philosophy meta-forum

What happened to this guy?

Wilhelm

31 day(s) ago

I don't think anyone here has claimed potential is always realized. So I think we should keep track of it, but in both kinds of cases.

OP here, I was just waiting for one of the prestige monsters to come out and make us remember that meritocracy was always a sham, it's only where you got your phd that matters. It means you're clever. A good job talk also signals you're clever. You make fun of publishing in Acta Analytica or Erkenntnis or Ratio, yet one of your wunderkind could only publish in a law review 8 YEARS after getting a phd in an instutitution with tonnes of connections, bright colleagues to critique and make your papers better and 2/2 teaching. I know people who work in a 4/4 with better publications 2 years out.

Maybe that tells us cleverness, or potential is just biased garbage.

People love talking about structural injustice, but god forbid we go after the structural injustice in our own profession, then the wagons circle.

I say we try to keep a long memory for once, let us do a longitudinal survey of all the people hired on "potential" aka with zero publications and see where they end up in 7 years

Carla

Thomas

31 day(s) ago

OP here, yes, it started off as an angry rant, but I really would be curious as to what happens in 7 years and really how good top departments are at picking them based on "potential" rather than publications. Which means you're right, that means not just cherry picking.

Gillian

31 day(s) ago

The saddest thing is that most top depts can make self fulfilling prophecies about potential.

Donald

31 day(s) ago

I was briefly at a highly-ranked department that placed graduate students well, in particular, the people they saw as good, most of whom had no publications. Ten years or so on...some panned out and many did not.

Jacopo

31 day(s) ago

OP here, yes, it started off as an angry rant, but I really would be curious as to what happens in 7 years and really how good top departments are at picking them based on "potential" rather than publications. Which means you're right, that means not just cherry picking.

Thomas

I saw some analysis of this years ago, but don't remember where.

Absent that evidence, I think it's a safe bet that philosophers are no better at spotting talent than scouts are in sports--which is to say, they're not especially good. Especially when you adjust for the lower teaching loads and better resources that the picked candidates get. The catch is that I suspect they're not really any better at doing it when they're using pubs as a significant metric, either.

Antoine

31 day(s) ago

I understand and support the first part of what you said, I'm genuinely confused about your last point. I'm no Humean, so to me the best metric to show which philosopher will at least be tenurable and then be a good philosopher is what they've already written in the past, surely? (And I mean, I get it, some people have one idea, which they've articulated well in their dissertation, turned into fantastic publications and then the have nothing else to say.)

Maybe the point I'm making is, basing the hires on publications avoids two injustices. Maybe everyone should have access to flaming out and becoming a deadwood associate prof at a prestigious school, not just those who are upper middle class children of philosophers who have good connections.

Also practically, EVEN IF the ones who with previously good publications end up being not good philosophers, I am almost ok with that, it invites less resentment. They were able to fool 3-4 high quality journals, good on them. There's just something extra unjust about someone getting a very good job based on something as mystical as "potential".

Simone

31 day(s) ago

Suppose you're comparing candidates A and B. While A has been out eight years bouncing around between post-docs and VAPs, B is ABD. Publication-wise, A has 10 publications and B has 3 of similar journal quality. How do you compare these two candidates?

One option is to privilege the person who has been out longer. Another option is to see how far along candidate A was at B's stage. Another option is to project how far along B would be at A's stage. I see reasons for taking either of these options. But if you take that third option, you have to make a judgement about their potential.

I understand and support the first part of what you said, I'm genuinely confused about your last point. I'm no Humean, so to me the best metric to show which philosopher will at least be tenurable and then be a good philosopher is what they've already written in the past, surely? (And I mean, I get it, some people have one idea, which they've articulated well in their dissertation, turned into fantastic publications and then the have nothing else to say.)

Maybe the point I'm making is, basing the hires on publications avoids two injustices. Maybe everyone should have access to flaming out and becoming a deadwood associate prof at a prestigious school, not just those who are upper middle class children of philosophers who have good connections.

Also practically, EVEN IF the ones who with previously good publications end up being not good philosophers, I am almost ok with that, it invites less resentment. They were able to fool 3-4 high quality journals, good on them. There's just something extra unjust about someone getting a very good job based on something as mystical as "potential".

Antoine



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