Setting the record straight on the Journal of Controversial Ideas

Jeff McMahan, Francesca Minerva, and Peter Singer in The Guardian:

We are the editors of the Journal of Controversial Ideas, which was criticised by Nesrine Malik (Now we have a journal to host provocateurs. Not a good idea, 14 November). We would like to correct her misrepresentations of our project.

At present there is no Journal of Controversial Ideas. There are only our plans and intentions, and a group of about 40 academics who have agreed to be on our editorial board. These are the only facts there are about the journal. Malik could have learned about them had she contacted one of us. Instead she attributed to us a set of aims of her own invention, principal among which is to create a “safe space” in which, by “deliberately branding ideas as controversial”, our authors can “provoke, recoil at the response, abhor it as overreaction”. Because our “thin-skinned, elitist, coddled” authors “will be anonymous”, they can publish “without responsibility” and with complete “freedom from consequence”. Malik even endows us with an unidentified source of funding who will ensure the journal will be governed by “market forces”.

Our aim in establishing the journal is only to enable academics – particularly younger, untenured, or otherwise vulnerable academics – to have the option of publishing under a pseudonym when they might otherwise be deterred from publishing by fear of death threats (which two of us have received in response to our writings), threats to their families, or threats to their careers. Pseudonymity is optional, not required. Our intention is to publish only articles that give carefully developed reasons, arguments and evidence in support of conclusions that some may find offensive or pernicious. We will not publish work that is polemical, intentionally inflammatory or ad hominem. These aims and constraints have consistently guided our own writing.

More here.