APA Interview Scheduling, 2007

13 12 2007

I realized from looking at the Philosophy Job Market Wiki that I had been waiting for interviews to be announced and worrying about them not being announced substantially earlier than I should have been. So I figured it would be useful to compile statistics on the time-line of when interviews were scheduled. I’ll try to keep updating this as the season goes on. I was considering compiling something like this after the APA was done, but some comments in this thread on the Philosophy Job Market Blog suggested that there would be demand for it now. I think it’ll be more useful for people in future years than for this year (since by definition, the data isn’t available until after the interviews are announced).

Also, for those paying attention in future years note that the distribution may well vary from year to year, both because weekends will fall at different points in the semester and in relation to the date of the APA, and also because there will be a different number and selection of departments hiring, and disciplinary trends will be changing. (For instance, in future years, more or fewer departments may decide to skip the APA interviews, or it might become more standard to e-mail candidates rather than call them or whatever.) Also, in each case, I’m just counting lines on the Philosophy Job Market Wiki – I know that sometimes a single line represents two or more potential hires, or that a single department may have multiple lines on the wiki that don’t all end up representing different hires, but this is the easiest way to count. “Leiter Ranked” means Leiter 2006-2008 top 54 in the US, 15 in UK, 4 in Canada, and 4 in Australasia – I know this unfairly excludes universities in Ireland and continental Europe, and is a fairly arbitrary cutoff in each region that is included, but at least it’s publicly available.

TOTAL TENURE-TRACK JOBS – 278
TOTAL LEITER RANKED – 49
TOTAL NON-US – 30

Number of jobs that first scheduled an interview (phone, APA, or otherwise) or campus visit on a given date (rows are grouped by week):

DATE:

by 12/2

12/3

12/4

12/5

12/6

12/7

TOTAL TT

20

1

7

10

7

12

LEITER RANKED

5

0

1

0

0

1

NON-US

4

0

0

0

0

0

DATE:

12/8-9

12/10

12/11

12/12

12/13

12/14

TOTAL TT

4

20

13

25

25

23

LEITER RANKED

0

7

2

6

7

5

NON-US

1

3

0

1

0

0

DATE:

12/15-16

12/17

12/18

12/19

12/20

12/21

12/22-23

TOTAL TT

5

16

13

12

8

2

1

LEITER RANKED

1

2

4

3

1

0

0

NON-US

0

0

2

0

1

0

0

Not entered in Wiki as of 12/24

TOTAL TT

75

LEITER RANKED

14

NON-US

22

If there are other categories that would be easy to track that people would like tracked, mention them in the comments. I might want to track liberal arts colleges, but I won’t necessarily recognize which names to track. I may well have missed a couple international jobs too, because the name wasn’t obviously Canadian.





Banff Proposals for 2009

7 09 2007

I just got the following e-mail. People should definitely think about doing something like this – the workshop I went to organized by Richard Zach on “Mathematical Methods in Philosophy” was great, and I think there’s plenty of potential here for fruitful cross-disciplinary collaboration:

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is currently accepting proposals for its 2009 programme. The deadline for 5-day Workshop and Summer School
proposals is October 1, 2007.

Full information and guidelines are available at the website
http://www.birs.ca/

Proposal submissions should be made online at:
https://www.birs.ca/proposals/.

BIRS will be again hosting a 48-week scientific programme in 2009. The Station provides an environment for creative interaction and the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the mathematical, statistical, and computing sciences, and with related disciplines and industrial sectors. Each week, the station will be running either a full workshop (42 people for 5 days) or two half-workshops (20 people for 5 days). As usual, BIRS provides full accomodation, board, and research facilities at no cost to the invited participants, in a setting conducive to research and collaboration.

Nassif Ghoussoub,
Scientific Director, Banff International Research Station





Back from Australia

5 07 2007

I’m back from spending three weeks in Australia again – as usual, it was a very productive trip. It was also nice to get to attend the workshops on Norms and Analysis and Probability that went on last week. There were a lot of interesting talks there, so I won’t go through very many of them. Overall, I think the most interesting was Peter Railton’s talk in the first workshop, where he seemed to be supporting a framework for metaethics and reasons that is broadly compatible with the framework of decision theory. However, he brought in lots of empirical work in psychology to show that for both degree of belief and degree of desire, there seem to be two distinct systems at work – one more immediately regulating behavior, while the other being more responsive to feedback and generally regulating the first. It reminded me somewhat of what Daniel Kahneman was talking about in a lecture here at Berkeley a few months ago. But not being an expert in any of this stuff, I can’t say too much more than that.

Another particularly thought-provoking talk was Roy Sorensen’s in the Norms and Analysis workshop. He presented a situation in which you are the detective in a library. You just saw Tom steal a book, so you know that he’s guilty. However, before you punish him, the defense presents an envelope that may either contain nothing, or may contain exculpatory evidence (something like, “Tom has an identical twin brother in town”, or “The librarians have done a count and it seems that no books are missing”, which would make you give up your belief that Tom was guilty). Given that you know Tom is guilty, should you open the envelope or not? On the one hand, it seems you should, because you should make maximally informed decisions. On the other hand, it seems you shouldn’t, because either the envelope contains nothing, or it contains information you know is misleading, and in either case it’s no good.

Sorensen was arguing that you shouldn’t open the envelope, but I don’t think he succeeded in convincing any of the audience. But I think the puzzle sheds interesting light on what it takes to know that evidence is misleading, and how apparent evidence or the lack thereof really plays out when you know other background facts about where the evidence is coming from.





Five Days of Formal Philosophy, and Uniform Solutions

22 05 2007

I just finished quite a streak of formal talks in philosophy. From Thursday night until Sunday, I (like Marc Moffett) was in Vancouver for the Society for Exact Philosophy, which was quite a fun little conference with a lot of interesting talks. Then on Monday, those of us at Berkeley working with Branden Fitelson got together with the people at Stanford working with Johan van Benthem for an informal workshop, which like last year had a lot of talks on probability from the Berkeley side and dynamic epistemic logic from the Stanford side, and again helped reveal a lot of interesting connections between these two rather different formal approaches to epistemological questions. And then today we had our quasi-monthly formal epistemology reading group meeting at Berkeley, with Jonathan Vogel from UC Davis.

There was a lot of interesting stuff discussed at all these places, but I’m glad there’s a bit of a break before FEW 2007 in Pittsburgh. Anyway, it’s also very nice to know that there is all this work going on relating formal and traditional issues, both in epistemology and other areas of philosophy.

Anyway, among the many interesting talks, the one that’s got me thinking the most about things I wasn’t already thinking about was the one by Mark Colyvan, on what he calls the “principle of uniform solution”. The basic idea is that if two paradoxes are “basically the same”, then the correct resolution to both should also be “basically the same”. So for instance, it would be very strange for someone to claim that the correct approach to Curry’s Paradox is that certain types of circularity make sentences ill-formed, while the correct approach to the Liar Paradox is to adopt a paraconsistent logic. Mark pointed out that there are some problems with properly formulating the principle though – do we decide when paradoxes are “basically the same” in terms of their formal properties, the sorts of solutions they respond to, or the role they’ve played in various arguments? For instance, Yablo’s Paradox was explicitly introduced in order to point out that self-reference is not the key issue in the Liar, Curry, and Russell paradoxes – which suggests either that the relevant formal property they share is something else, or that the proper way to think of paradoxes is something else.

In hearing this, I started to wonder just why we should believe anything like this principle of uniform solution anyway. The strongest cases of the relevant form of argument seem to me like the appeal in Tim Williamson’s Knowledge and its Limits to various different forms of the Surprise Examination Paradox – he points out that some traditional resolutions only solve the most traditional version, but that a slightly modified version gets through, and that his proposed solution to that version blocks the traditional version as well. Since both cases seem problematic, and one “covers” the other, it seems that we only need to worry about solving the covering case. I take it that something like this is at work as well when Graham Priest uses the Liar paradox to argue for dialetheism, and then suggests a return to Frege’s inconsistent axiomatization of mathematics rather than using the much more complex system of ZFC.

If this is the form of argument, then we shouldn’t always expect the principle of uniform solution to be worth following. If I (like most philosophers that don’t work directly on this sort of stuff) think that something like ZFC is the right approach to Russell’s Paradox, and something like Tarski’s syntactically typed notion of truth is the right approach to the Liar Paradox, then both get solved, but neither approach would work for both. Their formal similarities are interesting, but there’s no reason they should have the same solution, since there isn’t an obvious solution that works for both (unless you go for something as extreme as Priest’s approach). Formal or other similarities in paradoxes often help show that resolving one will automatically resolve the other, so that the above argument will work, but there’s no reason to think that this will always (or even normally) be the case.

But at the same time, something like this principle seems to work much more generally than in the case of paradoxes. There are certain similarities between the notion of objective chance, and the notion of subjective uncertainty, so it makes sense that we use a single mathematical formalism (probability theory) to address both. Alan Hájek has suggested that these analogies continue even to the case of conditionalizing on events of probability zero, though I think that this case isn’t as strong. (Though that might just be because I’m skeptical about objective chances.) There’s a general heuristic here, that similar issues should be dealt with similarly. In some sense, it seems very natural to suggest that differences in approaches to different issues should somehow line up with the differences between the issues. But we don’t expect it to always work out terribly nicely.

Anyway, there’s a lot of interesting methodological stuff here to think about, for paradoxes in particular, and for philosophy in general (as well as mathematics and the sciences).





APA

2 04 2007

Who’s going to be at the APA Pacific this week? I’m commenting on a paper on Wednesday morning, and I certainly have other sessions I plan on being at. However, I need to come back to Berkeley on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon for teaching. I may head back into San Francisco later in the afternoons to see another session if I can make it in time, but I’ll be more likely to if people know about anything interesting going on those evenings.





Midwest Philosophy of Mathematics Workshop

13 11 2006

I just got back from the 7th annual Midwest Philosophy of Mathematics Workshop at Notre Dame, which was really quite a good event. I met a lot of people working on mathematical issues, including a bunch of students from Pittsburgh and Ohio State (surprisingly, I don’t remember meeting any students from Notre Dame. Anyway, here’s my thoughts on some of the talks:
Read the rest of this entry »





Texas Decision Theory

24 10 2006

I was in Austin a couple weeks ago for the second Texas Decision Theory Workshop, which was a lot of fun. It was a fairly small group, and some interesting topics I didn’t know much about were discussed. In particular, there was a lot of discussion (primarily by Sahotra Sarkar and Carl Wagner) about decision making with imprecise probabilities. There was also a lot of discussion of multiple-criteria decision making. My friend Alex Moffett discussed the impossibility theorems of Arrow, and Gibbard and Satterthwaite – he mentioned an analogy between multiple-agent decision making (as in the traditional presentations of these theorems) and multiple-criteria decision making, suggesting that in this context at least, the “independence of irrelevant alternatives” criterion really is important. And Mike Titelbaum presented some of his work on generalized versions of conditionalization as constraints on rational agents even under forgetting.

I talked about some of the things I discussed earlier this summer, but with more of a worked-out formalism for describing the decision apparatus (and constructing stronger decision theories out of weaker ones). I was surprised to see that some of this formalism that I developed for infinitary cases seems to resemble some of the formalisms for imprecise probabilities! I’ll have to look into this more to see how they really connect.