Philosophy Hurts Your Head

The blog of a cranky Philosophy PhD Student from Newcastle, Australia.

Who’s afraid of Peer Review?

Posted by Sam D on February 20, 2009

Websinthe reports that Clive Hamilton has accused him of trying to silence him because he asked Charles Sturt University to peer review his public commentary.

I don’t have time to comment at as much length as I’d like, but here is my take on it: Anyone, academic or not, can state their opinion in public – it’s a right I strongly support. But strong claims have to be put to the test. And for academics, one of the most recognisable and strongest tests is peer-review.

Clive does not have to have his public comments peer-reviewed, that would excessively infringe upon his right to express opinions publicly. But without the application of academic rigour, including peer-review, they are only opinions, nothing more.

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2 Responses to “Who’s afraid of Peer Review?”

  1. websinthe said

    I think that it’s important that he is also kept accountable for comments he makes using the reputation of his academic employers. If he’s going to press down on the opinions of newspaper readers with that amount of force he can’t be aloud to mislead the way he has been.

  2. Sam D said

    I think that broadly we are on he same (if not, then a similar) page with regard to Clive H. I maintain that Academics, like anyone should be able to debate matters in public just like anyone else. In cases like this, it’s the job of other academics to pipe up and say “Well actually, not all ethicists agree” and proceed to give him a serve. The problem is that these people, especially Philosophers can be a bit shy of ripping each other off in the media.

    Which is strange, because just about any professional philosopher or ethicist could shred his arguments in very short order. And why don’t they? Because, for professional academics, debates are not even on their radars unless they happen in peer-reviewed publications.

    I think the question is Clive’s claim to being an ‘expert’ in this area. If he isn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal, then he isn’t an expert. A PhD in Economics and a bunch of peer-reviewed publications in that area (for example) does not make you an expert on anything outside of that area.

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