in-hand with being marginalized within the faculty. It is not uncommon for part-time faculty to learn which, if any, classes they are teaching just weeks or days before a semester begins. Their access to orientation, professional development, administrative and technology support, office space, and accommodations for meeting with students typically is limited, unclear, or inconsistent. Moreover, part-time faculty have infrequent opportunities to interact with peers about teaching and learning. Perhaps most concerning, they rarely are included in important campus discussions about the kinds of change needed to improve student learning, academic progress, and college completion. Thus, institutions’ interactions with part-time faculty result in a profound incongruity: Colleges depend on part-time faculty to educate more than half of their students, yet they do not fully embrace these faculty members. Because of this disconnect, contingency can have consequences that negatively affect student engagement and learning.

So far this sounds like bad news, but we want to be sure that we do not overlook the real issues contingent faculty face in communicating the good. Namely, that the percentage of contingent faculty in philosophy is low and stable. As Nails and Davenport explain, around 73% of all faculty nationwide are in contingent or “unranked” positions, whereas only 22% of philosophy faculty had contingent positions in 2017. Moreover, there is a lower percentage of contingent philosophy faculty now than there was in the 1960s. While the APA membership numbers have suggested this for some time (with around 20% of its members reporting contingent status), a reasonable concern about that estimate was that contingent faculty might be underrepresented among APA members. This new report suggests that the numbers just are low in our discipline. That’s good news, under the plausible assumption that it is best for the discipline if a large majority of faculty are tenured or tenure track.

While we are heartened by these findings, we see a couple of reasons to stay vigilant about the status of contingent faculty.

First, we don’t know the reason that there are fewer contingent faculty in philosophy. It may be, for example, that philosophers are less likely to teach the types of courses that are typically offered to contingent faculty, such as general education and writing courses. In that case, this wouldn’t be a reason to celebrate philosophy’s success on the issue.

Second, the report raises the possibility that contingent positions have recently been replacing assistant professor positions: “Since 1987, there has been a steady increase in the number of faculty hired outside the tenure system compared to entry-level positions inside it.” We note only that the numbers show that the ratio of assistant professor positions to contingent positions has shifted from about 1:1 in 1987 to about 4:3 in 2017, representing a gain of about 500 contingent positions while the number of assistant professor positions remains about the same (see “a” in Figure 5).

It is unclear what we should conclude from this, since the overall ratio of contingent to non-contingent faculty hasn’t really changed: there are also nearly 500 extra professor and associate professor positions since 1987 (“b” in Figure 5). This could be due to faculty staying in the profession for longer than in past decades, but it could be for some other reason. Zooming in on the difference between 2007 and 2017, Nails and Davenport note that “the drop in assistant professors and rise in associate professors may indicate a decline in entry-level hires since 2007. Universities that hired new faculty into contingent positions in the wake of the Great Recession have not yet made tenure lines available to those who, under normal circumstances, would have been hired as assistant professors.” But here, too, the additional numbers of those in associate and professor positions could explain the difference (“c” in Figure 5). It may be, for example, that those in more recent years are achieving promotion faster than in past years, leaving fewer people at the assistant rank relative to ranked positions, overall. So it is unclear what to take from this data, but we may want to be cautious, given the possibility Nails and Davenport raise.

Alright, how about some bad news?

Decline

The bad news is that philosophy is represented at about 100 fewer institutions in 2017 than in 1967 (1669 colleges and universities in 1967 and 1552 in 2017). This appears to represent a decline of the discipline in academia that has been the subject of numerous blog posts.

Surprisingly, the report particularly notes a decline in philosophy at (non-Catholic) religious institutions, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Whereas around 16% of all public institutions offer no philosophy degree, this is true of 27% of non-Catholic religious institutions (but only 11% of Catholic colleges and universities). We don’t know the root of this decline of philosophy in religious institutions. It might be due to the especially atheistic culture of philosophy and its writings, or due to such institutions having comparatively stronger religious studies or theology programs competing for majors, or due to the relatively left-wing politics of many academic philosophers.

In addition, a striking 78% of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) offer no philosophy degree. Given the historical racism in philosophy, it seems likely that this is also connected to cultural issues. It would be in the interest of philosophy to further explore the  matter. (Interested readers might start with this interview with Brandon Horgan at Howard University, an HBCU.)

We did note one reason for optimism with the overall numbers: while the numbers of institutions with a degree in philosophy has declined, the number of faculty at these institutions has increased, from around 6,000 in 1967 to around 9,000 in 2017. One can see how this played out at most institutions through the median number of faculty: whereas the median number of faculty for programs offering a PhD in philosophy was around 13 in 1967, it was around 19 in 2017. Similarly, those offering a Master’s went from 6 to 11, those offering Bachelor’s went from 3 to 5, and those offering courses only went from 1 to 2 (Figures 6a-b and 7a-b).

The report also provided some numbers that support other findings, which we called “supporting news” above. We focus here on the supporting news regarding gender diversity. (The authors of the report were unable to explore race/ethnicity, disability, LBGTQ status, or other aspects of diversity.)

Gender Diversity

The APA now collects some demographic data from its members, including gender, race/ethnicity, LGBT status, and disability status. Among the 1874 APA members who reported gender, 505 (27%) answered “female”, 1363 (73%) answered “male”, and 6 (<1%) answered “something else.” Other recent research has suggested that women constitute about 30% of recent philosophy PhDs and new assistant professors in the U.S., about 20% of full professors, and about 25% of philosophy faculty overall (plus or minus a few percentage points). However, most of this previous research is either a decade out of date or is limited to possibly unrepresentative samples, such as APA member respondents, faculty at PhD-granting programs, or recent PhDs.

The current report finds generally similar numbers, in a larger and more representative sample (all faculty in the Directory of American Philosophers from 2017). Overall, 26% of philosophy faculty were women, including 34% of assistant professors and 21% of full professors. (Associate professors and contingent faculty are intermediate at 28% and 26%, respectively.)

We note that the authors of the report relied on the DAP’s binary gender classifications of faculty, which were generally reported by department heads or other department staff. And where faculty gender was not specified, the report’s authors searched websites and CVs for gender designations. Thus, the data do not include non-binary gender and some classification errors are possible.

The tendency for women to be a smaller percentage of full professors than assistant professors could reflect either a cohort effect, a tendency for women to advance more slowly up the ranks than men, or a tendency for women to exit the profession at higher rates than men. On the possibility of a cohort effect, since professors often teach into their 70s, the lower percentage of women among professors might to some extent reflect the fact that in the 1970s and 1980s, 17% and 22% of philosophy PhDs in the U.S. were awarded to women. By the 1990s, it was 27%, which is closer to the numbers for recent graduates. However, cohort effects might not be a complete explanation, since 21% might be a bit on the low side for a group that should reflect a mix of people who earned their PhDs from approximately the 1970s through the early 2000s. In the NSF data, women received 23% of all philosophy PhDs from the year 1973 through 2003—the approximate pool for full professors in 2017.

The report also explores gender by institution type, highest degree offered, and region. One notable result is that philosophy departments offering at least Bachelor’s degrees had on average higher percentages of women than departments not offering Bachelor’s degrees. Faculty were 27% women in departments offering the PhD, 28% in departments offering a Master’s but no PhD, 27% in departments offering a Bachelor’s degree, 22% in departments offering a minor but no Bachelor’s, 23% in departments offering an Associate degree but no minor, and 20% in departments offering philosophy courses but no degrees. (A chi-square test shows that this is unlikely to be statistical chance: 2×6 chi-square = 24.3, p < .001, lowest expected cell count = 104.) We are unsure what would explain this phenomenon.

Editorial note: readers may also be interested in the report’s data concering the number of graduate and undergraduate programs in philosophy, represented in Figures 11a and 11b, below. Nails and Davenport write, “the total number of doctoral programs has continued its slow increase since 2007, despite the soft job market for faculty positions in the tenure system.”

The post Some Good News, Some Bad News in the APA’s State of the Profession Report (guest post) appeared first on Daily Nous.

New Site Presents Philosophy Job Placement Data

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/09/2020 - 5:15pm in

Charles Lassiter, associate professor of philosophy at Gonzaga University, has created a new site to provide job placement information about philosophy Ph.D. programs.

The site contains graphs and tables for departmental placements per graduate, junior placement rates, a searchable drill-down table where users can see where graduates of a program have historically placed, and more. It’s based on data from PhilJobs, downloaded information on graduation rates, and some assumptions, and covers the time period of January 2011 to September 2020.

Professor Lassiter calls it a “first attempt at coming up with a model for placement rates in philosophy,” and notes that in some ways it is not complete (check out the “Into the Weeds” section for more details on how it was made). He aims to update it every six months, in September (for job seekers) and March (for students headed into PhD programs).

You can explore the site here. Below is just one item from it: junior placement rates by department.

The post New Site Presents Philosophy Job Placement Data appeared first on Daily Nous.

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