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Monday, August 28, 2006

Leiter on Journal Refereeing

Brian Leiter has posted an interesting post on In-house journal refereeing policies over at the Leiter Reports. What triggered the post was a letter by Dennett and Churchland that calls the refereeing practices of Journal of Philosophy and the Philosophical Review into question. The problem is that many of the papers submitted to these journals are not sent out to external referees but are refereed by department members who know the author's identity. This is indeed a problem, because one could imagine that certain groups of philosophers might be discriminated against due to these practices.

Then again, the philosophy world is very small and probably not very fair. Supervisors drop email notes to editors of book series or to old friends who are chairs of hiring committees, you run into people at conferences who think your choice of Scotch was so excellent that they would like you to send them your next book manuscript, your department chair likes your new hair cut, or your new blog for that matter, and gives you an early promotion. The list goes on and on. And then there is pedigree. A Princeton affiliation does seem better than a Never-Heard-of-Community-College affiliation, even if the person from Never-Heard-of-Community-College wrote a better article. The world is not fair. The philosophy world is not fair. I am not saying we should get over it. We definitely shouldn't. But we probably shouldn't put all the blame on the In-house journals. The problem is much deeper than refereeing practices.

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