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What matters to philosophers? A survey

Wednesday, August 03, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin Shepherd
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Dear Colleague,

As chair of a philosophy department at a large state institution (University of Minnesota), I've frequently been called upon to defend philosophy and to justify its place in higher education. This has made me reflect on what really is worth preserving, celebrating, or (possibly) changing about our field. To this end I want to solicit the views of my philosophy colleagues in a more systematic way than just asking my Facebook friends, which is what drew me to the project of creating a survey.

I am now writing to ask you to participate in this (fairly short) survey: What Matters to Philosophers?

The point of this survey is to gather your views regarding what is valuable in your academic discipline so that we can address questions about philosophy’s future and its role in the academy on the basis of values we share as a community.

I should say that this survey is not intended to answer tactical questions about effective ways of helping philosophy to survive in difficult times; rather, I would like to know what you believe is valuable and worth preserving in academic philosophy. And so that you can feel comfortable being entirely candid in your responses, the survey is completely anonymous.

Of course, the success of this project depends on the generous contributions of time from people like you. Mindful of this, I have tried to create a survey that will not take too much of your valuable time—it should not require more than 15 minutes to complete.

Data from the survey will form the substance of my presidential address at the APA Central Division meeting in Kansas City in March 2017. Presidential addresses are published in the Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, and I hope to publish and discuss my findings in other arenas as well. I will also share the data—in a form that does not permit the identification of any individual's responses—with the APA and with philosophy departments that are interested in it.

During the planning process for this project, some philosophers have expressed reservations about completing the survey because they do not have full-time academic positions, are still in graduate school, or are not APA members. Please be assured that there are no such restrictions on who may take the survey! It is only by hearing from as many philosophers as possible that we can get an accurate picture of what we, as a community, think about philosophy.

Take the survey.

I greatly appreciate your assistance. Thank you.


Valerie Tiberius
President, APA Central Division

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