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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

Stop Calling Professors ‘Professor’

Professional titles confer too much undeserved authority in an increasingly egalitarian world.

Sure, address the Prince of Liechtenstein by his title, but names are just fine for the rest of us.

Sure, address the Prince of Liechtenstein by his title, but names are just fine for the rest of us.

Photographer: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

As woke culture has led to a reexamination of American language and life, from pronoun usage to calling slaves “the enslaved,” perhaps it is time to look at professional titles. Why for instance should I be called “Professor Cowen,” but few people would address the person fixing their toilet as “Plumber Jones”?

Aren’t we giving some professionals too much status automatically? Aren’t we relegating some individuals to lower-status jobs by a consensus they cannot fight? We mock the German honorific “Herr Professor Doktor,” but are American practices so much better?