Friday, 25 May 2018

Guest Post: Why Not Destroy Philosophy? An Open Journal Proposal

This is a guest post by Justin Ferrier, co-creator of the US Philosopher's Association and a very popular blog, now defunct.

I was listening to my kids at the art gallery the other day and I heard my daughter ask:

'Why do all these dead men want to keep doing philosophy anyway?'

I thought to myself for a minute and then said 'Good question, Arianthe. I do not know the answer to it.'

My son johannesberg then grew restive, and they ran around the gallery interacting with the works, allowing me some more time to think.

We have a terrible discipline that oppresses almost all who try to attain anything within it. We have a rigged journal system overflowing with formulaic, "safe", uninspiring papers, and the barriers to entry grow taller every day.

So Ariadne's astute question hit me with extra force today.

We've had a lot of discussion here lately and over at Daily Nous, with Brian Kemple weighing in heavily. I reached out to Doc F Emeritus for comment, but he is unwilling to contribute to the harms we're seeing these days. I think it's a terrible shame that we won't have Doc around for this one, but these are important conversations that need to happen. I will be writing to Dan Kaufman this evening for comments on some old essays I found lying around. If anything comes up I'll flag it for peer review.

Why do we need a peer review system anyway?

Judgements of quality are notoriously unreliable and hard to assess. Recent data suggests up to 40% variance across different referees in the same discipline. If anyone has the numbers for other disciplines, let me know.

Let's have an opener journal system, some have said. Others have responded that this would potentially pose a real hazard to the quality of philosophy itself. But here's an interesting idea: who cares? If we see the ashes of philosophy as a problem, we should give os closer thought to this and consider the possible transformations it may yet undergo - a new artform rising from the ashes?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Reply to Falafel31 May 2018 at 03:34

    Hi Falafel, thanks for your post! Little Ariadne is a nick name. We were sitting in the hotel lobby one day before going to an art gallery and I said 'Ariadne, look at this book!' and both my children ran around. johanesburg included.