Day: June 18, 2013

So Should Policy Schools Have PhD Programs?

So, I teach at a policy school, and though our core pedagogical enterprise is the MA program, we have a small PhD program that is a mix of political science, economics, and maybe a dash of public administration. Though I have not worked closely with that many PhD students, the ones I have worked have been superb. Still, the job market being as it is, it is always tough for graduates of our program, like any other, to land an academic job. The thing I wonder is: Is it harder for PhD graduates of policy schools to get a job compared to those who graduate from disciplinary programs?

Our students have the advantage of being able and indeed interested in jobs in the policy arena. Some have gone on to quite distinguished jobs at think tanks like the Brookings Institution. We also have a fair number of foreign students who go back home to teach at higher education institutions of their home countries. My worry is that those students seeking an academic job are neither fish nor fowl: they aren’t political scientists, economist, historians, etc.  For would-be employers looking at their varied mix of courses, it might be harder for them to understand what our students are and thus putting them at a disadvantage vis a vis more traditionally trained disciplinary programs.It’s not as if public policy is its own academic discipline, really. (Or, is it? I tend to think not, but how do we know when a new discipline has made it and has enough pedigree and coherent intellectual content to be recognized by others as a distinct area of study?)

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A Certain Kind of Selfishness

This is more of a riff on Phil’s post from last week than a direct reply; the post that Dan and I wrote addresses more directly the issue of actor autonomy that we think Phil misunderstood us on we and Phil were clearly on different semantic pages, so I am not going to go back over that ground here. Instead — and since we all basically agree that rational choice theory, as a species of decision-theoretic analysis, is located someplace in the tension between self-action and inter-action — I want to pursue a more specific point, the criticism of decision-theoretic accounts on both social-scientific and ethical grounds. In terms of the former register, there are kinds of questions that decision-theoretic accounts are simply not adequate to help us address. In terms of the latter register, the naturalization of individual selfishness that is inherent to decision-theoretical accounts regardless of the preferences held by individual actors and how self-regarding or other-regarding they might be, provides an important avenue on which all such theories can be called into question.
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Tiwesdæg: the Left-hand of Linkage

HK Duck Peeps

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