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July 28, 2014


Felonius Screwtape

i've often thought about this in the "Freshness Date" -- you know, those dates stamped on products "best if consumed by ..." of course it's mostly a ruse devised to sell more product : if something is past its freshness date, the conscientious and appropriately disciplined consumer will toss it aside and buy a new product. of course, it's possible the product may linger a while in the cupboard, shoved aside but not completely forgotten, because who knows, you might use that one day, but until then, you view it with decreasing use-value and desirability, no matter how delicious it may in fact be. after a certain amount of time, perpetual adjunct and perennial candidate has past his or her freshness date, and oooooh look at all the shiny newly minted phds over there *sparkly* new product. so this is not quite the same as your TP hypothesis, but is perhaps a corollary of or complement to it.


If merit is a necessary condition of getting and keeping a TT position, we can be certain that everyone ("notwithstanding some exceptions") with such a position merits it. This would seem to entail that having a TT position is some kind of official stamp of merit. I think this is pretty obviously untrue, though. There are plenty of people (not just a few exceptions) in TT positions at mediocre schools (or who were hired long ago at schools which more recently gained prestige) who neither publish very much nor teach very well. This, of course, only exacerbates the injustice faced by non-TT faculty who haven't had the opportunity to prove their merit.

John Protevi

Hi Felonius, yes, that analysis (sadly) rings true.

Avi, would you accept an amendment to the OP along these lines: "since the intensification of the buyer's market in TT hiring in philosophy, merit has been, notwithstanding some exceptions, a necessary condition ..."? We could dicker about the point at which the buyer's market begin -- that is, the point at which supply of those who could produce meritoriously given TT conditions exceeded the demand for TT positions by HE administrators -- but I think it would have to be 25 years (1989) ago by now, wouldn't you think?

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