leiter’s assessment of the ‘pluralist’s guide’ to philosophy departments

You can read Leiter’s post here and the ‘Pluralist’s Guide’ here. This paragraph holds a lot of truth in it, and should be noted by folks looking for graduate programs in the US.

So the first thing for students to note is this:  if you follow the SPEP Guide, you are limiting your employment prospects to SPEP departments.   That includes the departments noted above, plus some liberal arts colleges and other undergraduate institutions.  You can quickly garner which ones by consulting the placement records of these programs.  Some are no doubt attractive places to teach, but as a purely practical matter, you have to realize that following the SPEP guide is going to circumscribe your professional universe quite significantly.

What is more interesting about this fact is why it is true, not that it is true. It’s probably not necessary to spell out why it is true, however, but it is worth stressing that “SPEPPies” and “SAPies” [sic] do not simply feel marginalized, they are.

[Update: One thing I would add to Leiter’s paragraph quoted above: as many of the continental graduate programs are Catholic institutions, job seekers will also be primed to find jobs at Catholic colleges and universities, of which there are many.]

[Update 2: I’ve removed ‘SPEP’ from this post because the guide is not officially from SPEP. Leiter explains why he associates it with SPEP here.]


About plasticbodies

Contemporary philosopher.
This entry was posted in Academic Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to leiter’s assessment of the ‘pluralist’s guide’ to philosophy departments

  1. Jason Hills says:


    As a “SAPy” and occasional “SPEPPy,” I can tell you it’s true. We are marginalized, and it’s about a lot more than the quality of programs. I was glade to see the Pluralist’s Guide, starting blemishes and all, because in my field (American) we have long complained that the advisory board for our field either didn’t or barely contained a member of our field! Honestly, many consider ourselves actively oppressed, and when I go to analytic conferences, it’s never as a presenter. Aside, my fellow Asianists say they have similar problems.

    Your point about Catholic universities is true, also in my case, as the implicated schools (religious or not) follow a humanistic and historical tradition.

    As for the relation to SPEP, I bet you that there’s an informal relation.

  2. plasticbodies says:


    I’m not surprised to hear you say this. I felt like Leiter was trying to imply that the marginalization of American (and SPEP) folks is somehow untrue or fabricated or merely psychological. In a recent post on the same issue I took him to be criticizing the fact that the Advisory Board for American philosophy was composed of SAAP members, which seemed odd. Perhaps he was just noting this, which is fine.

  3. Pingback: mark lance on ‘pluralist’s guide’ « plastic bodies

  4. Jason Hills says:


    The advisory board has a number of good members who are not ideological. That said, it’s almost exclusively SAAP members, and I hope that they rectify that. I’m well into the thicket of the politics there, and know the likely reasons for that composition. Specifically, SAAP is composed primarily of classical and neoclassical pragmatists of the historical bent, especially the Deweyans. It lacks greater representation in neopragmatism and wider representation of unaligned pragmatically-informed scholars. (I’m making claims about traditions, and I hope we don’t have to have a back-and-forth about that like I did on New Apps.) This has seriously hurt the organization for decades, but little has been done. That said, they are the bedrock of the historians of pragmatism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s