In my last post, I expressed some surprise at which articles were turning up a lot in the citations. So I got to wondering what other surprises would be in store if I looked at the data some more. It turns out my view of what’s been making a splash was a bit of a way from reality.
I used the Web of Science database, restricted to the Arts & Humanities to find the most cited journal articles over various time periods from philosophy journals. I don’t think this list is complete; it doesn’t seem to include Philosophical Topics, for example, which might explain why “Shifting Sands” isn’t any list here. And I searched manually for philosophy journals from the lists of most cited articles over various periods.
This last step involved a lot of contentious decisions. I used a very narrow definition of a philosophy journal. Excluded were Behavior and Brain Science, Journal of Pragmatics, Language, Linguistic Inquiry, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Critical Inquiry, Cognition, Signs, Feminist Economics (which has a philosophically important and widely cited Nussbaum article), Trends in Cognitive Science, and several others. I included Mind and Language, and Linguistics and Philosophy, though I could see a case for excluding them too.
The citation counts Web of Science gives are much lower than you might be used to if you use Google Scholar. In general they are about 1/3 to 1/4 the size. But I think they are more reliable; they don’t include references to drafts, lecture notes, etc.
Although I’ve been fussy about what articles were in philosophy journals, I included all citations. So some of these articles pick up a lot of their citations from outside philosophy. That said, here are the lists. I’m going to list the categories 1993-1999, 2000-2002, 2003-2005, 2006-2007, 2008-2009 and 2010-present. You might like to guess which you think the most cited articles from each of those periods will be before peeking at the lists.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Brian Weatherson at 12:59 pm
1 Comment »
As you probably have seen, Kieran Healy has done some amazing work extracting and presenting data about the citation patterns in Philosophical Review, Mind, Nous and Journal of Philosophy over the past 20 years. The point of this post is to pull out the data about work published in the last 11 years, and make a few brief comments on that work.
Here are the journal articles since 2002 that have 10 or more citations in some combination of Philosophical Review, Mind, Nous and Journal of Philosophy. They are presented in reverse chronological order:
“The Limits of Self-Awareness”, M. G. F. Martin, Philosophical Studies, 2004 (14 cites)
“The Silence of the Senses”, Charles Travis, Mind, 2004 (12 cites)
“What Conditional Probabilities Could Not Be”, Alan Hajek, Synthese, 2003 (12 cites)
“Some problems for conditionalization and reflection”, Frank Arntzenius, Journal of Philosophy, 2003 (10 cites)
“Color Realism and Color Science”, Alex Byrne and David Hilbert, Behavior and Brain Sciences, 2003 (13 cites)
“Assertion, Knowledge and Context”, Keith DeRose, Philosophical Review, 2002 (15 cites)
“Evidence, Pragmatics and Justification”, Jeremy Fantl and Matthew McGrath, Philosophical Review, 2002 (15 cites)
“The Transparency of Experience”, M. G. F. Martin, Mind, 2002 (14 cites)
“Basic Knowledge and the Problem of Easy Knowledge”, Stewart Cohen, PPR, 2002 (10 cites)
“(Anti-)Sceptics Simple and Subtle: G.E. Moore and John McDowell”, Crispin Wright, PPR, 2002 (10 cites)
And then there’s several more articles once we start going back to 12 or more years ago.
Here are the recent-ish books that have appeared more than 10 times in these four journals.
A Virtue Epistemology: Apt Belief and Reflective Knowledge, by Ernest Sosa, 2007 (12 cites).
The Philosophy of Philosophy, by Timothy Williamson, 2007 (11 cites)
Knowledge and Practical Interests, by Jason Stanley, 2005 (26 cites)
Insensitive Semantics, by Herman Cappelen and Ernest LePore, 2005 (11 cites)
Knowledge and Lotteries, by John Hawthorne, 2004 (36 cites)
Action and Perception, by Alva Noe, 2004 (15 cites)
The Realm of Reason, by Christopher Peacocke, 2004 (13 cites)
Evidentialism: Essays in Epistemology, by Earl Conee and Richard Feldman, 2004 (10 cites)
The Things We Mean, by Stephen Schiffer, 2003 (17 cites)
Making Things Happen, by James Woodward, 2003 (16 cites)
A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals, by Jonathan Bennett, 2003 (15 cites)
Thinking How to Live, by Allan Gibbard, 2003 (14 cites)
Reference and Consciousness, by John Campbell, 2002 (18 cites)
Beyond Rigidity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity, by Scott Soames (10 cites)
A few quick reflections on these lists.
All the entries are by men. I don’t think the best, or even the most influential, books and articles over this time period have all been by men. So this is more evidence in favour of the thesis that there is something wrong with our citation practices as a profession.
I believe that at least three of the papers (Martin 2004, Cohen and Wright) are from conference proceedings, not the usual blind submission to a journal. That’s a little bit fluky – none of the 11 papers on the list from 2000-2001 are conference proceedings. (Though 2 of them were from the special J Phil issue on causation.) Still, it’s striking that in the last 11 years, only 7 papers that were sent to blind review have made it onto this list of most cited entries. It takes a long time to get this kind of recognition.
There are no metaphysics papers. The only metaphysics book is James Woodward’s 2003 Making Things Happen, and you could just as easily classify that as philosophy of science as metaphysics. There is nothing from the material that you see most discussed at recent metaphysics conferences: existence, grounding, meta-ontology, indeterminacy, etc. From 2001 and further back, there are plenty of metaphysics books and papers on the list. The Healy data makes it look like metaphysics is much less central to philosophy than it was in, say, 2000. (This is a reason why I don’t like talking about ‘core’ parts of philosophy; the core changes rapidly.)
There are also no papers in ethics, political philosophy or history of philosopy. If you look at books, you get just one, Gibbard’s Thinking How to Live. If you go further back than 2002, you do start getting more ethics books – including books in normative ethics, not meta-ethics. But the most recent ethics paper I see on the list is David Widerker’s 1995 piece on Frankfurt cases (assuming free will is in ethics, broadly construed, not metaphysics). And I’m not sure I see any others after 1990. In part I think this reflects different subdisciplinary norms; value theorists write books more than, say, epistemologists do. And in part it reflects that the four journals we’re looking at don’t really represent philosophy as a whole. There is so much more ethics and history in the Philosophical Review than in the others, for instance, and even it has less ethics and history than many might like.
The 10 papers also don’t really match up with my internal feel for what’s being central to philosophy over that time, but that’s probably because my ‘feel’ isn’t perfectly reliable. (Although I have seen a few open searches recently, so I have some feel for what grad students are working on.)
The four epistemology papers towards the end of the list have been important, and widely discussed. The Arntzenius paper I believe gets there because one of its key examples, the Shangri La example, is so nice, and so widely discussed.
But the Hajek paper is I think a good example of why citation counts don’t necessarily correlate with what’s being talked about. Al’s paper is great. It is completely convincing, and I often cite it, both in papers and in conversation. But it’s not because I’m talking about that subject. It’s because it points out a common mistake, and it’s a mistake people keep making, and rather than explain why it’s a mistake I simply say “Don’t make that mistake, and read Hajek (2003) on why it’s a mistake.” But it’s not like there’s a rolling conversation about the nature of conditional probability that this represents.
The four philosophy of mind papers seem even less connected to what the bulk of people I see are talking about – though that’s perhaps less true of the Byrne and Hilbert paper, which is obviously central to active ongoing debates about color.
I saw several hundred job applications last year. Not that many of them were in philosophy of mind, despite UM specifically encouraging people with cog sci interests to apply. Those that were in mind typically were doing very different, much more empirical, work than Martin or Travis. That’s in part a selection effect due to our ad. But I didn’t see many of the people in the Leiter hiring thread who were doing this kind of philosophy of mind either. So I don’t really think the fact that the Martin and Travis papers are that often cited is that good a guide to what people are talking about; it might simply reflect how good those papers are, or something about the journals that cite them.
As well as the omissions mentioned above (women, metaphysics, ethics), there are two other surprising omissions from this list.
One is that there aren’t any book chapters represented. I don’t know whether that’s in part because the citations of those are a mess, and they don’t always turn up cleanly in databased, or simply that people aren’t citing them as much as I would have guessed. But given the explosion in edited volumes there seems to have been in recent years, I’m a little surprised that journal articles and books exhaust the list.
The other surprise is that there’s nothing about relativism, or at least nothing pro-relativism. (Relativism is a target, though not the primary target in two of the books shown.) John MacFarlane’s 1580 Google cites aren’t enough to get him into this company. That will change soon enough, especially when he publishes a book, but it’s one striking omission. And a quick search by hand through the Google Scholar citations of the widely cited relativism papers suggests that none of them are near 10 references in these four journals. Relatedly, there are no philosophy of language papers on the list, though there are four books.
The point is that it is a little simple to say that these four journals over emphasize language and epistemology relative to the rest of the profession. They do, but not all language and epistemology is created equal. To a first approximation, what’s widely cited in these four journals is something of a lagging indicator of what people are talking about. And that’s true even if we look at recent work that’s widely cited.
One final omission that perhaps isn’t that surprising: young people. None of these philosophers got their undergraduate degrees in the last 20 years. Only a handful (Cappelen, Fantl, McGrath and Stanley if I’m counting correctly) got theirs in the last 25. (Though there are several others who got degrees between 1988 and 1992 on the list if we include papers published before 2002: Pryor, Paul, Rysiew, Huemer and perhaps some others.) It takes a long time to get this kind of recognition.
Updates: June 25, 1:07 PM
- Be sure to read Jennifer Nagel’s excellent comment below, using Google Scholar to track down some interesting citation patterns.
- Via Twitter, Mark Eli Kalderon argued that my points about the Martin/Travis papers weren’t particularly strong, and I think he’s right. I started with the thought “This data doesn’t match my priors.” When that happens, the two things to do should be to either investigate further, or adjust credences. Really, what I should have stressed was just this mismatch. And the simplest explanation of that is that I have a partial view of the field (as everyone does.
- In fact by a number of measures, the Martin and Travis papers have been talked about a lot. Jennifer Nagel’s comment discusses their Google Scholar counts. By web of knowledge they also have a lot of citations for articles in the last 10 years. I’m looking more into this, and hopefully have more to report soon, but for now I wanted to walk back a little what I said about Martin and Travis.
- For more data relating to gender and citations, see the Gendered Citation Campaign database here.
Posted by Brian Weatherson at 3:27 pm
5 Comments »
I’ve been thinking over the last few days about my colleague Gordon Belot’s forthcoming paper Bayesian Orgulity. In it he poses a series of very difficult challenges to Bayesianism. I’ve been trying to think about how the imprecise Bayesian can respond to these challenges. (I’m thinking of what response an imprecise Bayesian who thinks all updating goes by conditionalisation could make to Gordon’s arguments. This isn’t my view about updating.)
Here’s one example that Gordon uses. The agent, call her A, is going to get data coming in in the form of a series of 0s and 1s. She is investigating the hypothesis that the data is periodic. Say that she succeeds iff one of the following two conditions hold.
- The data is periodic, and eventually her credence that it is periodic goes above 0.5 and stays there.
- The data is not periodic, and eventually her credence that it is not periodic goes above 0.5 and stays there.
Call the data sequence for which a prior succeeds its success set, and its complement its failure set.
Gordon suggests the following two constraints on a prior:
- For any initial data sequence x, there are further data sequences y and z such that (a) the agent will have credence greater than 0.5 that the sequence is periodic after getting x + y, and (b) the agent will have credence less than 0.5 that the sequence is periodic after getting x + z. Call any prior with this property open-minded.
- The probability that the agent using this prior will succeed (in the sense described above) is not 1.
Much of the paper is an argument for the second condition. The argument, if I’ve understood it correctly, is that for any open-minded prior, the data sequences for which it succeeds are highly atypical. Its success set is measure 0 and meagre, while its failre set is dense (and obviously the complement of a meagre measure 0 set.)
And, as you might have guessed by now, it is impossible to meet these two conditions as a Bayesian agent. Any open-minded prior gives probability 0 to its own failure set. Gordon argues this is a very bad result for Bayesians, and I’m inclined to agree.
This post has gone on long enough, so I’ll leave how the imprecise Bayesian could respond to another post. I think this is a real problem, and indicative of deeper problems that Bayesians (especially precise Bayesians) have with countable infinities.
Posted by Brian Weatherson at 11:19 am
No Comments »
Imagine that a prominent journal, let’s call it The Philosophy Journal, has a well functioning, but subscription only, website. As per usual for well run journals, subscribers can download a PDF of any article they want, and it looks exactly like the printed version that subscribers can read on paper. It also lets non-subscribers see some information, such as the bibliographic information, the abstract, and perhaps the first page.
Now imagine this journal adds another feature to the part of the website available to everyone. It uploads the final version of the paper submitted by the author(s), in whatever form the paper was submitted in. It also puts these papers in a place they can be properly indexed by the appropriate crawlers. In that way, anyone in the world could read the papers in the journals. But to see them in the polished final form, and certainly to track down page numbers for citation purposes, you’d have to be a subscriber.
Two questions about this thought experiment.
- Would The Philosophy Journal now be an open access journal?
- Would adding these features to its website cause subscribers, especially library subscribers, to unsubscribe from The Philosophy Journal?
I’m tempted to say the answers are ‘yes, more or less’ and ‘no, or at least not many’.
It wouldn’t be the optimal form of open access, a la Philosophers’ Imprint or Semantics and Pragmatics, but it would be much better than nothing. In particular, it would promote what I think are the two big benefits of open access in philosophy: making leading work available to people at universities that do not (or cannot) subscribe to the best journals, and making this work available to journalists, magazine writers and the like who are interested in philosophy, but do not have access to university libraries.
And at least for prominent journals, I don’t think this would be sufficient grounds for unsubscribing. A library would still prefer to have good journals in archival formats (and a repository of self-submitted papers is not such a format), and it is important for researchers to be able to properly cite papers. I’m far from 100% certain of this, but I suspect it wouldn’t cost a lot.
So there you have it – a low cost means of being sorta kinda open access. I’m grateful to Kai von Fintel for suggesting this model. But I’d be interested in hearing views on its prospects and flaws.
Posted by Brian Weatherson at 11:00 am
No Comments »
Robbie Williams has just posted an excellent paper on Accuracy, Logic and Degree of Belief. I wanted to highlight one of parts with which I strongly agreed.
The overarching idea is that in adopting doxastic attitudes to a proposition, we incur commitment to persist in those attitudes if no new evidence is forthcoming (where persistence is understood as not changing one’s mind—-i.e. not adopting a different attitude to the same proposition. I discuss cases of simply ignoring the proposition below). In the limiting case, consider a situation where one simply moves from one moment to the next, with no new input or reflection. It would be bizarre to change ones (non-indexical) beliefs in such circumstances. Insofar as action, over time, is based on one’s beliefs, it would mean that a course of action started at one time might be abandoned (since it no longer maximizes expected utility) without any prompting from reflection or experience.
Persistence might be construed as a (widescope) diachronic norm on belief. Alternatively, a disposition to retain an attitude to the proposition over time might be constitutive of belief. If what makes something count as a belief is its functional role, then the reflections on extended action above motivate this kind of claim.
I think persistence is, at least for belief, both constitutive and normative. If a kind of state is not disposed to persist, that state is not belief. And if a token of that belief does not persist, in the absence of good reasons for it to be reconsidered, that’s a normative failing.
I ended up with a view like this via Richard Holton’s work. But I hadn’t realised it had an even more notable pedigree. At the Formal Epistemology Workshop, Hannes Leitgeb highlighted the work my colleague Louis Loeb has done in drawing attention to the importance of persistence to Hume’s theory of belief. (For a brief view of this, here is a review of Louis’s 2002 book.)
There has been a lot of work recently on the existence of diachronic norms for belief. I think I’ll start calling the view that there are such norms, and they are primarily norms of persistence, the Humean view. It has a better claim to being genuinely Hume’s view than most views I call Humean!
Posted by Brian Weatherson at 3:51 pm
3 Comments »