Our favourite atheist philosopher Bradley Monton, author of Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design (Broadview Press, 2009), reflects on the Beckwith-Forrest-Synthese dustup which hit the New York Times last weekend. Noting that some philosophers have called for a boycott of Synthese because the journal’s regular editors disclaimed the tone of anti-ID pieces published in a special issue:
Regarding the issue of the boycott, I think that, based on my best guess as to what really happened, the situation could have been handled better by the editors-in-chief, but they way they handled it doesn’t at all warrant a boycott. (This position is nicely argued for by John Turri here.) John Symons’ explanation of the disclaimer seems reasonable and prudent, given the inappropriate content of Forrest’s and Pennock’s pieces:
I’m speaking independently of my co-editors and the publisher here, but I’m sure they’ll concur with me fully: To be clear, the editors in chief of Synthese in no way “caved to the ID lobby” or to threats of lawsuits. Regular readers of the journal will find many instances of intemperate language and ad hominem in this issue which we regret and for which we take full responsibility. We are in no way shifting this responsibility to the guest editors. We failed to prevent this language going into print and because of this failure we felt the obligation to write this preface and to acknowledge that we compromised the standards of the journal.
Many sources think that the initial decision to leave the entire edition to the Darwin-in-the-schools lobby group National Centre for Science Education was unwise, and that all else followed. But if Synthese stands its ground in repudiating the unscholarly tone and insinuations, it should soon be water under the bridge.
(Note: There was no ID lobby, except in the minds of certain parties. That became apparent a month or so ago, long before the Times story.)