By Amy Ferrer, APA Executive Director, and John Heil, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the APA
No doubt you’ve heard, over the last year or so, about the impending launch of the new Journal of the American Philosophical Association. With the editorial board having been announced earlier this month, the journal is now a living, breathing reality.
One especially notable feature of the journal is the commitment of the editorial team to diversity. The mission statement of the journal approved by the APA board of officers affirms that it will not only recognize, but in fact represent, the many facets of philosophy as a discipline. Members of the editorial board were selected not only for their scholarly abilities but also for their commitment to this aspect of thejournal’s mission. In the coming months, we plan to have representatives of the journal attending conferences in a variety of philosophical disciplines, seeking out good papers and encouraging submissions.
The journal will aim for full coverage, actively soliciting the best work from every philosophical constituency. We are well aware that many analytic philosophers are skeptical of work in non-analytic areas, and vice versa. By seeking papers addressed to a broader philosophical audience, we hope to challenge this skepticism by encouraging contributors to write in ways that make the virtues of their ideas salient to philosophers from varied backgrounds.
The journal is not just about publishing exciting work—although that is certainly a priority—it is about publishing exciting work that is accessible to the broader philosophical community, work that potentially blurs boundaries within the discipline and, where appropriate, reaches out to other disciplines. We do not hope, unreasonably, to produce a journal in which every reader finds every paper congenial—this is a philosophy journal, after all. Our hope, rather, is to provide a venue for papers that are interesting and important philosophically and wear their interest and importance on their sleeves.
The editors intend the journal to be not simply another philosophy journal, not simply one more place to send papers in hopes of adding entries on CVs. We are responding to a complaint heard more and more nowadays to the effect that journal papers have become more plentiful without becoming more interesting. We suspect that one cause of the current situation stems from the refereeing process. Referees find themselves looking for reasons to reject papers under review. When authors receive the resulting comments they respond by adding material and inserting qualifications, with the result that an initially interesting idea becomes lost in a long discussion of the literature supplemented by preemptive responses to potential lines of criticism. The results are, too often, papers written by committee.
As our editorial statement indicates, we favor clear, succinct papers that go out on a limb, papers that take a chance, papers exhibiting fresh perspectives on familiar problems. This is of a piece with our goal of encouraging discussion across a wide variety of philosophical areas. Once the journal is running at full speed, our goal will be short response times and useful feedback, both of which promise to help early career philosophers get the best of their ideas into print and build the kind of meaningful publication record needed to secure a permanent position and earn tenure.
You might remain skeptical that any journal could live up to these goals—that any journal could be a truly generalist journal, representing the demographic and scholarly diversity of the field, publishing important work from across the philosophical spectrum accessible to philosophers of different persuasions, while addressing some of the biggest challenges in publishing. It is a tall order, to be sure. But we are confident not only that it can work and will work, but that it promises significant benefits to philosophers generally, APA members and non-members alike. At a time in which philosophy, the humanities, and higher education itself are under threat, it behooves us to come together in a way that preserves our interesting differences.
So we hope you’ll join us in making the Journal of the American Philosophical Association a success. Submissions are open.
[Please note: Our appearance on this blog does not constitute an endorsement by the APA of the blog or its content.]