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On November 17, 2014 Brian Leiter posted a teaser, or trailer, for the 2014 PGR, on his overall rankings.  We have now had a total of four posts on overall rankings, including the last thirty of the top fifty departments on December 2nd.  Schools and departments are already trumpeting their success in the rankings based on these previews–apparently they can’t resist advertising the good news to the world, like companies reporting an uptick in market share.  But wait!  We still don’t know how many evaluators participated in the overall rankings.  Why all the mystery?  Well, now we may have the answer.

Leiter has now posted a preview of the rankings for the Philosophy of Language.  The results catapult this specialization to the number one spot in my own ranking of the rankings, “Not With a Bang But With a Whimper—Falling Rates of Participation in the Philosophical Gourmet Report.”  The PGR has lost evaluators in all eleven of the specializations posted thus far by Leiter, and some of these losses have been substantial.   Philosophy of Language is a core area of contemporary philosophy.   If the PGR is losing big here, it’s a good bet that it has lost everywhere.

In 2011 there were 52 evaluators in the Philosophy of Language.

Of these 52 evaluators, 31 did not participate in the Philosophy of Language rankings in 2014.

This is a 60% drop from 2011 to 2014.

There were a total of 27 evaluators in 2014.

This is a net drop of 48% from 2011 to 2014.

In other words, the Philosophy of Language lost 31 evaluators in 2014 and found only 6 replacements.

Finally, loss in the total number of evaluators is just one of the problems here.  For example, the Philosophy of Language had only 7 women evaluators in 2011, or 14%.   This time around, 3 women served as evaluators, or 11%.  The PGR’s long-term methodological flaws mean that it was not a viable tool even before the recent losses.   Between the loss of evaluators in the specializations we’ve seen so far and the limited participation of women philosophers, among others, in many of the specializations, the PGR should not be used this year as a guide for students–or as a feather in departmental caps.

 

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