An open-access, peer-reviewed international journal that innovates in adhering strictly to simultaneous policies of blind submission, double-blind review, and anti-plagiarism
NOTICE EFFECTIVE 01 JANUARY 2020: As we were consistently unsuccessful over a period of eight years in recruiting mathematical logicians to the BJP team of anonymous referees and could not launch a first issue without them, the BJP is being discontinued. Anonymous referees are no longer being recruited and paper submissions will not be accepted. This section of the APRA website will remain online in its current incarnation for purposes of general reference. MORE
After much soul-searching and eight years of trying futilely to recruit mathematical logicians to our otherwise very healthy team of anonymous reviewers, I have decided to discontinue the Berlin Journal of Philosophy. We really can’t launch a first issue without at least a couple of them on board; and my personal experiences in the subspecialty of logic and decision theory have gradually yielded a plausible explanation of why that has proved to be so difficult.
I have found this subspecialty to be less dependent than other areas of specialization in academic philosophy on a sizable traditional canon of literature that defines and restricts acceptable contributions to it. Beyond first and second logic courses and a math or computer science background, mathematical logic and decision theory quickly become much more innovative, experimental, intuitive, creative, and receptive to a wide variety of approaches (and in that respect resemble the receptive experimentalism of contemporary avant-garde art to a surprising degree). This is in part an effect of the rapid and varied advances in computer science and AI over the past few decades. The price is that practitioners who specialize in one formal problem-solving approach often can make no claim to expertise in others; and the size of their domains of formal expertise diminish proportionally as the variety of proposed methods and approaches proliferate.
Mathematical logicians who expressed interest in refereeing papers for the BJP but declined to sign its contract uniformly expressed concern that they would be unable to fulfill its requirement of two papers maximum, and very likely less, per year. I greatly appreciate the respect for the terms of the contract implicit in that concern. None of the 40-odd anonymous referees already on board in other areas of specialization shared this concern. I infer that the mathematical logicians rationally expected to receive a much larger proportion of anonymous papers outside their areas of formal expertise, that therefore would be too labor-intensive to master in order to authoritatively blind-review their quality and suitability for publication.
The TABLE 2 database statistics for technical philosophy journals at http://adrianpiper.com/berlinjphil/philosophy-journal-paper-submission-policies.shtml tend to confirm this inference: technical philosophy journals significantly and consistently lag behind those for philosophy journals as a whole in their explicit commitment to double-blind review. It is also confirmed indirectly by my own experiences, of submitting anonymized technical papers in decision theory that were forwarded to referees who, it transpired, lacked the specific background necessary to evaluate them; and of reading similarly technical published papers whose referees evidently had not been familiar with the relevant specialized literature. Finally, several academics in mathematics and the physical sciences have aired the opinion in casual conversation that in those technical fields, too, “letting a hundred flowers bloom” is best served, at least at this historical juncture, by referees who are already familiar with the authors and the research they are being asked to referee.
Although entirely understandable, this policy is not compatible with the commitment to the explicit strict blind submission procedure that the BJP was designed to promote. Perhaps, then, the BJP must simply await the inevitable developmental stage of “normal science” in technical philosophy before that commitment can be implemented.
Until then, the Berlin Journal of Philosophy section of the APRA website will remain available online for reference purposes, together with the announcement of its discontinuation at its homepage (http://www.adrianpiper.com/berlinjphil/index.shtml). And it will continue to publish its annual survey of philosophy journal paper submission policies. But it will no longer aim to publish a first issue or recruit volunteers to its team of anonymous referees. My admiration for and gratitude to all of those individuals, as much for their idealism as for their commitment and readiness to try something new, know no bounds.
–– Adrian Piper
30 January 2020