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Enzo Rossi

Thanks for this post. As I've said before, the problems are structural. The profession is too top-heavy. The stars are put in moral danger by the very system that gives them their exalted positions -- I don't know whether I could resist all those temptations, were I in their position. I'm not saying that the majority of stars don't resist; but the discipline is small enough that a few people can make a big impact.

The issue of brute financial rewards illustrates another problem with a top-heavy academic culture. The ranking obsession, as you pointed out in a recent post, has increased salaries at the top. Maybe academic hiring isn't exactly a zero sum game, but it seems plausible that administrators are happy to divert resources to the top and adjunctify at the bottom -- after all this chimes with neoliberal ideology about "top talent". One problem here is that the people with clout are the ones who benefit most from this system, so that it's hard to argue authoritatively against it. Perhaps we need to drive a wedge between our perceptions of skill in philosophy and our perceptions of skill in how philosophy should be run as a profession.

When it comes to publication, I think a simple practical step would be to have more triple-blind journals, i.e. conceal the author's identity from the editors as well as from referees. That's what we implemented at the European Journal of Political Theory, which I just started co-editing. It's actually pleasant and refreshing to look at a paper with less implicit bias baggage.

Leigh M Johnson

Thanks for this, Eric. I'm reproducing below my comment from your FB feed. I hope it's not *too* out of context.

I'm unconvinced that adding even more levels of anonymity to the journal review-process will do much to remedy the problems that Eric (and others) have noted. And, tbh, I'm also unsure how one could formulate a Code of Ethics "rule" to ensure that blind-reviews are *really* blind. The systematic exclusion and underrepresentation of certain groups that we see in professional Philosophy is, of course, a cultural problem, and the interpretation of whatever rules govern our community will always be filtered through its dominant cultural norms. (See: the last two years of SCOTUS rulings.) So,making a rule that says "journal editors must be neutral, not show favoritism, avoid Googling, etc" is more likely to reinforce the claims of journal editors that they are already doing so than it is to empower those whose "voices" (or arguments, or positions, or traditions) are currently unheard/unseen, because the (alleged) perpetrators are their own judges and juries in this case. That is to say, there's no real separation of powers between our legislative and judicial branches.

And that's just leaving aside for the moment the more important question, I think, which is really about the merits **and demerits** of blindness/neutrality in determining who is seen, heard or read in Philosophy.

This is part of what Ed Kazarian and I were getting at in our post about tone-policing: the danger with codifying norms like these is that it might only further entrench the influence of those who already determine the cultural landscape of our profession, who interpret its governing norms/rules, and who may be unable to see the more broadly deleterious effects of their judgments, which inevitably tend toward maintaining their own privileged positions. To wit, I like Ed's idea of "curatorship" a lot, and I think the various initiatives we've seen over the last couple of years to promote inclusiveness in conference programming, keynote addresses, speaking invitations, etc also provide a really good model for thinking about how blindness/neutrality has its limits as a good.

LK McPherson

"'It should be clear that we have aimed for balance of various sorts, such as subdisciplinary, gender, institutional, and geographical.'"

I was about to respond to the quote you cite with: That's nice, truly, though it's also clear what is missing both in the statement and in the lists of editors.

Then I got to your asterisked query at the end. Your "blow over" surmise was correct. I certainly got no response, nor have I encountered any in the blogosphere (even when I directly countered comments from a former editor of Phil Review). At NA and LR I have explored some of the reasons why practical indifference of this sort prevails in a profession that looks and comfortably acts stuck in a Jim Crow time warp.

Neil Levy

You are mistaken about Brian Weatherson. Brian was once at the Sage School and therefore an 'insider' at Phil Review. But he had long since moved on when he wrote the post you mentioned.

Eric Schliesser

Neil, what mistake have I made?

Eric Schliesser

Lionel, agreed. I regret the misstatement in the post, but I don't see anything in Prof. Sosa's letter that makes me change my mind about the substance of the post.

Neil Levy

"Once I called out Brian Weatherson, an insider at Phil Review, for publicly trying to influence the editorial policy of JPhil "

That clearly implies that when Brian tried to influence the editorial policy at JPhil - if indeed that's a good description of what he did - he was an insider at Phil Review. But he had by then long since been gone from Cornell.

Eric Schliesser

Neil, when I wrote the original NewAPPS post, I was aware that Brian had left Cornell and I assume most of my readers were, too. I didn't claim he was still on the editorial Board at Phil Review. Why is it inappropriate to call him an "insider"?
As I point out in my post, you're not allowed to mention the high status men; your response (gotcha fact-checking, but ignoring the substance of the post) illustrates the point I make, and I think of you as one of the folk that at least worries about the issues I raise.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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