We have been asked to publish this note from the editors of Synthese.
In response to the controversy concerning a decision by the editors of Synthese involving a recent special issue on "Evolution and its Rivals":
We are committed to the view that Synthese, in addition to being a venue for pure philosophy, also be a forum for debate on issues which extend into the public sphere. In particular, we believe that philosophical debate concerning the role of religion in science and public policy is important. This is why we accepted the proposal to pursue this special issue.
We allow guest editors sufficient freedom to craft intellectually significant special issues. At the same time, as editors of Synthese we must ensure the highest standards of politeness and fairness. This is sometimes a difficult balance to strike, especially with respect to highly-charged matters.
We judged that several articles included in the special issue contained language that is unacceptable: neutral readers of the issue will find no difficulty in identifying such passages. We placed no restriction whatsoever on content. After internal resolution failed, we added a preface as a way of acknowledging our ultimate responsibility, while expressing our regret for the breach of our standards.
While we grant anyone's right to judgment calls different from ours, the simple fact remains that it was our task as editors to make them in this case. Of course, there are lessons to be learnt from what happened regarding our internal procedures, and Synthese will do that.
Finally, we would emphasize once more that maintaining standards of courtesy in academic writing is not a matter of taking sides. It is beneficial to all parties interested in the pursuit of truth. The special issue is out there now, and we trust that colleagues interested in its theme will now proceed to discuss the actual contents.
Johan van Benthem
Vincent F. Hendricks