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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I won't be Docktor Doktor, after all!

Thanks to Damien Broderick for sending me this link to a Washington Post story.

It seems that Germany has an obscure 1930s law that, with limited exemptions, prevents anyone using the title "Dr" unless they hold their doctorate or medical degree from a German university. Actually, the law was extended in 2001 to give the privilege to people with relevant degrees from other universities in the European Union. But if you are an academic from, say, the US or Australia, and you're working in Germany you will generally have to call yourself something like "Prof. Ian Thomas Baldwin, PhD, Cornell University". If you call yourself "Dr Baldwin", you will have committed a criminal offence. They take "title abuse" pretty seriously in the status-conscious land of the autobahn.

Well, here I am: almost through a second PhD for my mysterious reasons that I always find difficult to explain to people succinctly. I thought that one of the perks was that I could really revel in it next time I visit Germany, but obviously I was wrong.

1 comment:

Udo Schuklenk's Ethx Blog said...

this is so funny, russell. i recall when i studied in germany that academics with o'seas degrees always added their PhD after their name, as well as a 'Dr' before it. May be they had two degrees, may be they tried to translate their PhD into something us locals would understand.
anyway, in status conscious germany, to be fair, a 'professor' actually 'counts more' than a mere doctor. so, within those quasi religious title related activities, there's some bizarre logic after all.
not that it helps ya a great deal, seeing that you got two doctorates but nothing professorial as yet. on th other hand, german universities might be more likely to offer you a chair, coz they'd have a 'professor doktor doktor' for the same salary as a measly 'professor doktor' :-)