Suppose you're asked to review an article for a journal on theory X, and you're competent with and know the literature on X. Next, suppose you think most of the literature on X is predicated on a particularly problematic philosophical method (e.g. intuition mongering), and that the only justified methodology in the area supports ~X (the methodology you support is consistent with a variety of other theories on the topic, but definitely not X). Suppose also that the methodology you find problematic (e.g. intuition mongering) has been criticized in the field (and pretty effectively refuted, in your own view), but many authors (including the author for the paper at hand) continue to use the method. Finally, suppose the paper you are asked to review defends a variant of X using the methodology you object to. What should you do?
Here are a few possible alternatives:
- Decline to review the paper, on the basis that you cannot review it in an unbiased manner.
- Review the paper, setting aside as far as you can your objections to the methodology the article presupposes.
- Review the paper, making your objections to the methodology known to the author and editor, but otherwise set aside your objections to the methodology in making a recommendation.
- Review the paper, taking the author to task for the problematic methodology they co-opt from the literature.
Which is the best option?
I'll lay my cards on the table. I'm sort of expecting commenters to say that (4) is the worst option--but why? Mightn't the failure of reviewers to contest problematic methodologies be one primary reason why problematic methodologies come to be so common in certain areas (i.e. reviewer after reviewer who likes the methodology accepts it, but those who object either decline to review or else review but don't impose their methodological preferences on others)?
Next to (4), (3) seems to me the most honest approach--making one's objections known. But what is the point in simply making one's objections to the methodology known if author after author (including the one in question) continues using the method?
(2) seems to me the "most unbiased" option--yet why should one have to "bracket off" one's considered views about appropriate philosophical methodology (views that, again, others have argued for in the literature, as well)?
This leaves (1): simply declining the invitation. But that seems pretty weak to me too--deciding to simply leave papers with problematic methodologies to those who (potentially) buy into the method when, in your view, they really shouldn't (and, in your view, the continued dissemination of/support for the methodology is philosophically regrettable).
What to do? I don't but, but the above are my thoughts. What are yours?