This one calls on the editors of Synthese to grant Forrest space in the journal to respond to Beckwith's piece.
This one calls on the editors of Synthese to explain the circumstances surrounding the publication of the Beckwith piece.
The idea here is that Beckwith's article was accepted the day it was submitted and appears not to have been edited for content or tone by the EiCs of Synthese. (And its tone is really, really heinously, brutally condescending. It has been suggested, and I am sympathetic to this idea, that Beckwith's piece is an instance of this sort of criticism--one so global and all-encompassing that it is not possible to respond effectively. Consider, for example, that the title of Beckwith's piece is "Or We Could Be Philosophers," which suggests falsely that being a philosopher is a genuine alternative to whatever Forrest was doing.)
This one objects much more strongly to the conduct of the Editors-in-chief, asking them to both apologize for and retract the disclaimer, and to "[d]isclose the nature of complaints and/or legal threats from Francis Beckwith, his supporters, and supporters of Intelligent Design that were received by the Editors-in-Chief after the on-line publication of "Evolution and Its Rivals" last year."
The idea here is that (as John Protevi says here) there is an "extremely high probability that the next time Professor Forrest testifies to the LA state legislature (as she often does in these matters, and no doubt will soon in the debate on SB 70, which would repeal the stealth creationist Lousiana Science Education Act or LSEA), some ID partisan will claim she has been "refuted" in the pages of a prestigious philosophy journal and that therefore her testimony should be discounted if not ignored."
Regarding this last one, Mark Lance, in comments here, writes:
We are told publicly that there were general objections to the tone of multiple articles, and that this prompted the disclaimer. But then only Beckwith is given an (apparently unrefereed, and unedited) opportunity to publish a rejoinder. Whatever the intent behind any of this, (a) it is hard to see why mere issues of tone would justify a special opportunity to respond, (b) hard to see in any case why others challenged in the special issue weren't as well given the opportunity to respond and (c) hard to see why oversight was not exercised regarding tone and misuse of the disclaimer in Beckwith's article.
Apart from the petitions, there has been some interesting commentary. For example, in comments here, Alex Malpass writes,
I am a guest editor of a forthcoming issue of Synthese [...] As far as I understand, there is no controversy surrounding our issue.
If the calls for a Synthese boycott (or a Synthese-special-issue-boycott) were heeded by the philosophical community, then we (i.e. myself, my co-editor, and each of the 6 contributors to the issue, none of whom are involved with the ongoing controversy) would be the ones to suffer.
I'm not a philosopher of morality, but would imagine it would be hard to justify why those associated with my issue should be so penalised.
I would like to simply request that those people calling for a boycott reflect upon the potential impact on us 'civilians' that would be the result.
How short-sighted can a person be? This is a controversy about how Synthese treats its guest editors. Malpass, his co-editor, and his six contributors should be first in line to participate in this boycott. They should be unable to contain themselves at the very thought of this boycott, because they are the ones who stand to be affected by these editorial shenanigans. It doesn't matter if there is no controversy surrounding their issue, it matters what editorial policies are in place in the event of controversy. And if I were a guest-editor I would be terrified, because (if the past is any indication) the EiCs would not tell me about the controversy if it existed; the EiCs would turn their backs on me and by disclaiming my issue; and they would lie to me about what they were doing. If I were guest-editing a special issue of Synthese, I would be much more worried about what the editors of Synthse were going to do to me than about the effects of a boycott.
In comments here, Philippe Huneman writes:
The allegation of professional misconduct – having published the disclaimer without either mentioning it to the guest eds. or having obtained their permission to include it , would not be regarded as so horrible, and I am sure, would not have led to any kind of call for a boycott if we had been in a context other than evolution and ID. In fact, if such actions had been denounced in another context as professional misconduct, someone would have raised their voice to say that we should give the EiC the benefit of the doubt and ask to have the full transcript of the interactions between them and guest eds. made explicit before making any further judgment. However, when someone condemns the disclaimer as a concession to Evil (ID), then of course many people will be horrified and incited to protest.
This gets the allegation of misconduct wrong. It ignores the crucial detail that the EiCs didn't just publish the disclaimer without notice; they published the disclaimer after twice giving an assurance that they were not going to publish any disclaimer. And that is misconduct no matter why they did it.
And it's not as though nobody has asked for the EiCs to explain their side. It's just that their "explanation" completely sidestepped all the important issues. And it is worth mentioning that the EiCs have not disputed any of the pertinent facts, except to deny that the disclaimer was the result of pressure from the ID movement. But they have not denied, for example, that they were subject to pressure by the ID movement, or that they gave assurances that they would not disclaim the issue.
He goes on:
So, in the event that some papers to be published in a guest-edited volume transgress the boundaries of academic politesse, what options do those who are ultimately responsible for the publication have for maintaining it? Notice that whatever action is taken, -- not to accept the papers , to write a disclaimer, or whatever - the disapprobation faced will be the same. Some people in the blogs recently said that the EiCs should not have accepted the papers, and that they did so was already indicative of their professional misconduct. But what if they had actually refused to accept them? Wouldn’t it have led to the same or an even more harsh campaign against them, with the same accusations of their having made concessions to ID people raised?
For crying out loud. The editors might have used the new-fangled and controversial tool known as the "conditional acceptance." If the EiCs thought the tone of any of the submissions was inappropriate, they should have said, "we will accept this only if you tone it down." Crisis averted.
Lastly, am I the only one who thinks it strange that Synthese would devote a guest-edited special issue to the topic "Evolution and its Rivals"? Because evolution has no rivals.