I am going to presuppose the need for philosophy rankings, the need for an alternative to a ranking run (even in part) by Leiter, and that Leiter will not step down. Whether any of these presupposions is true is controversial, but I seek to think together with you about what we should think and do if those assumptions were true.
A key issue is how democratic the Alternative should be. At one extreme, there might just be a group of philosophers who announced that they would be willing to serve and start up something—themselves selecting a set of advisors. At the other extreme, we might somehow, all of us philosophers, elect the group that oversees the rankings.
Of course these two models are not mutually exclusive. Both might be tried simultaneously. But I am wondering if we should prefer one sort of system to the other. Perhaps one option is more feasible, likely, or there are terrible problems for one of these options that makes the other option better.
Among the problems for the voting option would be 1) deciding who gets to vote and who gets to decide who gets to vote (obviously limiting voters to APA members is unacceptable if this is meant to be a international ranking of all of English speaking philosophy, but may adjuncts or graduate students vote, may undergraduate majors, may philosophers in any country, who decides if a vote is valid or not?), and 2) worries about strategic voting and self-interested voting.
Among the problems for the non-voting option is that over-opinionated, power-hungry philosophers are especially likely to step up and self-nominate. But perhaps this worry is nearly as bad in the more democratic option since we still need volunteers to vote for. Additionally, such a non-democratic scheme might badly misrepresent the philosophers it purports to serve and be unbalanced in whose fields and concerns get represented. One might think, as Alan Richardson put it over at Daily Nous, “the time has come for the profession to make sure that the conduct of the rankings of departments reflects the interests of the profession as a whole.” One might also see the criticisms by Zachary Ernst of the reliability of the non-democratic options here.
More generally, folks, let’s think together about what an Alternative should look like, assuming it should exist. What would be the other crucial issues to address? One might wonder if we need both overall dept rankings and specialty rankings or just one or the other, for example.