John Protevi’s Blog: The October Statement: No Rankings, Not Now, Not Ever

John Protevi has up The October Statement, which argues for going beyond a previous statement declining to give any service to the PGR while under the control of Brian Leiter. It’s clear the latter shouldn’t run the PGR, for a host of reasons discussed widely lately, though mostly because whatever his knowledge of philosophy or the law, his expertise in statistics is clearly wanting (this has come up in several comments he has made about other rankings, but it’s enough that he seems to give any credence to internet polls [until of course they go against him]). In any case, I don’t see how any ranking system would not reinstitutionalize the vicious regimes in philosophy inimical to women and non-Western philosophies, or those not already widely favored across the North American philosophical landscape. The APA could surely bolster it’s guide to graduate programs, and certainly students should have as much information as possible about where good places to study X, Y, or Z would be. What I envision happening may be that we are not rid of ranking systems, but perhaps have multiple ones, just as within the last year, there are multiple news sites popping up in philosophy to replace the Leiter report as the go-to for philosophical news.

In any case, there are multiple disciplines that somehow have thriving ecologies of graduate programs without these kinds of rankings. Why philosophers–who think their departments to be the home to critical thinking–ever would give credence to ranking programs, as in the Leiter report, within values of a decimal point in a highly quantified fashion (like departments are Olympic gymnasts doing flips before stone faced judges) is still, after all these years, strange to me.