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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Genocide hoax tests ethics of academic publishing

Reuben Rose-Redwood
The Conversation
Originally posted July 3, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

What exactly "merits exposure and debate" in scholarly journals? As the editor of a scholarly journal myself, I am a strong supporter of academic freedom. But journal editors also have a responsibility to uphold the highest standards of academic quality and the ethical integrity of scholarly publications.

When I looked into the pro-Third World Quarterly petition in more detail, I noticed that over a dozen signatories were themselves editors of scholarly journals. Did they truly believe that "any work—however controversial" should be published in their own journals in the name of academic freedom?

If they had no qualms with publishing a case for colonialism, would they likewise have no ethical concerns about publishing a work advocating a case for genocide?

The genocide hoax

In late October 2017, I sent a hoax proposal for a special issue on "The Costs and Benefits of Genocide: Towards a Balanced Debate" to 13 journal editors who had signed the petition supporting the publication of "The Case for Colonialism."

In it, I mimicked the colonialism article's argument by writing: "There is a longstanding orthodoxy that only emphasizes the negative dimensions of genocide and ethnic cleansing, ignoring the fact that there may also be benefits—however controversial—associated with these political practices, and that, in some cases, the benefits may even outweigh the costs."

As I awaited the journal editors' responses, I wondered whether such an outrageous proposal would garner any support from editors who claimed to support the publication of controversial works in scholarly journals.

The information is here.
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