Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Comment on the QS Subject Rankings

An enjoyable although perhaps a little intemperate comment on the QS philosophy rankings from the Leiter Reports.

Several readers sent this item, the latest worthless misinformation from the "world universities" ranking industry, in which "QS" (which, contrary to rumor, does not actually stand for 'Quirky Silliness") is a main player. As a commenter at The Guardian site notes, five of the universities ranked tops in Geography do not even have geography departments! And which are the "top five" US universities in philosophy?
1. Harvard University
2. University of California, Berkeley
3. Princeton University
4. Stanford University
5. Yale University
That corresponds decently to the top five American research universities, to be sure, but it has nothing to do with the top five U.S. philosophy departments, at least not in the 21st-century. But it should hardly be surprising that if you ask academics teaching in philosophy departments in Japan or Italy to rank the best philosophy departments, many of them will use general university reputation as a proxy. Indeed, every department that is pretty obviously "overrated" in philosophy in this list is at a top research university, and every department obviously underrated is not: so, e.g., Rutgers comes in at a mere 13th, Pittsburgh at 18th (behind Brown and Penn), and North Carolina at 20th.
One may hope that no student thinking about post-graduate work will base any decisions on this nonsense.

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