- I entirely agree with Brooks that if you are having trouble ‘finding your voice’ starting by writing book reviews is a good idea.
- From my observations bad publications don’t help that much in getting your first job, and really hurt in getting latter jobs, so be careful in what you send out.
- If, despite that, you want to send out everything you write (as one comment writer seems to suggest), the submissions address is Journal of Philosophy, Columbia University, New York NY. (Or any other journal not located in Ithaca.) If you want to try to publish your very best work, Philosophical Review would love to hear from you.
The UCSB philosophy blog links to Jason’s comment on the assertion on a flyer for a UCSB conference that “the most important advance [in the theory of meaning?] in the last 50 years is direct reference theory.” Amazingly, not all of the comment leavers there agree with Jason. Just what we’ve learned from direct reference theory (whether Millian or not) about quantifiers, adverbs, conditionals, tense, anaphor etc is a bit of a mystery to me. That what we’ve learned about names in the last 50 years from direct reference theory is more important than what we’ve learned about quantifiers, adverbs, conditionals, tense, anaphor etc from other semantic researchers seems a really odd claim to me.
This might be a reasonable time to link (yet again) to Geoff Nunberg’s reflections on the relative lack on interest linguists have taken in philosophical work on the theory of reference: Do You Know What It’s Like to Miss New Orleans? (PDF).
Finally, Leiter linked to Gualtiero Piccinini’s discussion of what it’s like to me on a search committee. I want to agree with one of his points, and disagree (reasonably strongly) with two others. First the point of agreement.
When you are interviewed at the APA, you are not judged on a par with the other interviewees. Search committees arrive at the APA with a more or less firmly established ranking of candidates. This ranking is based on the above considerations plus the needs of the department and the inclinations of the committee members.
Some people in the comments thread there were shocked by this, claiming it was a sign of close-mindedness. But the thought that search committees should throw out all the evidence of someone’s philosophical achievements to date in favour of what they learn in 50 minutes in a hotel room is really quite bizarre. The search process is not like the playoffs, where everyone starts again at 0-0, and it shouldn’t be. This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget, especially when you’re wondering why a great interview didn’t lead to a fly-out, or why a totally lousy one did. Now the two points of disagreement.
Unless you are already in the final list of candidates for a job, your writing sample will rarely be read.
This looks like induction from too small a sample here. In my experience there’s a fairly simple rule here. The amount of time people have to put into a search is independent of whether it’s an open search (with 250 eligible candidates) or a search on a specific area (where there might only be 80 or so candidates, only 50 or so of which really work on the area in question). In a typical department, there will be about (very roughly) 100 person-hours put into the first round of looking. That means that in an open search you’re lucky to spend more than 20 minutes on a file, which means the writing sample won’t be read unless there’s a reason to read it. But in a narrower search, it means you can spend 2 hours per file, and every writing sample can be read reasonably closely. I’m not sure that this is the best approach, but I’m not sure it’s so bad either. Anyway, it’s important not to confuse big open searches with narrower searches here, and inducting from one to the other is a mistake. The other oddity about the piece is the Harvard obsession, as evidenced by comments like this.
If you havenít published anything and you still aspire to a job in a research institution, you should be from Princeton or Harvard or have extremely strong letters of recommendation from famous people.
Two things. Even if you’re from Princeton or (especially) Harvard, you should have extremely strong letters of recommendation from famous people. Of course, your faculty are reasonably famous, so that helps. But I can’t imagine a department where Harvard grads are valued ceteris paribus above grads of MIT, NYU, Rutgers, Michigan, Oxford or Pitt, let alone Stanford, Berkeley, Cornell or UCLA. This might reflect a failure of imagination on my part, but looking at the recent placement records of the two big departments in Cambridge suggests that the Harvard brand isn’t anywhere near as important as Piccinini suggests.