Our books






Become a Fan

« Midweek melodies | Main | Helping graduate students succeed: are better mentoring and admissions strategies needed? »

06/21/2017

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Postdoc

"Pursuing ambitious research projects that fly in the face of received paradigms, authors, etc., that people "like."

Pursuing research that defends morally and/or politically unpopular conclusions.

Engaging in blogging or public philosophy under your own name."

A lot of things come to mind. The Hypatia controversy, the Salaita controversy... Well, people can do their own research. Lots of instances of people losing their jobs and/or having witch hunts brought against them for defending unpopular views (in print or on social media).

Here's a list of articles relevant to the three points quoted. In fact, it's easy to find dozens and dozens of examples online that go against your three points, and I suspect anyone paying attention to the news would be afraid to follow your advice.

I just caution people to do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/05/transracialism-article-controversy.html

http://reason.com/blog/2016/05/11/academic-freedom

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/stripping-a-professor-of-tenure-over-a-blog-post/385280/

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/local/james-tracy-fired-fau-professor-complained-harassment-for-views/Ex8R5blMoC7bY73eYyy9lM/

https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/32465/

https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2015/02/firing-professor-mcadams-when-a-catholic-university-collides-with-political-correctness/

http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/05/26/students-demand-firing-of-college-professor-who-objected-to-event-that-kicks-white-people-off-campus/


Marcus Arvan

Postdoc: I fear, as in our previous exchange, that you may be straw-manning my views a bit. First, as far as I can tell, none of these stories have anything to do with the job-market (they have to do with people who are already in jobs getting fired). Second, I know at least one candidate who got hired this year defending the kinds of controversial views these kinds of stories allude to. Third, I am not arguing that all risks are equal. Some risks are much more risky than others. Of course, we all know that. For instance, I blog under my own name (a "risk"). I also pursue ambitious research projects that fly in the face of received paradigms--such as arguing in my recent book that philosophers have always used bad methods, particularly in moral philosophy (another "risk"). There are risks like these, and then there are the much more serious kinds of risks you mention--and it is important not to blur them together. Perhaps the problem is that I have not adequately distinguished them in discussion so far--and perhaps that is what you are objecting to. Still, for all that, I'm not sure it is entirely fair to point to the most enormous kinds of risks people can take to object to the more general idea that candidates should take some risks. When I say people should take some risks, including defending some unpopular views, I most certainly did not mean that people should be reckless about it or be unaware that some risks may be very great compared to others.

Marcus Arvan

I should also add, perhaps, that the risks it is rational to take in order to get a job may be very different than the risks it may make sense to take after getting one. Notice that many of the academics who have be at the center of public controversy are people who actually got jobs to begin with! It would not surprise me in the slightest if at least some of those individuals got the jobs they did as a result of their controversial research, not in spite of it--as controversial research is often considered "sexy." Alas, *keeping* a job is another story--and, as I know from experience, there are many risks one should not take if one wants to keep rather than lose a job one already has.

Postdoc

"There are risks like these, and then there are the much more serious kinds of risks you mention--and it is important not to blur them together. Perhaps the problem is that I have not adequately distinguished them in discussion so far--and perhaps that is what you are objecting to."

I think this is a big part of what I'm objecting to.

Claims like,

'Pursuing research that defends morally and/or politically unpopular conclusions [may be good for your job market success],'

must be appropriately and clearly hedged in light of all the recent events.

The interesting question is how are we to hedge them? I tried doing so in various ways in our previous discussion, but you did not seem to like the attempts. However we hedge them, they clearly need hedging.

I don't have time to offer the in-depth response the discussion deserves. However, suffice to say, I would caution anyone from reading the kind of advice being given in broad terms without hedging quite a bit (how exactly I'll leave unaddressed).

So, I understand why it may seem like I'm straw manning you. And I'm sorry to whatever extent I'm doing this. However, I'm just cautioning against people over-interpreting your advice. Unhedged, 'take risks,' can be read too strongly, and to some people, appropriately hedged, 'take risks,' might be understood as, 'don't take risks.'

In fact, I suspect with all the appropriate hedges, I'd interpret your advice to be better presented along the lines of 'be careful taking risks.'

Marcus Arvan

Postdoc: okay, that's fair!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Categories