Leadership of the journal Philosophical Psychology must answer for publishing race science

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Mark Alfano
Mark Alfano signed this petition

Philosophical Psychology, an academic journal in the humanities and social sciences, has published a paper that advocates race science. In particular, the paper disingenuously argues that the best explanation of differences in IQ scores between racial and ethnic groups is genetics.

However, the paper completely neglects the role played by environmental injustice, housing segregation, and related forms of discrimination in producing these differences. For instance, it is a well-established fact that black Americans suffer from higher rates of lead poisoning, including in utero and during childhood, than white Americans. Lead is a neurotoxin that impairs intelligence, especially in people who are exposed to it during development. The paper completely ignores this crucial environmental factor.

If the editors and referees at Philosophical Psychology had competently reviewed the paper, they would have noticed this glaring error and insisted on revisions (or simply rejected the paper). Instead, it was accepted and published alongside an editors' note defending the decision to publish that refers to the value of free speech and free inquiry. We also support free speech and free inquiry, but insist that free inquiry should be guided by norms of accuracy and expertise. Indeed, that is the point of academic peer-review. This paper does not respect those norms, and so should not have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

For this reason, we call upon the leadership of Philosophical Psychology to respond. Potentially responses include apology, retraction, or resignation (or some combination of these three). Should they choose to resign, we demand that a new group of leaders openly and honestly articulate a plan to reform the peer-review practices of the journal. Until the leadership respond in an acceptable way, we call upon philosophers and other researchers to boycott the journal by refusing to submit papers to it or referee for it.