PGR participation…

For the 2009 Philosophical Gourmet Report ranking of US doctoral programs, Brian Leiter circulated a list of the faculty at 99 US programs. But for the 2011-12 rankings, the list was of only 60 programs.  That’s a 39% drop, in the space of just two years, of departments willing to participate. No wonder Leiter has not published the list in the usual spot under methodology.  But it can be retrieved as an rtf document from this page.  [Edit: see correction below in my comment replying to Leiter.]

[Nonetheless] I compared the list of 60 faculties [used for the Philosophical Gourmet Report’s 2011 rankings] to Julie Van Camp’s ranking of departments by their percentage of tenure-stream women faculty. From top to bottom of these women-friendly departments (in terms of having above average percentage of women faculty), here is a list of those that do not participate in the PGR rankings:

  • University of Georgia
  • University of Oregon
  • Emory University
  • Villanova University
  • SUNY-Albany
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of South Carolina
  • Arizona State
  • SUNY Binghamton
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Loyola University – Chicago
  • SUNY Stony Brook
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Kansas
  • DePaul University
  • Fordham University
  • Marquette University
  • Temple University
  • University of Memphis
  • Duquesne University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Michigan State University

Bravo to all these programs — both for hiring women to the tenure stream and for saying no to the PGR.

[Edit: For background see yesterday’s post on the PGR’s un-women-friendly epistemology.]

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.


  1. Noelle, you’re really a disgrace. The faculty lists for the 2011-12 PGR have been on-line all along: How could you not find the lists? Perhaps because you didn’t want to. [NM: I emailed BL about this and he never responded and the place on his website under methodology for faculty lists has not included this.] There was not a drop from 99 to 60 programs surveyed; there were only 60 US programs surveyed in 2011, there were dozens of non-US programs surveyed as well, the same as in 2009. Departments do not choose not to participate. The main problem we face is too many departments wanting to be included–including some in your list, above.

    I can only infer that the Emory Administration must have finally woken up to how mediocre their Philosophy Department is, which is why you have launched this campaign of misinformation.

  2. Well, hello, Brian. I see that you are your usual charming self. So what exactly are your criteria for choosing which programs to rank and which not to? Oh, I know, it’s the ones you deem worthy. How very scientific.

    I know it is useless to try to reason with you. Your response is always to belittle and throw hand grenades rather than to actually deal with the issues. And the big issue here is that there there seems to be, in general, an inverse relationship between the percentage of tenure-stream women on a faculty and the likelihood that it will be ranked well on the PGR. Prima facie this calls into question the credibility of the rankings.

    I do now see that your 2009 list contained US and non-US programs together, but your 2011 list separates them out. I stand corrected on that. But now are you saying that a program cannot choose not to be evaluated? How do you get an official list of faculty? I thought previously you asked chairs for this list and I know personally some who have said no.

  3. I’m applying graduate school in Philosophy this year, and I just came across this. I was wondering why some schools were not at all in Leiter’s list: I thought maybe they were so bad that they didn’t make the cut. But I think now I understand that this is mostly about Leiter and friends. That is too bad because I had higher hopes that philosophers would be decent human beings, who, when they make a name for themselves for gourmet rankings (by the way, I do to get the name. Did we read the Critique of Judgment and decided it was hilarious to call something -supposedly- objective gourmet rankings, like it is a matter of “taste”?) they would be able to explain their methods clearly and honestly. I’m not a woman but I’m interested in feminism and race theory. No wonder Leiter’s list did not make sense to me,

  4. At the University of Chicago, Leiter is a law professor not a philosophy professor, for whatever that is worth! The American Philosophical Association has a grad guide with listings of 98 grad programs in the U.S. and Canada: (Though several grad programs didn’t bother to submit their material, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UNC, Columbia, Brown, Chicago, UC-Boulder, Northwestern [hmm on the last two] and others.)

    With your interest in feminism and race theory, I recommend the Pluralist’s Guide

    If you’re interested in the kind of work that Leiter and his friends like, then you might find the PGR helpful — but that is all that it is good for. It won’t give you any unbiased information.

    Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss more specifics.

  5. Thank you for this information, professor McAfee! I will let you know if I have any other questions. I’m just amazed at how clearly biased Brian Leiter’s listing is and how it is accepted as the norm. The kind of philosophy that Leiter and his friends do=good philosophy. Why does nobody else question his methods? And now one of the big talents (named as such by Leiter on his blog) is being charged with sexually assaulting an undergraduate at Northwestern. I heard about the Colorado business too. What’s wrong with this picture?! Patriarchy, not a stranger to philosophy!

  6. I read the Colorado report and found it very telling that some including Leiter have chosen to extract one particular recommendation out of context for criticism: the one calling for tolerance of different kinds of philosophy. Apparently the obvious connection between climate problems and unreasoned dismissal of other people’s work is invisible to Leiter and others who have singled out this line. Nor could they permit it to be visible, because this would reveal the fundamental sexism behind the assumptions that drive their notions of “quality” philosophy. Unfortunately, when people are unable and unwilling to show basic civility toward one another, climate problems aren’t far behind. I know of no place where this is untrue and would be glad to hear of counterexamples. Where the philosophical culture prizes being an aggressive jerk and dismissing whatever you disagree with, people aren’t treated well in other respects either.

    I think the single most important reason philosophy doesn’t attract more women is the general willingness in this profession to accept and even encourage disrespect and hostility toward other people’s contributions. The disrespect is tightly connected to sexist ideas about what counts as good philosophy. Just look at the language constantly used to express the distaste: feminist philosophy (or “pluralism” generally) is “soft” and lacks “rigor”! Even ethics is dismissed as “not the hard stuff”. I have literally heard male philosophers joke on multiple occasions about the ridiculous of “warm fuzzies”, as if that’s what goes on in ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, feminism, and anything continental or literary. Come on guys, just be honest: it’s cooties! The presence of terribly girly cooties is rampant in these useless sub-disciplines. That’s what you’re really saying, and it is usually said with more cutting wit on the gradeschool playground. Women are not idiots and we’ve been on a playground with people who said we had cooties before. So when essentially the same experience happens again in our academic life, is it any wonder we’ve learned to roll our eyes and walk away? Until this sort of thing ends, philosophy will enjoy its lousy and well-earned poor climate for women.

  7. Dear Brian Leiter,
    I am sure that it was really necessary to insult the Department of Philosophy in your extremely kind response to Noelle McAfee. I mean, I am sure that you base your claim that this department is “mediocre” on objective standards. So, can I see the evidence for this claim? I got my PhD there, and I am worried that I will never get a job, if it is indeed a mediocre department. I wonder if it is only your (and your friends’) opinion? If so, can I hear your justifications? Is it a justified true belief, or is it unjustified true belief? Or is it merely a belief? Or is it just an opportunity to attack a female philosopher’s simple question about implicit or explicit biases of your “gourmet” rankings?

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