The Deciders and Philosophy Rankings

Many people regularly visit this blog of mine to see what’s being said here about philosophy rankings, namely, the infamous Leiter report. Some say that if a philosophy Ph.D. program isn’t “Leiterrific” — if it doesn’t score well on the Leiter report — then it’s objectively not a terrific program. I beg to differ. The best evidence for objecting to the report’s credibility is the narrowness of the specialties of those who conduct the rankings. The evaluators simply do not represent the profession as a whole and so could hardly speak for what’s best in the profession as a whole. Look here to see the list of evaluators who filled out the reputational rankings for Leiter’s 2006-2008 report. It looks like fully half the rankers specialize in metaphysics and epistemology (M&E). Ninety percent of the rankers are male. And few, if any, work in continental philosophy, pragmatist theory, feminist philosophy, or Africana philosophy. And for the most part, the rankers are from the very same set of schools that are ranked at the top. True, they’re not allowed to pick their own institutions or alma mater, but they certainly pick their kissing cousins. Calling all you philosophers of science out there: does this look like good methodology? Doesn’t it assume what it’s supposedly trying to prove?

The day that deans and provosts stop taking the Leiter report seriously is the day that I’ll stop writing about it.