Thursday, February 01, 2018

Academic Ethics: Hidden Hiring Criteria

Props to Leiter for this.
   I was on a hiring committee once, at a certain time in a certain place, that was instructed to only consider female candidates. This BS does, in fact, happen. I raised hell, but eventually gave in when the dean threatened our then-precariously-positioned department with loss of the position. The then-chairperson, for whom I had great respect, convinced me with a version of the "Forget It, Jake, It's Chinatown" argument. But I'd certainly never let such a thing happen again. I was young and stupid and dealing with some personal crap, and I eventually just gave in. But the fact that I did bugs me to this day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is pretty right, as far as it goes, but there's some bitter irony to it coming from Leiter, seeing as the most pervasive hidden criterion in philosophy job listings is that candidates be from top N gourmet report programs.

Once, when I was a grad student at a prestigious, but not very prestigious philosophy department (about #40 according to Leiter at the time), I was making copies in the office. The three members of the hiring committee came in to pick up application materials just run up by the secretaries. The two junior faculty looked miserable on seeing the foot tall stacks of paper, but the famous (you know, philosophy famous) committee chair was not worried. "Ok," he said, "let's just look at applications from top ten programs." The junior faculty were so relieved, and it was my turn to be miserable.

Hidden criteria aren't just driven by political demands and nepotism. I don't think that's even the main driver. Hidden criteria are a real and necessary time saver. Substantial consideration of the large number of responses to any ad in Jobs for Philosophers in the current market is impossible. If posting an ad constitutes a promise to really read and evaluate all comers, then the lie is baked in from the start. From the perspective of my 24 year old, demoralized grad student self, I think I would have rather not gotten consideration for a job because I was a white guy than to not gotten consideration because of Brian Leiter's methodological choices.

3:53 PM  

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