Sunday, May 24, 2009

democracy in the university?

Over at the Leiter Reports
there is a link to an interview with the Professor of Philosophy John Perry.

Perry mentions the case of Rogers Albritton.  Albritton was widely
recognized as making a large contribution to his colleagues and students
although he did not publish.  In Perry's terms, (If I recall rightly),
Albritton made a contribution to the profession or to philosophy....

However, the people who run the universities don't like that.

What is striking about the way Perry tells the story is Perry's resignation
in the face of a system
where Perry and other scholars have so little power.

The Dean made an exception for Albritton.  But the Dean made it clear
that this could not be repeated.

Why not?  Perry doesn't ask that question or consider the question of the
Dean's authority? Why is the Dean's decision more important than the
decision of the faculty who will work with whoever they hire?  And why is the 
Dean better able to judge the consequences of hiring a given individual?
What special knowledge does a Dean have which allows him to overrule the

Why are publications more important than teaching and collegiality?
Perry actually says that in doing research he relies on others to tell
him about what to read.

One possibility is that the people who run universities have a crude
capitalist mentality:  publications are like widgets and every factory
must have high output.

Perry didn't stop to even ask the question, and neither did his interviewer
(I've only watched the early part of the interview, so perhaps I missed

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