Top Philosophers of Religion by Hirsch Numbers
December 7, 2007 — 13:56

Author: Jon Kvanvig  Category: General  Comments: 10

I did this at Certain Doubts for top-rated epistemologists by this metric, so for fun I thought I'd do it here.  I didn't really try to get a comprehensive list of people in philosophy of religion, but simply used the Leiter Report specialty rankings for philosophy of religion departments, and gleaned likely suspects from faculty lists for those departments.  So people at non-PhD programs will be slighted here, but I'll be happy to insert any such philosophers into the list when the omissions are noticed.  Anyway, the list is below the fold, for what it is worth.  But first:  I hereby disavow the implication that I myself think such metrics measure something important–it is true, however, that more and more administrators are thinking it measures something important, so if one doesn't, it will be useful to become acquainted with the metric and its flaws.   The measure used is the Hirsch number, and there are links to more information about it at Certain Doubts; what I've done relies on research citations for people who work in philosophy of religion, excluding citations of edited volumes and other non-research publications.

1 Alvin Plantinga

2 Bill Alston 

3 Nick Wolterstorff 

4 Antony Flew 

5 Robert Audi

5 Richard Swinburne 

5 Peter van Inwagen

5 John Hick 

9 Keith DeRose

10 John Hawthorne

10 Robert Adams

10 Eleonore Stump

13 John Fischer 

13 Jon Kvanvig

14 Bill Craig

14 Trenton Merricks 

14 Michael Tooley 

14 Ted Warfield

14 Linda Zagzebski 

20 Gary Gutting

20 Tim O'Connor 

20 Derk Pereboom 

23 David Burrell

23 Brian Davies 

23 Steve Evans

23 Richard Gale 

23 Mike Rea

23 Bill Rowe 

23 Quentin Smith 

23 Merold Westphal 

23 Dean Zimmerman 

32 Marilyn Adams

32 Mike Bergmann

32 Stephen Davis

32 Paul Helm 

32 Hugh McCann 

32 Mark Murphy 

32 Graham Oppy 

39 David Basinger

39 Fred Freddoso

39 Bill Hasker 

39 Ralph McInerny 

39 Ed Wierenga

39 Keith Yandell

  • Hi Jon,
    Are the research citations from the work of these authors in philosophy of religion? (I find it difficult to believe that, considering their work in philosophy of religion alone, Audi is ranked even with Swinburne or, for the same reason, that Bill Rowe is ranked 23, below D. Pereboom). My guess is that this is from their work in general, which does not seem relevant to this ranking. Second, unlike the CD ranking, this is not a group whose main work is in the philosophy of religion. Finally, I think I’d include people like Dan Howard-Snyder, Peter Forrest, John Hare, W. Wainwright, J.P. Moreland, John Leslie, David Johnson, J.L. Schellenberg, Tom Morris, J. Howard Sobel and maybe Peter Geach.

    December 7, 2007 — 20:56
  • Roy Clouser is essential reading in my estimation. The best kept secret of the philosophy of religion world!

    December 8, 2007 — 0:29
  • Here, too, Jon? You must have some REALLY onerous grading that you’re avoiding by means of these diversions.

    December 8, 2007 — 1:51
  • jon kvanvig

    Thanks Mike, I knew I was missing some. Sobel and Moreland would be tied with the group at #20, and Forrest tied with the group at #23. I’m not sure why, but I thought Geach wasn’t living anymore, but he is tied with the group at #10. The rest I had checked already.
    Keith, yes I’m really procrastinating. But I’ve been goaded as well by the rising influence these numbers have among administrators.

    December 8, 2007 — 8:15
  • Hi Jon,
    Can you use the Hirsch-index for specific books or articles? If you still want to procrastinate some more–those poor students!–you could see which books/articles come out on top. I’d have a good laugh if some of Plantinga’s work beat out the Bible on the Hirsch-index. 🙂

    December 8, 2007 — 10:39
  • Jon,
    These numbers–just to confirm–are not for work in the philosophy of religion, right? These numbers are for overall philosophical work. Otherwise, it is very hard to make sense of this ranking.

    December 8, 2007 — 10:50
  • jon kvanvig

    Mike, sorry, I forgot to respond to that part of your message. As you know, it is very hard to find people whose primary scholarly reputation is for work in philosophy of religion, and I made no attempt to sort between citations of work in the area and outside the area. I started out with the idea of sorting, but the data becomes meaningless at that point because all the Hirsch numbers are so low.

    December 8, 2007 — 12:29
  • Yes, that would skew numbers. But this ranking does too. It is not a ranking of ‘top philosophers of religion’; it is a ranking of philosophers in lots of fields that happen to intersect in the philosophy of religion. So a high ranking for some author S on this list does not mean that S’s contribution to philosophy of religion (even as measured by a Hirsch number) is especially noteworthy. It means rather that S has made some noteworthy contibution to philosophy and, incidentally, S has published in the philosophy of religion. This makes, for instance, Rowe’s and M. Adam’s ranking as top philosophers of religion way too low, and several others as top philosophers of religion way too high, but I’m not sure how to remedy that. BTW, I just noticed that Leftow is not on this list.

    December 8, 2007 — 12:56
  • James Gibson

    What about Paul Moser?

    December 8, 2007 — 13:34
  • jon kvanvig

    The numbers for both Leftow and Moser are below any of those on the list.
    What you say is exactly right, Mike, though I’d quibble a bit with the idea that anyone on the list has published only incidentally in philosophy of religion. I explicitly left out some people because, in my judgement, they had published only incidentally in the field (think of David Lewis, for example). Hawthorne is maybe a close call on that score, and maybe Audi as well; but the others aren’t. If one wanted to isolate contribution to philosophy of religion itself, probably total citations in the area would be a better route to go–at least on that score, there would be some data differences between people.

    December 8, 2007 — 14:33