Friday, 18 November 2011

Editorial changes for Synthese

(Cross-posted at New APPS)

For those who have not seen it yet: two days ago, Synthese announced a series of changes to its editorial structure. The most detailed of them concerns new procedures for special issues, which had been anticipated in the otherwise elliptic statements by the EiCs in response to the intelligent design special issue controversy, earlier this year. Moreover, John Symons is stepping down, after 10 years of dedicated work as EiC of Synthese; Johan van Benthem will now serve as chair of the advisory board, and two new EiC will join Vincent F. Hendricks in this capacity: Otávio Bueno and Wiebe van der Hoek.

This seems to me to be a good development. To be sure, many of the important questions concerning the controversy remain frustratingly unanswered, and the potential legal damage of the disclaimer still has not been neutralized. But it would seem that at least some of the criticism put forward (in particular concerning the problematic status of special issues and the potential for a conflict of authority between EiC and guest editors) has been taken into account. Some critics claim that the journal has lost its credibility for good, but for those who think that the whole profession is better off with a journal such as Synthese remaining a respected venue, this is good news.

Personally, I applaud in particular the choice of Otávio Bueno as one of the EiC (and not only because he is a friend and a fellow Brazilian!): Otávio has astonishing philosophical breath, is a highly productive and energetic professional, and has an approach to institutional engagement that is likely to be put to good use as EiC. I know much less about Wiebe van der Hoek, but he too is highly productive and energetic, so I’d say that all in all this is a promising new start for Synthese. They know that the whole philosophical community will be watching, and that the smallest slip is not likely to be overlooked, but the new editorial structure seems to be heading in the right direction, in particular in terms of increased transparency.

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