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Your discussion and reporting thread links are still pointing to last years'.

Can I ask why have the reporting thread, which spreads information out that used to be centralized on the job market wiki? Now people will have to check both instead of just one.

Marcus Arvan

Hi nobody: The links to last year's discussion and reporting threads were intended to point people to those threads to give them an idea of what those threads were like. I've now removed the links to avoid confusion. This thread is this year's discussion thread, and there's a permalink to it on the blog's right side-bar.

In terms of why to have two threads, the simple reason is that these threads get *very* long, and serve different purposes. To save people the trouble of having to scroll through tons of discussion to find job news, I figure those interested in discussion can go this thread and those interested in news can go to to the other. I think this has worked well in past years!


FYI: I know the current VAP at Worcester State and while I do not know for sure, the current ad certainly reads like it could be for him.

Not dissuading anyone from applying but worth mentioning I thought.


"I know the current VAP at Worcester State and while I do not know for sure, the current ad certainly reads like it could be for him."

I think people should never read too much into it. There is almost always an obvious reason for this overlap - the department has hired a VAP/lecturer in an area it has teaching needs. Either because the search they had failed and so they hired late in the season for a year, or they could not get other than temporary funding. Once they have funding (or new season comes), they run a search in the area. The temporary person looks just like someone "tailored" for the position but, in fact, he/she is rarely in a different position than others who aare applying for it. Very very often, the VAP is not converted to the TT and a new person is hired.

Marcus Arvan

Another reason to not read too much into this: committees can be looking for very different things in a candidate when hiring for a temporary position versus a permanent position. When hiring for temporary positions (VAPs), a committee may care most about whether the candidate is a good teacher. When hiring for a tenure track job, research may be weighed much more heavily. My sense is that this is why people who look like they might be an “inside hire” are often not hired. They may have been regarded as a good candidate for a VAP but not as good of a candidate for a permanent job.


There is a significant drop in the number of published ads this year (so far), for the same time period (fisrt half of September). Almost 20%. Hopefully, things will pick up...


Hi Joe, where did you get the numbers?


Philjobs - 1-16 September 2018, 58 job ads posted. 1-16 September 2019, 43 job ads posted. It's actually 25% less ads in the same period.

Anon 2

I agree that things are feeling slow right now, joe (especially for those of us that aren't in ethics). That said, if you look at a wider range of dates, this difference may go down a bit. Searching for August 15-September 15, I see 91 jobs in 2018, and 82 jobs in 2019.

(The August jobs are, as far as I can tell, mostly relevant - there may be a few "urgent for the fall" ads in there, but most of them seem to be post-doc / TT.)


IIRC, the trend for the last few years has been for jobs to trickle in, generally at later dates. It's just a consequence of the de-centralization of the JFP. I wouldn't worry about it until January.


Also, I feel like higheredjobs has to included in any calculation as there are often jobs on there that are never posted to philjobs


There are SO MANY jobs in the ethics of AI/Big Data/technology. I can't say I know of more than a handful of people who actually work in that area, but those who do are certainly going to have a good year. This must be the new way that Philosophy Departments are justifying their existence to their universities: you need us to make sure your computer science grads don't turn into Mark Zuckerbergs....


postduck: I saw 4 jobs in that area (Northeastern, Toronto, CalTech, UC Davis). Have you seen more? Also, I don't think it's just a way of justifying existence to universities. Some people think that philosophy can really make a difference on these topics.


4 is a lot comparatively (say, to Phil of action or German idealism). Also, the job market is still showing relative weakness compared to last year.


Anon: Coastal Carolina, Utah, Scranton, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Notre Dame all mention data ethics in their posts in one way or another. That seems like a lot to me (by contrast, there have only been three jobs in my area, which I would have thought was considerably less niche).
I honestly don't know whether philosophy has a distinctive contribution to make in this field. But I strongly suspect that the interest in this area on PhilJobs has a lot to do with savvy dept chairs convincing their deans that they it does in order to get another tenure line. More generally, universities are making lots of investments in data science, comp sci programs, and I'm sure philosophy depts are able to make a good case for why they should get in on the fun. But hey, more jobs is good for everyone, so I'm not complaining (that much). Just noting a hiring trend.

Several years post-PhD

I have a question - When applying for jobs from a TT position and several years post-PhD (more than 3), at what point is it appropriate to begin using someone other than your dissertation advisor as one of your three references? In my case, I'm not really in touch with my advisor anymore other than reference requests, and I have other people who can serve as references and are more familiar with my recent work and activities.


If you already have a TT job and you have been out 3+ years, I think it is fine to get letters from people other than your PhD supervisor. At one point, especially beyond entry level jobs, you should be having letters from the most reputable people who support you. I never knew any of my current letter writers even 5 years after my Ph.D. They are people who know my work well, and think highly of it.


Dear Colleagues,
This may be off topic but I'm curious to see what you would think about this question: is it wrong to submit job applications when you know you don't stand a chance even for getting a skype interview but you do it anyway just to let people in your field know that you exist, trying to contribute to your field from the periphery despite low wages, no research support, and noone around who understand or value your work?

Mr sympathy

If the situation you describe is accurate, the main wrong done is to yourself. You would be spending valuable time applying for jobs even you do not believe you are remotely qualified for. Your file, if it is thin, as you seem to describe it, will not leave anyone with a positive (or any) impression. So it is not worth doing.
People who are not moving in elite circles (publishing in the highest regarded journals; invited to talk at conferences and in elite departments) who apply for jobs at Princeton, for example, do not bother Princeton (I would think) But they certainly waste their own time and resources.
I would recommend that you try to publish a paper in a decent journal. That is a better use of your time.


Mr. Sympathy,
Thank you for your response... But I think you misunderstood me, I had to be more clear in my question... I did publish articles in top journals as well as others, that is what I meant by "contributing to my field." I have earned master's and doctoral degrees from American R1 universities but I am not an American and I work in a middle-eastern country with a non-AngloSaxon name. This puts me in an isolated position far away from the "elite" circles in North America or western Europe which lowers the chances of people in the center discovering my work let alone interact and maybe collaborate. This is why submitting job applications, I think, may be helpful in announcing to the "center" that I exist in the "periphery" and doing important work. The departments won't be willing to invite me for campus visits because I'm far away, won't bother to sponsor a work visa either, or will simply be too prejudiced to consider me a genuine candidate but they will at least know that I am here and worthy philosophy is done in the periphery as well.



I think that Mr. Sympathy's response here is still applicable. Specifically, your goal (exposing your work) does not align with the strategy (job application). The reason is that when reviewing dozens or hundreds of applications, no reader internalizes that much about any single applicant until the pool is narrowed. Moreover, the people reviewing the application may not be the best placed to take notice of your work.

I think a better use of your time in this regard is to reach out to people directly in some way. You can share papers, ask questions about their papers, ask for copies of their papers that aren't available in your library, submit to conferences, etc. Not everyone will respond, but lots will. I am an associate prof in a good place, and when people reach out because they like my work I'm over-the-moon (it happens, like, once a year). I haven't started collaborations that way, but I have had very good conversations.

I also think you may underestimate people's willingness to interact based on geography.

Good luck!


I did do everything you suggest over the years but achieved no real results. But you're right, I may be making the assumption that people, who are already prejudiced against non-western names and geographies, will carefully read through a job application, which really is a ridiculous assumption. I guess I was too optimistic, again... I will just have to accept the simple fact that the world of philosophy is biased against non-westerners and they will just ignore me... All I can do is hope that my articles will survive and some time in an enlightened future they will be read without prejudice...



Sorry to hear of your difficulties on the market. I know of famous philosophers who've said they wouldn't have gotten a job in this very competitive environment. Hope you're keeping your head up.

One thing to consider is the strength of the department in which you earned a PhD., whatever the university's overall ranking. Another thing is how many times you've been on the market, whether you've applied for post-docs and visiting positions or only tenure-track positions, and so on. And how strong your letters were (quality and how well respected the writers are) and publication trajectory (a paper in Phil Review is much better received than a paper in a strong but not spectacular journal).

Being a non-Westerner might actually help in many applications, perhaps, or at least not hurt, though there are also some bigger associated obstacles such as learning a new system. But perhaps it would work against you in some places, though if this is because intolerance, you presumably wouldn't want those colleagues anyway (or, at least, those on the search committee). In any case, our field often gets 200-800 applications for junior positions, so without knowing the very best of one's competition, it's hard to tell why one wouldn't get a campus visit, etc. Five publications in strong journals looks great, but there might be competitors with three in the very best journals, or with fifteen, or with 'only' two pubs, but letters from famous philosophers saying they are the best philosophy student they've ever seen in forty years of teaching.

So basically, it might just be a very crappy situation for almost all applicants. On the other hand, maybe you have good evidence that 'the world of philosophy is biased against non-westerners.'

For what it's worth, I know of several philosophers from top-5 programs or other very good ones that together average maybe one campus visit every two years or so - so, some superb philosophers are getting no visits, sadly. I also know of some folks with books at top presses who still haven't found a permanent position. Just a few quick thoughts, though - not to be depressing, but in case it's helpful at all for perspective. Hope you can keep your head up. And I agree that if you are rationally confident that your application won't meet with success, then skip it, even if it's hard to know who's reading it and whether it'll catch someone's eye (among, unfortunately, the hundreds of files). Wishing you the best of luck with everything.


Is the phylo jobs wiki still working?



It was last year, although I think it had fewer contributions than in previous years.


Is anyone else having trouble finding the link to apply for the Memphis job?


Apparently the WUSTL job just doesn't require a cover letter this year. That may be the first job I've seen which doesn't.

Anyone know if that was a mistake? Or a new policy of some sort?


Loyola Chicago appears to be the first app of this season that requests mailed materials. I only saw one like this last year. I thought we were done with this!


If a job ad requests three letters, but does not specifically say to send no more than three, should one ever send more than three letters? Or would this be considered bad form?

on the jyerb market

^ I would be interested to know this as well. I've always sent a fourth letter.


Whenever it allowed me to, I sent more than 3. Sometimes way more. As far as I know this isn't in bad form, unless they specifically say "no more" than 3.

4th letter

One thing people forget is that each letter they add to their file usually "lowers" the quality of your application. We may all be able to get three people to say great things about us as philosophers. But the fourth is a stretch. ... and the fifth! Then the letters usually get a little thin. When I have seen six letters from candidates, the candidate starts to look mediocre. Their strong letters are eclipsed by the mediocre. And to make matters worse, one is left with the impression that the candidate has poor judgment. After all, they had these lack-luster letters sent. Do yourself a favor - send three letters only.

on the jyerb market

Hello 4th Letter,
Thank you for giving me something to think about.
I think you're right about no more than 4.

Usually the first two letters are my main advisors. I feel I need them both, 1) because not having both might seem weird 2) I need both to explain why different parts of my projects are interesting.
Then I have my teaching letter because let's be honest, I'm not getting the Princeton job and neither am I going for those jobs.
Now I don't go to the most Leiterific school, but I have been able to secure a letter from one big name and I can't help but try to help level the field, prestige-wise, by using that letter as much as I can.

But I think you're right, any MORE than 4 isn't just overkill, but might hurt, (at least as an ABD)

In the know about Loyola

It's not a mistake: Loyola Chicago does seem to request hard copy, and the materials they ask don't entirely overlap with what's online. Apparently they couldn't make up their minds about whether to go electronic or not and so they ask both! This will be so confusing for the search committee!


Well, for almost all of my applications I used 5- 8 letters, and I did very well on the market (by most standards, anyway.) I also know one other person who did the same, with the same results (He is the person that convinced me to use them all.) I guess we could be flukes. I do think it depends on how confident you are in the quality of a letter, but you should be getting someone trusted to read your letters, anyway.

Will Work for Tenure


Do you mean that you sent 5-8 letters on applications that explicitly requested exactly 3 letters or just on applications that indicated that candidates have the option of sending more than 3 ("at least three letters of recommendation")?


Each year I see more and more ads from German universities advertising PhD positions on philjobs. I wonder if they are aware that this is not a website to advertise grad programs to undergrads thinking about graduate school in philosophy. I know that being a PhD student in Germany is more like a job than like being a student, but that is hardly the relevant consideration. So the postings seem really misplaced to me. And I wonder if the people running the website make this clear to them (it does cost money to post the ad). Or maybe they advertise there nevertheless, in order to satisfy some HR requirement in their university?


I assume that the German universities doing this are trying to reach a larger applicant pool. In northern Europe, post docs and Ph.D.s are well paid, with pension contributions. They are, at least in many places, employees of the university. This may help explain the practice.


Norsemen, I get that. But are undergraduate students looking at philjobs? You can try to reach wider applicant pool, but it seems to me that that is not exactly the place to do so...


I teach at a R1 program with PhD students, MA students, and undergrads that often apply to grad school. I checkout philjobs because I'm curious in what is happening professionally. It's possible I'd recommend a German program to a student after seeing it in philjobs. Maybe even a PhD student looking to transfer. So maybe it isn't the most direct way to spread the word, but it might help some. And as far as I know there isn't an obvious alternative for posting such information, so maybe they are doing the best they can with the available options.

Also, while undergrads probably aren't looking at philjobs, lots of MA students are, and German programs are surely interested in reaching them.


Am I right in thinking that the University of Arizona job (AoS open, but interested in phl lang and ancient) published a few weeks ago on PhilJobs is now cancelled?!


curioserandcurioser: yes, the job was canceled. Very likely for budgetary reasons, given the state of things at the University of Arizona.


Amanda: yes, I can see what you are saying. I guess here graduate schools in the English speaking word profit (well, maybe not ALL of them!) from something like PGR - a list with some sorting into specialties and so on, whereas German universities have no such comparable platform.


Arizona has a new search - it is open, but rather than philosophy of language and ancient, they now look for something like philosophy & ethics of technology.
Anonymous: what do you mean by "given the state of things at there University of Arizona"? Can you be more specific? Thank you.


Anon: can you link to a job posting? I haven’t seen one.
I don’t know a lot of details as I’m not affiliated with the department but from what I have heard there are financial issues at the University that seem like they would naturally affect the department’s ability to get lines. (Also might you be talking about the Arizona State job? Different university.


Anonymous: this is the job - https://philjobs.org/job/show/14382

I'm sorry, probably we meant different universities - I'm not very familiar with academic institutions of Arizona

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