We have enjoyed a healthy increase in submissions to the JHP this year, but along with this our publication queue has grown. This is affecting our ability to ensure all JHP articles appear within a year of their date of final acceptance.--Journal of the History of Philosophy
JHP is often regarded as one of the leading history of philosophy journals, certainly in 'early modern philosophy.' It is now risking its status with badly thought through, and ill-advised policies. Before I get to that, let me note that I do not deny there is an increasing publication crisis in our field (philosophy), which historically and comparatively has low acceptance rates (often under 10% at many journals); where publication expectations (recall) and stardards for tenure have dramatically changed during my professional (fifteen year) career; and where David Velleman can earnestly suggest that graduate students should not publish anymore. Many likely referees have a very high annual referee burden.
In the past, JHP has handled the high number of submissions by letting a graduate student do* initial screening for desk rejects. In my opinion JHP had a record of unreasonably high number of desk rejects. The new journal policy note codifies and makes explicit another existing practice: individual referees have a de facto veto over publication at JHP. (The past sentence is informed by my own experience.) This has always been truly irresponsible by the editors: it gives biased, outdated, and moronic referees (etc.) control over the journal. Such a procedure also makes one wonder why one has editors' names at all on the masthead. For, the editor basically outsources quality control to unnamed, unaccountable referees in this approach. Other journals at least maintain the useful fiction that the editor makes final decisions.
Even so, the real scandal here is that a particular historical area of philosophy is being explicitly discriminated against. No reasons are given, but presumably JHP feels that there are too many early modern papers in its cue. Now, it's true that early modern dominates the recent papers of JHP. In volume 55 (covering 2017), there were 7 regular papers in early modern. That dominates all other categories. Except that it doesn't. (Consider the following my contribution to naturalistic-positivistic history of philosophy.) While there were only three regular Kant papers, there was a "Symposium: Kant on Cognition" with four papers and also a special lead article devoted to a retrospective on The Bounds of Sense by Peter Strawson. (And I leave aside the number of papers on German idealism.) I am happy to see Kant scholarship flourish, by the way.
The more important point is this: the official bias against early modern comes at a horrible, foreseeable cost. As Sam Rickless reminded me on facebook, early modern is the sub-field in the history of philosophy where the recovery of female philosophers has become a collective endeavor: with edited volumes, monographs, and special issues.
As an aside, some of us have been puzzled why this buzz has not spilled over more into the pages of JHP! Houston you have a problem with your editorial policies! (Honestly: Synthese has published more papers on Margaret Cavendish than JHP during the last few years! Let that sink in for a second.)
This is not a matter of political correctness. The recovery is creating (see Shapiro) excitement in the field over methodological standards, new-found arguments, and it is widening our understanding of the historical dialectic (including rebounding back on how we understand canonical figures and topics). It is, thus, outrageous that young and often female scholars (who are at the forefront of this recovery) are being penalized by this ill-conceived editorial policy. Early modern also has become the field where efforts at recovering the (often non-European) criticism of philosophical contributions to western imperialism and slavery has been put on the research agenda (see Chris Meyns' recent reminder).
That's to say, the flagship journal in the history of philosophy is deliberately cutting itself off from one of the most fertile scholarly areas in the history of philosophy today. And it does so in a way that generates status quo bias, and harms junior scholars who could be shaping the field for the better.
Oh Schliesser, you are just protecting your own scholarly niche, but you don't offer any solutions.
So heré's a modest, feasible suggestion: JHP could solve its long cue time to publication problem by moving to online publication (as its main form of publication). It could then either increase page-numbers per issue or increase the number of issues per volume. That change is overdue anyway. For this is a journal that essentially publishes less than 30 papers in the history of philosophy per year.
*Corrected: see Prof. Nadler's description below. I regret the mistake with apologies to my readers and JHP.