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Charles Perkins

I have been wondering, what are some of the best books to read about philosophy pedagogy? Or, if not explicitly *about* philosophy pedagogy, what are the most helpful books wrt developing one's philosophy pedagogy?

Cautiously Optimistic

I wrote in last time, and the discussion that followed my question was helpful. I write in today with a related question. I start my master's in three weeks, and I am already thinking of the next step. Before I ask my question, let me say that I appreciate what this blog does! So thank you, Marcus.

After looking at the PGR, none of the ranked programs are continental programs. This is disappointing because I am partial to phenomenology and existentialism, and the programs they recommended FOR continental philosophy were stronger in epistemology, logic, etc. than my desired area. I worry that people take the PGR too seriously considering its bias. Is it best to apply to PGR programs, or non-ranked continental phd programs that have good placement? I am interested in Stonybrook (who have Steinbock) and Penn State (who have Nicolas de Warren), but neither Penn State nor Stonybrook are top PGR programs. Will this hurt me in the long run?

thank you.

Martin Shuster

Cautiously Optimistic:

I would say that it is best to *apply* to both, and then to decide when all of the options on the table.

At the application stage, though, you want to have as many options as possible so that you can compare actual, concrete options as opposed to abstract ones.

There are certainly non-ranked PGR programs that place quite well if not better than ranked ones (e.g., University of Oregon or Vanderbilt).

Early Career

I am starting a TT job in a large teaching focused public university right out of grad school.

It would be helpful to see discussion about which fellowships one should apply to and what strategies or best practices folks know of when applying. I am thinking of fellowships to support research run by organizations such as the Ford, Woodrow Wilson and Carnegie Mellon foundations.

Maybe one question is: is there an applicant profile that tends to be successful apart from profiles that include Ivy-League or elite education?

I did my grad work at a top 10-20 program.

SPEP Grad Student

Cautiously Optimistic:

It's also worth noting that schools need to request or agree to be rated by the PGR. Not all (or even not many) SPEP schools ask to be rated. My school doesn't. So one can't necessarily infer that because a school focused on continental philosophy isn't listed on the PGR, it isn't a good school.

Take a close at placement data, if it is available. Are graduates regularly being placed in TT jobs? Are those TT jobs at the kinds of school you would be happy teaching at? For those who don't get TT jobs, how many land decent postdocs and how many are moving from adjunct gig to adjunct gig? (Departments don't often list where graduates go after their first job, so this can take more work on your own part to determine.) Does the department list whether and where graduates got jobs outside of academia?

Continental PhD student

I do not go to Penn state, but as a person who works in Continental philosophy, I cannot help but have noticed over the past 6 years how they have swooped in and plucked some very good professors from other institutions (Bernasconi, Allen, Ortega etc.) If you are interested in Continental philosophy, it would be hard not to recommend applying to Penn State. (Although I've heard you go through an interview process and I'm not sure how I feel about that)

Sam Duncan

It’s not specifically about philosophy but Ken Bain’s “What the Best College Teachers Do” is very well regarded and I personally found it helpful on number of levels. It’s short too so it’s an excellent place to start. I also found Kathy N. Davidson’s “The New Education” helpful in thinking about pedagogy.


I am curious to see people's mindset in their first TT job.

I am currently having a TT position at a state school. The job is good but not ideal. I feel very lucky and thankful to get this position given how competitive the market is. I also know how hard it is for a department to create a new position. So, my mindset is that unless there is a perfect job, I will stay here. And I am ready to stay at my current job for my whole career. There are probably always a few *better* jobs, but I will not apply for them unless some are perfect ones.

After meeting and talking with people, I find they are more eager to move than I thought. They gave me the impression that they always applied for better jobs (maybe just 1 or 2 per year). This makes me think about whether I should do the same. I know that it largely depends on the individual. I am just wondering how people think about it.

New Associate

Lucky, I think this depends a lot on both what you care about and what the future of your school looks like. I got a job at a teaching-focused state school right out of grad school, and just moved (in my tenure year) to a private school with a PhD program - despite the fact that my first job was in many ways wonderful. It just became clearer every year that resources were getting tighter and tighter every year, and working conditions were getting worse and worse. I didn't know how much worse it would get, but feared it would be *much* harder to mover after tenure. If that hadn't been true, I don't think I would have applied to other jobs. So if you're happy at your job AND convinced you'll be happy there in the long term, then I don't think there is any reason to apply out.

(As for individual reasons, I really liked the town my first job was in, but didn't like the natural world there at all, and love to be outside. This wasn't a huge issue for me in applying out, but if I had been, say, gay in a small conservative town, then personal reasons to leave might have been a lot stronger.)

Am I a Philosopher?

I'm pursuing a PhD program at an European university on the history of political thought (19th-20th centuries). I gather that Anglo-American philosophers don't consider what I do as political philosophy, but as political theory or intellectual history. Is that possible to get a position in political philosophy in the US without producing normative-oriented research?


Could someone share the experience of teaching philosophy at American colleges overseas where the regime is (at least partially) autocratic? I'm thinking about institutions such as Yale-NUS or NYU Shanghai, for example.


Is it usually possible to get post-doc fellowships after holding a professorship? I'm currently unhappy with my tenure-track position (I started last year) and have been considering to apply for post-docs this fall.


How important are TAs positions for one's CV and teaching portfolio? I'm currently a PhD student and have the choice between a prestigious TA position with a renowned professor and teaching a course as sole instructor. What would be best?

Mike Titelbaum

Cleinias, I'd suggest you think in terms of what your total TA experience is going to look like when you're done with grad school. It's useful at some point to have been sole instructor of your own class. (At least once, if not more than once.) Personally, when I look at a job application it's not so important that someone TAed for a renowned professor versus a no-name professor. It's more important what kind of teaching experience they have and what I can expect them to be able to accomplish in the classroom.


Here's a question I don't think I've seen discussed anywhere: as a job applicant, how much of a disadvantage are you putting yourself at if you don't submit your application until very close to the deadline? Do those submitting quickly after the job ad is posted get a de facto advantage?


All things considered, how much does it matter when looking at a prospective candidate's CV that they have never been to nor presented at an APA meeting?


Professor: If you are within the allotted time period post-graduation (anywhere from 2-6 years, usually) then there is no reason why you couldn't get a post-doc. I suspect your application wouldn't be treated much differently than others, but I could be wrong.

Cleinias - TA ships basically mean nothing for almost any job application. Research schools don't care about teaching all that much - any type of teaching. But if they did care, they would care about solo instructed courses. Teaching schools give a ton of credit to solo taught courses and almost no credit to TAships. The prestige of the guy you are TAing for doesn't matter. I doubt many search committee members even look to see who you TA'd for. So the only reason I would take the TAship is if, (1) you are at a top school and the ordinary track of people in your department is to get research jobs, and (2) The professor works in your area, or at least remotely in your area. The reason I would suggest this is not for a direct job market benefit, but because you could get to know the professor which might be helpful as far as him eventually writing you a letter or serving on your committee. Research schools often do care about who writes your letters or who supervises your dissertation.

Am I a philosophers: Can you be more specific about the type of work you do? For instance, do you focus in on a historical figure? My first thought would be to say that in the philosophy world, in the US, you would most likely be called a "historian" whose AOS is history- but one that works in an unusual area. But this depends on what you do.


Could someone share the experience of having a double appointment (Philosophy/Law, Philosophy/Economics, Philosophy/Women Studies, and so on)? Does it represent extrajob? Any specific advantage?

New to Teaching

I’d love to start a discussion on whether we ought to tell our students our views on the material we’re teaching. Do you aim for your students to end the course not knowing what you think, perhaps because it shows that you’ve taught in a relatively unbiased way? Or, on the other hand, do you find that putting forward your own view provokes discussion and perhaps models a thoughtful approach to the issues? How likely are students to write essays they think the tutor will agree with in hopes of getting a better grade?

My inclination would be to not say much about my own views unless asked directly, but if asked, to answer honestly and openly. Is that a good strategy?

Any thoughts about the pros and cons of being more or less forthcoming about one’s philosophical views as a teacher would be appreciated.


New to Teaching,

Some thoughts:

I overhead a colleague talking with a student last year about one of her papers. She was objecting to a particular philosopher's views, and I thought she was making exactly the right kind of objection. My colleague, of course, kept coming up with responses on behalf of the philosopher in question. At some point, it occurred to me that, on the face of it, he was basically trying to talk her into accepting a bad view, which seems like a strange thing to do. Granted, on a deeper level, he was really just pressing her to articulate her objection more clearly and take account of possible responses. But I do wonder: do we need to hide our views to do that?

I'd like to think that there's a better strategy: be open about your views, but humble in light of your fallibility. Because, after all, if you think there are answers to the questions you're asking, and you're trying to find those answers, you'll almost certainly have views (at least about which views are dead ends). Hiding your views, I fear, just makes philosophy look like a game of clever arguing. So I've actually gravitated towards being more open about my views––but also trying to point out parts of those views I'm not sure I know how to defend. So I'll regularly pull a "This is what I think, but I'm not really sure, because [explain some problem for the view]."

In short, I'm inclined to think that there needs to be a sharp distinction between a philosophy class and a debate club, and revealing that you have views is one way of distinguishing the philosophy class.

Revealing that you have views might also empower your students to try to figure out what they actually think, and defend it, which is surely what we really want them to do. If we just teach the textbook objections, what do we expect them to do but memorize the textbook objections and spew them back at us?


I am currently a graduate student and have been trying to develop a teaching portfolio at the intersection between philosophy, politics, and economics - i.e., teaching courses not only on political philosophy, philosophy of economics, philosophy of law, and so on, but e.g. on human rights policy and political economy as well.
I am afraid, however, that search committees may think my profile is too interdisciplinary. Any thoughts in this regard?


What to do when top journals reject papers without sending them for review not because the paper is bad but because they simply cannot find referees? My manuscript has been rejected from two top journals. One of the journals rejected the paper and the editor basically said that we do not have time to find competent referees for every paper and for that reason we have to reject some promising papers. Another journal rejected my paper after it has been "under review" for 6 weeks or so. They first contacted me and told that they have not yet found a referee for it because people keep rejecting referee invitations but that they will continue to find the referees. Just a day later I received another email saying that they have rejected my paper without any comments from the referees.

Is this practice common? Is it morally permissible? What an author can do to avoid this? Should I only submit papers to specialized journals that know more referees? (The problem is that if one does not publish in top philosophy journals, some philosophers think his/her work is not "real philosophy"). Should an author always recommend possible referees in a cover letter when submitting a paper? (at least some journals ask the author to recommend possible referees).

Mike Titelbaum

NK: While I can imagine situations in which prompt submission might make a difference (suppose an emergency has come up and a department is looking to fill a job quickly), for your standard job search it makes no difference what order the applications come in. I have often been on search committees that don't even begin to read files until after the deadline has passed.

Anon: At least for the R1 job searches in which I've been involved, what's helpful is that you have some experience at conferences, preferably not just grad student conferences. But APA conferences in particular bear no special significance to me on that front.

William Peden

New to Teaching,

I agree with what NK says. Additionally, it can be discouraging for undergraduates if they are just given a bunch of difficult criticisms every time they endorse a view. It can create the impression that critical philosophical work is better, as well as make them think that anything positive they believe will be rubbish.

One thing I like to do under such circumstances is to encourage the student to think of objections to what they believe, and praise them insofar as they develop/discover good counterarguments. As well as encouraging students, I think that this can help them to be less dogmatic without having to idolize the critical stance.

Then I encourage them to respond. Pretty soon, they have the basic structure of a good essay, and their confidence in their own potential for philosophical thought (as well as interest in the topic and the works of philosophers in the area) has been increased.

William Peden


The philosophers who think e.g. philosophy of film, aesthetics, or x-phi aren't "real philosophy" aren't going to be impressed by publishing such papers in top journals. And for some areas, some philosophers think that publishing in a top journal rather than a specialist journal is fishy: I know philosophers of science who are quite snooty about philsci in places like Mind and PPR, on the (unfair!) basis that it often needs to be "dumbed-down" for a non-philsci audience to be published in such places.

As someone in a specialist area, my own policy is largely to ignore the top journals and try to develop a reputation for solid work within my specialism, but that's relatively easy for me since the top philsci journals also have a good general reputation among most philosophers.


When it comes to writing research statements, is it OK if one tries to eschew remarks about what others have not done, but what you have done in favor of simply explaining your projects. I know The Professor is In says to avoid going negative, but I wonder whether in avoiding negative remarks it might not be clear to those who do not work in your AOS what your contribution actually is. Presumably, some may want to know why your particular interpretive angle on X is worth pursuing, and you often cannot motivate that without saying what others have said.



I am currently in an NTT position with a fairly modest publication record.

I have ambitions for a TT teaching position.

I have an idea for an edited volume that I believe strongly in but also worry I am just at the wrong stage professionally to do this kind of work and that it doesn't make any sense given the labor and time spent involved and relatively little pay off I might see from it in terms of landing a longer term position.

Does my thinking on this seem about right?

Ano(n)ther VAP

What are the boundaries of decorum on asking for letters of recommendation from a temporary position?

I'm a 1-year VAP this coming year, doing a sabbatical replacement for a well-known senior philosopher in area X (I also work in area X). If possible, obviously it'd be an asset to have this senior person's support as I go on the market again. But they aren't going to be around town or campus much, so there's not much of an opportunity to naturally build rapport.

Would it be strange to ask something like: "Given that I'm going on the market again this year, would you be willing to read some of my work and consider writing me a job market letter? Would you also be willing to come into campus to observe my teaching a few times?"

Political Philosopher

I am a political philosopher with a PhD in philosophy considering applying to some political theory jobs (in polisci departments). Does anyone have any experience with this? Are both sorts of departments looking for different things, or can I basically use the same materials for both political philosophy and political theory jobs?

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