Have some philosophy departments stopped considering letters of recommendation?

Oddly enough, I think I mostly agree with Professor L, so if they’re being facetious, I guess I took it seriously enough to consider my own position.

If the reason so many departments are dropping the GRE is because it’s not a good predictor of graduate school success or because students from marginalized communities tend to do worse on the GRE than those from more privileged communities, so I guess similar arguments would support removing letters of recommendation (i.e. they tend to be either unnecessary hyper positive noise they tend to be means of marking status via editors fanciful letters, they disadvantaged non-traditional students, etc.). However, the same arguments also apply to writing samples (for example, the same arguments that are used to support “linguistic inclusion” in philosophy can help explain why writing samples systematically disadvantage learners of English language in terms of polishing their writing samples, transcripts would systematically disadvantage students from marginalized communities/poor school systems or who had to navigate their way through school, etc.).

My personal opinion is not that we should eliminate all of these options and resort to a lottery, but rather that we should require students to submit three, and only three, items as part of their application package and give each student a choice on what to submit (transcripts, GRE, writing sample, letters of recommendation, cover letter, non-traditional performative philosophy, etc.). This way, everyone is evaluated on material that they believe presents them in the best possible light and would thus help (as much as possible) to level the admissions playing field.

For example, I was an ELL student when I was young and also grew up in a very poor, majority minority neighborhood with some of the worst public schools in my state. Social and economic pressures being what they were, I didn’t have good grades in high school, so I went to an ordinary state university. If it hadn’t been for my writing sample and my GRE scores, I don’t know if my application would have received a second look or so. Others, I imagine, would have preferred to use letters of recommendation, a compelling cover letter, and their transcripts. Anyway, the checklist option is, in my opinion, preferable and, I think, in line with the line of thought of Professor L.Report