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 transfer to a job that is at a more prestigious university (again, several convenient rankings can be found). In short, we all have to be superstars.
There is a worry on how this affects our moral lives, our aims of philosophy as the love of wisdom. I am confident most of us got into philosophy because of our excitement for the field, for what it has to offer, and not to become research superstars who publish in the top-20. No-body says (I think) "I want to become a professional philosopher so I can publish in Philosophical Review". Could we be betraying those considerations that got us into philosophy in the first place, as a result of structural incentives that put personal prestige and accomplishments over everything else?
There may be a special worry for Christian philosophers. The following story has the apostles jockeying for position, and the answer is clear:
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves (Luke 22: 24-27).
Of course, this passage has not prevented church leaders from jockeying for positions, so why should Christian philosophers not go out to secure the best positions, the largest grants, publications in the most prestigious venues? One could argue that such things may even help them to accomplish good things such as providing compelling arguments for God’s existence.
Yet one cannot help but think that this competitive climate affects one’s moral standing in a negative way, especially, I think from a virtue ethical point of view, as it may prevent us from cultivating virtues such as compassion and humility. Worse, it may lead philosophers to be complicit in a climate that is bad and harmful (e.g., covering up a philosopher’s actions who is known to be sexually predatory because his work makes the department look good).
So the open-ended question is how we can avoid that - the worries I raise here are not specific to Christian philosophy (except in the challenge of the gospel text I cited) but permeate our discipline as a whole.