Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stirling Research in the News

We've been thinking lately about REF submissions and impact statements. It's nice to report that I've seen research from the University of Stirling featured in two recent BBC stories: First, research on the Curriculum for Excellence in schools. Second, news that even mild exercise, such as a brisk walk, can help combat depression. Now we just need to encourage the BBC to report more on research in philosophy...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leiter Philosophy Journals Poll

I've reported before on various journal rankings, so I thought it worth noting that Brian Leiter is running a new poll via his blog (voting form here) seeking to identify the best 'general' philosophy journals. I've been thinking that I should probably send some of my work to such general journals, rather than the specialist political philosophy journals, so I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the results.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Fish in Trees

I assume many people have seen the Einstein quote about fish climbing trees meme. Well, here's an amusing little feature from The Onion that reminded me of it. According to the (hoax) story, scientists have found that dolphins perform less well in a variety of intelligence tests on land and in fact even exhibit a negative learning curve! Yes, I know dolphins aren't actually fish. Still, in conjunction perhaps these two pieces remind us that a lot of what we consider 'intelligence' is really contextual and that someone who performs well in one set of conditions may not do so well had certain features of their environment been different. The kind of lesson situationist psychology has been teaching, to say nothing of quasi-Rawlsian scepticism about talent and desert.

Friday, April 06, 2012

University Competition

The point of allowing a (limited) market in the higher education sector, I thought, was that competition would drive up academic standards. As those familiar with the US would attest, however, the problem with this is that the consumers in question (students) don't necessarily respond to academic standards in their spending decisions: rather, their money goes to the universities offering the best 'student experience'. Thus, we see universities competing to offer the best accommodation, sports teams, or even nightlife, rather than well-stocked libraries or knowledgeable teachers (things that, even if would-be students were interested in, they would not be in a position to assess). This point is not original to me, but I notice that it seems that these predictions are being borne out as universities seek to build plush campus hotels, at the same time as making cuts to academic budgets and offering staff another below-inflation pay 'rise'...