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Carnap's Ghost

Carnap's Ghost say:
It does not appear to be an especially good year for philosophy of science. The TT jobs in your list total (because of double counting) 169. 12/169 = 7.1 %. So only 7.1 % of the jobs are for philosophers of science.
If you look at the PhilPapers Survey, and consider only PRIMARY area of specialization of FACULTY OR PHD, and count General Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of the Physical Sciences, and Philosophy of Biology, you get 144/1803. That is 8 %.

Michel X.

Carnap's Ghost: Yeah, but it's a really bad year overall, and most of us can only apply to Open jobs (or open jobs +1). The situation this year is a lot better for Philosophy of Science than for everything else except for applied ethics. Comparatively, then, it's a pretty decent year for them.

Secondly, and more importantly, if you want to figure out whether it's a good year for philsci, you should look at what other years looked like for it. According to Marcus's report for last year, it looks like there were 14. A decline of 2 in a year when we went from 195 to 152 jobs is not bad at all. Look at the other AOSes, and see how they compare. Mine went from 6 to 0.

Carnap's Ghost

Michel X.
You are missing my point. I assume that the percentage of people working in an area is a good approximation of the proportion of students on the market with that specialization.
The same PhilPapers Survey suggests that, for example, only 1.4 % of faculty and PhDs have a primary specialization in aesthetics. So we should expect far fewer jobs in aesthetics. Indeed, we should expect about 5.7 times more jobs in philosophy of science than aesthetics (8.0 : 1.4). This is not a normative statement. It is sociological observation.

Michel X.

Carnap's Ghost: While I don't deny that you can approximate the proportion of students on the market in an area based on the rough percentage of people working in that area, I just don't see how your comment is on target.

The question of whether it's a good year for a particular subfield or not is a comparative one. We can ask whether this is a good year for and AOS based on whether the number of jobs approximates the number of seekers in that AOS, as you suggest. That's fine, but because the philosophy job market is bad and has been bad for ages, it's going to return a negative answer almost every time. So it doesn't seem especially informative. Or am i way off base?

Another way of looking at it, however, is to look at the tendency of jobs for an AOS across recent years, and compare that to the tendencies of the other AOSes. If our only comparison class is last year's data, then yes, there's a small decline in the philosophy of science jobs (both as a whole number, and as a percentage). But the declines almost everywhere else are much larger, and the numbers for philsci are basically stable. I take it that this is all that Marcus means. This year isn't especially good for *anyone,* but philosophers of science are coming out of it relatively unscathed.

On an unrelated note, I'm not sure how you figure 1.4% for aesthetics. If it's just by primary AOS, it's 1.6% (53/3226). I'm not sure that's an entirely appropriate way to guesstimate, though, because we all have to have a second AOS, and are generally hired for that AOS. It's also a field that many people discover later in their careers, when they're already established in another AOS (e.g. consider Paul Guyer). The ASA has something like 523 members at present, and its graduate student population has grown significantly in the last ten years (currently, it's 102). Anyway, it's not really the case that roughly 1% of jobs this year have an AOS aesthetics. Is it an especially bad year for us? Maybe. Last year had a bumper crop, though, so it's not the best comparison class. My anecdotal impression is that each year averages 1-2 aesthetics jobs, and if that's right, then having none this year isn't so bad. But not every AOS is as historically job-light as aesthetics.

Am I still missing the point?

Carnap's Ghost

You are committing the base rate fallacy. And I took the figure for PRIMARY AREA OF SPECIALIZATION (AOS in job post speak). That is 25/1803.

Base Rate fallacy: If there are more ethicists (say 100) looking for the same number of jobs in their specialization (say 50) as there are metaphysicians (say 80), then the job market is worse for the ethicists. More ethicists will be sad at the end of the year.

Derek Bowman

A few things to keep in mind about community college jobs:

1. In my experience, comparing notes with a friend who has been applying exclusively to community college jobs the past few years, the number of full-time community jobs advertised in various venues is vastly smaller than the number of jobs of all kinds advertised on philjobs. This should not be surprising, given the way that community colleges have been especially hard hit by decades of public disinvestment in higher ed.

2. Community college jobs often post later than tenure-track jobs elsewhere, since they are typically on a different hiring calendar.

3. This is likely to be a (competitively) good year for community college hiring in California, though I'd be surprised if that was big enough to seriously affect the proportion of jobs at research schools.

Derek Bowman

The parenthetical should read "(comparatively)"


Thanks for doing this, Marcus. One note: philosophy of law is listed twice under both TT and non-TT jobs.


Carnap's Ghost: To get a total of 169 jobs, it looks like you included the 45 listed under 'open'. People with a philosophy of science AOS can apply to open jobs, so those jobs should be excluded when calculating the philosophy of science AOS's share of the total AOS count. 12 / (169-45) = 9.7%

Carnap's Ghost

Yes Ted, you are correct.
By that way of accounting, then, it is a fantastic year fro Ethics. The PhilPapers list of Faculty and PhDs indicates about 11.9 % of faculty list Ethics or Metaethics as their primary specialization. But the ethics jobs are 20 + 3 (half of the 6 listed as Ethics/Political). That is 18 % of the jobs (not counting the opens).

Matt Drabek

Thanks, Marcus. One question - how are you drawing the distinction between "research" and "teaching" colleges? My apologies if you've explained this and I just missed it. It seems surprising to me that colleges where faculty focus primarily on research would be so much higher in numbers than colleges where faculty focus primarily on teaching.

For example, would a regional state university hiring for a position with a 4/4 teaching load be a "research" school in the way you draw the distinction? (If so, I'd find that surprising.)

Marcus Arvan

Hi Matt: Good question. I drew the distinction as accurately as I could, according to my own judgment, based on (A) schools' self-descriptions, and (B) descriptions on wikipedia. If a school was identified as a "research" institution (typically, schools with graduate programs), I counted it as research; and, if it wasn't (e.g. if it was a SLAC or regional state school with few graduate programs), I counted it as teaching. So, no, I didn't count regional state universities of the sort you mentioned as research; I counted those as teaching.

Here is what I will say: I think it's both surprising, and not surprising.

On the one hand, it is surprising in the obvious sense--i.e. the sheer difference in proportions of jobs at each type of school.

On the other hand, if you have been paying attention to the news, it is not surprising at all--for two related reasons:

(1) SLACs have been closing humanities programs left and right, diverting resources to STEM fields and other "useful" majors to attract more tuition-paying students.

(2) State universities are facing increased political pressure to show "return on investment"--which also means prioritizing "useful" majors and programs.

This isn't to say that large research universities don't face similar pressures, but by and large they have far more resources--and so I think it is not all that surprising that, although the market is terrible all around, it's gotten a whole lot worse at teaching places compared to research places.

Also see https://profession.commons.mla.org/2015/12/16/the-humanities-as-service-departments-facing-the-budget-logic/

Derek Bowman

Just to add to Marcus's last point: Regional state universities are also more likely to rely on adjuncts and other contingent faculty to fill their teaching needs - much like community colleges.

Also, depending on how we define "research universities," they are actually employ a large percentage of full-time faculty nationwide.
Using the IPEDS "Trend Generator," and sorting by Carnegie classification, we get the following breakdown of total full-time faculty employed nationwide: (Caveat: These are total faculty numbers - not hiring data.)

38%: Doctoral/Research (Extensive/Intensive)
23%: Master's Colleges (I/II)
9%: Baccalaureate Colleges (Lib Arts/General)
22%: Associate's Colleges
3%: Seminaries, professional schools, etc.
5%: Classification unknown


So the only way that full-time positions at "teaching" schools outnumber "research" schools is if you think MA/MS-granting institutions are, for these purposes, more like community colleges than research universities.

Of course positions at all these schools will involve teaching as a substantial part of the job. But all except (most of) the community colleges and a small number of BA/BS schools are also going to include research as at least a nominal priority, at both the hiring and tenure stages.


I've gotten a few job rejections. One said they had over 500 applications.

I wish there was a way to know how many job applications total there have been to the 152 TT jobs. What are our odds?

Odd Man

Post Doc:
Assuming there are about 750 people applying for the TT jobs, then your odds are 1 in 5 (20%).


Odd Man:

Where are you getting the 750 number?


Do these figures include both entry-level and lateral hiring, or just the former?

Also, Odd Man: where does the 750 figure come from?

Marcus Arvan

orwell: Good question. The figures are for tenure-track positions (e.g. Assistant Professor positions), not tenured ones (e.g. not Associate Professor or above).

Odd Man

Post Doc and Orwell:
My 750 was a pre-emptive strike to prevent some bad statistical reasoning. Let us say there are 1500 people on the market. Then your chance of getting a TT job is 1/10 (10%). 750-1500 is almost certainly in the right order of magnitude.


Odd Man: the statistics are not that simple at all. When calculating the probabilities here, one must be sensitive to differences in how many people apply to different types of jobs: specifically (1) differences between how many people apply to open AOS jobs, and (2) the fact that in specialized AOS jobs, one is competing only against others in one's AOS. You cannot simply divide 150 jobs by 1500 (getting your 10% figure), because *not* all applicants are eligible for all jobs.

Since AOS jobs are open to all, let's assume 95% of 1500 applicants apply to those 45 open jobs. In that case the probability of getting one of those jobs is 40/1425, or 2.8%

Now suppose you are a metaphysician, and (for the sake of argument) 25% of applicants are metaphysicians or epistemologists. Since there are only 8 jobs in M&E, the probability of you getting one of those jobs would be 8/375, or 2%

In contrast, suppose 30% of applicants are ethicists, and all apply to the 20
Ethics jobs. For those jobs, one's probability is 20/450, or 4%.

Odd Man

using your method, to figure out the probability of YOU getting a job, you will have add the probabilities of your getting each category of job that you apply to.
My point stands. If there are 150 jobs this year, and 1000 people applying for the jobs (some to many jobs, some to few jobs), at the end of the day 150 of them will get jobs. That is 15 %. (if there are 750 applying, then 20%, if there are 1500 applying, then 10%).


Thanks for doing this, Marcus! Do postdocs fall under 'non-TT jobs'?

Marcus Arvan

Hi Bob: yes, postdocs were treated as non-TT jobs!




I know it's an old post, but still, relevant question: is this for USA jobs only, or some wider geographical spread?

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