If one claims to have a PhD without an issuing institution, can that title be defended as legitimate?

This issue could be relevant in issues of employment (where an applicant has listed a PhD) and to challenge institutionalized PhDs to defend their position amidst a culture that is completely awash in illegitimate philosophy.

Note this is not a criticism of the University as a pedagogical concept. It is a critique of current incumbents.

[Edit: Nevermind, the question has been censored.]

  • 7
    What do you mean by "defend"? Some kind of battle of wits?
    – user37208
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:15
  • 3
    ...honestly, I'm kinda imagining a Magic the Gathering tournament, only with some arm-wrestling and somehow a D&D-like theme worked into it, while people run around screaming like in Braveheart. But that might be the extreme sleep deprivation talking.
    – Nat
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:26
  • 3
    @TheDoctor - Nope, not sufficient to claim to have a PhD. We all have knowledge that no other human being has on some topic or another.
    – Jon Custer
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:33
  • 4
    I think this question is approximately meaningless and the OP belies a serious misunderstanding both of the meaning of the phrase “Doctor of Philosophy” and of how the academic world operates in the comments. As such I’ve voted to close it. Mar 20 '18 at 22:54
  • 6
    @TheDoctor ok, ok, I give up. In view of the learned discourse you presented in this thread and because of your strong defence against the opposing views therein, I herewith award you the title PhD. Now go and apply for a job. Also, I declare you president of the northern hemisphere.
    – henning
    Mar 21 '18 at 7:17

No. Words don't mean whatever you want them to mean. PhDs generally require:

  • getting admitted
  • taking classes
  • doing research under the supervision of an advisor
  • writing that into a dissertation
  • defending the dissertation

In principle you could drop out of grad school and do the other steps on your own. While this might be a worthwhile endeavor for you, there is no quality control. A "crackpot" might convince himself and like-minded people (even those with PhDs) that his ideas are right, whereas they will not convince a reputable university to endorse their ideas.

In my office, some of the most experienced and smartest people never got the PhD. They certainly deserve it -- 30 years of research, conferences, grants etc. is a much better qualification than 5 years in grad school (and everyone who matters knows this). But a PhD is an academic qualification, not (only) an award for merit. If you award yourself a PhD and someone calls you on it, they are absolutely not going to buy your explanation about how a bunch of arXiv papers are equivalent to a PhD from a university.

  • "Quality control"? How about the idea of giving a PhD without any requirement of philosophy at all? Further, you miss the point, a crackpot may be able to convince the pablum that his ideas are right, but if he convinces other PhDs, is that not more than sufficient? What higher standard could exist?
    – Foundling
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:42
  • 6
    Words don't mean whatever you want them to mean. The term PhD refers to "natural philosophy", not philosophy in the modern sense, and is conferred by a university, not by other PhDs.
    – cag51
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:49
  • Can you defend that to any other PhD @cag51?
    – Foundling
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:50
  • 5
    The status quo suggests that the majority of other PhDs agree with me! The onus is on you to convince other PhDs that the current system is broken. Certainly you have not convinced me! But I will not argue the point further here....best wishes.
    – cag51
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:52

No. In the same sense that not everyone has the legal power to marry two individuals, and not everyone can bid in an auction. It depends on the rules.

  • You are actually making an inappropriate legal claim here. Two people can enter a mutual contract (like marriage) without the intervention of the State.
    – Foundling
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:38
  • As far as I know, there is no legal issue with awarding yourself a PhD in many jurisdictions (e.g. much of the US), as long as you don't misrepresent who awarded it. There are many bogus universities in the US and they are legal -- free speech and all that.
    – Thomas
    Mar 20 '18 at 21:44
  • @thedoctor I said not everyone. But Thomas' point is valid, ignore my answer. Within the social institution of academia, however, the story is likely to be different (declaring yourself to have a PhD does not constitute a PhD, for most people at least). Mar 20 '18 at 22:26

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