I found myself caught in a dilemma today that brings to mind recent posts about reviewerly duties. The paper defends a new theory of something by arguing that the theory avoids a certain "problem" that many others in the field have raised. Here's a reviewerly dilemma: I think the so-called "problem" that the entire paper assumes is a bunch of hooey. I think there there's nothing even remotely close to a good argument for its being a genuine problem (just a lot of table-banging). In my estimation, the only reason some people think it is a problem is that they are grip in a very, very bad theory -- one that I think there are decisive reasons to reject, and which shocks me to no end that (some) people take seriously to begin with (again, almost entirely on the basis of table-banging assertions).
Here, then, is my dilemma:
- If I don't advocate rejecting the paper, I run the risk of contributing to the further dissemination and acceptance of something I take to be a genuine kind of philosophical madness that has taken hold of a substantial part of the literature. (which seems bad to me)
- If I do advocate rejecting the paper on these grounds, I have faulted the author for something that I think is a grave mistake but which many other people in the discipline don't. (this seems bad to me too)
Now, in the abstract, I generally loathe to hold authors responsible for (what I take to be) others' mistakes. However, in this case, the entire argument that the paper rests on seems to me to be utter madness. It's hard for me to say to myself, in good conscience, "Let this pass", when I simply can't believe how others in the discipline have let it pass for so long.
What say you, my fellow Cocooners? What's a reviewer to do in this sort of situation?