The following statement was prepared by the committee on the status and future of the profession (Richard Schacht, chair) and approved by the board of officers at its 1994 meeting. Originally published in Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, Vol. 68, no. 5, pp. 40-41.
At many institutions, "service" is included with teaching and research as an expectation relevant to tenure, promotion, salary increases, and other forms of faculty recognition. There are a number of types of service philosophers can and do perform that may usefully be distinguished, and that warrant consideration when service contributions are being assessed both departmentally and institutionally. Their individual and collective importance will inevitably vary, in view of the differences among institutions and their priorities as well as among the kinds of contributions made by different individuals. While many are related to teaching and research, they do not coincide with these more commonly acknowledged and rewarded activities, and take time and effort that might be spent otherwise. It is important, therefore, for departmental and institutional expectations along these lines to be made clear to all concerned, and is both appropriate and desirable for account to be taken of them in the reward structures of departments and institutions.
Departmental and Institutional Services
There are many important and time-consuming tasks in philosophy departments and on our campuses that must be done, and done well, for the sake of all. Administrative functions, committee work, and student advising are obvious cases in point. These are tasks that should be widely shared among members of philosophy departments, as a standard expectation, with special recognition being provided for exceptional performance of these crucial forms of service. (Generally speaking, however, less should be expected of untenured faculty than of tenured faculty along these lines).
Another class of meritorious cases consists of services to the life of the profession. They include participation in the activities of professional organizations, refereeing manuscripts, participating in tenure and promotion reviews, assessing applications for awards, editing journals and newsletters, and organizing conferences. Such services are essential to the flourishing of our discipline as a profession. They also deserve recognition when they are of an interdisciplinary or international nature.
Some philosophers produce educational materials in various media (textbooks, audio tapes, audiovisuals, etc.), write essays and reviews for popular journals and other non-professional publications, and deliver lectures to wider audiences both on and off campus, in addition to their contributions to the professional literature and their direct teaching. These activities constitute an important kind of contribution to our society, and warrant encouragement and acknowledgment.
Philosophers are sometimes asked to contribute services in consulting roles in a wide range of contexts, from pornography trials to medical ethics boards. Government agencies at all levels, corporations and industries, testing services, and other organizations are beginning to appreciate the contributions philosophers may make to the examination of many kinds of issues they face. These services too are contributions deserving of notice.
In many communities occasions arise in which philosophers make presentations, take part in debates, meet with school teachers and public officials, and otherwise involve themselves in social issues and educational concerns. When they do so in ways related to and drawing upon their philosophical interests, these involvements may very appropriately be considered meritorious forms of service.
These are only some of the varieties of service contributions philosophers may make. The APA commends those who make them, encourages departments to look favorably upon them, and urges institutions to give these and other such contributions the same considerations accorded the service activities of colleagues in other disciplines.