Sunday, February 10, 2008

Distribution Requirements

Should graduate coursework be subject to distribution requirements? I certainly approve of having wide-ranging interests and a broad philosophical background. But I'm not so sure it's a good idea to force this on graduate students. Some may want to focus exclusively on, say, epistemology, and I'm not sure why we should want to deny them that option. (Faculty advisers may strongly encourage branching out into related areas that they believe would make their student a better and/or more employable philosopher. But shouldn't the student have the final say? The alternative seems awfully paternalistic. And I certainly wouldn't expect one-size-fits-all departmental requirements to be more reliable than the individual students themselves when it comes to determining their educational needs.)

I know some students who are happy with (some) requirements, as they provide the necessary 'prod' to get them to do work in other areas they value which they might not otherwise get around to. So this may make the case for so-called 'soft paternalism', i.e. setting things up so that the default path is to do a bit of everything. But it should still be possible for any students who don't appreciate the requirements to opt out of them.

This seems to be the approach favoured by Princeton:
Students who wish to do especially intensive work in one area of philosophy through extra work either in the Department of Philosophy or in related areas in other departments may be granted variances permitting them to do less than the norm in some other areas of philosophy, if this is required to allow them to pursue their special interests. Such variances will require approval of the department.
(Though I'm not sure how often such requests are granted.)

Question: what do you think is the educational upshot of distribution requirements? What would you expect a metaphysician to gain from studying ethics, or a contemporary philosopher to gain from studying history of philosophy? Answering this question seems vital for crafting appropriate and worthwhile distribution requirements. For example, if you think it is important for students to have a broad knowledge of the history of philosophy, or to appreciate a whole system of thought, merely requiring them to write a unit paper or two on specific historical topics is not going to serve this end at all. (Better, perhaps, to have them attend a broad survey course and pass a multiple choice exam at the end, as a friend of mine suggested.)

I know a lot of people - including myself - who are especially unsure about what they can expect to gain from doing history of philosophy. But I also know that many readers of this blog are very sympathetic to historical philosophy. Do you think that everyone should be doing it? If so, I ask you: why? What good is history to me? In particular, why might you expect it to be better for me than doing additional work in contemporary ethics or metaphysics?


  1. Within contemporary philosophy, the key thing is that it's all interrelated. It seems to be pretty widely recognized that almost everything is touched by epistemology and metaphysics, though if anything this fact is under-appreciated: no matter what you're doing, you have to spend time worry about the nature of the truth-claims you're making and how you know they're true. Language, I worry, gets appealed to when it shouldn't, but you can't simply ignore the people who are doing that. The language/mind connection comes in issues like representation. There's more of a divide between value theory and metaphysics/epistemology, but it still crops up in things like the metaphysics of moral agents and deontology in ethics.

    History is a little different. As I get further in to contemporary philosophy, I sometimes feel it's enough of a chore to keep track of what's going on today. However, there's an important sense of perspective gained in reading about ideas neglected on the contemporary scene, seeing how people used to think, and realizing your great flash of insight was had by someone else two, three, twenty-five hundred years ago. The basic benefit is very much the same as knowing your way around the modern literature, but it gives variation in perspective.

  2. Ideally, I think everyone should do some history of philosophy. The problem is that once you start working with texts that were written two, three or twenty-four centuries ago, difficulties in interpretation come up that require a lot of work. Thus one might not have the time if the historical has little relevance to the contemporary, nor the will if it's not one's preference. At the very least, a study of the history can offer appreciation for the richness and diversity of philosophical opinions--but I really hope a graduate student in a top program will already have this appreciation! I think the same goes for other distinctions, like that between ethics and epistemology.

    And I take it that your preference for extra work in contemporary ethics over extra work in the history of philosophy is not the same as a rejection of the history of philosophy as a valuable sub-field.

  3. One point: the majority of dominant positions in normative ethics today (just as an example) arise very directly out of historical figures, particularly Aristotle (and Aquinas), Hume, Kant, and Mill. There is also interest in Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegel and rising interest in Reid and the moral sense theorists. One can certainly do ethics without knowing any of this stuff--that is, one can read the contemporary stuff and respond to the arguments as presented there. But I'm inclined to think that ignorance of the history is likely to lead to a more superficial understanding of the problems, the difficulties, and the motivations behind the solutions.

    Another point, stressed by Rawls, is that knowing the history widens your perspective (one way it does this is by making you aware of the background assumptions common to philosophical debates in a particular era, which is something you are not likely to get by reading texts from a single era which will, after all, share similar assumptions and methodologies). Why is this valuable? Well, it might help you approach the problems important in contemporary debates with a stronger recognition of their contingency; and it might help to avoid the trap of getting stuck exclusively on hot topics. Or, it might not help at all. Learning the history of philosophy may have no instrumental value at all. Just like learning philosophy.

    As for the suggestion that giving graduate students distribution requirements is paternalistic, that seems odd. Is giving undergraduates distribution requirements paternalistic? Maybe. But that's hardly a bad thing. The point is: you're a student. This presupposes that you expect your professors to have a better understanding of what you should learn than you do, at least up to a point, because you know what interests you but not necessarily what is in your interest. (Of course this may be false in reality, but I take it the question is about whether distribution requirements are justified in principle.)

  4. Richard,

    Do you think the lack of requirements should cut both ways? That is, should I, if I am likely to write my dissertation on figures in 19th and 20h cent. continental philosophy be required to take courses in formal logic and contemporary metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics? (Putting aside the question of whether those might be useful sub-specialities on the job market.) If so, why the asymmetry?

  5. I think there are three points (two substantive, one silly) to be made for broad distribution requirements:

    (1) Hopefully most of us will end up in broadly analytic departments with a mix of talented colleagues of differing interests. Given this, we'll have to endure many talks on subjects outside of our particular interests. Part of being a good colleague (and dept. member) is the ability to comment on, discuss, and raise objections to work done by said colleagues and speakers. This is easier if some of the requisite background is already in place. We can't expect to be experts in area X by writing a unit paper or two, but it seems to me that we can expect (if we honor the spirit of the thing) that we'll be able to avoid asking questions like 'What's the open question argument?' or 'What's Tarski's theorem?'.

    (2) It's not beyond the pale that we'll sometimes have to teach courses outside of our AOCs. Again, we won't be experts from a few papers or an exam, but we'll remember enough to cut down the prep time a bit.

    (3) Logic is good for the soul. Since fulfilling the logic requirement requires doing some logic, fulfilling the logic requirement is good for the soul.
    [sub-point: people make enough truly stupid logical mistakes in the literature that it's worthwhile to force students to learn a bit. See Haim Gaifman's excellent paper "What Godel's incompleteness result does and does not show" for some hilarious examples of these sorts of mistakes.]

  6. Letting historians of philosophy get off without doing contemporary philosophy seems to me even worse than the counterpart. We're not at risk of this happening in philosophy departments anytime soon (I think) but there are people in history departments who try to do history of philosophy, and the results can be pretty painful. Last semester, I took a 500-level history class on the Enlightenment, including a unit on Hume's religious views, where the professor admitted he didn't really understand Hume's Dialogues. Historians of philosophy really do need to just plain be able to do philosophy.

  7. Philosophy seems to be to be a bit tribal shaped by philosophy of history - such that people believe whole swaths of ideas because they read a person who said them. For example I might say I am a follower of Bentham, or some such thing.

    Structures like that allow people to come to beliefs while sidestepping logic rather like how the follower of a political leader.

    I.e. the very thing that roman notes as a reason for teaching history "the majority of dominant positions in normative ethics today (just as an example) arise very directly out of historical figures" is demonstration of the harm it has caused.

  8. In reply to 'other Jack', I agree wholeheartedly with 1 and 2, and with 3 with an addendum: You might just as well say that Plato or Nietzsche are good for the soul. Maybe you would agree? Undergraduate logic, I have to say, deadened my soul, but my course consisted of a graduate student reading lectures verbatim off the plastic transparency on a overhead projector. (And it was at 9AM in the morning). I leave open the possibility that further logic courses will enliven my soul!

    To Hallq: In my usage of the term, historians of philosophy are a kind of philosopher, not a kind of historian. They get PhDs in philosophy and work in philosophy departments. The question is whether in order to do the history of philosophy well such philosophers need to understand the ins and outs of contemporary analytic philosophy. It's not obvious to me that they do. (Although for me personally [as a historian of philosophy] those areas are often of intrinsic interest as well). If they don't understand Hume's dialogues, it seems to me that the problem is that they are a deficient historians of philosophy--they can't make sense of what Hume was getting at. That deficiency won't necessarily be remedied by taking more classes in contemporary metaphysics, epistemology, phil. of religion, etc. It would seem that they need to hone their skills in interpreting philosophical texts.

  9. Other Jack - good points. I agree that there are often benefits to having a broad philosophical background. But I'm not sure that these suffice to justify universal requirements.

    Roman - I consider graduate students to be in a position of greater intellectual independence than undergrads. (Cf. novice apprentices vs. journeymen.) We've been doing this philosophy thing for a while now, and are largely responsible for our own educational priorities and intellectual development. Faculty advisers are there to advise us, and help us to hone our skills. But I do not think that paternalism has any place in this relationship.

    Hallq - "Historians of philosophy really do need to just plain be able to do philosophy."

    That's certainly true. But it doesn't follow that they need to do contemporary philosophy. (I'm not surprised that ordinary history is poor preparation for history of philosophy. But a lack of interest in contemporary analytic philosophy will not turn a historically-minded philosopher into an ordinary historian!)

    [Oh, I wrote the above before Andrew's comment appeared.]

  10. Genius-My point, of course, was that since contemporary philosophy is so strongly influenced by its history (i.e., contemporary problems and solutions are often variations on or spin offs from problems and approaches from the history--i.e., the very problems due to the existence of which contemporary philosophy exists), it well behooves someone working on contemporary problems to know where those problems come from, and what context they were raised in, and why they mattered then. Are you seriously suggesting, as I read you, that philosophers should avoid the history of philosophy for fear of, uhm, learning something from it that they might apply today? I hope not.

    Moreover, I can't imagine who you are talking about when you talk about these blind followers. MacIntyre and Hursthouse (for example) certainly do not blindly accept Aristotle; Korsgaard and Baron do not blindly accept Kant; Blackburn and Slote do not blindly accept Hume. But they are capable of learning from these people who are, after all, famous and still widely read for some damn good reasons. Am I missing your point?

    Richard-You're right that graduate students are generally more independent, and know more about what they are doing than undergrads. Many are also pretentious asses who think they know more than they already do, and desperately need to have their horizons expanded. In any case, though: I know many, many people in philosophy (in my experience, most; your experience may be different) who changed their focus significantly while they were in grad school--sometimes because they realized that their initial topic wasn't that exciting, and sometimes because they were exposed to something even more interesting. Just as we think that undergrads should be broadly educated in general, so it seems reasonable to ask that graduate students be broadly educated in their field. Also: a lot of undergrad programs really suck at providing wide overviews. More knowledge, generally, seems like a good thing.

  11. What would you expect a metaphysician to gain from studying ethics, or a contemporary philosopher to gain from studying history of philosophy?

    Whatever other reasons may be said -- I think Roman has made good points -- there is a need for graduate programs to turn out people capable of having something to say to each other, being able to interact with each other in a department, and this is not an easy thing to do in a field as vast as philosophy. You need to give everyone a wide spread of points from which they can start relating to each other. (Undergraduate, it seems to me, is usually less effective for doing things like this than for helping undergraduates to see if there is anything that strikes them as particularly interesting.) As someone who does HoP it is very frustrating to interact with people who, bred on the rarefied air of science-fiction counterexamples, don't understand the need to base characterizations of arguments and positions on a serious and systematic use of evidence. It's bad enough as it is; if people weren't required to get some familiarity and acquaintance with history of philosophy, we might as well start splitting philosophy departments into history (where we use real evidence) and non-history (where we just make things up). (Sorry, couldn't resist the tendentious descriptions!) And this is to everyone's detriment; whatever bad blood developed between people who 'do analytic' and people who 'do continental' through the middle of the twentieth century was the result of a similar process, and the cause of a lot of irrational and ill-informed things said both ways. If philosophy is to function in the academic world, people need to be exposed to each other early on in their serious philosophical careers, and it will not happen, except occasionally and by accident, after grad school.

  12. I sometimes think that they should be split, actually. For it does seem to me that historical and continental philosophy are completely different fields from analytic philosophy. We go about answering questions in completely different ways, etc. So why do (or should) we jumble them all together in a single department?

  13. Richard,

    An interesting point of comparison is music departments in research universities. The parallel is of course not exact. But these are generally divided between people doing composition (creating new musical works) and people doing musicology or ethnomusicology (that is, studying the western classical canon or the preexisting musical works of some other region).

    In music departments (in my experience) it is not expected that in order to be a good musicologist you have to be a good composer. That would be ridiculous--the skills required are just totally different. (So I am in agreement with you.) But in philosophy departments (again, in my limited experience), it's often thought that it's a prerequisite of being a 'good philosopher' to produce, or at least to contribute to the production of 'new' philosophy, either with positive or negative arguments that engage with topics that have currency in the contemporary literature (or that point out the flaws in some position in the past. That's one way of being of good philosopher, I think, but it's not the only way. The attitude has a chilling effect on historical work: It makes it seem as if the good historical work in philosophy is good only insofar as it tries to raise objections to work done in the past. (Not that I am against raising objections to work done in the past--far from it!) But I think an equally worthy philosophical project is simply to understand and reconstruct what someone was trying to say in the past.

    As for whether the departments should be split,
    I'm not sure I agree that they should be, although I don't have a good argument for why they should be kept together. I think the best solution is to have separate tracks within the department that are geared toward the cultivation of the particular skills one needs to be the sort of philosopher one is aiming to be.

  14. Yeah, 'separate tracks' sounds like a good idea. (Though I guess it remains open to one to argue, as per Roman's first point, that understanding the history will also deepen one's understanding of contemporary problems. I'm skeptical, though.)

    One thing I want to come back to is The Other Jack's defence of distribution requirements subject to the proviso "if we honor the spirit of the thing". This is an important point, and one - I think - that speaks against impersonal rules forcing students to do this work. If the work in question is really so vital, then departments need to convince their students of this (so that they internalize the reasons and follow them of their own accord). But imposing rules and requirements without due explanation simply breeds resentment, so that many students will simply do the minimum required to satisfy the letter of the requirement (never mind its spirit), making it a total waste of time for everyone involved.

    [I'd say this is even true at the undergrad level. Compulsory courses make sense if they are needed to demonstrate a core technical competency prior to credentialing with a degree. But when it comes to less clear-cut values, I think these are better promoted by the 'soft power' of faculty advice, peer pressure, etc., not legalistic rules.]

  15. This is an interesting discussion. My sense is that philosophy departments (along with political theory in politics departments) are unique in preserving a subfield dedicated to the history of the discipline. Economists do not have in-house historians of economics, physicists do not have in-house historians of physics, and so forth. I wonder if those who believe that graduate students in a contemporary analytic subfield of philosophy should be required to know something about history of philosophy also think (or suspect) that other disciplines are missing out by not imposing comparable requirements?

  16. Roman - there must be limits to this. I assume you don't think philosophy graduates should be required to take courses in economics, literary theory, or particle physics, just to 'expand their horizons'! (I could imagine changing interests within contemporary analytic philosophy, but turning continental or historical would be as radical for me as changing disciplines entirely.)

    Ryan - interesting question! I've heard (and am sympathetic to) calls for science to be taught more historically in schools. But I wonder, as you do, if many would wish to extend this combination all the way to departments in research universities?

  17. Regarding teaching science historically...

    On the one hand, gaining a sophisticated sense of how science got to be what and where it is might be adverse for typical scientific research. It really is amazing how much textbooks smooth over the history of science to reinforce those naively mythical beliefs regarding science that some (myself not included) say are integral to its progress.

    On the other hand, I, for one, learn a field of science much better by reading the history of it and then augmenting that with contemporary work. I find it immensely helpful to realize why certain questions were asked at certain times and the conditions that allowed certain answers to be given (i.e. the connection between Copernicus and neoplatonism/mannerism, the relation between thermodynamics and the factory, etc). And then there are truly brilliant scientists like Piet Hut who have internalized a deep contextual understanding of science, and it clearly improves the kinds of questions asked and the general quality of their work.

    I think that science would benefit from better contextual training, and I think philosophy is similar.

    Having a relatively nuanced understanding of how one got to where one is and why one is asking the questions one is asking can only be beneficial to philosophy as a whole. By this I don't mean everyone needs to read a good bit of Kant or Aristotle. But I think it would be immeasurably healthy to genuinely internalize that people haven't always asked and will not always continue to ask even general questions like "What is a mind?", "How do we verify whether something is true?", or "Would this action be the right action?". Or, perhaps, to recognize that the presuppositions that allow contemporary questions to be asked have changed and will continue to change, eventually making even the most fundamental issues we are currently concerned with impenetrable without significant conceptual translation. I think the effect of this is to make one much more grounded (even as one loses one’s ground!) and helps to clarify and put into perspective the projects that one chooses to pursue.

    That said, to connect this with Richard’s initial question, I’m not so sure that someone who wants to specialize in contemporary ethics and metaphysics should be –required- to take courses in the history of philosophy. I think it would most likely be helpful to do so, but the attitude the student takes to a course is at least as important as the quality of the course itself. Taking a course as a requirement might teach some trivia that might be helpful someday in conversation, but it likely won’t have much of an effect on how the student conceives of and approaches a given issue. And besides, a good teacher would likely be able to impart the contextual, background sense that I’m advocating as important without significantly discussing any particular past thinkers.

  18. >For it does seem to me that historical and continental philosophy are completely different fields from analytic philosophy. We go about answering questions in completely different ways, etc.

    You may well be right about continental philosophy. I have a hard time imaging what you could be thinking on the historical/analytic end, though. Right now, I'm trying to read two books in philosophy from within the last half-century: JJC Smart's treatment of Utilitarianism, and Laurence Bonjour's defense of rationalism. It's obvious that the former has a huge debt to Kant, Mill, Bentham, and Sidgwick, while the latter has a huge debt to Descartes, Hume, and Kant. They may bring in novel arguments and perspectives, but to claim that there's a complete disconnect is simply false.

    As for historians of philosophy doing philosophy: though you could spend some time ironing out the conceptual points, it's hard for a historian to analyze philosophical arguments without in some sense doing contemporary philosophy, in part because the historian will be contemporary with himself. Contemporary philosophy, in way, ends up being just plain old philosophy.

  19. A classical-philosopher friend today suggested to me an important consideration: historically trained philosophers, he believes, are simply better at reading texts, charitably interpreting them, and understanding what the philosopher they're reading is trying to say. (Often in contemporary classes, he notices people raising objections when the answer is plain in front of them.)

    Certainly, this is a skill that contemporary philosophers need too, and it seems plausible to me that historical training may be especially helpful in developing it. Is imposing a distribution requirement the best way to promote such training? This I'm less sure of.

    Hallq - historians are concerned with discerning, e.g., what Aristotle meant, a textual/historical project which isn't obviously related to the contemporary philosopher's free-floating question: what is true? Note that I don't claim any disconnect with Kant, Mill, etc. The disconnect is with the historical study of these figures. (I may ask the same questions as Mill, but historians of Mill are engaged in a different sort of project altogether.)

    Your final point seems merely terminological. Anyway: if historians of philosophy are ipso facto doing "contemporary philosophy in some sense", it would seem unnecessary to require them to do separate contemporary philosophy courses in addition (which was the original issue, recall).

  20. There are two broad benefits I can see to doing history of philosophy. Neither require more than a couple of courses to do their work.

    First, doing one or two courses in the history of philsophy might just make one better able to understand the motivations and benefits of various arguments in a more charitible fashion, something which is very relevant to contemporary philosophy. Attempting to understand what some distant historical figure thought about a problem one has worked on hones ones analytic skills in an way which better prepares one to do the same when faced with seemingly radical claims made by less distant counterparts.

    Since a good part of philosophy involves trying to get others to agree with one's position, I think that such charitablity can be extremely important. Being able to clearly understand why others hold very different views on the basis of reasons that may intially strike one as mistaken or absurd can help one better understand the underlying motivations and methodologies of those one disagrees with, and such understanding is often indispensable to persuasion.

    The better one understands other rival positions, the better one is able to tailor one's arguments so that they may directly engage with the intuitions that motivate others to take radically opposed views. History of philosophy provides training in just this kind of gap-bridging, and hence is of great value.

    Second, doing one or two courses in history can produce a sense of humilty concerning one's intutions and results that can also serve to make one a better philosopher. Although a committed historian, I certainly believe that philosophy has progressed a great great deal in the past 2000 years (and the past 25 for that matter), and so this humilty need not require that one embrace relativism or despair of finding truth. One need only recognize that contemporary debates rest (as all previous historical debates have) on unexamined starting points which may not be entirely justified. Doing only the contemporary version of x runs the risk of producing philsophers less able to step back from the basic assumptions that rule in their intellectual community.

    I think analogies between the hard sciences are largely out of place here (although, in economics and extremely theoretical sciences they are more accurate), and that the reasons why they are out of place are particularly instructive.
    For unlike experimental physicists or mathematicians, who may appeal to experimental data or pragmatic results to verify their assertions, philosophers rely to a large extent on intuition. For this reason, exposure to competing intutions is all the more crucial.

    In fact believe such exposure might arguably serve as something like a philosophical analogue to the "controlled experiments in varied conditions" which we find in the experimental sciences, and to this extent, may help protect us from making overly ambitious claims in our enthusiam for new ideas and appraches.

    I think history bears this claim out. Competely throwing out the rule book and hoping to start from scratch is not always a the best way to find the truth, as the early, runaway enthusiasms for hedonistic utilitarianism and logical positivism make very clear (not to mention the current enthusiam for experimental philsophy in some quarters).
    Doing history of philsophy can keep one grounded in the difficulties involved in arriving at a view close to truth.

  21. historians are concerned with discerning, e.g., what Aristotle meant, a textual/historical project which isn't obviously related to the contemporary philosopher's free-floating question: what is true?

    This isn't, I think, actually right; first of all, because the contemporary philosopher's question isn't free-floating. If it were, then there would be no problem here: after all, Aristotle asked the question, too, as did Heidegger. If the question were really free-floating it would be simply arbitrary to leave them out of consideration in contemporary analytic discussion -- at least, the only reason that could be given is the extra effort required to determine what they meant, which is a purely technical obstacle. Second, even the contemporary philosopher does history of philosophy, since it really is relevant to actual discussions in contemporary philosopher whether Rawls meant this or McDowell meant that. It's just a much, much shorter history of philosophy. You couldn't get rid of it; once anyone took an interest in the thought of a particular thinker, it would be natural to have seminars on them, and you'd be back to having distinct history classes, just on more recent history. And third, if there were any free-floating questions (I don't think there really are) the best candidates would all be found in history of philosophy. What contemporary analytic philosophers do is just one small parochial corner of what HoPers do, bound by its little traditions and assumptions and cultural limitations in a way that's easier to see when you step out of it and start comparing it with other parochial corners. Historians of philosophy ask the same questions, because they are doing philosophy. This becomes very obvious if you compare them to pure historians who deal with philosophical texts, and thus are engaged in the purely historical/textual project.

  22. Just wanted to add a couple of things to the many great points here:

    First: Many philosophers, at some point in their careers, might end up in a situation where they will need--for reasons internal to their work--to engage with the history of philosophy. This is far easier to do if one has already had training in reading the history of philosophy. Someone without that training would be more likely to either just do a bad job, or to simply ignore the need to look into the history and move on to something else, because getting into a field one is unprepared for is too time consuming. Graduate school can, hopefully, prepare one for such contingencies.

    Something similar, I think, applies with regard to continental philosophy. It seems like a completely different field of study, in my view, because of the lousy way academic philosophers have broken up the field. But this status quo is a problem intellectually honest philosophers should want to overcome, not a basic fact to which we should bow in making distribution requirements. Sometimes philosophers who really ought to look at some continental work simply don't (recall Bernard Williams's suggestion that Korsgaard should read some Levinas to make her point about our relations to others), but many do, and it's worth noting the important things Davidson got from Gadamer, Dreyfus from Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, and so on. And it isn't a weird fluke that phenomenology has been rising in importance in philosophy of mind circles--as many recognize, Husserl got a lot of things that Searle comes up with more than half a century earlier. Having familiarity with continental philosophy and history of philosophy, in other words, of use both because one might need to engage with that work to be a better philosopher, but also to avoid reinventing the wheel.

    Second: Of course I recognize that graduate students are more independent than undergrads. But we also have plenty of time after graduate school to work on whatever interests us without anyone telling us what to read. So I think it's a mistake to think of one's graduate school career as the time to do whatever one wants: it is, and should be perceived, as training to become an independent researcher. And distribution requirements are part of that training. It's true that many graduate students may balk at being told what to read, and might then do the bare minimum and get nothing out of it. But surely this is a failing on the part of the graduate student who are, after all, expected not only to be competent independent researchers, but also competent students and seekers of knowledge.


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