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October 03, 2014


Robert Vallier

i'll gladly sign the october statement, whereas i hesitated in september for precisely these reasons. i would also add my two cents on what should "replace" them : https://www.facebook.com/bobthephenomenologist/posts/10152760209905883

Jenny Saul

I'm in!

Mark lance


Helen De Cruz

Me too!

Matt Drabek

Mark me down for opposition to rankings.

robin james

Me too. Did you see this anti-ranking argument at xcphilosophy? http://xcphilosophy.org/2014/09/26/merit-vs-justice-or-why-we-shouldnt-rank-philosophy-programs/

Bryce Huebner

I'm in!

Simon Evnine


Steve Makin

Agreed - opposed to rankings per se.

Adriel Trott

Opposed to rankings.

Owen Flanagan

Agreed. Thank to you John and all the other people who are working of these important issues.

Sally Haslanger

I'm hereby signing! But I want to make clear that my signing the September Statement wasn't a way of expressing my opposition to rankings per se. I was opposing a pernicious confluence of power and a disposition to bully and was supporting those who had been the target of unprofessional behavior.

Tom Digby

Agreed, no rankings!

Christopher Gauker

I am against the rankings because I do not see how, without more effort than anyone would want to spend, they can be made reliable. I did not sign the September statement because the letter implied that the PGR had some value, and I don't agree with that.

Noelle McAfee

Same here: no rankings. Instead, more information. http://gonepublic.net/2014/09/26/a-search-engine-for-philosophy/

Ed kazarian

Perhaps somewhat obviously, I'm in.

anne jacobson

Agreed. Thak you, John.

Susan Dieleman


Susan Brison

I'm in. Thanks, John.

Edward P. Butler

I'm glad to find somebody saying what I was thinking. Agreed.

James South

I, too, agree. Thanks for your work on this issue.

Jon Cogburn

Thanks for doing this John. I think that it's important in it's own right as well as important for people to realize that signing the October statement needn't presuppose support for reputational surveys.

One quick question, does the October statement preclude what Caroly Dicey Jennings is doing (ranking in terms of graduation rates and placement records) or what Noelle McAfee has suggested (speciality area rankings in terms of citations in the manner of the scientists)? I think that both of these would get what PGR promises but does not deliver. In the first, you have to consider graduation rates because just ranking placement would reward and encourage places that fail out those not likely to place. In the second, you would have to aggregate in terms of areas because citational habits are so different in different sub-areas of philosophy.

I find myself somewhere between "No Leiter" and "No rankings" ("no reputational surveys" doesn't sound as good). Anyhow, thanks again for aggregating the articles. I just wanted to add my two cents in case someone is going to draw up an official October statement. It would be nice to know how it stands with respect to CDJ and McCaffee rankings.

Rebecca Bamford


Michael J. Monahan

I agree. The very idea that Academic Programs can be placed in an ordinal ranking is facile (and frankly rather juvenile to boot).

Nancy Snow


J. David Velleman

Count me in. Like others, I didn't sign the September Statement only because it implied that rankings are valuable. A reputational survey is an opinion poll, and an opinion poll measures nothing but opinion. No one would interpret the Harris Poll as a measure of the quality of the candidates. An opinion poll of "expert" philosophers is even worse, because of the sampling biases. (See http://choiceandinference.com/2012/04/24/two-reasons-for-abolishing-the-pgr/ and https://www.dropbox.com/s/qd9gdl7ozofhit0/emperor-1.pdf). Once you try to rank departments by other criteria, there are just too many possible criteria. So there is no meaningful way to *measure* overall departmental quality (even if there were such a thing, which I doubt). NO MORE RANKINGS.

J. David Velleman

Oh -- and I left out all of the perverse effects that rankings have on hiring, administrators' decision-making, and (I believe) the decision-making of prospective students.

Omri Boehm

I'm in, thank you. I haven't signed the September Statement for reasons similar to Wilson's; and because I've been uncomfortable joining the numbers now uniting against one individual - even a bully who has deliberately used his power to harm others as Leiter. But, unlike some mentors and friends, I've come to think that rankings as such damage the intellectual spirit of philosophy, even philosophy the academic discipline.

Lucy Allais

I agree

Shannon Dea

Count me in.

Tim Kenyon


Martin Shuster

Thanks, John, and thanks especially to Jessica Wilson for putting things so elegantly and concisely.

I did not sign the September Statement because I almost exactly share Jessica's sentiments. I am, however, happy to sign onto the "October statement."

Shelley Tremain

NO RANKINGS. Among their other pernicious aspects, rankings encourage departments and the profession at large to remain entrenched in, and intransigent about, dominant and accepted ways in which to do philosophy and, thus, they thereby perpetuate the marginalization and exclusion of areas of inquiry that subaltern and subordinated groups of philosophers produce.

Samir Chopra

No rankings.

Hugh Miller

Comptez sur moi!

Anna Gotlib

I am in!

David Yates

On the assumption that signing this expresses my opposition not only to departmental rankings, but also to similarly insidious practices such as ranking journals, papers and each other: signed.

Helen Beebee

Count me in!
For those who don't know, the Philosophy Department at the University of Nottingham have publicly requested to be withdrawn from consideration for future PGR rankings and committed to removing all references to the PGR from their promotional literature: http://dailynous.com/2014/10/01/nottingham-pulls-out-of-pgr/

Stephan Blatti


Paul Lodge

The day after reading Katrina Hutchison's 'Sages and Cranks...,' (in K. Hutchison and F. Jenkins, Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change? OUP, 2013), it's yes from me too.

Roberta Millstein

I am signing to express my opposition to any rankings at all.

I signed the September statement because I was, as Sally Haslanger so eloquently says above, "opposing a pernicious confluence of power and a disposition to bully and was supporting those who had been the target of unprofessional behavior." I do not read the September statement as being supportive of rankings, although I respect those who do read it that way. I hereby explicitly state my opposition to ranking systems of programs altogether.

Andrew Dilts

Agreed. Primarily for the reasons noted in the xcphilosophy post Robin linked too, but also for those mentioned in the post. It is long past time to put the myth of meritocracy at work here to rest.

Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr.


Jeff Bell

I'm in too. I did sign the September statment as an incremental anyone but Leiter move, but ideally no rankings at all would be best.

John Dupre

Thanks for this opportunity. I have in the past participated in the Leiter rankings, but almost twenty years in British Higher Education, where every decision is shaped by a range of ranking mechanisms, has convinced me that the whole process is toxic. So I'm very happy to sign up for October.

Richard Heck

My objections to PGR, at least, are well-known. But I would argue that these are not reasons not to sign the September Statement. I've given my reasons on the thread at FP, though I'd particularly recommend Daniel Elstein's comment:


See also the remarks on my blog:


But, in short: It is patently absurd to suppose that the authors of the Statement meant to exclude people from signing who have general objections to rankings. On the contrary: What they are trying to do is make it possible for people who do not have such objections to sign and to preclude the predictable response from Leiter (which we have, of course, heard) that this is just another group of party line right-wing feminazi continentalist PGR-haters trying to destroy what he has so selflessly offered the field.

I fear, John, that you and others are just helping Leiter split the opposition.

Jeremy Dunham


John Protevi

Hi Richard, I don't see a conflict in signing both the statements; a number of people explain their choice to sign both. And I'm not arguing here that people who did so were wrong, nor am I arguing that no one new should sign it. So I think I'm enlarging opposition rather than splitting it.

Robert Skipper

I'm signing the October Statement. However, I worry that there's a lot of hairsplitting about what to sign and why going on that, as Heck notes above, will split the opposition. I also worry that many fewer people will sign the October statement than the September statement, not because they don't agree with it, but because of fatigue and perhaps a growing sense that this is all getting to be absurd. What, for example, will the November Statement say? Perhaps, "enough with the philosophy gossip blogs!" That might be nice.

If we can eliminate the PGR, and I hope we can, strip Leiter of the power we, mostly passively, gave him, then perhaps we can get away from the idea of rankings and move to an information store house of all the PhD granting programs, faculty, placement records, sex/gender ratios, specializations, and so on. Unfortunately, I think there is a growing number of people who believe that the H-index and i10-index will be somehow better than Leiter-rankings and that we should move to that methodology for ranking. I think those folks should think harder about how those numbers work.

Mary Magada-Ward


W. Mutch

I agree.

Tom Eyers

Sign me up

Jon Garthoff

Agreed, no rankings seems best, mainly because rankings transfer power from departments to administrations.

Jill Gordon

I am opposed to rankings.

Rebecca Roache


Cynthia Willett

NO rankings. APA Data base does the trick.

Richard Moran

Agreed, and thanks for putting this forward.
And thanks to Jenny Saul for the pointer.

Janet D. Stemwedel (@docfreeride)


As I noted on Twitter, prospective students surely need information, but I don't think they need rankings.

Richard A. Lee, Jr.

Opposed to rankings

Peggy DesAutels

I am in favor of NO rankings. The APA, should instead, provide relevant departmental data to help prospective students.

Russell Ford


I also want to reinforce what several other people have said: the September Statement gives a necessary condition for continuing to work with the PGR, it does not give a sufficient one. In addition to registering opposition to Leiter's behavior and solidarity with his victims, the signers are, I suspect, open to a wide variety of possible future forms of the PGR (including one that may be informative rather than exclusionary) and are only united in believing that it has become a negative force in its current form. I think that refusing to sign the September Statement out of concern that it "doesn't go far enough" or "doesn't get at the heart of the problem" is a mistake. We're going to need a lot of people working together to create whatever new resource comes out of the current discussions - waiting on the sidelines for the "proper" statement of the problem (and/or a fully-formed solution) is, to put it perhaps too strongly, irresponsible.

marc moffett

I'd probably sign on, though I am open to be persuaded in favor of rankings. I am adamantly against a simple change of leadership at the PGR with no further changes to deal with inclusivity.

Charles Lassiter

I'm in too. Time to jettison "who's hot and who's not" listings for the discipline.

Laurie Shrage

Now that grad programs put so much info on their websites about their faculty, students, requirements, placement record, etc., I don't see the need for rankings. These rankings are done by people who have something at stake in the outcome, are intellectually biased (as we all are), and have mostly anecdotal evidence about other programs and sub-fields (other than what is publicly available via univ websites). So let each dept. blow its own horn so there's no illusion of impartiality. Rankings are no substitute for good advising by undergrad programs that know their students, their interests and abilities, and where they would be competitive and likely to have their expectations met.

Mary Margaret McCabe

I'm in. Rankings and league tables and competitions between institutions and departments have done a great deal to destroy UK higher education. There are other, far better, ways of working together than having a competition, and other ways of having students find out about departments than having them support a competition or think this is how we work.

Catherine Kemp

I'm in! No rankings.

Nora Berenstain

Data, yes. Rankings, no.

Jessica Wilson

I agree---no rankings.

Erinn Gilson

I agree!

Nathan Jun

Agreed. Get rid of them!!!

Clement Loo

For what it's worth, I'd be happy to sign a statement stating my opposition to ordinal rankings of philosophy departments.

James Griffith

No to rankings

Jessica Wahman

No rankings.

Sarah Tyson


Mitchell Aboulafia

I agree. No rankings. And definitely no rankings without extensive debate and discussion. On the question of whether to sign both the September and October Statements, I appreciate the concerns of those who wish to have more names on the September statement, but from the perspective of those of us who are opposed to rankings, with the option of the October Statement, the question of whether to sign both is now pretty much moot. If I am opposed to rankings, I am opposed to Leiter. It's now a question of balancing how many reasons one can give for opposition to Leiter (which is no small matter) with the worry that many of us have that the September statement could be interpreted as opening the door to a Leiter redux, which is no small concern. Most important: this all has begun a conversation long overdue in our profession, which is no small accomplishment!

Mark Zlomislic

I agree!

John McCUmber

No rankings in philosophy. Ever.

Lynne Tirrell

Yes, yes, yes!

Todd R. Long

I agree: information, yes; rankings, no.

Steven Levine

No Rankings.

István Aranyosi

I agree!

Carl B. Sachs

As I see it, the major benefit of having PGR-style rankings is to communicate which departments are seen as more or less prestigious by the most prestigious members of the profession. That's bad for those of us who want the profession to be less concerned with prestige and more concerned with merit. But a concern with prestige could be (for all I know) a necessary evil of any professional discipline, and if that were right, then there's a connection between opposing rankings and urging a de-professionalization of professional philosophy. Since the latter is (in my view) long over-due, I'm on board with opposition to rankings.

Eugene Kleist

No rankings.

Douglas Lavin

I agree

Meredith Schwartz

No rankings.

Nolen Gertz

I agree. Rankings are antithetical to philosophy.

Steven Geisz

No rankings of philosophy programs, please.


Yes to information, no to ranking.

Claire Katz

Please add me! NO RANKINGS!!!

Anthony F. Beavers

" ... In this connection, I cannot resist the need to mention here The Philosophical Gourmet, compiled by Brian Leiter and, hence, also known as the Leiter Report, a website that purports to provide metrics on “faculty quality and reputation” for Ph.D. granting philosophy departments in the English speaking world. (See http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/.) The fact that the report has become the standard metric of overall departmental ranking, despite its claims to the contrary, in just a short time attests to the fact that metrics are needed. At the same time, it demonstrates how quickly the Internet can act in getting information out that can restructure our profession, since it is no longer uncommon to hear professionals speak of “Leiter rankings” in the hiring of faculty or to find graduate students acknowledge that the Leiter report weighed heavily in their selection of a graduate program.

Reports such as these may present themselves as descriptive, but their use makes them prescriptive. If philosophy has anything to offer the success of our species and the well-being of its individuals, it is imperative that we represent it adequately, optimally, fairly, and accessibly. Given that how philosophy is repre-sented determines in no small measure what philosophy is, both in theory and in practice, and what it will become, attempting an accurate and adequate represen-tation might be something of a moral imperative as well, and this applies no less to metrics about faculty quality and reputation than it does to other aspects of the profession. Such reports therefore should invite caution and careful scrutiny. In the case of The Philosophical Gourmet, for instance, 95% of the advisory board for the 2009 Leiter report work at Leiter ranked schools, and 57% of them work at schools that are ranked in the top ten for their respective countries. More im-portantly, however, is that 80% of the respondents surveyed to determine the rankings have connections to schools that ranked in the top ten for their respec-tive countries, while a full 97% of them have connections to schools somewhere in the rankings. 81% of the respondents work at Leiter ranked schools, and 93% of them went to ranked schools. Furthermore, the institutions to which respond-ents are connected are distributed across the top of the rankings. I just noted that 80% have connections to top ten schools. But 15% of them have connections to second-ranked (overall) Oxford, 10% to fourth-ranked Princeton, 8% to third-ranked Rutgers and another 8% to seventh-ranked Harvard. Even though respond-ents are not allowed to rank their home institutions or those from which they re-ceived their degree, it is still quite clear that people from a handful of institutions are handing out high marks to other institutions in that same handful to the neglect of several institutions that are not presented for assessment in the first place. Lei-ter explains:

The survey presented 99 faculty lists [from institutions up for assessment], from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia and New Zealand. Note that there are some 110 PhD-granting programs in the U.S. alone, but it would be unduly burdensome for evaluators to ask them to evaluate all these programs each year. The top programs in each region were selected for evaluation, plus a few additional programs are included each year to ‘test the waters’. http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/ re-portdesc.asp

Top programs are pre-selected to determine which of the existing programs are in the top. Certainly, something smells a little fishy, and even an undergraduate in a critical thinking class would be tempted to see several fallacies operating here. Notwithstanding the possibility that Leiter may have hit on a heuristic of some sort that does in fact track faculty quality and reputation across the profession, the fact remains that his anecdotal survey approach can only leave us guessing about this possibility. We need some way either to verify or debunk the report, and here is one place where Noesis may be able to help. Furthermore, given the wealth of information about the profession that is available online and what is at stake, soon there will be simply no need to fall back on such simple anecdotal measures in any case. I suspect that we will find they are not worth much, or perhaps more so, that genuine evidence may provide us with better intuitions about the profession and reshape our anecdotes to fit better with the actual state of affairs." Beavers, "Noesis and the Encyclopedic Internet Vision" @ https://www.academia.edu/281334/Noesis_and_the_Encyclopedic_Internet_Vision

Leigh Johnson

I'm agreeing (and signing) with the following caveat/suggestion:

I really wish that the "October Statement" was a more substantive "statement" (akin to the #SeptemberStatement). I agree with the spirit of many of the above comments, especially with the comment by Nolen Gertz most immediately above mine ("Rankings are antithetical to philosophy."), but I'd feel *much* more comfortable adding my name to a "statement" that required agreement with something more like an argument for the claim "No Rankings, Not Now, Not Ever" rather than a simple declaration of such.

Ftr, I'm glad you've done this, JP, and I appreciate the difference that makes a difference btwn the "September" and "October" statements--which I take to be, primarily, the superadded and *principled* objection to the merits of "rankings" in re Philosophy graduate programs INDEPENDENT OF one's judgments of Brian Leiter's particular style of custodial care of those rankings.

All that is just to say, yes, please do add my name... but I'd prefer that there was something more closely approximating the substance of the "September" statement in the "October" statement.

Lori Gruen

I agree!

Ted Hinchman

I agree -- no rankings, for the reasons (among others) that I gave in this exchange with BL nearly thirteen years ago: http://tinyurl.com/pdhyze2

Alisa Carse


Matt Weiner

Ok, I'm in. Discussion yes, data yes, rankings no.

Todd May

I signed the September Statement, but agree that there should be no rankings. And I appreciate your taking the lead on this, John, as on many other things.

Steven Horst

I am against rankings. The only diagnostic use of them I can see is that anyone who thinks they can get useful information for a choice as complex as the right match with a graduate department from an ordinal scale probably needs to take Plato's advice and study mathematics for ten years first.

Gabriele Contessa

count me in!

Ann Garry

I wholeheartedly agree --no rankings-- but is anyone besides me weary of all this?

Teresa Blankmeyer Burke

I agree -- I don't support rankings, and this is why I did not sign the September statement. I *do* support those philosophers who have been the "target of unprofessional behavior", and I am so sorry that they've experienced this. Rankings and the behavior that led to this discussion diminish the lustre of our discipline. (I am deliberately avoiding the word profession because I think that philosophy qua philosophy transcends professional philosophy, and it is the latter, not so much the former, that has contributed to this current state of affairs).

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