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08/09/2013

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Matt S.

As a general rule, I've found that light text on dark background almost always looks very bad, and even where it appears more or less aesthetically pleasing it still appears sub-professional. I would recommend changing your color scheme totally, since the cyan and red combination also just doesn't seem to work very well to me.

Marcus Arvan

Hmm...I'll be curious to see whether others agree. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion!

anon

I second the worry about the color scheme. Otherwise it looks great.

anon

I find the white text extremely hard to read, and can imagine quickly leaving your page if I went to it as a search committee member, just because it is hard on the eyes.

Marcus Arvan

Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'm really glad I asked for feedback, and have now changed the color scheme. Better?

Matt DeStefano

It's much easier to read now, Marcus, and I think it looks nicer too. One thing I might suggest is changing the social media toolbar on the left hand side. I can't imagine that people often share other individual's web pages on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, they probably just copy the link and send it off. (Especially if it's a hiring committee, or something similar.) If you can, I would opt to change it to your own social media presences. For example, the Facebook button could link to your own profile (If you do this, I would definitely recommend setting the privacy settings). The e-mail button could send you an e-mail, etc. You could also link your Academia.edu profile.

It gives people who might have come to your website different ways to network with you. Anyway, looks great!

Marcus Arvan

Thanks, Matt - I'm trying to figure out how to remove the social media sidebar, but I've put in a contact button that links directly to my email and another link to my academia page. Thanks for the tips!

Chike Jeffers

Nice site and I enjoyed reading your Research page. Hope the book makes a big splash in Kantian ethics and beyond.

On the side of the Research page, we see this:

"You can add HTML directly into this element to render on the page.

Just edit this element to add your own HTML."

Not sure if that's easily removed, but good to do so if you can.

Also, the text goes past the boundary of the box on the Teaching page.

Marcus Arvan

Thanks for the encouraging comments, Chike, and thanks for catching that on my research page. The website editing program is very twitchy, and seems to keep putting stuff like that in. I can't see any problem with the teaching page. The text is within the boundaries when I bring it up. Anyway, thanks again for the kind (and helpful) feedback!

Moti Mizrahi

Hi Marcus,

Now when I scroll down the color changes from grayish to white. Is that by design? Maybe my web browser does that. I'm not sure.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Moti: Yes, it's by design. People didn't like the previous, black background. However, when I tried changing it to a solid light color, it looked very "cheap" to me. So, I decided to add a color gradient/transition from white to gray. To my eyes, it looks much better -- and I tried to keep it relatively subtle so it wouldn't be too distracting. Do you not like it?

Chike Jeffers

Odd that I still see it as going beyond the boundary. Specifically, this is what goes outside:

""I actually did the readings."

Am I the only one?

Marcus Arvan

Hi Chike: just figured out the issue. It's an issue with different browsers. The text fits well within the boundaries on Chrome (my default browser), but on Explorer it's outside of the boundary.

Moti: Unfortunately, I guess it's a technology limitation with my website builder. I can either go single color or have a gradient with the issue you mention. I think I'm going to go with the gradient. Single color just looks too "cheap" to me.

Alex Guerrero

Hi Marcus. Looks good. A few things:

(1) If I go to the CV page, it says "mployment" rather than "Employment"

(2) You have links to philpapers for your papers if one goes to your CV, but not from your Research page (except for the free will paper). I'd fix that. Also, I'd have links to the actual papers (penultimate versions, if you're uncomfortable putting up the actual .pdfs), so that one can click and get to the actual paper, not just the philpapers page for those papers. (Search committees have hundreds of applicants to look at, and the more steps you put between them and your work, the less likely it is that they'll actually look at it.)

(3) This is a bit more meta-level job hunting strategy, rather than web design, but one of the challenges in having a website is that it makes 'tailoring' for different jobs trickier. (I found this particularly tricky, since I was applying for jobs in philosophy departments and law schools.) I worry that in your entry page, your research interests are stated too broadly: "Kantian ethics, justice, human rights, experimental philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of physics, and free will." (You avoid the normal AOS/AOC labels and subfield categorization, for reasons that are not apparent to me, but which I'm sure you've considered.) A couple background assumptions I'm working with: there are almost no truly open jobs anymore (schools that are hiring always have some sense of what they need) and there is a strong presumption against broad expertise in junior candidates. The worry is that if you self-present as broad, you'll get passed by for candidates that seem narrowly focused on the area that is really needed. Of course, it's nice to have a colleague who engages with all parts of philosophy, and even has research interests or connections with several different subfields. And many schools will happily welcome an Ethics person who can also pick up the occasional Metaphysics teaching assignment. But for someone like you, I'd try to fit cleanly and squarely within the Ethics/Political label, with an empirically informed component to your work, and with related side interests in Philosophy of Action. I see that you have other interests that don't fit within that (extending the P2P approach to core philosophy of science issues), but I'd let that come out informally in other ways (conversation, interviews, etc.). The basic thought is that you're not going to get hired for a straight metaphysics or philosophy of science job based on your research profile, and it runs the risk of making you seem like less of an ethics/political candidate than you otherwise would.

(4) Related to this last point, I'd watch tone just a bit in the description of your research. Just from a pragmatic point of view, you want to avoid (a) offending people and (b) over-claiming. I think your description of the Kantian Ethics project might risk (a)--you might well lose potential allies. Here's what you currently have:

"This book, which is loosely based upon two of my recent articles ("Unifying the Categorical Imperative" and "A Simple, Intuitive Argument for Obeying the Categorical Imperative") aims to do something new in the Kantian Ethics literature and Ethics more generally. Instead of engaging in traditional "Kant scholarship" -- i.e. explicating and defending Kant's own arguments -- the book aims to reconstruct Kant's moral project entirely from the ground up, in simple, intuitive, and original​ terms that, I believe, make a clear, persuasive, and significantly revisionary​ case for a new version of Kant's moral theory: a new theory that I believe both specialists and a wider general audience can understand and find persuasive, and which (I believe) improves upon problematic elements of Kant's original theory. Along the way -- by reconstructing Kant's project in simple, intuitive, new terms -- I show both (A) that Kant made several errors that have ended up causing interminable debates (such as how to interpret each formulation of the Categorical Imperative, etc.), and (B) how to correct those errors, such that the Categorical Imperative, its normative force, the relationship between its different formulations, and the proper interpretation of each formulation, all become clear and intuitive. ​Finally, the book shows how a proper interpretation of the Categorical Imperative unites two traditionally opposed theories of political morality: libertarianism and liberal egalitarianism. I show that, properly understood, the Categorical Imperative implies that a utopian political world would be libertarian in nature, but that the nonideal political world in which we live morally ought to conform to liberal-egalitarian principles."

I'd change that to this:

"This book, which is loosely based upon two of my recent articles ("Unifying the Categorical Imperative" and "A Simple, Intuitive Argument for Obeying the Categorical Imperative") aims to reconstruct Kant's moral project entirely from the ground up, in simple, intuitive, and original​ terms that, I believe, make a clear, persuasive, and significantly revisionary​ case for a new version of Kant's moral theory: a new theory that I believe both specialists and a wider general audience can understand and find persuasive, and which (I believe) improves upon problematic elements of Kant's original theory. In particular, I show how to interpret the Categorical Imperative such that the Categorical Imperative, its normative force, the relationship between its different formulations, and the proper interpretation of each formulation, all become clear and intuitive. ​Finally, the book shows how a proper interpretation of the Categorical Imperative unites two traditionally opposed theories of political morality: libertarianism and liberal egalitarianism. I show that, properly understood, the Categorical Imperative implies that a utopian political world would be libertarian in nature, but that the nonideal political world in which we live morally ought to conform to liberal-egalitarian principles."

And although I know you like to view yourself as offering bold new approaches to classic problems (rather than making an objection to the 18th move along a well-trodden path), there is a worry that you run the risk of (b). In general, avoid telling us the importance or novelty of the projects (specialists will feel that they can judge this for themselves, anyway), just tell us what the projects are, or what you argue. The ideas are interesting enough in their own right! Let them do the talking.

I'm posting this as a comment rather than in an email to you, but only because I think some of the points are generally useful for job-seekers. Feel free to not post it.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Alex: thanks so much for the detailed feedback. I have no idea how that typo happened. It was fine yesterday (I'm rapidly getting fed up with my website builder technology, which constantly seems to do things against my will!). Anyway, I really appreciate your point about tone. It's a fine line trying to make the novelty/potential contribution of one's research programs while not sounding over-confident. I thanks you for the edited passage! I'll also bear your point about AOS in mind. I guess my thought was that "you want to stand out" in the job market, and my comparative breadth of genuine research programs would be very attractive on that regard (as opposed to presenting myself as just another person who specializes in Ethics/social-political). I guess I'm a bit surprised by the thought that drawing my phil science/metaphysics stuff into the fold would make me look less attractive. I would've thought just opposite. I also think it's one of my most interesting research programs. Do you really think it's a good idea not to include it, and merely let it come out informally? It's just hard for me to see how, intuitively, leaving such a large research program off the table (on my website) would be advantageous.

In any case, thanks so much for your comment! I guess I'd like to wait to see what others have to say about the Phil science stuff before I drop it from the website. What does everyone else think?

Alex Guerrero

I think it's fine to have the phil science/metaphysics stuff somewhere, but that's where the AOS/AOC explicit labels can be your friend. If you have AOS: Moral/Political and AOC: Phil. Science/Metaphysics that will get a lot of what you want, and you'll make sense to hiring committees as a candidate. (Also, there's a lot of discussion whether phil of action/free will should be glossed separately or as metaphysics (it might depend on whether you'd also like to teach other central metaphysics or not).)

And web design can also help. You can have your research statement presented so that the organization of that statement reflects what you see as your core areas and projects that are more on the side. Or you can use explicit headings: "Projects in Ethics", "Projects in Political Philosophy", etc. Right now it is hard to tell what you see as your central projects. And you need to distinguish the core from the periphery, if for no other reason than a hiring department will be skeptical that you can pursue 5 independent large research projects at the same time in a way that will lead to a good outcome come tenure review. (That's one reason it can be advantageous, counter-intuitively, to have fewer research programs.)

Personally, I think the way to distinguish yourself is to show up as a central Ethics/Political/Phil Action person (that's definitely where your teaching and publications have been centered), and to distinguish yourself by the interesting approaches you've taken to topics in those areas. (There are lots of Ethics/Political candidates, but there are also comparatively more Ethics/Political jobs...) If you're most excited by the Kantian Ethics and Free Will projects, lead with those. There should at least be some reason that they are presented in the order in which they are presented...

You should also be in touch with your letter writers (perhaps trying to get them or others to read this newer work) if at all possible, so that your application makes sense as a coherent whole.

One final thing: you are now a few years from the dissertation, and so if you want to still highlight that as an active research program, you will want to make available papers that are part of that research program (these do not seem to be among your published papers). Personally, I also think it's ok to de-emphasize the dissertation at this point (you've done a lot of other stuff and have many other research programs) if indeed you are now working more on other topics. But if it is still a research active area, I'd try to have one or two papers that present the core ideas, since people will expect that work to be somewhat more worked out (since it was part of your dissertation).

Marcus Arvan

Thanks so much, Alex - that was all very helpful advice!

Marcus Arvan

Hey Alex: I don't know if you're still checking out this thread, but I've thoroughly updated my CV and Research pages and would be curious to see what you think!

Alex Guerrero

Hi Marcus: That looks great to me. Just a few more small things (only since you seem receptive/interested!):

(1) You use "Social-Political Philosophy" rather than just "Political Philosophy," but your work seems to fall most naturally under the latter category. I'd just go with that, since it's more familiar, anyway. People are funny in how they use "Social Philosophy," but my understanding is that it's more for things that are disconnected from politics and political institutions (philosophy of race, gender, family, religion, culture, etc.).

(2) At the risk of getting too micro level, a few small tone edits in your research statement (all with the theme that understatement is the key to credibility):

I'd cut "vast" in the Experimental Ethics section

I'd change this sentence "Prior to my dissertation, practically all systematic theorizing in social and political philosophy had been concerned with "ideal theory", that is, with describing a fully just social-political order." to this: "Most systematic theorizing in political philosophy has been concerned with "ideal theory," that is, with describing a fully just social-political order."

I'd change this "I show that human rights theory and practice have been crippled by an unusual and astonishing amount of disagreement and skepticism for one simple reason: theorists and practitioners have unwittingly understood the concept of a "human right" far too coarsely, assuming, falsely, that there is some single, unified​ class of moral entitlements that satisfy the concept (i.e. human rights)." to this: "I show that human rights theory and practice have been hampered by disagreement and skepticism because theorists and practitioners have employed an overly broad concept of "human right," assuming, falsely, that there is some single unified class of moral entitlements that satisfy the concept (i.e. human rights)."

And I'd cut "careful" in the next sentence.

Finally, in the Philosophy of Physics section, I'd cut "until now"

---

It's great to have the direct links to the papers.

Good luck on the job hunt.

Marcus Arvan

Alex: Thanks so much for the suggestions - they're excellent, and I adopted all of them!

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