I can't bear to link to Brian Leiter's blog. He just shows such contempt for so many things I hold dear, and he refuses to allow comments. Still, I can link to Mark Steen's Orangephilosophy post that links to his announcement that Mark Heller will be coming to Syracuse. This is the most exciting news I've had in a long time. After the three professors who had restored Syracuse to its former glory as one of the best places in the world to study metaphysics (and I mean like top five) all got snatched up by Rutgers, now tied for number 1 in the U.S. for philosophy, partly because of them, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I came here partly because of the presence of one of them, and the arrival of the other two seemed to confirm to me that this was the right choice. Then they all left, and others left with them.
They've been replaced by good people, most of them not in metaphysics. The one senior hire in metaphysics is someone whose interests are close to mine, and he's extremely nice and has offered to help me out more than once, but he's been overbooked recently as the only senior metaphysician at a department stocked with metaphysics grad students who came to work with the three who left and are now in dissertation work. So I like him, but it's not as easy for him to oversee as many people as have been assigned to him. Also, his philosophical sensibilities and personality are so far removed from my own that I don't know how easy it would be to work primarily under his guidance. Well, from what I know about Mark Heller, he's almost the perfect advisor for me, so I'm pretty excited. Now I just need to come up with a dissertation that he could oversee.
Mark spent the first part of his career working on exactly the issues I'm interested in. His book argues that physical objects are quantities of stuff extended through time and not just at a time, and his more recent metaphysics work deals with anti-realism about ontology. His current epistemology work is more like metaphysics, since it's about contextualist theories of knowledge, which I think should be relevant to the work on race I'm doing right now. So both my current projects (if you count the stalled one that I'd like to be my dissertation) are related to things he's a specialist in.