A senior philosopher writes:
Have you thought about commenting, or inviting discussion, of the entries in SEP? I’m a big fan of the project, and contributed several pieces, but my RSS feed of recent entries has raised my brows in several cases. The most egregious was the entry on Ayn Rand, but the entries I’ve seen of late don’t seem to be justified by any reasonable standard of topics or people most deserving of entries. I was once an area editor, but had to quit, and faced a number of “volunteer” projects that were sent to me from the central players in the project, many of which I didn’t think should be pursued. They ended up appearing in SEP, and I fear the motivation may be more than a matter of which entries are most deserving of inclusion.
There is no question that SEP is fantastic, but if the recent entries I’ve noted are the new standard, there is an emphasis on something other than the importance of the possible entry that made SEP fantastic in the first place. The entry that set me off was the Ayn Rand one—the bibliography alone is one of the most embarrassing I’ve ever seen: outlets of questionable merit at best, etc.
So I’m venting… And wondering what you might think about this. In my view, SEP is a disciplinary treasure, but the last year of entries have raised too many questions in my mind about what is happening with the project…
You can view a chronological list of recent SEP entries here. My own, tentative view is that it is probably in the institutional interest of the SEP project to cast its net widely in terms of topics, even if some of them are of relatively narrow appeal to professional philosopher or of doubtful philosophical merit. But looking over the list of recent entries, I am less sure than my correpondent that the balance has tipped too much in one direction.
Signed comments will be strongly preferred, but all submissions must have a valid e-mail address (which will not appear). Submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.