Friday, December 18, 2015

On the Leiter/Bruya Donnybrook

I've been trying to keep up with this back-and-forth between Brians Leiter and Bruya about Bruya's criticism the PGR. (Roundup: Bruya's paper in Metaphilosophy; initial discussion at Daily Nous; Leiter's first response; Bruya's reply at Daily Nous; David Wallace's "comment on Bruya"; Leiter's most recent follow-up. Bruya has written a longer reply to Wallace hereI haven't had a chance to read it at all.) I haven't been doing a good job. There's a lot to digest, and I'm not sure what to make of it all. I am not sure whether Bruya's criticisms, on the whole, hold up.

But I guess I am inclined to think that the criticism of the PGR's sampling technique is sound. This criticism has been around for a long timeZachary Ernst has been making it since at least 2009. Leiter says it's the it is "the correct method to use when what is wanted is expert, "insider" information," but as far as I can tell, this isn't really true. It's certainly much too strong to say it's the correct methodit is one way among several of identifying experts and insiders, any of which would potentially work as well or better. So at best it is a method.

And it is a method that has serious drawbacks that I have never seen Leiter acknowledge, let alone address adequately. These problems include: that the first participants will have a disproportionate impact on the rest of the sample; that the resulting sample is not random; and that it is not possible to know whether the sample is representative of the larger group it is attempting to emulate. To me, that seems bad, and like it might not be such a great method to use for this. To me, it seems like it might be better to use a different method. A method that would be less likely to introduce bias into the sample, and is more likely to generate a sample that can be known to be representative. To me, it seems like Leiter's claim that it is "the correct method" is somewhere in the range between misleading and totally wrong, depending on whether it is merely one of several correct methods or just not even a correct method at all. And it seems to me that Leiter's response to this criticism is somewhere in the range between inadequate and nonexistent.

Of course, I could be wrong, and if I'm wrong I hope one of y'all Smokers will set me straight.

I also wanted to ask about one of David Wallace's criticisms of Bruya's analysis. In comments at Daily Nous, Wallace writes:
Just to repeat from the other thread [the relevant material is here]: the correlation is not in fact between institutional PGR rank and number of evaluators at the institution. (That correlation is extremely weak.) It's between institutional PGR rank and number of evaluators with a PhD from the institution. That's only to be expected if placement record tracks faculty quality and faculty quality isn't too wildly varying in time.* 
I suppose I think that's what you'd expect if placement record tracks faculty quality
provided, of course, that the PGR measures faculty quality. But I don't think you'd want to affirm the consequent and infer that this correlation confirms that the PGR reliably measures faculty quality.** Because that's also what you'd expect if the pool of evaluators was disproportionately packed with people who studied at a particular set of institutions, who then vote one another's Ph.D.-granting institutions up. And I think that's what you'd expect if you started with a small group of elite evaluators, and then accumulated additional evaluators by getting current evaluators to nominate their friends. I mean, sure, maybe this correlation just confirms that the best researchers studied in the best departments. But it's not as though they use an independent procedure for identifying objectively qualified potential evaluators and assessing their competence, or have independently confirmed that the sample is representative.

So maybe this correlation just confirms that evaluators tend to have gone to grad school at high-ranking departments, and people who went to grad school at high-ranking departments have a lot of friends who also went to grad school at high-ranking departments, which is how they got nominated to become evaluators, and then they give that group of schools high ratings. If there was some sort of objective standard for being a qualified evaluator, and the pool of actual evaluators was selected in a way that was likely to generate a sample that is representative of the larger pool of research-active philosophers, and then you ended up with a correlation like that, then I'd be inclined to agree that it was evidence that things with the PGR were working more or less well. But that's not the situation.

Seriously. Wallace's result here is consistent with the hypothesis that the PGR's pool of evaluators is largely populated with people who studied at the highest-ranked schools, who then determine that those are the schools that are ranked the highest. Right? That's bad, right? This is a suspicious result, right? It's suspicious if a survey of an unrepresentative sample consistently shows that the departments that are overrepresented in the sample are the best, right? I realize it would have been better for Bruya to have been explicit about what 'from' means, but it's not any less problematic if it means "where you got your Ph.D." instead of "where you currently work," right? Am I wrong? Have I misunderstood? Help, please.

--Mr Zero

*Wallace's blog comment is a more succinct restatement of material he presents on page 6 of his critique.

**I do not take Wallace to be doing this. Wallace is clear on p. 6 of the longer piece that his point is that an argument based on this correlation for the conclusion that the PGR is unreliable is question-begging, not that the correlation confirms that the PGR is reliable.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Eastern APA -- Should you go?

Interview season begins soon. (Or is already underway -- I had a first-round in October, others seem to be scheduling, according to the wiki.) Eastern APA is now in early January, having moved from the much-reviled end-of-year holiday squeeze. It no longer functions as a major job market stop, with fewer and fewer search committees, it appears, opting to do first-round interviews in person. All to the good. The cost and hassle of traveling to E-APA for job interviews, particularly in an ever-tightening market, was a substantial burden to many job-seekers.

In grad school, an advisor told me to never go to E-APA unless I had interviews, and I never have. My first trip there, in 2009, I had one. It was a pretty miserable interview, with a fairly obnoxious search committee. No fly-out. My last trip to E-APA was in 2010 -- the year of the Boston snowpocalypse. As I recall, that year I had three interviews. None of them resulted in a fly-out either, but I did get a TT job at a university that skipped first rounds entirely and went straight to fly-outs. I was fortunate that the E-APA locations during my years were drivable for me, and I didn't have to fork over a ton of money to go.

In the years since, there's been a big shift towards phone or Skype interviews. I've applied for jobs here and there, and in every case where I was offered APA or Skype, I opted for Skype. In every case, I also got a fly-out. As I discussed here last year, I haven't personally encountered any drawbacks to interviewing via Skype instead of in person.

I see some job ads, though, in which the committee announces that they will be doing interviews at E-APA. Some also note that they'll offer a Skype option in special cases. If there's a Skype option, I say take it, unless you're planning to go to E-APA anyway. The dilemma occurs when the department insists on E-APA interviews, or nothing, and you are not otherwise going. Is it worth going? Going into debt? When you're one of maybe 12 first-round candidates, and a typical 3 will get a fly-out, you have 1:3 odds of being a finalist, which isn't terribly bad (unless you're one of the 9 who didn't succeed). You have 1:2 odds of success at the fly-out (assuming 3 finalists), with a significant difference being that the department (usually) pays your way to the campus visit (and if they don't, screw 'em). Are you feeling lucky?

Good luck with those interviews!

This is an open discussion thread.

~zombie

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Oh God, Not McGinn Again

Via Daily Nous, we have learned that Colin McGinn, Edward Erwin, and the University of Miami are being sued by the former graduate student and research assistant who claims that McGinn sexually harassed her. Justin Weinberg has a copy of the lawsuit at DN. There is a detailed article at the Huffington Post, and less detailed articles at the Telegraph and the Chronicle. The HuffPo article contains a bunch of text messages and emails that I'd never seen reproduced before, which they say they had access to copies of, and which are horrible.

For example, here is the much-discussed "Sex Three Times" email, in its entirety (all quotations are taken from the HuffPo piece, and not just from the lawsuit itself, because HuffPo has reviewed the documents):
Need to avoid the scenario I sketched: you meet someone else, I broken hearted, our relationship over (except formally).  This follows pretty obviously from current policy.  To avoid my heart break I need to prepare myself mentally, which means withdrawing from you emotionally--not good for either of us.  Also no good to just have full-blown relationship--too risky and difficult in the circumstances.  So need compromise.  Many are possible. Here's one (I'm not necessarily advocating it): we have sex 3 times over the summer when no one is around, but stop before next semester begins.  This has many advantages, which I won't spell out, but also disadvantages, ditto.  I am NOT asking you to do this--it is merely one possible compromise solution to a difficult problem, which might suggest others.  It has the FORM of a possible solution.  Try to take this in the spirit in which it is intended.  yours, Colin
Great Scott! I hope it is obvious that this is not the kind of thing you can say to your research assistant. You cannot tell your RA that she needs to help you avoid heart break. You cannot suggest that your RA have sex with you as any sort of compromise. "Hey, let's have sex a few times! It's a happy medium between two unpleasant extremes!" Aristotle would be proud, but only because Aristotle was a sexist asshole.

Although technically, he allegedly says, he is not literally suggesting that they have sex three times over the summer--it's merely a meta-suggestion of the type of suggestion he thinks she should make--he does allegedly point out that doing so has many advantages, and anyways I'm not sure that you can really do this. The other day my wife had a bit of a long day, so after kiddie bedtime I suggested that we watch a movie and relax, and that she should pick the movie. "Whatever you want to watch, that's what we'll watch," I said. "For example," I continued, "if you wanted to pick Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, we could watch that. Not that I'm suggesting that--it's your decision entirely. I was merely suggesting that as a possible suggestion that you might consider suggesting if that was something you wanted to suggest." It was, however, clear to us both that I really was suggesting that we watch Anchorman 2, and that the technique of couching the suggestion in the form of a higher-order meta-suggestion had absolutely no practical effect on what I was doing. It did allow me to pretend that I wasn't really suggesting it, but I was obviously only pretending and nobody was fooled. We watched Snowpiercer.

Another time, according to HuffPo, McGinn sent her the following pair of text messages:
McGinn: I love your essence
McGinn: Plus it gives me a slight erection
Great Scott! No, no, no, no, no. No.


You can't say stuff like that to your RA, either. Also--and I want to make it clear that I have never tried this and that this is just an unscientific conjecture--I feel confident that just telling women straight out when they give you an erection is not an effective seduction technique. I'm not saying that it will never work on anyone; I'm saying that it will never work on almost anyone, and that the conditions have to be exactly right for it to work, and that those conditions are all but guaranteed not to be satisfied between you and your RA. The presence of a direct supervisory relationship messes up the dynamic. Maybe you'd be purposefully abusing your power. Maybe you'd be only accidentally abusing your power. Maybe you'd merely be opening yourself up to a lawsuit based on the fact that, to an outside observer, it would look exactly like you were abusing your power. Whatever it is, it's a bad idea. Very, very bad. Not good.

If you're going to try this--I am not saying you should try this.You should not try this. You should never do anything like this under any circumstances. If you're going to try this, you need to stop it instantly if you do not receive an immediate and overwhelmingly positive response. It is not up to the other person to tell you to knock it off. Sometimes you have to do this with toddlers, but adults can be expected to know that you should not talk about your penis in polite company. The lawsuit alleges that McGinn made numerous and repeated references to his erections in various emails and text messages.

Another time, according to HuffPo, McGinn sent the following series of text messages, which contain an interesting riff on the well-established "hand job" joke:
McGinn: So I expect a hand job when I next see you.
McGinn: Yes.
McGinn: I like to amuse you.
McGinn: Now I've got a slight erection.
McGinn: I'm imagining you.
Great Scott! No! Noooooooooooooooo!


Suppose that you accept McGinn's explanation that 'hand job' means "clipping my fingernails" or whatever, and then you accept that it makes any sense on any level for an advisor to tell his student and research assistant that he expects her to clip his fingernails when he next sees her, and that there's any reason why a person would want to imagine his RA clipping his fingernails. I still find that the fact that he allegedly gets an erection in the middle of all this and allegedly tells her about it substantially undermines the claimed innocence of the "joke." The way he allegedly mentions his penis in the middle of what is supposed to be an admittedly ribald way of referring to clipping one's fingernails makes it seem exactly like he's not really talking about clipping his fingernails after all. The net effect is of a vulgar, ham-handed, extraordinarily inappropriate come-on that absolutely should not be aired in the context of this kind of professional relationship. Unless it's one of those chaste, platonic erections that can exist between friends and which employers can share with their employees. Maybe it's one of these ironic erections that the hipsters of Williamsburg and Silver Lake have recently been attaining. In any case, I've now given the topic of Colin McGinn's privates much more thought than I prefer, and would like to change the subject please.

The lawsuit also alleges that McGinn called her over 30 times during winter break, which seems excessive; that he quoted a passage from Lolita to her that deals with the fire of Humbert's loins; that he invented a ritualized series of hand grips, which he admits to in articles that appeared in Slate and the Chronicle, and which she says made her extremely uncomfortable; that he insisted on holding her foot and then kissed it; that he threatened to harm her career unless she had sex with him; that he suggested sex three times as a compromise when she said no; etc. After she resigned from the RA position in September of 2012, the lawsuit alleges that he wrote, "you are much better off with my support than without it. So please think carefully about your actions." The alleged behavior seems pretty inappropriate, and at least somewhat threatening.

And so, if these allegations are true and the University of Miami had access to these messages, I can see where it would be very distressing that the administration threatened to charge him (or threaten to charge him or whatever they did) only with failure to report a consensual relationship instead of bona fide sexual harassment, and then let him resign rather than be formally investigated, and then let him say publicly that he'd never so much as been accused of sexual harassment, and also let him say publicly (in Slate and the Chronicle) that she lodged her complaint only because she failed to complete her research assignment and was concerned about getting a negative evaluation. If that happened to me, I think I would be extremely distressed by it. I suspect that I'd find it pretty devastating. I'm not sure how I'd be able to cope with it.

I admit to being naive about how these decisions are made, and I would not want to suggest that a complainant should have final approval over any plea-bargain that a University's disciplinarians might consider pursuing. But I do think that a complainant ought to have some say over whether the investigation of her complaint is conducted in a formal or informal manner--particularly if the disciplinarians think the complaint is serious enough that the step of asking for the defendant's resignation is warranted. (The UM faculty manual indicates that it is the complainant's option to end any informal proceeding and initiate a formal one. The lawsuit alleges that she was not granted that right.) I don't know enough to have a legal opinion about what UM's obligations were or whether they lived up to them, but on a non-legal level, if these allegations are true, it seems to me that she's got a real point here.

--Mr. Zero

P.S. I'm going to open comments, but I'm going to moderate with a heavy touch. I don't know what actually happened, and neither do you.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Is this a bad year?

Latest Update: Check out a much more detailed post by Carolyn Dicey Jennings over at NewAPPs!

(Update: See below for a revised graph and a link to CDJ's data [thanks, CDJ!].)

In the permanent thread, there have been some questions about whether or not this is a bad market year. We have some preliminary numbers c/o Carolyn Dicey Jennings:



Looks like jobs are down across the board except for in value theory.

I'm hoping that this is just a function of the market being extended by PhilJobs's publishing schedule (round-the-clock), the declining role of the Eastern APA in the job market, and the move to Skype (or that departments are skipping first-round interviews altogether).

But that's probably just naive optimism.

EDIT, 10/18:







--Jaded, PhD

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The latest development on McGinn

I want to second this post from Feminist Philosophers on the latest news about the McGinn case, particularly this bit:
Those...on the internet know the horrific campaigns directed against women who step out of line and complain against misogynistic behaviour. This is true generally, and it is true specifically in philosophy. She has survived one horrible ordeal–harassment, made worse by being so poorly handled, and now the trolls can easily find her. And she knows all this. I am blown away by the immense bravery shown by her filing this suit [...] 
[She] is doing an immense service to academia with her towering bravery in refusing to accept the way that Miami dealt with the case. We all owe her a tremendous debt. 
I'm going to say one thing below in the comments, but then close them.

--Jaded, PhD

Monday, October 12, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Philosophers' Cocoon Mentoring Project

Helen De Cruz and Marcus Arvan of the Philosophers' Cocoon have started a job-market mentoring program that is open to everyone, in order to help meet the needs of people who aren't eligible for this other awesome mentoring program.

You can find details here.

I think this is pretty cool, and I am grateful to Helen and Marcus for doing this. I've also been pretty impressed by their Job Market Boot Camp series. A lot of good stuff is happening at the PC these days. Get over there and check it out.

--Mr. Zero

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sleeping with Your Students is Not Great Pedagogy

I've been struggling to read and digest this recent article in the New Republic by Laura Miller, entitled "Lust for Learning." It's hard to pin down exactly what the thesis is supposed to be, but it appears to go somewhat beyond the claim that total bans on faculty/student romantic involvement, even in the absence of a direct supervisory relationship, are unjustified overreactions that go too far. (If I understand it correctly, I agree that Harvard's new policy is an unjustified overreaction that goes too far.)

Instead, Miller seems to suggest that you can help your students learn by engaging in flirtation with them, and also by pursuing romantic and sexual relationships with them. "Bans on faculty-student relationships amount to an institutional throwing up of the hands when it comes to parsing the difference between an intense pedagogic experience and a manipulative seduction," she says. Administrations don't want to be bothered to distinguish manipulative abuses of power, which would be wrong, from the use of sexuality as pedagogy, which she seems to think is ok, or even to be encouraged. "Perhaps what makes pedagogy so potent also makes it inherently erotic," she says.

That is amazingly silly.

I don't feel like writing an actual essay about this, so instead I'm going to list off some quotes and make fun of them and stuff. Here goes.
  • The first pullquote reads: "Perhaps it’s possible to separate the thrill of encountering a fascinating mind from the fizz of libido, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to."
    • This is just an egregious failure of imagination. I can think of lots of reasons one might have for wanting to separate one's studies from the fizz of one's libido:
      1. I find it easier to concentrate on my work when I'm not experiencing the fizz of libido. I find the fizz of libido to be somewhat distracting, and so I mostly try to avoid it when I'm working.
      2. I am happily married, and I'd like to stay that way. I think it would cause problems for me if I went around openly experiencing the fizz of libido with my students.
      3. I don't really want to fizz my libido at my students, even apart from the fact that doing so would blow up my family. I'm just not interested. They're usually very young, and a lot of them are not the right gender for me, and anyways that's not why I got into this business.
      4. For that matter, I am pretty sure my students don't want me fizzing my libido at them. I'm old, and they're in college, and they have their own shit going on. I think there's a decent chance that any fizzing I might attempt would come off poorly. I think there's a decent chance they'd see it as creepy and weird, rather than an intense but effective way to approach the course material. 
      5. I have many friends and professional acquaintances who I like and respect, and who I think like and respect me. If I went around fizzing my libido at them whenever I bump into them at conferences and in email correspondences and stuff, I think some of them might find it bothersome. I think it might affect the degree to which they like and/or respect me.
  • I found it very weird how little attention Miller paid to the possibility that a professor engaged in a flirtation, even if it were initially welcome, might attempt to take unfair advantage of situation. Or, might do so accidentally. It is, I think, undeniable that professors wield authority over their students, and it is also undeniable that this authority can be abused, and it is similarly undeniable that one purpose to which this abuse of authority can be put is the acquisition of sexual favors from unwilling pupils. But Miller seems awfully sure that the student and the professor will be equally willing to fizz their libidos at one another, and that they will be on the same page about the quantity and manner of the fizzing, as well as the desired commitment level (i.e. level of exclusivity, length of term, etc). Although she acknowledges the possibility that problems might arise, she doesn't seem to be terribly concerned about them.
  • The obvious possibility that professors might abuse their power is at least part of the reason why I share Justin's puzzlement about the use of recent examples from philosophy to support greater levels of permissiveness in this domain. I would have guessed that, at the very least, the two highest-profile philosophy cases of the past few years represent an object lesson in what can go wrong with these kinds of relationships. 
    • Take the McGinn case. Even if you believe everything Colin McGinn says about the relationship and its aftermath (which, to be clear, I do not)--that the relationship was entirely consensual; that it was a strictly "intellectual" romance, whatever that is; that he was only kidding about the sex and the handjob; that she failed to do a bunch of work he'd assigned her; that she only went to the administration after he gave her a deservedly poor performance review; and that she lied to them about the nature of their relationship in order to get revenge--you have to admit that he handed her all the tools she needed to detonate his career. He obliterated his own ability to effectively supervise his research assistant by doing a bunch of the stuff that someone who was abusing his authority would do. 
      • Which is why these kinds of flirtations are unavoidably risky for the professors, too. Administrations must be vigilant against the very real risk that professors will abuse their power (the possibility of which, to emphasize, means that these flirtations are also risky for the students). Obviously this grants power to the students, and this power can also be abused. A student could file a false accusation and destroy one's career. But one makes things much easier for a would-be career destroyer if one send a bunch of libido fizz via email and text message.
      • But this risk does not stem from the fact that feminist ideologues and their Title IX are running amok; it's an inherent byproduct of allowing students to report potential abuses of power. 
      • (And, because he had the authority of a direct supervisory relationship, he also obliterated his ability to know that he wasn't abusing his authority. How did he know that she wasn't just playing along in order to keep him happy? He didn't.)
  • I was not sure what lesson I was supposed to draw from the discussion of the case of Abélard and Héloïse. The penalties for Abélard's alleged misbehaviors have obviously been lightened considerably; it's hard to imagine that Miller wouldn't see this as progress. ;-)
    • Also. I'm no expert on this topic, but Miller's rendition of the story is different from the version I heard. I am somewhat out of my depth here, and I would be happy to hear corrections in comments, but I think Miller's telling of the story is a whitewash. I quote a key passage of Miller's telling of the story below, with my remarks inserted [in square brackets]:
He [Abélard] finagled his way into her [Héloïse’s] uncle’s house by agreeing to instruct Héloïse in exchange for lodging. [Ok. So far, so good.] Their love led to her pregnancy [it's not clear what happened to the baby. Their subsequent correspondence doesn't mention him.] and a secret marriage [it was Abélard’s idea to keep the marriage a secret, because he thought it would hurt his career if it was widely known that he was married. Héloïse didn't want to get married at all at first, but Abélard talked her into it], but Héloïse’s uncle remained angry at Abelard’s betrayal (and perhaps believed he was about to discard her, thereby disgracing their family) [Héloïse’s uncle publicized the marriage in order to hurt Abélard, and then Héloïse denied that they were married. That's when Abélard sent her into hiding at a convent--he said it was because he was worried about her safety--and the fact that he sent her away to the convent is why the uncle thought he was going to dump her], so he [the uncle] had a group of thugs break into Abélard’s room and castrate him. [I honestly can't see this as anything but a bummer.] Abélard became a monk and urged Héloïse to become a nun. [Abélard made her become a nun against her will.] 
    • This is a fucked up story. But, as you can see, Miller's telling omits a bunch of details, and these are mostly events in which one of the men in the story ignores Héloïse’s wishes and forces her to do something against her will, or persuades her to do something she'd rather not--and most of the time it was Abélard, not the uncle, who did this. With one key exception, Abélard got whatever he wanted. They responded to each situation his way, and if Héloïse didn't agree with him he either talked her into it or made her do it anyway. 
    • So, I have trouble seeing this as an example of the good old days, when female students were treated as the competent adults who are capable of making their own decisions that they obviously are. Every time Héloïse makes her wishes known, she is overruled. 
    • And I can't help but feel like Héloïse’s life was substantially derailed by her affair with Abélard. It seems to me that Héloïse’s education might have been a little more of a positive experience for her if she and Abélard had kept their fizzy libidos in check.
    • Also, the great love affair of Abélard and Héloïse was not thwarted by a bunch of overzealous, Title IX-thumping Social Justice Warriors. The people who got in the way were her family. He was castrated by her uncle's goons, not the president of Harvard.
    • (Also, apparently people find this story tragically romantic or something, but I have no idea what's romantic about it. I don't see it at all. These two start a secret affair; her family makes them break up, but they keep having the secret affair anyway; she gets pregnant; they get secret married; her family doesn't keep the secret; he sends her away; her family cuts his balls off; they both join different monasteries and write passionate letters and never discuss their child. The people who think that's romantic probably think Romeo and Juliet is romantic.)
  • Miller says, "One woman’s ordeal is another’s adventure, a chance to flaunt her ability to beguile the teacher whose lectures leave her spellbound." Seems like she's mostly thinking about female students and their male professors. She mentions a couple of cases in which female professors engage in fizzy pedagogy with their female students, but if she thinks male students might benefit from fizzing with their professors, she doesn't seem to say so. I wonder why that is? 
  • The beginning and ending of the final paragraph says: "It is an excess of caution that makes the vulnerabilities of a community’s most fragile members the benchmark for everyone else’s sexual choices, but university administrators are probably not losing any sleep over the chilling effect the new conduct codes will have on their faculties’ love lives. ... One woman’s ordeal is another’s adventure ... It’s up to the faculty to see if they can determine which is which. They’re supposed to be the grown-ups, after all."
    • Wait. I thought the students were supposed to be grown ups, too. Are they, or aren't they?
    • Look. I know lots of people who have dated their students. I know few who ended up marrying a former student--someone they met in a class they were teaching. In several cases I know about, a mutual attraction between a professor and a student that began in the classroom grew into a healthy long-term relationship in which wedding vows were subsequently exchanged. (Of course, a few of these people are now divorced, but not all of them are, and lots of marriages end in divorce, and I have no basis for thinking that the prof/student thing played any role in the divorces.) I think it's possible for these relationships to be healthy and fruitful, and I respect the autonomy of the adults involved to make their own decisions about their own love lives, and so I oppose prohibiting faculty/student altogether. 
    • But Miller is making a much stronger claim than this. Although she's making that claim, she's also making another, much more contentious, much less plausible claim: that you may cultivate your students' academic interest in the material by cultivating (or at least not discouraging) their sexual interest in you, and that this is a legitimate and effective pedagogical approach. I have no idea why anyone would think that this is a good idea. 
      • "How do you cultivate student interest in the material?" "Well, I let them know that I'm hot in a smart kind of way, and that makes the ideas seem kind of hot, too. It's my natural sexual charisma and my fizzy libido. It's like they're having a ménage with me and the ontological argument. It's very effective."
  • So, I can't help but see this as a really bad article whose main point is totally wrong. 
--Mr. Zero

Monday, August 31, 2015

Why I Keep Doing This To Myself

As job market season approaches, I find that it is natural to wonder why I would keep doing this to myself. I'm not from an elite graduate program, and I'm getting old and stale. The odds of success were never all that great, and they're not getting better.

Many years ago, when I first started Smoking, I considered this question. At that time, I said,
I keep doing this to myself because I love my job. Over the summer I snagged a VAP. It's a lot of teaching (only 2 preps, though!), a lot of students, not much money (twice what I made last year, though), and located in a part of the country I would not otherwise have opted for. Nevertheless, I get up in the morning and go to work and it doesn't feel like work. I like being in the classroom. I like introducing people to philosophy and teaching them how to do it. (I do not like grading their initial efforts.) I like thinking about philosophical problems, doing philosophical research, and writing philosophy papers. 
So, one thing I've learned being in this job is that I really like this kind of job. I like being a professor, and I like it when I read a good paper from a student and I can think, I taught this person how to do this. I like the feeling I get when I clearly identify a philosophical problem, work my way through it, and develop a plausible solution. 
All I want is to be able to keep doing this.
I find that this is all still true. Some days feel a little like work, of course. But mostly I feel like the only difference between then and now is that I've learned a lot about teaching, and I've published some stuff I'm proud of, and I've got some other stuff under review that I'm also proud of, and I've attended a bunch of conferences and department colloquia and given a bunch of talks that I've greatly enjoyed, and I've made a lot of friends. And I want to keep doing that.

And, I've discovered that I'm at least a little good at this. And I don't really know how to do anything else. So what else am I going to do? I keep my eyes peeled for other opportunities--non-teaching jobs that I'd be good at and which would make sense in other ways--but nothing has really materialized. One time an opportunity came up in the administration that I think I was well-suited for (though it didn't pay much more), but before I could do anything about it, I had to prep for class and I realized how much I'd miss teaching if I didn't get to do it anymore, so I let it go.

And, I see this as an important job. I see the classes I teach as an important part of a good, well-rounded University education that the students at this institution should have. There's the oft-touted critical thinking skills, of course, but I also address ideas from the past that educated people should know about, and demonstrate how to engage with foundational issues that lie at the bottom of a wide variety of other, otherwise unrelated intellectual endeavors. How to think effectively about weird things.

And it's not like I have absolutely no luck on the job market. I get interviews, and sometimes I get invited to campus. I get no offers, of course. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why not. I don't know why not.

And my current position is pretty okay, as these things go. It's relatively stable, and it's much less exploitative than some of the positions I see advertised. The other members of my family are pretty well-situated. Nothing's ideal, but nothing's terrible.

And my family is supportive. I've known people whose families were not supportive, and it's a difficult bummer. I'm lucky.

And I feel like it would be stupid to sit out, and not go on the job market, even though I hate it and I doubt it will work. It's not that hard for me to go on the market--I've been out here a long time, and I've got it pretty down. Seems like I stand to lose more by not doing it than by doing it.

So, I guess that's why. I feel like I stand to lose more by not doing it.

--Mr. Zero

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What to do about the Phylo jobs wiki?

David Morrow, co-founder of the Phylo job wiki with Chris Sula, writes in to ask about whether people would like to continue using the current platform or migrate it elsewhere. He says (emphasis added):
Since someone submitted the first job of the year to the Phylo job wiki, and someone else asked about wikis on the job-info thread, I thought this would be a good time for people to discuss whether they would like to continue using the Phylo wiki or would rather migrate to something else, like academicjobs.wikia.com. I'll continue to maintain the Phylo wiki if people want to use it, but I know that some people would prefer that the community use something else, and such a decision is hard to reverse once the job market is really under way.
What do y'all think?

-- Jaded, Ph.D. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reluctantly Crouched at the Starting Line Again Already

In comments here, Lost points out that "it has begun"--the first tenure-track job ad of the '15/'16 job-market season has been posted.

I find that with each passing year I have a harder time getting myself motivated to tackle the job market. Not that I was ever excited about it. But I used to feel a sense of anticipation and interest in seeing which were going to advertise and which ads I could apply for. Not this year, though. This year I feel a mix of dread and apathy.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I am not ready.

--Mr. Zero

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A NEW Permanent Thread to Talk or Ask or Post Information about Specific Jobs (6/27/15)

[REDUX] A lot of people in the comments seem interested in having space to discuss or request information about specific jobs. If providing information and if possible, please provide the source of your information.

Here's a permanent thread for this. Perhaps we can use the other open threads for people to trade horror or success or weird stories, any hints that they might think are helpful, strategies for dealing with stress of the job market, etc. [I'll try to get an open thread up soon.]

In the future, after this isn't at the top of the page, you can find this thread in the sidebar. Here's a picture, with the place to find this thread in the future.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Academic Saints

Jason Brennan's (Georgetown) continued punching down of adjuncts, including a post in which he and others fisk the CV of the subject of a Huffington Post piece about adjuncts (see her response here), has me thinking about the ideal of the "Academic Saint." This is in part because Susan Wolf's "Moral Saints" is one of my favorite philosophy articles, and also because Brennan invokes Peter Singer's Greater Moral Evil Principle in a blog post in which he combs over the career decisions of someone he doesn't know and with whom he doesn't share a field.

I guess this is what speaking truth to power looks like these days.

Anyway. Back to the idea of the academic saint. I've adapted the first paragraph of Wolf (1982) for my purposes here:
I don't know whether there are any [academic saints]. But if there are, I am glad that neither I nor those about whom I care most are among them. By [academic saint] I mean a person whose every action is as [academically inclined] as possible, that is, who is as [tenure-track or tenure worthy] as can be. Though I shall in a moment acknowledge the variety of types of person that might be thought to satisfy this description, it seems to me that none of these types serve as unequivocally compelling personal ideals. In other words, I believe that [academic perfection], in the sense of [academic saintliness], does not constitute a model of personal well-being toward which it would be particularly rational or good or desirable for a human being to strive.
Admittedly, my borrowing from Wolf is a bit out of place. She's concerned with the ways in which a life dominated by particularly moral ideals is a life that fails to recognize non-moral sources of value and non-moral sources of reasons for acting. This ideal leaves out non-moral motivations--and in her later work, non-self-interested motivations--that are part of a life with meaning. We find something troublesome, she argues, with the person who, in contemplating any possible action, always applies for permission from morality before undertaking that action. Moral reasons for action are not just seen as one set of reasons among many, but as a higher set of reasons to which all non-moral reasons are subordinate.

So, for example, given that social justice issues other than those related to adjuncts/contingents appear more pressing from the point of view of the moral saint, we are, in the words of the bleeding-heart Brennan:
quite literally yanking resources away from deeper concerns of social justice when they didn’t have to. They may talk the hard leftist talk, but their actions indicate they care more about themselves than they care about social justice.
A moral saint committed to such unsubtle comparison, such dispassionate ranking of their projects, and such submission to morality, can be seen as "missing a piece of perceptual machinery" or as committed to "an extreme form of self-hatred that interferes with…ability to enjoy life."

Wolf, though, has less of a problem with the ways in which commitments other than those to morality may come to dominate a life. A commitment, say, to developing a nasty crossover, is less problematic than organizing one's life around a moral ideal if that commitment is seen as winning out in a fair competition among other possible commitments, rather than being considered a type of ur-commitment to which all other reasons for acting must submit.

Is the academic saint more like the moral saint, or more like the person who has devoted themselves to lighting up the NBA?

I guess it's pretty obvious what I think. I see a problematic commitment to academic saintliness implicit in Brennan's posts--and the philosophy-blogosphere's own predilection for CV fisking. Here's what I have in mind (n.b.: I won't raise questions about another problem I see with this activity, namely, The Underdetermination of One's Academic Pursuits and Commitments by the CV; though such concerns are in the background too).

Brennan sees a (possible) lack of research or a (possible) commitment to teaching over research or a (possible) commitment to obscure or hard-to-market research or a (possible) commitment to a certain geographic region as academic mistakes. To see these commitments or actions as academic mistakes is to assume that one's field of research or commitment to teaching or preferences about where to live must be approved by the tribunal of reasons in favor of being as tenure-track or tenure worthy as possible. So long as we act for reasons other than those suggested by a commitment to getting a tenure-track job, we are making academic mistakes (or, in one of Brennan's colorful analogies: willfully eating poopburgers).

More strongly, it seems to me that the only reasons for action in academia that Brennan and others are able to make sense of issue from the reasons provided by getting a tenure-track job or getting tenure. They are, it seems to me, "missing some piece of perceptual machinery."

Apparently, in Brennan's view, the only person who deserves a secure, well-paying academic job with benefits is a person that strives to satisfy the ideal of academic saintliness. It is the academic saint, who doesn't just see their desire for a tenure-track job or tenure as one desire among many, but who sees that desire as the only possible source of reasons, who shall inherit the promised land. (And, insofar as they fail to do this, yet continue to stay in academia, so Brennan's reasoning implies, they are simply irrational. Note that another important ideal that Brennan would have us strive to is provided by a different, but no less problematic type of saint: Homo-Economicus.)

This is why the complaints of adjuncts/contingents are so baffling to people like Brennan. They don't understand that adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they have failed to win the academic lottery.

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because many people think the only reason they don't have tenure-track jobs are because of their "academic mistakes."

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because their commitment to teaching is seen, not as something positive, but as a sign that they are unable or unwilling or too stupid to do research.

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they are subsidizing the research of tenure-track and tenured faculty.

Adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they teach twice as many students or twice as many classes with less support and for less money than the anointed academic saints.

And, adjuncts/contingents aren't pissed off just because they are seen as unworthy of permanent positions according to the standards decided upon, in retrospect, by the people who won the academic lottery and are now looking to rationalize their own luck.

I mean, adjuncts/contingents are pissed off about all of these things, of course.

But, speaking for myself, I'm pissed off because all of these things are signs that an ideal of academic saintliness that reduces all reasons for acting in academia to getting another line on the CV is at the center of a system that (I think) once made room for acting for other types of reasons (like curiosity, or, if you're old-fashioned, truth, or, even more old-fashioned, wisdom).

I'm pissed off because this ideal is uncritically accepted. And the people in positions to push back against it (i.e., hiring committees and people like Brennan) lack the moral imagination to come up with new ideals that will accommodate different ways of being in the academic world.

I'm pissed off that there are people like Brennan who think that because adjuncts/contingents failed to win the academic lottery (because of their academic mistakes, natch), their small part of the academic world should be without offices, benefits, and other forms of institutional support.

Brennan's wrong. I'm not pissed off because I don't have a tenure-track job, and that's not what we're asking for. I'm pissed off because people shouldn't have to be academic saints in order to get just a little more moral consideration than what they've been given in the past.

-- Jaded, Ph.D.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

No more half measures

On the previous thread, 8:51 asks:
I wonder if you could start a new thread where those of us who are planning to leave academic philosophy could say a bit about our backgrounds, our reasons for leaving, and our plans (where plans exist). 
For those of us on who are certainly our way out the door, I think it would be interesting and helpful to see who else is leaving, why they're leaving, and where they're headed. And for people who are in the midst of deciding whether to leave, I think it could be comforting.
I am not someone who is definitely planning on leaving, but I'm definitely on my way to being pushed out slowly, so I am developing plans to GTFO. Relevant background info:
  • My Ph.D. is from a school in the middle of the PGR pack.
  • I've applied to jobs for more or less the past 5 or 6 years (but only a handful this year and none last year). I had no business applying for about 2 or 3 of those years.
  • Actively and slowly research; only one publication.
  • 4 - 5 years of active teaching experience (in 3 years, I've taught what TT folks at my department teach in 5 years).
  • A few TT interviews, two on-campus interviews, but no offers. 
  • More than a few VAP and/or post-doc interviews. 1 offer (for my current VAP).
  • Current position was originally for one-year, but I've been lucky enough to have it renewed a few times (always at the last minute because of funding issues).
  • 6 months after moving across the country for my current position, I turned down a 2 year postdoc that would've required me to move back across the country.
It was after turning down the postdoc and spending more and more time with people who don't uproot their lives every few years chasing a job that might potentially land them in a place they never thought they'd live, that I began to seriously think about leaving philosophy. I also feel very strongly about staying in my current city.*

And recently, I was not considered for what was probably the last opportunity at turning my current VAP into something more permanent [details redacted; but I'm not the only person at my current department that's super-pissed about this]. For a while, I thought that I'd be happy adjuncting in my current city, which offers a lot of teaching opportunities. But I'm less convinced I want to do that now (I hope some of y'all participated in National Adjunct Walkout Day!).

I've been trying to lay the groundwork to GTFO in a few ways; though these are more like half-measures than anything else. Through friends, I've been volunteering at a local non-profit, through which I've met people and made connections outside philosophy. These connections have led to editorial work and at least one writing assignment for a local paper. I feel like these connections and also friends get me a toe (at least) in the door at places I might enjoy working. But I haven't followed through yet. I've also been on Twitter a lot lately, which isn't helping me develop GTFO plans.

That's it!

--Jaded, Ph.D.

*One thing that I've found especially helpful are non-academic friends who work and live in one part of the country longer than one or two years and aren't constantly applying to jobs. They are also cool and I don't want to move away from them in the same way that I didn't want to move away from my badass academic friends, but did because that's what academics do. I'm probably not alone in having almost exclusively academic friends during graduate school (or maybe I was?). I found it harder to shake the "I'm a failure" feelings surrounded by my lovely academic friends; but less hard now. (Though I also found it easier to talk philosophy with my academic friends than I do now; trade-offs.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

By request: Should I stay or should I go?

Since we seem to be solidly into the post doc/VAP season, and pretty much done with TT jobs, I just ran the numbers at PhilJobs for the season. From Aug 1, 2014 to Mar 2, 2015 there were 186 jobs listed under the criteria "junior faculty" and "tenure track or similar" and "United States." For the same interval 2013-2014 the count was 217. If you include international jobs, it increases to 214 for 2014-15, which is still fewer than the US jobs last year. The Phylo Wiki lists 228 jobs this year, which includes international jobs (and the dates go back further). I make no claims about the accuracy or completeness of these figures. I see some jobs in the search results that are clearly not TT, and a few that are not really junior, so this is a rough estimate. Plus, there might be jobs that were listed elsewhere, but not listed on PhilJobs.

My suspicion earlier in the season was that this was turning out to be a particularly bad one, which I think is more or less confirmed. One would hope that, as 2008-2009 recedes into history, the job market would improve. One would hope, apparently, in vain.

You can see Carolyn Dicey Jennings' placement data report for 2011-2014 here. Her data shows, among other things, that the proportion of men and women being hired basically matches the porportion of men and women who earn doctorates in philosophy.

Jennings estimates 376 521 new graduates each year (2011-2014), of whom about 17% will land TT jobs, on average. It's pretty obvious that if there are ~500 grads per year, and only ~200 TT jobs, more than half of those grads cannot possibly get TT jobs. That snowballs, of course, as many grads each year come up empty-handed. (Hence, we're seeing hundreds of applicants for every job. I recently talked to someone on a SC at an R2 in a fairly desirable area -- they got 360+ applicants for a 3/3 job.)

Helen DeCruz summarizes some prestige bias numbers here.  88% of philosophy TT hires are from Leiter-ranked departments. 31% are from Top 10 departments.

To sum up, it's bad.

Feel free to add more data points, or anecdata, or corrections to the estimates above, in the comments.

~zombie


Thursday, February 12, 2015

In Which I Despair for the Underemployed Philosophers

Like many of you, I received the PFO from the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy. Like many of you, I was shocked to read that the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy received over six hundred applications. 600. Six-zero-zero. I sent out just over 40 applications this year. How is a person supposed to find a job in this environment?

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Game Plan?

Anonymous posted these queries to the permanent job search thread. I'm reposting here for discussion:
Could someone knowledgeable address, perhaps here or in a new thread, what the game plan should be here on out for those of us who did not land a TT job? 
I'm a research type and get little placement help. What should I be looking to do over the next couple of months in order to secure a TT job next year or the one following? 
Postdocs are an obvious choice, but what about VAPs? How do people feel about those? Would it be much better to do a VAP at a pedigreed institution, or just a place that will leave time for research? Etc. 
In general I think it might be helpful to have some thoughts about these matters put down, since it appears that many, many of us are in this boat. 
The answer may simply be that there are no answers, since the process is not a rational one.
A general answer is difficult without knowing specifics about your CV, and how you're doing on the market right now. Are you getting first-round interviews? Fly-outs?  

Have you published? If not, one obvious place to start is to get some papers published or at least in the pipeline. An accepted paper is as good as a published one, but given the time it takes to even get a paper accepted for publication, you need to basically get it to a journal now. Or sooner. Postdocs are a great way to secure time for research and publishing. Mine helped me tremendously on the job market.

Not every place is going to care that you are published in a top journal, although obviously, avoid the really crap pay-to-publish journals.  

Do you have teaching experience? A VAP is a good place to get significant teaching experience. You might be a "research type," but most of the jobs are not "research" jobs, so having some good teaching experience will help you. 

Finding time for both research and teaching is always a problem. Get used to working your ass off. 

And yeah, the market is lousy. So, it might not be you. 

~zombie


Saturday, January 3, 2015

The annual killin' it on the campus visit prep post

If you're prepping for fly-outs, previous posts containing logistical advice can be found here and hereSpiros has some good advice about job talks over at PhilAnon.

Some tips:
  • The campus visit is a gauntlet of job interviews and social calls, with some potentially harrowing, high pressure philosophy thrown in. You'll meet with various deans, and lots of faculty, and students. You'll be continuously shuttled from one thing to the next, with very little down time in between. You'll be dined (sometimes wined, but many university policies don't permit putting alcohol on the tab) more often than you can bear. If you're not a morning person, or not at your peak before you've had some caffeine, use your hotel room coffee maker to fortify yourself before the breakfast meeting. 
  • Take portable snacks, especially if you have dietary restrictions. The days are really long, and being hungry results in brain fails. 
  •  The campus visit is also an opportunity to learn about the school. You can get a sense of the campus culture, and of the department. Don't think like someone who is desperate to get just any job, but rather like someone who might be sold on this particular job. Ask questions about the students, about campus life, about what it's like to live there. You will need to exhibit at least minimal chit-chat skills, because you'll be doing lots of it while people are walking you around campus, driving you to the airport or restaurants, etc. You'll sometimes get a tour of the area (especially in small towns where they might think you need to be sold on the location). It's reasonable to ask about things like the housing market. 
  • Ask in advance for a detailed schedule of what you'll be doing, when, and with whom. You might give a job talk, you might be asked to do a teaching demo. Or both. Get as much info as you can about the teaching demo (will it be an actual class [with how many students], or an audience, will it be in a classroom, will there be tech available), and about the job talk (how much time will you have, who might be there), etc. 
  • Before you go, look up the people you'll be meeting in the department (all of them), but also the deans and administrators. You never know when some little bit of trivial knowledge (hey, we both went to Peoria U! I also love the poetry of Robert Service! How about those Packers?) might be fodder for a good convo, or at least make you memorable (in a good way)
  • Be very, very nice to the department secretary/admin assistants. They don't work for you, so don't act like they do. S/he is also often the person who is going to handle your travel reimbursements.
  • Have at least two pairs of good pants, especially if you're going to a wintry clime where the odds of getting mud/snow/salt on your pants are high. Take a carry-on so nothing gets lost in transit. 
  • If you require accommodation for particular needs (a lactating mom might need time to pump, or you might have dietary restrictions, or need time for religious observance, or whatever), you're better off saying something in advance than trying to sneak off to TCB. You don't really want to do anything during your visit that will give someone a reason to think you're up to something suspicious (drugs! booze! Satanic rituals!). Better to have the awkward conversation ahead of time than to find yourself trying to compensate for unexplained behavior. Obviously, some departments will be more friendly/understanding about special needs than others, but it's worth remembering that if you're hired, you'll be working with these people for a while, so maybe it's better to know in advance if they don't play well with others.
  • You'll sometimes meet with someone from HR to talk about benefits, so you might think about questions for them. (This might be where you want to inquire about maternity/paternity leave, childcare subsidies, etc.)
  • I went to a meeting with a job candidate a while back and observed that he sometimes deflected questions about "how would you teach X?" by asking questions about whether doing Y would be of interest to the department or the students. He also asked specific questions of faculty, like "How do you integrate Z into courses?" or "Is there support for doing A?" It made him sound thoughtful and interested, rather than like someone just answering standard questions with memorized answers and trying to please. (He was offered the job, too.) On the other hand, if you're interviewing at a place where they really need you to teach specific service courses, offering them a list of exciting new courses you'd like to develop instead of teaching Intro may not go over well. So, you wanna have a good feel for what will be expected of you.
  • Take copies of your dossier, including course syllabi, just in case. They might tell you in advance what courses you'd be expected to teach if hired, and you can think about those and work up spec syllabi if you have time. 
  • Anything critical like your job talk or teaching demo slides should be copied onto a flash drive, copied to the Cloud, copied to Google Drive, tattooed on your hand, emailed to yourself, etc. If you're using a Mac, convert stuff to a PC friendly format. I'm  super paranoid about that kind of thing, but I've had TSA drop my laptop on the floor. Print your lecture notes, etc. I had a teaching demo once where all the tech failed except the document camera, but I had printed out all my Powerpoint slides. Success!
  • Be ready to improvise should technology fail during a talk or teaching demo. (Hence, have printed notes.)
  • If you want to have a handout or some such, ask in advance if that's OK, and ask in advance if you can email it to them to print (or print them yourself and bring with).
Potentional pitfalls:
  • When talking to deans and administrators, keep in mind that many of them are really academics, or ex-academics, and they would like you to know that. I found they often wanted to "talk shop" with me about philosophy, in addition to talking about the nuts and bolts of the school. So speak to them as you would speak to potential colleagues. This is also where you might get questions that are attempts to covertly feel you out about your commitment to the place, to teaching, whether you're a flight risk, etc. So too many questions from you about research support, travel support, etc. might not fly in a teaching-oriented place. Keep in mind that no department makes a hire without approval from higher-ups like deans, so these are interviews you really do need to prep for.
  • Since I'm already in a TT position, I asked last year about policies regarding credit towards tenure for work done (if you've been in a postdoc, some places will let you use that work in your tenure file too), and whether they'd require me to start the tenure clock all over again (which I don't want to do at this point). I got the distinct sense that these questions were not at all favorably received, although I don't really know why they were not favorably received (someone enlighten me, if you know). So, if you're in a similar position, that's probably a discussion to save for when you have an offer.
  • I think the general consensus about spousal accommodation is that talking about it should wait until you have an offer. I suppose that might include not inquiring about policies until then as well, although some schools will volunteer that kind of info as part of their "sales pitch." In my experience, if you want a spousal accommodation, you need to negotiate that with the initial contract. Once you're hired, they don't have much (any) incentive to help you out with that, regardless of how many times they tell you during interviews that they totally support spousal accommodations. (This is something to think about for non-academic spouses too, especially if you're moving to rural or isolated college towns where there are few jobs off-campus. Many, many faculty spouses get hired into administrative positions on my campus -- this is not only a substantial income benefit, but also means you're potentially not paying for health insurance for a spouse.)
  • I guess the conventional wisdom about marriage and/or children is that it is viewed as a liability for women, and a positive for men. Departments are going to vary a lot on this kind of thing, and some will be more family-friendly than others. The people interviewing you are discouraged by HR from asking about marital status or children, but if you want to ask about things like schools or childcare, or maternity/paternity leave, you might want to proceed with caution.
  • Some departments ask their candidates to pay for their flights and accommodations and seek reimbursement after the campus visit. It's a really shitty practice, but it happens. I had two fly-outs last year where I had to buy my own tickets. One reimbursed me within a week of my campus visit. One took three months, and numerous, increasingly irate emails from me to the department chair (they didn't offer me the job, so at that point I had nothing to lose, except my thousand bucks). Some places require that you submit paper tickets for reimbursement, so you might want to get those instead of using your smartphone.
You're one of a very select few, so try to enjoy your moment, without being a pompous jerk. Really, nobody likes a pompous jerk. You'll have many people who are intensely paying attention to you, which is a rare thing. The job talks can be fun and lively, and a chance to have your work taken seriously and discussed at length. Savor it. 

~zombie