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Philosophy Adjunct

My sense is it would depend on what kind of job one applied for. On the teaching market one would probably be competitive, on the R1-reasearchy market probably not.

Related to the importance of pedigree is that of perceived 'commitment'. Having left professional philosophy indicates either that you are not really committed to philosophy (and therefore `not made of the right stuff') or that you were (and therefore are) just not good enough to get an academic job.

I recall Brian Leiter once (many years ago) saying that it is a bad idea to take time off between undergrad and graduate school because one will never recover from having lost one's edge, or something like that. I think a sizable proportion of the profession share this sentiment about the time between grad school and getting a job, and would treat taking a non-academic job as a version of `taking a holiday from philosophy'.


I wrote before about my friend who spent five years in government and then got a TT job. I think it was only a benefit in his case. His job is at a state school with a 3-3 load.


My sense is that it is not impossible, but absolutely harder. there are so many good candidates for every single job out there that members of search committees are often looking for reasons to take people out of the running. Some search committees won't take your time away from philosophy as a reason not to consider you any more (as long as you've kept publishing, had good teaching experience in the past, etc), but others almost certainly will - either for the reasons Philosophy Adjunct gives above (not serious, not good enough to get a philosophy job), or for other ones. But if you're happy to apply selectively, and happy with the possibility of not coming back, then maybe it's ok (for you, I mean, not morally) if those search committees put you out of the running?


Mine is a slightly different case, but perhaps helpful.
I chose to leave a Phil job (for well-being and family reasons), though I was very likely to get tenure. I'm back on the market this year, applied to a limited number of schools, and ran at about a 1/3 for 1st rounds/apps. Campus visiting is a bit weird as I am in a very different place than other candidates, but other faculty and my former colleagues have been supportive.
Echoing Rosa: I applied very selectively, and have another career track (I have a recent pub to show I'm still working). This has enabled me to come at the market with a very different (and maybe healthier?) attitude than my previous forays.
I am sure that my choices hurt me with some schools, and that R1 jobs are likely out of reach, but I am delighted with how things have gone. While there are some out there who may see "taking a break" as a lack of seriousness, my experience is that there are also a lot of folks who recognize that human lives are complicated, and that one can love teaching and love philosophy despite doing something else for a while.

Just curious

It would be interesting to hear the AOS/AOC and demographic details of those who successfully returned to academia vs. those who didn't. There is ample evidence that these factors strongly determine the career prospects of those fresh out of the PhD. So, one strongly suspects the same to be true in the present case. So, one strongly suspects that there is no one-for-all answer to the question of whether those returning to academia will be taken seriously by search committees.


Just curious,
I was the one who mentioned knowing someone who did this on the original thread where this question was posted. The person I know who did it was a white male (no disability, not a vet). And his AOS/AOC were CORE, weighted toward Mind and Language. During his first time on the market he was interviewed at some Research places (not the highest tier, but good schools); after his leave, he was interviewed at state schools with 4/4 and 3/3 teaching loads.

Asst Prof

When applying to jobs at less-prestigious and more career-oriented teaching schools, especially without a philosophy major (like where I work), I could see it potentially being an advantage.

For example, we have criminal justice professors with PhDs and real world experience, who then bring this all into the classroom to make for dynamic teaching. Similarly, a philosophy PhD with publications and business experience might make for a great professor of ethical theory or business ethics for business majors.

Not sure at all how this perspective would generalize to other schools, but those would be my two cents....

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