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A Norm for Self-Citation (guest post by Colin Klein)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/09/2020 - 10:25pm in

“How to self-cite without giving away your identity? I’ve seen two ways of doing it over the years. One is great, and one is really frustrating. We should all stop doing the frustrating one.”

The following is a guest post* by Colin Klein, associate professor of philosophy at Australian National University.

[Jan van Eyck, “Portrait of Arnolfini and his Wife” (detail)]

A Norm for Self-Citation
by Colin Klein

Philosophers like to cite themselves. Reviewing standards in philosophy are extremely fussy about preserving anonymity of authors. This sets up a conflict: how to self-cite without giving away your identity? I’ve seen two ways of doing it over the years. One is great, and one is really frustrating. We should all stop doing the frustrating one.

Suppose my draft says “As I argue in Klein (2015), pains are imperatives”. To anonymize this, I could do two things:

1) “As Klein argues in his (2015), pains are imperatives”
2) “As I argue in my [Author paper], pains are imperatives”

The job of a reviewer is to determine whether a paper is fit for publication. Part of that job is determining whether the citations adequately support claims that are made. Option (1) lets me check the citations. That’s the good option. Option (2) doesn’t. Option (2) thus fails to give the minimal information a reviewer needs to do their job. That’s the bad option.

This is not hypothetical. I’ve seen some amazing things asserted using the mechanism of (2). Load-bearing claims. Preposterous claims. Without taking the author’s word on it (hint: I don’t), such papers are dead in the water.

You can do (1) poorly, of course. If I wrote “As Klein argues in his brilliant, under-appreciated 2015 masterpiece…” then you might have a clue to who I am. But you shouldn’t write like that anyway. If you’re writing in a small subfield, you might worry that that (1) gives clues to my identity. (How many people cite my 2015 uncritically? I suspect just me.) But neither (1) or (2) will help there: that’s a deeper problem about trying to preserve anonymity in small fields.

Indeed, that leads to a related problem with (2). If you know the topic, you’re going to wonder “Gee, this person writes about imperatives and pain, they should at least slag on Klein as part of due diligence.  Then you go to the bibliography and there’s no Klein. You might think that the author has overlooked an important part of the literature. Or you might readily—even inadvertently—infer that you’re dealing with a Klein manuscript. So (2) actually makes it easy to inadvertently reveal your identity. Again, I speak from experience here.

So here’s a proposal for a norm:

i. Are you self-citing because the thing you’re citing actually adds to the philosophical discourse? If so, treat it like any other citation, and remove information from the body of the draft’s text that suggests you are citing yourself.

ii. Are you self-citing to establish that you are one of the authors who believes the thing, thereby staking out philosophical turf? You can probably get by with just putting in a third-person citation. But if you worry, then don’t put a citation at all. Add it in the final stages if it gets accepted. The reason we care about anonymity in reviewing is that we ought to be able to evaluate the quality of a paper without knowing who wrote it and whose philosophical career will be advanced by its publication. So staking your claim can come after review.

iii. Are you worried because you’re responding to somebody who is attacking you and it’s really hard to write in the third person about yourself without giving away clues to your identity? Honestly, I think editors need to step up here and admit that this happens and there’s no sensible way in which these kinds of papers can preserve anonymity. But in any case, there’s nothing you can do, so you might as well do (1), because (2) is going to make your paper unreadable.

iv. Are you self-citing for some other reason? Don’t. There are no other good reasons.

Discussion welcome.

The post A Norm for Self-Citation (guest post by Colin Klein) appeared first on Daily Nous.

An Outbreak of Matt Hancock

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/09/2020 - 6:29pm in


poem, poetry, writing

turned off my phone and radio
got rid of my tv
ran barbed wire around the house
yet still i am not free

matt hancocks in the sitting room
matt hancocks in the loo
matt hancocks in the kitchen drawer
i don’t know what to do              

there’s six of them beneath the stairs
in the fridge another ten
my house is getting overwhelmed
by underwhelming men

i think i may have lost my mind
i see them every place
just yesterday i stroked the cat
she had matt hancock’s face

filled gaps in all the skirting boards
laid poison in the hall
set traps involving bits of cheese
but nothing works at all

matt hancocks haunt my dreams at night
wake up screaming yet again
my mind is getting overwhelmed
by underwhelming men

Write a great essay in 12 (easy!) steps!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/09/2020 - 11:39pm in


writing, Students

A couple of years ago I jotted down a step-by-step guide to help my son get started on his university essays. That’s always the most difficult bit of writing – starting – and it never gets any easier. I thought some other might find it useful as well, so I’ve put it on a short video. Have fun! Beware, last minuters: the first step is ‘start early’.

I hope this helps avoid a few essay crises. If you like it, pass it on! PS: you don’t have to go to the bar in step 12 if you don’t want to.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 9:00pm in


poem, poetry, writing

All gatherings
of six or more

shall henceforth be
against the law

with NO exceptions
to these rules

(apart, that is,
from work and schools).

If we don’t act NOW,
the future’s bleak.

This takes effect
some time next week.

Philosophy Department As ‘Houses Of Healing,’ Not ‘Houses Of Production’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 12:48am in

In ‘Two Pedagogies for Happiness: Healing Goals and Healing Methods in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas and the Śrī Bhāsyạ of Rāmānuja,’¹ Martin Ganeri (citing Paul Griffiths) writes:

[T]he root metaphor for scholastic intellectual practice is that of reading. The scholastic is one who is dominated by the text he studies, transformed by the text, and the scholastic institution is best described as a ‘house of reading.’ In contrast…the root metaphor for contemporary academia is that of writing. The contemporary academic is concerned with the production of texts, with getting things out in print, with being cited and getting academic credit for  his or her compositions. The university becomes a ‘house of production’ rather than a house of reading.²

….The scholastic approach challenges us to retrieve the idea of philosophy as transformative and pedagogical reading and to retrieve the idea of philosophical institutions as houses of this reading, so that they can also be houses of healing,houses for happiness.

The idea of philosophical institutions–like academic departments–being ‘houses of healing, houses for happiness’ is entrancing. As is the suggestion above by Ganeri of ‘retriev[ing] the idea of philosophy as transformative and pedagogical reading.’ I note this with some poignancy; when initially I began my graduate studies in philosophy I had hoped for philosophy to be ‘healing’ and ‘transformative’ and indeed, therapeutic. But I was, all too soon, consumed by the idea of academic philosophy being the business of writing and the prolific ‘production of texts.’ Indeed, the most common complaint from academic philosophers–a curious one, you’ll agree–is that they never have time to read anything, because they are too busy writing. Most academic philosophers will proudly claim they have no time to read fiction; if you are spotted reading something not directly academic, it is not unusual to be asked, “What are you reading that for” i.e., Which text being generated by you requires that ‘unconventional’ text as raw material? (I was once asked this because I was carrying around a copy of C.P Snow‘s ‘Two Cultures.’) 

Many are the academics who would like to slow down and ‘just read for a bit’; read all those ‘classic’ and ‘great’ authors and texts they refer to, chase down those footnotes to those beguiling sources that promise further exploration of a tantalizing corner of inquiry. But no one has the time–they need to write, to publish. They don’t have time to read your work in progress, which is why I always thank, profusely, those who do make time to perform this noble task, and they do not have time to read outside of their narrow field of specialization. And they most certainly do not have the time or institutional and disciplinary incentives to think about pursuing philosophy as a transformative and therapeutic process. All of which is, in a crucial sense, a betrayal of the promise of philosophy, its notion of unbridled inquiry, its potential to aid in self-understanding-and-construction.      


  1. In ‘Philosophy as Therapiea’ – Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement #66
  2. Paul Griffiths, ‘Scholasticism: The Possible Recovery of an Intellectual Practice,’ in Scholasticism: Cross-cultural and
    Comparative Perspectives, pp. 201-235.

Virtual Dissertation Writing Groups

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/08/2020 - 12:10am in

The following is an announcement from Joshua Smart (Ohio State University) regarding virtual dissertation groups (VDG) for philosophy graduate students.

Do you or someone you love suffer from writing-a-philosophy-dissertation? Then you should check out Virtual Dissertation Groups!

What it is: VDG is a free service for those working on their doctoral dissertations in philosophy. Since 2014, we’ve connected students from over 30 countries to provide peer feedback on dissertation work with a minimal time commitment.

How it works: Each dissertator is placed in a group of three on the basis of a short survey about their project/area of work. About once a month, one member sends some work to the others—3,000 – 6,000 words—who then return feedback and comments in a week or so. (While this has typically been in the form of written comments, the survey now includes an option to indicate a preference for holding video discussions.)

Why it’s good: While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach, outlook, or focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that even just thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can promote creative insights. With students in programs from many states, countries, and every continent (well, except Antarctica), Virtual Dissertation Groups is a great way to capture some of these benefits!

How to Join: To sign up, just fill out the short survey at www.jasmartphilosophy.com/virtual-dissertation-groups. Sign ups are open through August 29th (conditional on availability afterward).

Thanks to Dr. Smart for continuing to organize these groups.

The post Virtual Dissertation Writing Groups appeared first on Daily Nous.

On Looking at My Calendar

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 7:31pm in


poem, poetry, writing

Alexa, what is there to know about love?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/08/2020 - 11:21pm in

Some news. I’m delighted to have a new poetry collection publishing next year with Picador Books: ‘Alexa, what is there to know about love?’

It’s coming in January to coincide with the seventh wave of the virus, and can be preordered now.

You can find out more at the link below:


The Feature of an Intellectual

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 3:45am in


Academia, writing

F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that … Continue reading →

A Problem With Analytic Philosophy: The Case Of ‘Forgiveness’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/05/2020 - 2:03am in

‘Forgiveness’ is a ‘big topic’ in contemporary philosophy–part of its current preoccupations in moral psychology. A quick search of journal articles, books, book chapters, edited collections, conference proceedings, and invited talks throws up many titles and topics; clearly, philosophers are working on a topic of great interest in the personal and moral domains. Forgiveness, healing, regret, guilt, anger–this cluster of concerns animates many. Present company included: I bear grudges, I carry around the anger of unresolved personal disputes within me, I regret my many moral errors and omissions, I seek to introduce healing into my many conflicted personal relationships–forgiveness plays a crucial role in addressing these personal zones of conflict and contestation. Philosophy is doing salutary work in addressing these in its current ruminations. So far, so good. 

But how does contemporary philosophy really ‘tackle’ forgiveness? Here is one wholly impressionistic take. 

I once attended a talk on forgiveness by a noted contemporary philosopher; s/he began by talking about ‘two kinds of forgiveness’ and after offering definitions of the pair, then went on to argue that in fact, under some kinds of conditions, the ‘two kinds of forgiveness’ collapsed into one, or entailed the other. Or something like that. Pardon my vagueness here, but that is merely a reflection of the fact that my attention had drifted, away and out of the seminar room. I went into the seminar expecting to find something that would resonate with my personal experiences of moral and political domains where forgiveness, or its lack thereof, played a crucial role. I found instead an exploration of the various logical and conceptual relationships that obtained between various definitions of forgiveness. The descriptions of the conditions under which these definitions of forgiveness were to be shown to be identical or logically related was mildly interesting but nowhere in any of this was to be found any of the emotional dimensions of forgiveness or of any of the human encounters that make forgiveness so interesting to a ‘normal’ human being. 

The problem, as I saw it, was quite simple: analytic philosophy is concerned with all the right topics; it delves into the domains of perplexity that are rightly of great and enduring interest to mankind; in this regard it is fulfilling its ‘social function’ and also its ‘cultural responsibility”; but,  it employs a style of argumentation and reasoning and, er, analysis that ensures its efforts fail to engage the concerns that animate those folks–i.e., most of us–who grapple with forgiveness in their lives. 

Forgiveness is a difficult business; perhaps among the most perplexing of all in human relationships. We cannot build structures of family and friendship without dealing with its challenges. But we will find no guidance in this regard from formal analytic philosophy. If I need guidance in my struggling with forgiveness in a crucial relationship, I will not turn there–and neither, I suspect, will anyone else. (Literature, the movies, perhaps a good play–all of those would be more useful.) In this moral domain, as in many others, analytic philosophy simply makes itself irrelevant.