A Letter of Concern

The following is an open letter that was sent to Prof. Brian Leiter, author of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, on 29 January 2002. Following the letter are the names of the 287 signatories, as of 12 February 2003. Some of the signatories signed after the Letter was officially delivered to Prof. Leiter. Those names are marked with an asterisk.

If you would like to add your name to the list, write me and I'll add you.

Prof. Leiter

We, the Undersigned, wish to express our increasing concern about the damage the Philosophical Gourmet Report is doing to undergraduates, to faculty, to departments, and to the profession as a whole. While we differ in our assessment of the exact nature and degree of this damage, and while some of us feel that the Report has also done some good, we are sufficiently worried about the influence the Report is having, in its current form, that we feel a need to take united action, in the form of this public letter.

Although the Report purports only to rank departments in terms of the quality of their faculties, experience has shown that it is nearly impossible to dissuade students from treating it as a ranking of graduate programs in terms of the quality of the education they provide. These are, as the Report itself acknowledges, very different matters, and it is doubtful how good an indicator the one is of the other. A good faculty is important, but the quality of the education a program provides is affected, at least as much, by many other factors: By the quality of graduate teaching, both early and late in the process; by the level of the faculty's commitment to teaching and advising, on a day-to-day basis; by its broader commitment to monitoring and improving the education it offers; and by the quality of the other students in the program. Moreover, there is reason to wonder how well the Report actually measures faculty quality. Examination of the methods used to compile it suggests it measures faculty reputation, not quality, and there is no reason to believe that the reputation of a programs's faculty is a reliable indicator of the quality of the education it provides.

In our opinion, the Report therefore does a disservice to the many undergraduates who consult it, and their faculty advisors, by providing students with information of doubtful relevance, packaged as a "Ranking of Graduate Programs", and forcing faculty annually to spend substantial time trying to correct the misimpressions the Report creates. It does a disservice to specific departments, whose excellence in graduate teaching might be discounted by students convinced, by the Report's focus, that the reputation of the faculty, or its publication record, is what most matters. And it harms the profession as a whole, by promoting a narrow and inappropriate standard of departmental excellence.


Mitchell Aboulafia (Colorado-Denver)
Kate Abramson (Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
*Thomas Alexander (SIU-Carbondale)
James Allen (Pittsburgh)
Aldo Antonelli (California-Irvine)
Anthony Appiah (Harvard)
*Randall E. Auxier (SIU-Carbondale)
*Jeremy Avigad (Carnegie Mellon)
*Steve Awodey (Carnegie Mellon)
*Babette E. Babich (Fordham)
Carla Bagnoli (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Lynne Baker (Massachusetts)
Marcia Baron (Indiana)
*Lee Basham (Baker University)
*Jeremy Bendik-Keymer (The Colorado College)
*Silvia Benso (Siena College)
*Bruce Ellis Benson (Wheaton College)
*Bettina Bergo (Loyola, Maryland)
Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia)
Patricia Blanchette (Notre Dame)
William Blattner (Georgetown)
*David Boersema (Pacific University)
*Giovanna Borradori (Vassar College)
Phillip Bricker (Massachusetts)
Jason Bridges (Chicago)
Justin Broackes (Brown)
Sylvain Bromberger (MIT, Emeritus)
Walter Brogan (Villanova)
Janet Broughton (California-Berkeley)
Eric Brown (Washington University, St. Louis)
James Robert Brown (University of Toronto)
*John D. Caputo (Villanova)
Taylor Carman (Barnard College, Columbia University)
Emily Carson (McGill)
Vere Chappell (Massachusetts)
Deen Chatterjee (Utah)
*Samir Chopra (Dept of Computer Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY)
Jennifer Church (Vassar)
Alan Code (California-Berkeley)
*Lorraine Code (York University)
S. Marc Cohen (Washington)
James Conant (Chicago)
John Cooper (Princeton)
*Rebecca Copenhaver (Lewis and Clark College)
Christoph Cox (Hampshire)
Ciaran Cronin (Illinois-Chicago)
Steven Crowell (Rice)
Joe Cruz (Williams)
*Daniel O. Dahlstrom (Boston University)
Wayne Davis (Georgetown)
Ronald de Sousa (Toronto)
Richard Dean (Rutgers)
William Demopoulos (Western Ontario)
Mic Detlefsen (Notre Dame)
*William Dudley (Williams College)
Cora Diamond (Virginia)
*John J. Drummond (Fordham)
Gary Ebbs (Illinois)
Walter Edelberg (Illinois-Chicago)
*Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore)
Paul Eisenberg (Indiana)
Crawford Elder (Connecticutt)
Catherine Z. Elgin (Harvard, Graduate School of Education)
*Carl Elliott (Minnesota)
*Donna Engelmann (Alverno College)
*Fred Evans (Duquesne University)
J. Claude Evans (Washington University in St. Louis)
William Ewald (Pennsylvania)
Daniel Farrell (Ohio State)
Luca Ferrero (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Gail Fine (Cornell)
Roger Florka (Ursinus College)
Juliet Floyd (Boston University)
Robert J. Fogelin (Dartmouth)
*Bruce V. Foltz (Eckerd College)
*Veronique M. Foti (Penn State)
Leslie Francis (Utah)
Harry Frankfurt (Princeton)
*James B. Freeman (Hunter College, CUNY)
Marilyn Friedman (Washington University, St. Louis)
*Mathias Frisch (Northwestern)
*Robert Frodeman (Colorado)
Richard Fumerton (Iowa)
Alan Gabbey (Barnard College, Columbia University)
*Haim Gaifman (Columbia)
Tamar Szabo Gendler (Syracuse)
*A.C. Genova (Kansas)
Hannah Ginsborg (California-Berkeley)
Trish Glazebrook (Syracuse)
*Robert Gooding-Williams (Northwestern)
*Jill Gordon (Colby College)
Samuel Gorovitz (Syracuse)
*Christopher B. Gray (Concordia)
Mitchell Green (Virginia)
*Daniel Guerriere (California State, Long Beach)
*Stephen Guest (Faculty of Laws, University College, London)
*Robert Hahn (SIU-Carbondale)
Ned Hall (MIT)
Michael Hallett (McGill)
Alastair Hannay (University of Oslo)
*Valerie Gray Hardcastle (Virginia Tech)
Michael Hardimon (California-San Diego)
W.D. Hart (Illinois-Chicago)
*Gary Hatfield (Pennsylvania)
Richard Heck (Harvard)
*Virginia Held (CUNY)
Barbara Herman (UCLA)
Jim Higginbotham (Southern California)
*David Hildebrand (Memphis)
David Hills (Stanford and California-Berkeley)
Edward Hinchman (Claremont McKenna)
Harold Hodes (Cornell)
*Michael Hodges (Vanderbilt)
*Nancy Holmstrom (Rutgers-Newark)
Sarah Holtman (Minnesota)
*Gregg Horowitz (Vanderbilt)
*Jacob Howland (Tulsa)
Clyde Hull (Rochester Institute of Technology, Management)
Paul Hurley (Pomona)
*Drew A. Hyland (Trinity College, Hartford)
Peter Hylton (Illinois-Chicago)
*John Inglis (University of Dayton)
*Robert E. Innis (University of Massachusetts at Lowell)
Terence Irwin (Cornell)
Jenann Ismael (Arizona)
*Ken Itzkowitz (Marietta College)
*Alison Jaggar (Colorado)
Marianne Janack (Hamilton College)
Jon P. Jarrett (Illinois-Chicago)
*Greg Johnson (Pacific Lutheran)
*Robert N. Johnson (Missouri)
Mark Eli Kalderon (University College, London)
Rachana Kamtekar (Michigan)
*Sean K. Kelly (West Texas A&M University)
Gary Kemp (Glasgow)
*Frank Kirkland (Hunter College/CUNY Graduate Center)
*Scott Kleiner (Georgia)
Christine Korsgaard (Harvard)
Arnold Koslow (Graduate Center, CUNY)
Richard Kraut (Northwestern)
Michael Kremer (Notre Dame)
John Lachs (Vanderbilt)
Anthony Laden (Illinois-Chicago)
*Cristina Lafont (Northwestern)
*Gred Lambert (Syracuse, English)
Charles Larmore (Chicago)
*Mi-Kyoung Lee (Illinois-Chicago)
Adam Leite (Indiana)
Samuel Levey (Dartmouth)
Isaac Levi (Columbia)
David Michael Levin (Northwestern)
Douglas Lewis (Minnesota)
Louis Loeb (Michigan)
Dorothea Lotter (Wake Forest)
John MacFarlane (California-Berkeley)
Paolo Mancosu (California-Berkeley)
*Wolfgang Mann (Columbia)
*Richard N. Manning (Carleton University)
Michelle Mason (Minnesota)
*G.J. Mattey (California-Davis)
Larry May (Washington University in St. Louis)
Robert May (California-Irvine)
Thomas McCarthy (Northwestern)
John McCumber (Northwestern, German)
*William McBride (Purdue)
John McDowell (Pittsburgh)
Stephen Menn (McGill)
*John G. Messerly (Texas, Computer Science)
*Mitchell Miller (Vassar College)
Ruth Garrett Millikan (Connecticutt)
Andrew P. Mills (Otterbein College)
Joe Moore (Amherst)
*Donald J. Morse (Webster University)
Julius Moravcsik (Stanford)
*William T. Myers (Birmingham-Southern College)
Thomas Nagel (NYU)
*Debra Nails (Michigan State)
Alexander Nehamas (Princeton)
Ram Neta (Utah)
Martha Nussbaum (Chicago)
*Donald Nute (Franklin College)
*Imafedia Okhamafe (Nebraska)
Eileen O'Neill (Massachusetts)
*Gayle L. Ormiston (Kent State)
*Jack Ornstein (Concordia)
Marina Oshana (Bowling Green)
Charles Parsons (Harvard)
Casey Perin (Massachusetts)
Paul Pietroski (Maryland)
Terry Pinkard (Northwestern)
Robert Pippin (Chicago)
*Nicholas Plants (Mount Saint Mary's College)
*Danielle Poe (Dayton)
*Richard Polt (Xavier)
*John Post (Vanderbilt)
*Jeff Powell (Marshall)
Ian Proops (Michigan)
* John Protevi (Louisiana State, French Studies)
*Ben Pryor (Toledo)
James Pryor (Princeton)
Hilary Putnam (Harvard)
Charles Raff (Swarthmore)
*Francois Raffoul (Louisiana State)
*David Rasmussen (Boston College)
*Bernard Reginster (Brown)
*Gretchen Reydams-Schils (Notre Dame, Program in Liberal Studies)
*Alan Richardson (British Columbia)
David Roochnik (Boston University)
Ameile Rorty (Brandeis)
Richard Rorty (Stanford)
*John M. Rose (Goucher College)
Gideon Rosen (Princeton)
*Stanley Rosen (Boston University)
Michael Ruse (Florida State)
*Paul Russell (British Columbia)
*John Sallis (Penn State)
*Jana Sawicki (Williams College)
Theodore Scaltsas (Edinburgh)
*Robert C. Scharff (New Hampshire)
Samuel Scheffler (California-Berkeley)
Naomi Scheman (Minnesota)
*Dennis Schmidt (Villanova)
*Amy M. Schmitter (University of New Mexico)
Alan Schrift (Grinnell College)
*Brian Schroeder (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Sally Sedgwick (Dartmouth)
Kenneth Seeskin (Northwestern)
*Hans Seigfried (Loyola-Chicago)
Abdollah Payrow Shabani (Ottawa)
Larry Shapiro (Wisconsin)
Stewart Shapiro (Ohio State)
*Seana Shiffrin (UCLA)
*Wilfried Sieg (Carnegie Mellon)
Susanna Siegel (Harvard)
Allan Silverman (Ohio State)
Peter Simons (Leeds)
*John Skorupski (St. Andrews)
Angela Smith (Washington)
*James K.A. Smith (Calvin College)
*Ed Snider (University of Houston, Clear Lake)
Paul Vincent Spade (Indiana)
*Anthony Steinbock (SIU-Carbondale)
Michael Stocker (Syracuse)
Gisela Striker (Harvard)
Barry Stroud (California-Berkeley)
*Anna Stubblefield (Rutgers-Newark)
*John J. Stuhr (Penn State)
Nicholas Sturgeon (Cornell)
Scott Sturgeon (Birkbeck College, London)
Daniel Sutherland (Illinois-Chicago)
James Swindall (John Carroll University)
Zoltan Gendler Szabo (Cornell)
Julie Tannenbaum (California-Santa Cruz)
*Alfred Tauber (Boston University)
Kenneth Taylor (Stanford)
Sergio Tenenbaum (Toronto)
Neil Tennant (Ohio State)
Laurence Thomas (Syracuse)
*Kevin Thompson (SIU-Carbondale)
Michael Thompson (Pittsburgh)
Nancy Tuana (Penn State)
Alasdair Urquhart (Toronto)
*Peter Vanderschraaf (Carnegie Mellon)
David Velleman (Michigan)
Carol Voeller (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Jonathan Vogel (Amherst)
Candace Vogler (Chicago)
*Steven Wagner (Illinois)
*Margaret Walker (School of Justice Studies, Arizona State University)
Jay Wallace (California-Berkeley)
Denis Walsh (Edinburgh)
*Andrew Wayne (Concordia)
Steven Weinstein (Dartmouth)
Daniel Weinstock (University of Montreal)
Cass Weller (Washington)
*Dan Werner (Indiana)
*Jonathan Westphal (Idaho State)
Merold Westphal (Fordham)
*Alan White (Williams College)
*V. Alan White (Wisconsin Manitowoc)
*David Wiggins (Oxford University)
Bernard Williams (California-Berkeley and All Souls, Oxford)
*Michael Wiliams (Johns Hopkins)
George Wilson (California-Davis)
*Mark Wilson (Pittsburgh)
*Eric Winsberg (South Florida)
Wai-hung Wong (Virginia Commonwealth)
Gideon Yaffe (Southern California)
Charles Young (Claremont Graduate University)
*Richard Zach (Calgary)
Lambert Zuidervaart (Calvin College)

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