Lots of people pay close attention to the US News National University Rankings. But those rankings assume all users have the same priorities. Moreover, some people want field-specific rankings that compare universities at the department level (e.g., the Philosophy department at Harvard vs. the Philosophy department at MIT). Ranking-obsessed philosophers have had the Philosophical Gourmet Report to rank philosophy Ph.D. programs since at least 1996—1989 if you count the pre-internet version. For many reasons, academic philosophers are becoming more vocal about their criticism of these philosophy rankings (e.g., Bruya 2015, De Cruz
2016 2018). In this post, I will propose a (new?) custom ranking system. This system will address common complaints about philosophy’s existing ranking system: a custom ranking system will be more versatile, up-to-date, and generalizable.
1. THE COMPLAINTS
The complaints about the rankings are voluminous — what else would you expect from philosophers? In lieu of an outline of every blog post and every public statement, I provide a list of major themes that fall into three different categories: the practice of ranking, the current process of ranking, and the current leadership of the ranking.
Complaints About Ranking
- Rankings might misrepresent the magnitude of the differences between departments.
- Rankings might indicate a false sense of hierarchy and/or prestige.
- Ordinal lists just aren’t that informative.