Sunday, February 8, 2009

Making it off the TT

One measure of professional success is one's academic rank and the prestige of one's institution and department: you know you've made it if you're a full professor at MIT. Another measure is the quality and impact of one's work: you know you've made it if you have publications in Nous, Phil Review, and Mind that lots of other philosophers are discussing. It's very rare to find somebody who scores very high on the second measure but very low on the first: there aren't a lot of adjuncts with articles in Nous that everybody is talking about. One reason for this, of course, is that somebody capable of writing really good, "buzzworthy" articles would likely appeal to search committees and would end up with a TT job at a good place. Another reason is that even if you are a brilliant adjunct, teaching 4-4 (or worse) and possibly supplementing your income with another job leaves you very little time in which to produce high quality work. But there are at least possible cases in which these factors are absent: imagine an adjunct who is independently wealthy and has a 2-2 teaching load in a good department, but because she needs to care for an ailing mother or whatever, cannot relocate to a better job. Supposing that our adjunct is really brilliant, would it be possible for her to become a significant figure in her field, all the while remaining an adjunct? Or is it just impossible to get taken seriously if you don't have a "real" job?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ruth Millikan became a significant figure in the field (publishing Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories in 1984) while teaching in a part-time, non-tenure-track position at the University of Connecticut. See her CV.

p-zombie said...

Wasn't Language, Truth and Logic Ayer's dissertation? Maybe he wasn't an adjunct, or even a TA... and that was a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Robert Louden.

Anonymous said...

Millikan, yes. But 1984 was a while ago a;ready. I suspect things my be very different now.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if there are people outside of the profession -- i.e., without having a job, or being a current student, in the academy -- who attempt (successfully or not) to publish in respectable journals. Does this ever happen?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone recall the scandal about the wealthy former philosophy graduate student who paid some big-name M&E people to review his article? I think that happened in 2002 or so, but I can't remember the details.

Anonymous said...

This guy (William Vallicella) manages to publish reasonably well:
http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/