The political capture of the American Philosophical Association by various interest groups is obvious enough to anyone watching over the last quarter-century, and is reflected not only in the way the APA doles out money for projects, its contempt for the academic freedom of its members, as well as the recent APA blog scandal (also this), but in postings like this on the APA blog which proposes that journals may need to,
...require ensuring that members of under-represented groups can publish at least in proportion to their presence as faculty in the discipline or in proportion to their presence as researchers with a particular AOS. Targets even higher than proportional representation might be desirable to restore balance after a period of inequity or due to the special value of perspectives of members from some under-represented groups on some issues.
There are, of course, groups under-represented in the major Anglophone philosophy journals: Marxists, for example, or Nietzscheans. But these are not the groups meant: the groups at issue appear to be racial and ethnic minorities, women, and perhaps LGBT philosophers. In the absence of evidence that journal editorial practices explicitly or implicitly aim to exclude philosophers from these groups (I am not aware of such evidence, perhaps it exists), what problem are we trying to solve with the proposed reserved journal slots for members of these groups? There is a nod to the Millian idea about a diversity of views, but there's no evidence for thinking this proposal, as opposed to actually encouraging a diversity of philosophical views and approaches, would realize the Millian aim. There's also a little bit of identity politics "standpoint" epistemology, so unlike the Marxist kind. (What about journal editors who find identity politics standpoint epistemology implausible? Will the APA really be declaring this the official epistemology of the organization?) These thin, putatively philosophical rationales to one side, what this really seems to be is just another case of the corporate personnel "diversity" agenda, this time in the service of undermining the scholarly integrity of academic publishing. (On the history of the "diversity" mantra, see this. There are compelling reasons for affirmative action for African-Americans and perhaps some other groups, but "diversity" is not one of them.)
So I share the shock of many readers I've heard from about this proposal; the question is what to do. A philosopher elsewhere, who wrote to me about this proposal, put it this way:
It [the proposal, above] seems to recommend some version of eliminating blind review in philosophy journals. I’ve been hearing about it all day from colleagues and friends. I’m kind of in disbelief; this is such a tremendously bad idea for some many different reasons! I’m writing you because you’ve been critical of the APA before, and maybe you can provide advice (and maybe this would be worth a post) on what one can do if (a) one doesn’t want to support, with one’s money and energy, these aspect of the APA that seem to be detrimental to our discipline (at least according to the values of many philosophers), but (b) really benefits from and appreciates other aspects of the APA, such as the conferences and the journal (which I do think is a pretty good journal, and we do need more good journals…). Is there a way to disentangle (a) and (b)? Is there a way to suggest, as a large group, that the APA move their membership to “APA lite” that funds (b) but not (a), thereby avoiding having their work and money going to things like the APA blog and the “diversity” group?
I can't imagine the APA would set up such a fees structure, certainly not given the capture of the organization by the Diversity-Uber-Alles crowd. One possibility, which more than one person has raised with me over the last couple of years, is the need for an alternative organization that performs something like the (b) functions mentioned, above, by my correspondent. So here's a poll; I'll open the results for discussion later in the week. Absolute numbers matter more here than percentages, so do vote if you have any view on the matter. Those interested in alternatives to the APA need to know whether there's some significant number of philosophers out there interested in an alternative.
UPDATE: So after about 12 hours, here are the results; I will keep the poll open for another day since, as I noted this morning, the absolute numbers are more important than the proportions.