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Dr. X

Much of the reasoning in Marcus Arvan's post is of the form "X is how it is has been done in the past; therefore, you ought to do it now, too". Which, as we know, is a fallacy. It even has a name.

Kids, don't self-promote. There are plenty of ways that your work will make its way around without you bragging about it on Facebook (PhilPapers.org, Academia.edu, and so on). Even if Marcus Arvan doesn't mind, I guarantee you that the vast majority of your colleagues are turned off by it. Let your work speak for itself.

Marcus Arvan

Dr. X: come on now, that’s not the reasoning in the post in the slightest.

Many people on this blog and elsewhere have said they primarily read work in a small batch of highly ranked journals. The reasoning in the post is roughly this:

1. The traditional route of simply publishing work and letting people find it increases both (A) the amount of sheer luck involved in one’s work getting noticed, and (B) the role that institutional prestige (viz. one’s post and journal rankings) play in this.

2. Both (A) and (B) are bad, both for individual researchers and the dissemination and evaluation of research.

3. People “promoting” their work (not *bragging* about it, but simply drawing attention to its existence) can plausibly counteract both (A) and (B) without any serious negative effects.

Thus, 4. Individual researchers and the profession at large are both likely to be better off with people drawing attention to their work than not--as it can be expected to improve the dissemination of research, counteracting arbitrary things such as luck and prestige.

If this argument is mistaken, then okay - but all I see right now is a bare assertion of your own attitudes and the attitudes of others (the very kinds of attitudes I argue in the post are unwarranted).


I'm definitely curious to see more discussion of the "whether we should self-promote" question - thanks for your thoughts on that, Marcus.

But I just want to flag that another question I was hoping to talk about was: "If we're going to self-promote, how exactly should we do it?"

(That is, only on Facebook? If on Facebook, what do you say about it? If not only on Facebook, what other methods seem all right?)

A Philosopher

I think Marcus is basically right. In addition to being on guard against bragging, I think you should also be on guard against over promoting in general. Don't be that person who Facebook friends every philosopher you almost met once who then posts every little working draft and conference presentation they have. (Perhaps this is what Marcus meant by "bragging"?) Promote things in the proportion they're due.

"Even if Marcus Arvan doesn't mind, I guarantee you that the vast majority of your colleagues are turned off by it."

This is almost certainly over generalizing on the part of Dr. X. A good number of my academic friends engage in light self promotion all the time. No one seems to care and it seems to be the norm. Of course, my circle of friends is no more representative than Dr. X's, but unless either of us is very unique (highly unlikely), the odds are that "the vast majority" of philosophers don't fall into any one camp on this issue.

Trevor Hedberg

Whether or not one decides to share their recent work on social media, I think it's definitely worth your time to create multiple ways for people to find your work once it's published. Maintain an active PhilPapers profile and make sure your submissions are indexed properly (e.g., proper keywords, full abstract, accurate citation). Upload penultimate drafts to to academia.edu. Have links to your published papers on your personal website. Just increasing the accessibility of your work goes a long way toward getting others to engage with it.

That being said, I also think notifying other interested scholars of a recent publication is perfectly fine. Doing it too often can certainly seem self-aggrandizing and desperate, but I think you'd have to be doing that an awful lot or doing it in a particularly narcissistic way to get under others' skin.


Trevor raises a good point. But it also raises a question: to what extent is it reasonable to bend and break publisher restrictions on sharing journal articles? Lots of people seem to disregard them completely and upload the final published versions to academia.edu and other spots. This seems best for getting your work out there. It also seems wrong, to me. But usually the letter of the restrictions seems equally unreasonable: e.g., I have a paper in a journal the publisher of which officially only lets you post the original submitted manuscript. That is, the manuscript before revisions for referees. My original draft changed substantially in the R&R process, so posting that draft would be useless. I would like to post the penultimate version (the submission approved for publication) but this is still breaking the publishing/copyright agreement. (I believe the agreement says that this penultimate version cannot be posted until 24 months after publication.)

Part of the issue here is convenience. I know myself that if I am iffy on whether to glance over an article I am unlikely to go through the hassle of ezproxy to get it. (My institution has access to pretty much everything.) But if the pdf just shows up in my stream and the title sort of catches my eye, I'll at least start reading it over. I am worried that most other people are like me, and so I'm missing many potential eyeballs (even those who have institutional access to my work).

Marcus Arvan

Anon: Apologies for not answering those questions! I got hung up on the question of whether to promote one's work, and totally forgot to address how, if one should do it, one should go about it.

On that topic, I think Trevor and 'A Philosopher' basically have it right: the key is to just not be 'obnoxious' about it.

Of course, as Dr. X's comment illustrates, different people may have very different ideas of what constitutes 'obnoxious' promotion of one's work. Some people (such as Dr. X) may think *all* such promotion is obnoxious. Fortunately, though, as A Philosopher points out, plenty of other people (myself included) don't seem to find 'light self-promotion' a problem.

What does promoting one's work 'lightly' involve? I think it can involve simply *mentioning* on social media that you have a new paper out, perhaps with a brief note about how long you worked on the project (as my sense is that if you worked on the project a really long time, people may kindly and rightly congratulate you on finally getting it out!). I think 'light' self-promotion can also include--maybe not always but occasionally--reporting a new publication on a blog. Finally, I think it can be entirely appropriate to reach out to other scholars whose work you have recently read to note that you enjoyed their work (say, an article of theirs you have read) and noting that they might find a particular paper of yours of interest (say, one directly relevant to the project their paper is on). I've had this happen to me (other scholars sending a brief email noting their liked a paper of mine, appending a related paper of theirs), and I've done it myself (not often, but on occasion). In some cases, I've developed philosophical "friendships" this way: professional relationships with people who work on similar projects who I now share work with two-ways (for feedback, etc.). Again, as long as one is not obnoxious about it (i.e. not going out of one's way to spam your paper to everyone, regardless of how tangentially related their work is to yours), I think this sort of thing is just fine.

A Philosopher

Here are two tips to follow up what Marcus said:

1. Ask if there's a reason (beyond mere self promotion) others will readily grasp for you to do the self promoting. E.g., it's your first publication, it's in phil review, it was rejected 37 times and was finally accepted, etc. Basically, ask yourself if those seeing the self promotion will also think that this is exciting, cool, or newsworthy.

2. Calibrate off what your friends are doing. If no one you know shares in the ways and quantity you share, you're probably going to stand out as obnoxious.

Basically, just be a socially aware and empathizing human being and you should mostly be okay --- as always in life!


I’m a mid-career academic. I am coming to think this was a mistake because, having now published a decent amount, I keep on having people say to me, ‘I happened to stumble across your paper on X. It’s really nice - why does no-one discuss it?’ I don’t think such comments are insincere (at least, not all of them are) and I suspect the question is that I’ve never ‘self-promoted’ but always relied on the idea that people would find my work. There’s something nice about feeling like an obscure indie band - known only to a few people - but I’d prefer that more people read the work.


I usually appreciate people posting their recently published papers/books on facebook, since I like hearing about new academic work. However, one thing that I do find a little obnoxious is when someone posts about a recently accepted publication *and then* posts about *the same* publication (around) a year later, noting that it has now been assigned to a volume/issue. Maybe I'm just easily annoyed, but the latter does rub me the wrong way a little.

tenured but shy

I confess to finding self-promotion off-putting. It seems to me that the problems Marcus aims to solve through self-promotion would be solved just as well by more widespread other-promotion. So, I try to bring attention to good work by others--especially work that is likely to be overlooked because its venue or author is not so prominent. If we all do this, then all of our work will be more likely to receive its due notice.

Marcus Arvan

tenured by shy: I agree in principle. It would be great, in a more ideal world, if scholars did more to promote each other's work. Unfortunately, they don't in the actual world. Further, I think there is a serious collective action problem inherent in your proposal. You write, "If we all do this, then all of our work will be more likely to receive its due notice." In general, I think that arguments of the following sort are really problematic:

(1) Even though X (self-promotion) might achieve something of value--the greater dissemination of scholarship and likelihood of recognition for hard work--X is nonideal.

(2) If we all did Y, then we could achieve the thing of value in (1) without the nonideal features of X.

(3) Thus, we should all do Y.

The reason I find arguments like these problematic is that they seem to me hopelessly utopian. Given how uncommitted people are to actually doing Y (promoting the work of others), saying we should do Y is to say we should all do something that, as a matter of fact, we're *not* all going to do (in which case the problem that Y was proposed to resolve--better dissemination of work and recognition for the quality of one's work--will not be solved).

To put it another way, I think it would be *wonderful* if we all promoted each other's work. I've even gone out of my way to promote people's work on occasion. But, in actuality, the only people whose work tends to get promoted by others is the work of people who are super well-placed and influential already (being at fancy programs, etc.). Hence, self-promotion may be the only *realistic* solution to very real problems that undermine the dissemination and recognition of work by lesser-known scholars.

This, at any rate, is my sense. As 'mid-career' notes above, they can't help but be a bit disappointed that more people haven't engaged with their work. Maybe in a more ideal world people like mid-career wouldn't need to promote their work--but in *this* world, given the way it is, it is plausible that they do. I myself find 'self-promotion' a little bit icky. I won't lie. But what I find *really* icky is good work going unrecognized because nobody bothered to pay attention.

tenured but shy

Thanks! There is certainly a collective action problem if the aim is for each of us to ensure that *our own* good work is recognized. I might have been running that together with the aim of ensuring that good work in general is recognized. For those purposes I am still inclined to favor my solution, not least because we are often partial to work by ourselves and our own, so that we are better-positioned to identify genuinely underappreciated work that is not by us and our own. In part for that reason I am more inclined to seek out work that I see other-promoted than I am work that is self-promoted (subject to various qualifications--if I trust the person recommending; if the author is does not have a personal or institutional halo, etc.)

Marcus Arvan

Hi tenured: I think you might have misunderstood my comment (or, if not, let me clarify the thrust of what I had intended). My point wasn't that there is a collective action problem in getting our own good work recognized. It is that there is a collective action problem in getting *good work* recognized (either one's own or the work of others).

The problem--at least as I see it--is that to the extent that people recommend the work of others today at all (which in my experience isn't common in the first place), it tends to be work that appears in a relatively small number of journals by particularly well-placed people. For example, in recent weeks I've seen people sharing reviews of Christine Korsgaard's recent book on animal ethics, and so on. I've also had people at conferences say things like, "Oh, you must read Charles Mills' new book...". What I *don't* see (at least not very often) is people going out of their way to recommend the work of "no names" - despite the fact that (at least in my own case), a lot of the best articles I've read recently are by not-so-well known people (often enough, in not-so-well known journals). I've tried to "signal boost" a few of these papers on the Cocoon in the past, in large part because I suspect the papers will otherwise go unread. But this point is that I just don't see this sort of thing happening. I literally can't remember the last time someone recommended a paper to me by someone I didn't know. It's always papers by people I *do* know, or papers someone the person I'm talking to knows.

So this, I think, is the problem. The status quo way of disseminating work--people tending to read a relatively small number of journals and in-group recommending and engagement--seems to me to vastly disfavor not-as-well placed scholars on grounds of luck and prestige. As 'mid-career' notes above, their work is often ignored. Of course, it's possible their work is not good - but I don't think that's the charitable read. Time and again, when I've been involved in conversations, I am shocked about the papers I've read that no one else seems to have ever heard of let alone engaged with. In these cases, I try to speak up, saying things like "You *really* need to check that paper out." But I'm only one person doing this. Hence, the collective action problem I mentioned. (I'm not saying I'm the only person who tries to signal boost lesser-known work, just that in my experience it's not very common).

Long story short: I agree with you that people promoting their own work is nonideal. It would be a better world--and perhaps less annoying--if people didn't have to do it. What I'm not sure is that people doing it is more nonideal than the alternative you favor (waiting for other people to solve the collective action problem of promoting good work in general). For again, it seems to me that *that* collective action problem hasn't been solved and probably won't be--not unless and until people begin to go out of their way to signal boost the good work of others en masse (which I don't see happening any time soon - though perhaps I am too pessimistic).

In sum, my argument is: *because* there's a collective problem with people signal boosting good work in general, and people don't appear to be other-concerned enough to solve that problem (they don't, in general, signal boost other people's good work), the only realistic solution to the collective action problem is for people to signal boost their own work (while, let's say, also doing their own best--as I do--to signal boost the work of others).

I'll just add this to close: many of the papers I've read recently are ones I learned of because their own authors mentioned them on facebook or whatever. So, as 'annoying' as it may be to some--and again, I don't find it annoying myself (as I tend to appreciate people sharing their work)--it seems to work!


I really don't see what's wrong with promoting one's work on Facebook, etc. I suppose the inference on the part of the people who dislike it is something like, "this person is arrogant" or "this person is conniving and self-interested." But those attributions seem quite uncharitable. Surely it the more reasonable inference is something like, "this person is happy about their publication and wants people to read it." What's wrong with that? And so what if the author is also trying to succeed professionally? Aren't we all (unless that success has already been achieved)? I think the people who are bothered by self-promotion of the sort being discussed here should rethink their animosity. Academia is already full of failure - let's not make people feel ashamed when something happens to go right and they're happy about it.

Marcus Arvan

Postdoc: that’s exactly how I feel! I’ve never quite understood why, in some ways, some in our profession make life in it so *punitive*. I mean, look: we spend months or even years slaving away on papers or books. Then we suffer the indignities of peer review—desk rejections, mean spirited reviewer comments, and so on. Then, after all that, when we finally enjoy a little success—getting a paper actually accepted—we’re supposed to sit quiet, shut up, and let people “discover” our work, which is then normally not discovered because people don’t read stuff, only to see our months or years of work read by no one. That’s horrible! And on top of all that, if one comes out and says something as simple on social media as, “Hey, here’s my new paper!”, we’re supposed to be *ashamed* and people find it *annoying*? Am I the only person who sees how stultifying this is? I spent most of my adult life playing in bands. Every single band I knew tried to get the word out about their music. And why not? They put their time, energy, and heart into it! They want people to hear it. And no one in music thinks that’s strange or annoying. And no one thinks it is in any other industry on Earth, ranging from art to movies to gadgets. No, it’s only in *academia* where we are supposed to sit quiet, shut up, and be ashamed of ourselves if we try to draw attention to our work. My sense is that this attitude is based on a (false) presumption that if one stumps for one’s work, then it is somehow less “pure” or less a matter of the ideas themselves. But this is nonsense! If a person stumps for bad ideas people will notice they are bad ideas—just like if a band stumps for their terrible new record, people (at least those with discerning tastes) will probably still hate it. Finally, as noted above, I think this obsession with “purity”—with not stumping for one’s work—ultimately serves prestige hierarchies, as the people whose work is most likely to be “discovered” and promoted by others is the work of people at places like Harvard. I say to hell with all this. People should be proud of their work, and we should be happy for them when they announce or stump for it. We can (and should) of course judge the work for ourselves—but I am so against the punitive attitude that people should be ashamed of it. Like I said, when I see people post on their work I’m happy for them. Why wouldn’t it be better for our discipline to be supportive in this way rather than seeing those who do it as “annoying”? I think *this* reaction is a choice, and I choose to be supportive rather than punitive.


I don't have any issues with people announcing publications, as long as it is done in a neutral, informative, way. I do take issues with announcing awards. Announcing publications has a clear purpose: people can engage with the work. And that might benefit others, not just oneself. Announcing awards I cannot see as anything other than a call to attention, either attention to the fact that a person is talented, or the fact that others think they are talented. I wouldn't say that something like this is immoral, but just that it isn't particularly classy, and I have more respect for people who don't do it. I feel the same way about people who post positive teaching evaluation comments. What purpose could that possibly serve other than to tell others, "Look you all, undergraduates think I"m wonderful. Please, everyone, pay some attention to how wonderful undergrads think that I am..."

Conference announcement depend. The following type of conference announcement would make me eye-roll,

"I am pleased to announce that my paper, "blah, blah" has been accepted at this year's Eastern APA"

So why does the above bother me? First, the term "pleased" strikes me as disingenuous. Nobody uses that language in real conversation, and rarely in written word. It is only for these odd type of announcements. Second - the person makes it sound like there is some obvious reason that people would care about this. But why should we? It isn't really a big deal. And if it isn't, why are you so "pleased" to announce it?

I would *not* mind the following type of announcement:

"Hey everyone - I"m presenting my paper on Thursday at the APA, the session info is below. If you are interested in history of Plato and regulation of the emotions you might find it worthwhile"

So this announcement has a completely different feel. First, the author doesn't at all imply that this thing he is doing is somehow special and because it is special he has to tell the world. It is said in a way that suggests its purpose is to inform those who might be at the APA and interested in the topic. Again, this is something which benefits others, not just oneself.

So to summarize: I think when "self-promotion" is done in a way that isn't all about sharing how cool you are, or how cool your work is, and why doesn't everybody just take note about the coolness, then it is okay. If the purpose is to inform an intellectual community about certain intellectual work, then that is fine.

I know this post makes me sound probably way too nit-picky and judgemental about these things, so let me say a couple of things in defense. First, the extent of my negative judgement isn't particularly long-lasting or intense, especially if it is a one time thing. I will probably just roll my eyes and move on. If someone does this consistently, then I will simply have a different judgement about their character than I would have otherwise. I might, for instance, refrain from making the judgement that the self-promoter in question is humble and especially down to earth. This is a very far cry from forming the judgement that they are arrogant or obnoxious or anything like that. For me to form that judgement I would need more than occasional, annoying, self-promotion posts.
Lastly, I think virtue is hard: most people aren't especially humble and down to earth. It is even harder to do this in a competitive career like professional philosophy where so much comes down to prestige and peer opinion. So yeah, I am being kind of nit-picky. But, that, I think, is because excellent (as opposed to good or average) character is rare and special, and not something within the reach of most. The small things make a difference at the high end of the virtue spectrum.

One more thing: I have an issue with some of the descriptions in the last two posts that seem to imply that if a paper gets published it is therefore some type of objective accomplishment, or objective determination of "success." Crap papers get published all the time, and great papers don't get published. (yes, I do think a publication is, on balance, evidence it is better than a paper that is not published. But it is weak enough evidence that one should be careful with assertions that presume its truth, in the absent of other justifying reasons.) So I would dislike any fb post that implies a paper has some type of objective value in virtue of its publication. That said, it still makes sense to announce when a paper is published, because we all know that the way the field works is that published papers are seen as legitimate, and so people within the field understandably will not (in typical situations) spend time reading non-published papers. So the fact a paper is published does give legitimate reason to tell others, a reason above and beyond what might exist if the paper was not published.

Marcus Arvan

Hey Amanda: I guess I’m a little less nit-picky on some of these things, but I will say that I too do silent eye-rolls when people *constantly* share self-congratulatory things (such as student evals all the time, conference acceptances, and so on). As a few people implied above, I think there is something like a “golden mean” here—that if you don’t promote your work at all, it may be more likely to ignored, but if you do it too much or in the wrong context it can come across as crass. For the most part, I think it is perfectly fine to announce a new publication you are excited about (though announcing each and every new publication may come across tacky). I also think it’s fine to discuss your work, as in an occasional post—as that’s a way of making it more accessible to people who may not otherwise take the time to even check it out. On the other hand, I think awards are a bit more tricky. I *definitely* wouldn’t announce an award on the Cocoon or on Twitter—because the people you are announcing it to aren’t your friends or whatnot. That would be sort of like standing on a street corner with a sign saying “Outstanding Teaching Award winner” - which I hope we can all agree would be terribly tacky. Nevertheless, one year when I won a teaching award I did share a picture of the plaque on Facebook. Why? Well, because (broadly speaking) the people who will see it are family, non-academic friends, and academic friends - people who I think would (as friends, family, etc.) want to know that sort of thing and share a happy moment. I dunno, maybe I’m wrong and that was tacky - but it felt okay given the norms of that medium. It's also the only time I've ever shared anything like that, and like I said I wouldn’t do it in other contexts (I definitely *wouldn’t* tweet about it, for reasons noted above). At the end of the day, I think it is sort of difficult to get right—as people have different reactions to what is “too much sharing” or what comes off as annoyingly self-congratulatory...but as “mid-career’s” example above illustrates, I think it may be better to promote one’s work a little rather than at all.


Yeah, sharing too much is an issue. But I also think how you share it is just as important, if not more. I wouldn't even have a problem sharing every publication, unless someone is of the rare breed that publishes like twice a month- but most people don't publish too often.

As for the family stuff. I've heard people say that before. And I guess I would agree if most of the people who were facebook friends were family. But I get the impression that most academics are mostly friends with other academics. So if you want to share with your family or personal close friends, then you can control for that on facebook. I also think sharing a teaching award is less tacky than sharing teaching evaluation comments - that bothers me the most. (In part because it suggests some sort of validity of the comments, and, to some degree, comments are valid. But, certainly not always, so assuming they are....)

A Philosopher

A general theme here is that those who dislike self promotion really like to frame the issue in terms of "purpose", while those who are fine with it frame it in more emotive terms. The later seems much more psychologically realistic to me. Few people sit around and self-promote under the explicitly formulated intention to *do* anything. People just get excited and unreflexively share. Of course, people should pay attention to how other will perceive them and to what purposes their actions might be ascribed, but I really can't see getting excited about the issue unless you think the purposes are actually motivating the self-promoters.

For what it's worth, I'm so out of touch that the few times I've shared stuff on facebook I didn't think the word "self-promotion" at all. I was excited, or had seen a lot of others post similar things and copied them without much reflection. Not until I read this thread did I connect the dots and frame the issue in terms of self-promotion. As Marcus says, it feels punitive to know some people will put this much analysis into it. Yeah, I know, part of being a rational adult human being involves doing this sort of analysis and shaping emotive behavior into the form of Good, but if that's the issue here the tone of the discussion is off. I know those expressing negative views on self-promotion are hedging their claims, but there's still a puritanical slant to the criticisms that seems disconnected from people's actual motives.


I believe emotions can be right or wrong, apt or not. And so the fact emotions can motivate one to post doesn't mean a lot to me. Although I do find it very surprising, tbh, that some people don't give much thought to posting something that is essentially public information (assuming "a philosopher" is like most philosophers I know, with hundreds of friends, including many academics they have never meet in-person) If someone got excited about a publication, and was, for instance, just announcing that to people in the hallway in a particular way, i.e., "Hey Amanda, I"m really please to tell you that my paper is in phil studies..."- I would have the same judgements. This would seem, odd, not-classy, a bit silly, etc. However, they could tell me the exact same thing in a different way and I wouldn't care.

"Punitive" is an odd word to use. I am having an emotional reaction, combined with some thoughts, about an event in the world just the way that you are. I don't know in what sense that is punishing anyone, and if it is, well the world is just one non-stop series of punishments because people have mild negative reactions to various types of behavior all day long.

So assuming someone is posting about an award because they are "excited", this is what I would still find wrong with that: okay, you are excited. I would be, to, probably. But the excitement we have to ourselves is of course different than the excitement everyone else has. I get excited about all sorts of things, and few of them should be published on facebook. That strikes me as a type of, eh, kind of immature self-focused perspective where your own emotions should be shouted out to everyone else as if they have a reason to care. I really think they shouldn't. Instead, persons should be discerning about when it is, and when it isn't, apt to share one's emotions with others, and which others to share them with. To be clear: I hardly think posting something kind of braggy in excitement is any type of major character blemish. It is just a very minor one, but still a blemish nonetheless, in my opinion. And if you really feel like this sort of thing is punishment, you should probably consider whether participating in social media is worth the punishment, for this is just how the whole thing works.


Having read some of JEH Smith's work, I'd wager that his argument isn't the standard one. Much of the commentary is targeted at the standard one.

Marcus: the link to Smith you provided is just to his home page, not to the 'tract' in question, so I can't read it and evaluate any of the above. Could you fix that?


Marcus Arvan

sapha: Thanks for catching that. I don't know how I forgot the link. It's there now!

A Philosopher

Hi Amanda, thanks for the reply. Since things are getting a little heated, let me preface by saying that I don't find your position unreasonable. I also think our disagreement is fairly narrow and minor, but these issues touch a nerve for me, so a few comments:

Regarding announcing things in the hallway, the two social contexts (although both public) are different. It's not hard to imagine why those differences might make forms of self-promotion unacceptable in one, acceptable in the other.

You said: "I am having an emotional reaction, combined with some thoughts, about an event in the world just the way that you are. I don't know in what sense that is punishing anyone, and if it is, well the world is just one non-stop series of punishments because people have mild negative reactions to various types of behavior all day long."

Right, we all have reactions. But I bury mine most of the time. So-and-so just did X? Wow! I have negative reaction Z. But I quickly recognize that others might have wildly different reactions and that if we all sat down to hash through the reasons in play, those reactions wouldn't seem unreasonable. What am I to do? I shrug off my reaction, realize it's probably more groundless than not, and move on with my life. Simply having the reaction isn't any form of punishment towards the person who did X. But if I "judge", i.e. endorse my reaction intellectually and I vocally assert it through public forums, then I certainly am doing something that's punitive (in some sense). I don't think "punitive" is the wrong word here, either. After all, these small acts of expressing and asserting these reactions are just small-scale versions of things we all take to be explicitly punitive, e.g. public internet shaming.

Also, regarding the last comment about the world being a non-stop series of punishments --- yes, it is, and I refuse to contribute to it by endorsing most of my reactions and my own idiosyncratic preferences and values.

"I get excited about all sorts of things, and few of them should be published on facebook. That strikes me as a type of, eh, kind of immature self-focused perspective where your own emotions should be shouted out to everyone else as if they have a reason to care. I really think they shouldn't. Instead, persons should be discerning about when it is, and when it isn't, apt to share one's emotions with others, and which others to share them with."

I actually agree with this completely, but I don't see how it's in conflict with the claim that it's acceptable to selectively announce noteworthy personal news and achievements on facebook and other social media (the position the advocates of self-promotion are taking in this thread).

I also agree with you that personal virtue is really, really hard. I also think that if you're right, then (as you say) these are merely minor character blemishes. I'm just not sure you're right. Even Aristotle doesn't think that complete or excessive humility is a virtue. He says something to the effect that one should display their accomplishments in the right way, at the right times, in the proportions due to them. I just don't see why, e.g., announcing your new TT job on facebook or the publication of your new book through OUP isn't doing just that.

At this point I've lost my hold on what exactly your position is, although my sense is that you draw the line on what's acceptable sharing a bit more conservatively than I do. E.g., I don't roll my eyes at "I'm pleased to announce ... " posts, if the thing is otherwise worth announcing. If I ever land a TT job or a book through OUP, I'll probably announce it in just that way! I think the wording would fit the gravity of the accomplishment, although such wording does seem a bit silly for announcing an APA presentation.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Amanda: I just want to second what 'A Philosopher' just wrote. What I think makes certain reactions genuinely punitive in this context is the *broader* context of the profession we are in.

When I was in graduate school, the profession seemed to me a very hostile place: a place where one was constantly being judged--on what one publishes, where one publishes it, what one says, and so on. We also work in a profession where 90+% of the time, our papers are rejection--and a considerable proportion of those with aggressive, meanspirited referee comments about how much our work sucks. Then there is the job-market, where one is rejected over and over again.

There are so *few* forms of positive feedback in our profession that all of these things seem to me to add up to a massive and largely unremitting series of macro- and micro-aggressions. So, when on the rare occasions something good happens to you--you get a paper accepted--you are supposed to keep your mouth shut and watch *no one* read or engage with your work, or else you come across as a crass 'self-promoter'...this, to me, is just one micro-aggression too far. A healthy discipline should--against such a background of unrelenting negative feedback--encourage (or at least let) people to take some pride, publicly, in what they have produced.

This is not, in my view, a character defect. It is entirely right for people to want their work to be read and engaged with, and to take modest steps to help ensure that it is. What, in my view, *is* a defect is a system of professional norms that--again, against a background of systemic and unrelenting negative feedback--deprives people of even publicly expressing a moderate amount of public pride in their own work. That does seem to me punitive, given how rarely any of us are ever enjoy any real positive feedback for our time, energy, and hard work.

A Philosopher

I once read a bit of advice that graduate students should start an email folder for happy emails, e.g. conference acceptances and whatnot. The idea was that it would be there to look at when you're down and need a pick-me-up. In hindsight, this now strikes me as a very sad thought: that the most I'm allowed to enjoy my meager accomplishments is by occasionally looking through a private email folder of past good news. Just picture it: a desperate and defeated grad student huddled over their computer in some dimly lit room opening up an email folder in some perverse attempt to glimpse something happy. *That's* living the good life?

The person who advised this wasn't, if I recall, advising against self promotion, but the fact that such a mechanism might be needed or helpful signals the kind of environment Marcus just described. It seems better to simply allow people their small moment among their few dozen friends on facebook.

As Aristotle says, one of the most powerful effects of friendship is how it allows us to multiple goods: by sharing and partaking in each others' successes we each individually have more success. I'm happy that you're happy, and vice versa.

That's how I think we should frame most sharing on social media. Not as self-promotion, but as the wise use of the mechanisms of friendship to further our own eudaimonia.

(The above is not aimed at Amanda, whom I imagine will agree with much of it. It's merely me endorsing some reactions I thought worth endorsing.)


You express concern that your recent publications are not being read. Instead of announcing it on facebook, send copies of recent papers to people whose work you discuss in the paper. That is probably a more effective way to ensure that your work is read. It also does not look "braggy" to the rest of the world.

Marcus Arvan

Hi B: I'm not at all concerned about my publications not being read or engaged with. They are. It is just that I suspect this very fact may have to do with the fact that I have drawn attention to my work from time to time.

I appreciate your point that doing so privately might come across better to some people. However, part of my point in the current thread is that people shouldn't feel intimidated into doing it privately with just a few readers. I just don't think people should be ashamed of modest *public* self-promotion of their work. I just see nothing contemptuous in it, provided it is done in a measured (rather than obnoxious) manner. I also suspect that doing it publicly on occasion may be much effective than doing it privately. Imagine if music groups only handed out flyers to their five friends. That wouldn't be nearly as effective in getting people to hear their music as posting flyers publicly.

In any case, I still resist the idea that (measured) public promotion of one's own work is anything to be ashamed of or otherwise discouraged.


Marcus: I said many times I think it is completely fine to announce publications. So I"m not sure how to respond to what you wrote, because I never advocated any of the things you seem upset about.

A Philosopher: To the extent we have disagreements, they seem pretty minor. Just to clarify for those interested, I think the following things are fine:

1. Announcing you have a publication in the following sort of way: "My paper (or book) blah, blah - just came out in X. Those interested can find it here."

2. I just accepted a TT job at so and so university. I am looking forward to living in blah, blah. For those in the area let me know if you have any type of recommendations..."

The things that I am not okay with is making announcements in a way that implies what one did is especially special, or in a way that implies one is looking for praise, or an announcement of something that can't possibly have any reason other than to tell the world of your success (since publications are a form of engagement with the intellectual community, I don't see them this way. announcements about traveling or jobs are also announcements relevant to the intellectual community with which you engage)

As for my negative moral judgements being punitive. Well, okay, if people see them that way, then so be it. But this is my moral view, and I got into philosophy because I like sharing and arguing about moral views. I am only sharing them, by the way, because we are specifically having a conversation on the topic. I would never point somebody out by name and talk about them and what they posted. That would indeed be uncool! I think it is almost always wrong to morally call out specific in a public way. Sharing general beliefs about what is right and wrong is totally different.

Lastly, those who judge my jugement to be wrong or unjustified, are of course doing the very same thing in that very action. You are morally judging me. To some extent, yes, we should limit how much we judge others. This is why I would never let a small moral judgement about somebody's minor moral fault lead to any complete judgements of their character,. But we all make small judgements all day about what is right and wrong, and we do this when we decide a moral judgement is unjustified.

I don't think my rational judgements about the above type of behavior is wrong. I think they are right. This is why I make no attempt to change. But others, of course, are welcome to again try and convince me otherwise. This is moral philosophy.


I also think that feeling the need to announce one's successes stems from the very same toxic culture that results in so much negativity, i.e. a culture in which what is valued is prestige and adoration from the prestigious. If someone does work they think is really valuable, then that work shouldn't get more value, or start to actually be valuable, because something has happened that deems it "successful" in under the guise of toxic philosophy culture. If you think your idea is really important, then make a facebook post about those ideas. It bothers me that *some* posts about "accomplishments" reinforce what I consider a toxic notion of accomplishments in the first place.

And yes, I get that the world is the way it is and so people should announce publications to get that work read. I just prefer that they are not announced in a way that implies it is the publication, and not the work, that matters.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Amanda: sorry, I was responding to your most recent comment, where you expressed reservations about people sharing things out of excitement. I see now that I was misunderstanding the class of behaviors you were referring to there!

A Philosopher

Thanks for the clarifications, Amanda. Those are all fair points.

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