Here is how I recommend students use the rankings:
- Within a peer group, choose a program exclusively on the basis of how well it meets your needs -- and whether it's in your century.
- It can make good sense to choose a program in a lower peer group over a higher one if that program meets your special interests. If, for example, youÌre mainly interested in the history of modern philosophy through Kant, then the Lyceum would be a bad bet -- though the Vienna Circle might not be so hot, either. If you have a substantial interest in ancient philosophy, of course, then the University of Paris ca. 1260 would be ideal.
I can not overemphasize how very different the philosophical climate is at equally distinguished schools, say, the Academy and the University of Texas at Austin. While one might study the philosophy of love at either place, the difference in training is likely to be quite dramatic. That Plato and Bob Solomon are both among the most prominent thinkers on the subject sheds no light on the fact that their conceptions of philosophy and philosophical problems are completely different.
Before choosing any program, make sure that the faculty there are not all dead. Anecdotally, at least, it appears that some schools with excellent faculties do not have any non-dead faculty members. And some programs with exceptional faculties -- like the Apostles of Galilee -- simply have no track record, as of yet, for immortality. See the listing of Prominent Faculty Who Are Dead in Part II of the Report. (Of course, this advice does not apply to students seeking admission to the Sixth Circle -- see below.) (TH)