The following statement was prepared by the APA committee
on the status and future of the profession (William Mann, chair) and approved
by the board of officers at its 2006 meeting.
The APA national office often
receives requests from philosophy departments for recommendations of persons
appropriate to serve as external reviewers. The board of officers realizes that
departmental review is a fairly common, periodic phenomenon in the life of many
institutions of higher learning. After considerable deliberation, the board has
decided that the APA should not adopt any mechanism for providing the names of
potential reviewers of philosophy departments or programs. Two major
considerations, the diversity of programs and perceptions about endorsement,
have led the board to this position.
Philosophy departments are
embedded in institutions with diverse problems and priorities, varying
missions, and various visions of the role of philosophy in higher education. A
referee suitable for reviewing an analytically oriented department in a
land-grant public university may not be an ideal choice, for example, for a
department in a small, private, liberal arts college, just as a reviewer for a
church-affiliated college may not work well for the review of a PhD-granting university.
As a consequence, the board sees practical difficulties in maintaining an
up-to-date list of willing potential reviewers with a wide enough range of
experience and competence, sensitive enough to match the diverse needs of
people seeking recommendations.
Moreover, were the national
office to maintain such a list, it would be difficult to avoid the perception
that people on the list bore the endorsement of the APA. The APA has neither
the desire, the expertise, nor the resources to appraise the credentials of
potential reviewers. As a consequence, although the board expects and
encourages departments informally to seek advice about potential reviewers from
other philosophers, it does not believe that the APA is well positioned to
offer such advice officially.