Cross posted at the new Experimental Philosophy Blog.
At the old Experimental Philosophy blog, I recently asked for people’s thoughts about the prevalence of experimental work in top journals in ethics and political philosophy. More specifically, I was wondering whether there were any papers with experimental content in Philosophy and Public Affairs and Ethics.
In the comments section at the Leiter reports, Joshua Knobe supports my concern, writing “there has been a surprising lack of experimental philosophy papers in the ethics journals, especially Ethics and PPA.” Also notable is that while there has been at least one paper in relation to experimental work in PPA, it was a critical paper by Selim Baker (“The Normative Insignificance of Neuroscience” appeared in Philosophy & Public Affairs 37:4 (2009), pp. 293-329). Thanks to Alex Guerro for the pointer.
While there may be other things behind this phenomenon, I am starting to think that self-selection plays an important role. I am currently working with a group of people on an experimental piece (for more information click here and scroll all the way down), but I wouldn’t dream of submitting it to PPA or Ethics. Since there hasn’t yet been much work in experimental philosophy published in PPA or Ethics, I believe that the chances of this paper actually being publishing in either of them are rather small. So, I am not motivated to submit this work to either of those journals. Of course, if, for similar reasons, very few people send in experimental papers to Ethics and PPA, then the chances of such work appearing in these journals is very small.
There are ways of correcting for this problem. For example, these journals could host a special issue on experimental philosophy and ethics/political philosophy. I think this could go a long way toward increasing the number of submissions with experimental content or focus.
What are other ways of correcting this problem?