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Not an answer:

I've wondered this too. Especially when I read things that have blatant errors in them, I wish there were a mechanism for quick response blasts along the lines of `that's wrong, here's why, that's all'.

Insightful diner

With all due respect, I think your question is a bit like this one: why don't restaurants allow people to bring in food from other restaurants?

Marcus Arvan

'Insightful diner': With all due respect in return, I think it is nothing like that question.

Bringing food from one restaurant into another is not in the latter restraurant's interest. It (A) detracts from the restaurant's profits, and (B) adds nothing of positive value to the restaurant.

In contrast, discussing one journal's articles in another journal can add a great deal of value to the latter journal. First, it can add material to the journal that other people want to read and find of value--improving the quality of discussion in its pages. Second, a good refutation in one journal of work in another journal can add to the prestige of the journal the refutation appears in compared to the original journal the work appeared in (indeed, it would show that the other journal published problematic or even bad work, whereas the journal the reply appears in produces *better* work).

More on this in a forthcoming post. But if you want a better restaurant analogy, it is this: someone bringing in a recipe from another restaurant, improving it, and making a new dish in the new restaurant that people actually want to pay money to eat, making my restaurant's food more attractive than the rival restaurant the initial recipe came from.

If I were a restaurant owner, that would be very much in my interest. It would make *my* restaurant better.

Steven French

It really (and obviously) depends on the nature of the reply. At the BJPS we see quite a few that are either minor criticisms of major positions or more substantive critiques of views long since past their sell by date. Given the volume constraints imposed by the publisher as well as our slogan of seeking always to 'advance the debate' we tend to knock back short discussion notes and the like. But if its a carefully worked out response to a well-known and important position (and hence meets the above criterion) then it really doesn't matter if the latter was first published elsewhere. As Marcus suggests, by publishing such a critique we can offer something that people want to read and add to our prestige. Whats not to like?!

Kenny Pearce

In philosophy of religion, back-and-forth exchanges often move to Faith and Philosophy because it's a well-reputed journal that likes to publish that kind of thing, even if the original article that started the conversation was in another journal. Other journals play a similar role in other sub-fields, I think. (This is supported by Steven French's comment above.)

Still, many journals (including, I think, most of the top generalist journals) have explicit or implicit policies against this sort of thing. I think this is most unfortunate. We should be encouraging more people to write more replies! Most philosophy papers never generate much critical response, but isn't critical response just what we want when we publish?

For this reason, I've periodically toyed with the idea of starting a journal that only publishes replies. However, I think this is the kind of time-consuming task that ought not to be undertaken pre-tenure. I'd be happy to see someone else take it up, and I have ideas to share if anyone does!

Marcus Arvan

Hi Kenny: I have periodically toyed with the idea of starting a replies-only journal as well, but was advised not to as a pretenure person for the reasons you mention. Too bad, because I would otherwise be very interested in doing it!

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