Using the title "Dr." based on an honorary doctorate

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by RAM PhD, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    You should consider honoring that person's request.
  2. Acolyte

    Acolyte Active Member

    Well, to clarify, it was more like they were saying, “You can call me Dr. Smith, or you can call me Bob, or you can call me Dr. B or whatever...”
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    You can call me Ray....

  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Strictly speaking, it's socially inappropriate to take any title to oneself except in circumstances where professional confusion might other wise reign. "Paging Dr. John...". By any title, according to Miss Manners, I mean ANY title including Mister, Missus, Ms or Miss. (Miss Manners herself points out that "Miss" is her given name and not a title.) Physicians, in my unfortunately altogether too extensive recent experience, are among the least likely to call themselves "Doctor" even in a clinical setting. Educators seem to be one group more likely to call themselves "Doctor" at every opportunity. Well, Chiropractors, too. Lawyers, I'm relieved to report, generally understand that the J.D. is not a doctorate and therefore almost never claim the title for themselves. The exceeding few who try it rapidly abandon the practice. It's just too silly.
  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  6. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    The current Jerry Falwell has a J.D. but I don't think he's admitted to the Bar anywhere. Does he call himself "Doctor"?
  7. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    So, two things...

    He doesn't appear to be admitted anymore but he was previously admitted in Virginia per his Liberty bio...

    He is referred to as either "Jerry" or "Falwell" without a style throughout.

    But bar admission, like a license for a psychologist, has nothing to do with the title of "doctor" except, I suppose, in the case of Naprapaths (and in some states, acupuncturists) as their license actually bears the title of "Doctor" even though, in one case the qualifying degree is unaccredited and in the other the qualifying degree is almost always a Masters degree.
  8. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    I knew the New Mexico license was issued by the New Mexico Medical Board but did not know the title (Doctor) was actually included in the license. That and being issued by the Medical Board is a plus. So, far there only two states (NM & Illinois) that do license them. They have a long way to catch up to Chiropractic.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Back to the original topic (for a moment, perhaps), I want to emphasize that there is no difference between a degree awarded for cause and one awarded honorarily when it comes to the use of the title "doctor." The reason for the award can make a difference in some situations, but the title of "doctor" isn't one of them.
  10. I recently found that a colleague in a related field, many years senior to me, identifies himself as "Dr" in his email signature, but does not mention where he got it, how he got ir, or what area of study. I knew him long enough to know that some years ago he received an honorary, so I did a little web research, and found nothing else. It boggled my mind. So I contacted him and asked why he was identifying himself as "Dr" - he got very defensive and responded he'd worked hard and deserved the recognition. Honorary doctorates are issued to celebrate a university and celebrate donors and recognize people for achievements. But they are not academic degrees. In fact, there are specific academic degrees such as a Doctor of Letters, issued by Oxford Brooks on the basis of published works. All of these are done through application, faculty analysis and contracting with the prospective grad. Here's a sampling of what some universities state in their policies, and they explicitly declare that the Dr title can only be used on university grounds, not with the public. There is also one exception listed, and I wonder how that institution's accreditor would view this exception. This was researched by Warren Throckmorton, a college psychology professor. He wrote up these results in his blog, found here at this link:
  11. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Exactly. He shouldn't call himself "Doctor". It's faintly gauche.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    To re-state: there are distinct differences between doctorates awarded for cause ("earned") and those awarded honorarily. But recipients of either one receive the title "doctor."

    I do not think it is possible for the awarding university to restrict the use of the "doctor" title.

    It's a bit smarmy to call one's self "doctor" based on an honorary degree, but not inaccurate. But it's also kinda smarmy to call one's self "doctor" based on an earned doctorate as well, so there's that.

    I'm okay when health care providers licensed at that level do it because the distinction matters. I would not want a nurse with a PhD to do that in a clinical setting, however.

    Doctorates based on publications are earned doctorates and are not distinction from other earned doctorates.

    My bottom line: I really don't care what people choose to call themselves. But the recipient of an honorary doctorate is a doctor. Perhaps a better solution would be to abolish this silly practice.
  13. Good to hear from you, Rich. I guess it's been at least 15 years; I enjoyed your coining the term back then of "utility" as a measurement of degree value. It made a lot of sense to me. I did not know that you also completed an HRD doctorate with U of Leceister. Good work! I guess I'll do a research review on the topic of people using honorary degrees as the core credential for calling themselves "Dr". So far I found that Ben Franklin adopted the Dr title after receiving more than one honorary degree. And so did the black poet Maya Angelou, despite getting flack for that. My thought is that if this becomes a trend then an alternative solution would be to abolish all doctorates. That way there will be no reason for folks with a strong behaviors toward 'social desirability' - (a scale used on industrial & org psych selection and development tests as a lie detector), won't have to figure out ways to be called doctor without having done the hard work of earning the degree. All the best,

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