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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Deemed not qualified for philosophy of science position at UiA

On April 7th I received the assessment of the assessment committee for a position as Associate professor in philosophy at University of Agder's Department of Religion, Philosophy and History. The committee consisted of Troels Engberg-Pedersen (University of Copenhagen), Christel Fricke (University of Oslo) and Jan-Olav Henriksen (Norwegian School of Theology/University of Agder). The call for applications particularly stressed competence in philosophy of science.

The assessment included a 3 page evaluation of my entire academic work, which was interesting to read, if not satisfactory from my own point of view. The committee did not shortlist me for the job, despite my quite extensive experience in terms of academic publications, international networking and participation at international conferences. Briefly told, the committee members did not value the quality of my publications very highly.

Excerpts:
"We should [...] point out that many of Tønnessen's publications have appeared in very specialized journals, some of them Estonian, and that it is thus difficult to assess the originality of his work, sometimes even its quality. [...] Tønnessen comes across as a good academic writer." 
"[I]t is not the author's interdisciplinary approach that is the problem, but the way he carries it out. [... H]e too quickly meanders through a number of big philosophical issues and, at each turn, his arguments are much too sweeping. [...] In our view, the problem with the way Tønnessen carries out his interdisciplinary approach is that he often makes strong claims without providing enough evidence for them, or otherwise pursuing them further." 
"It is true that Tønnessen is clear in characterizing his own approach as some form of anti-theory. [...] the status of such a theory is in need of a defence [...] there is a lack of depth in Tønnessen's comparisons with other and more established traditions within his own field of research, or adjacent to it." 
"[I]t is a genuine quality of Tønnessen's work that it combines scholarly ambition and political engagement in an appealing way." 
"[W]e find that Tønnessen rarely discusses issues from philosophy of science and that when he does, he does not pursue these issues in the ways a philosopher of science should do. [... I]n spite of the fact that Morten Tønnessen has several international publications and participates actively on the international scene, we find him not qualified for the job in question."

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