Our reconstruction of the developments in PR [Philosophical Review]...suggests that analytic philosophy emerged in America at a time characterized by philosophical pluralism and a widespread commitment to addressing meta-philosophical issues related to such pluralism. It also suggests that analytic philosophy came to dominate American philosophy partly by analytical philosophers taking control of key institutions within academic philosophy and using these to promote analytic philosophy, and that crucial steps in the direction of such control occurred before 1950. The reason for the growing dominance of analytic philosophy appears to have been, at least in part, the suppression, by institutional means, of existing diversity and, possibly, the exploitation of American pluralism. The dominance of analytic philosophy was not just a matter of an inherent affinity of American philosophy for analytic philosophy, good arguments, more cogently stated doctrines or the lack of alternatives. Nor, at least in its initial stages, is the emergence of analytic philosophy in America a matter of political climate. Finally, the centrality of the exclusion, at an institutional level, of alternatives to mid-century analytic philosophy suggests that the latter might partly be defined by such exclusion....
Mid-century analytic philosophy represented itself as the champion of clear thinking and rigorous argumentation (Soames 2008). It is interesting that such an approach to philosophy should turn out to be characterized, at an institutional level and even if only in its control of PR, by a form of control over its rivals that bypasses discussion. It is no less interesting that, at the same time, mid-century American, speculative philosophy is trying to get to grips with the apparently irreconcilable differences between different approaches to philosophy and to do so with the help of reasoning. This attempt was not only one carried out at the theoretical level within the pages of PR and elsewhere, but one that was to some extent realized in the running of PR and, perhaps, in the tolerance with which analytic philosophy was treated.--Joel Katzav & Krist Vaesen (2017) "On the emergence of American analytic philosophy British Journal for the History of Philosophy [quoted from Academia.edu].*
As a philosopher of science, I had encountered the sociological lingo about 'journal capture.' I assume the terminology traces back to Merton, but to be honest I am unsure (and welcome leads). The first time I fully, consciously registered the phenomenon within analytical philosophy, was about half a decade ago both in the (gendered, racialized, and intellectual) patterns of exclusion to be found in the Healy-4 data and in some of the more shameless responses to it (recall my post at NewAPPS.) Since, I am more alert and I am familiar with a few more attempts at journal capture. To be sure, journal capture need not be all bad: in circumstances of intellectual homogeneity that fill the content of many journals, it may well be a necessary condition for a particular (less popular) viewpoint to get any scholarly hearing at all. [I would just start a blog, but I can see the attraction to others of 'owning' a journal.]
Prior to the breakthrough of analytical philosophy in the Philosophical Review, which can be dated to 1948 (about which more below), philosophy Stateside was dominated by a distinction between speculative and critical philosophy. "The distinction is...roughly as follows: Speculative philosophy tends to focus on the provision of substantial, broad claims about the natures of the universe and humanity. Critical philosophy, by contrast, tends to try to limit its substantive, philosophical commitments and spends much of its time criticizing speculative philosophy or making explicit/reconstructing existing scientific or common-sense knowledge." (Katzav & Vaesen.) What we would now -- as heirs to Ernest Nagel 1936 -- would call ''analytical philosophy" is to be found in the "critical" camp. In their article, Katzav and Vaesen give a hint of the broad range of approaches and themes published in PR before 1948, including (surprising me) material on early experimental philosophy (George W. Hartmann (1944)) and also the fact that "In 1948 the journal publishes...a symposium on Oriental philosophy where authors from India, China and America discuss the relationship between Western, Indian and Chinese philosophy." They add that "Indian philosophers writing in India publish full-length papers in PR throughout the period we have been discussing (see, e.g. Sircar (1933), Srinivasa Iyengar (1939) and Raju (1947))." We may say, then, that before the rise of analytical philosophy, philosophy was more cosmopolitan (in at least some dimensions) than it has been since Stasteide.
In the analysis of Katzav & Vaesen, Philosophical Review decisively and rather suddenly changes the tenor of its pages after 1948, when the work appearing there is largely restricted to analytical philosophy and the scientific wing of pragmatism. (The exceptions to the rule are often -- surprise -- people working at Cornell.) This is, as Katzav & Vaesen, show connected to broader changes in Cornell's department. (They also point to similar kind of journal capture at Mind under Ryle's stewardship.)**
Analytical philosophy displaced many rivals, in part, by ensuring that these would not appear in the leading journals (accompanied by a still familiar rhetoric of 'rigor,' 'clarity' and 'quality'). It did so by behaving like a faction with tough minded enforcers, bullies, who could be counted on never to recognize what is best in other approaches (Geach comes to mind), but only to find fault as well as the existence of strategic operators who did the hard drudgery of editing journals (but with cronyist, review practices which lasted through several generations--things have only just started to improve in the profession) and build institutions (Ryle, Black, etc.). This factional nature is often unintentionally, amply demonstrated in the memories of the participants who fondly recount how a mere phone-call would be sufficient to place a student in a top department. Eventually the process becomes self-reinforcing, when talent flocks to where the opportunities are. (To be sure, the story Katzav & Vaesen is partially compatible with other, more familiar narratives that emphasize the Cold War and other changes in higher education Stateside.)
So far (very rough!) summary (read the paper). I offer three further observations: 1. What is most striking about the Katzav & Vaesen narrative is that the factionalism of analytical philosophy occurred not in an environment when jobs/positions were scarce and, where, one might expect battles to exclude alternatives, but in the golden age of growth in American higher education. Analytical philosophy could still easily have flourished without keeping its rivals from the pages of leading journals (and later pushing them out from leading departments). 2. There was no American, local tradition of irrationalism (later associated with Heidegger and the Nietzscheanism of Continental philosophy). In a weird way, the later arrival of American 'continental' philosophy was a gift to analytical philosophy because it allowed the Carnapian narrative against it to flower (and displace all memory of alternative traditions). As Katzav & Vaesen note, only seventy years ago, the philosophical landscape Stateside was more diverse and stranger than we currently imagine.
3. Katzav & Vaesen are self-consciously externalist in spirit. But they don't explore what philosophical commitments about the nature of the philosophical enterprise drove the factionalist behavior they identify. Historians of analytical philosophy have just started to reflect on the meta-philosophical commitments that drove the professional success of analytical philosophy. These involve (self-serving) ideas about what counts as legitimate and intelligible philosophical speech. They also involve endlessly recycled narratives that reinforce(d) certain prestige hierarchies.
But about these facts and the obligations on us, who have inherited this state of affairs, some other time more.