Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A reader writes:
I am wondering whether you can address the issue of legal philosophy journals - what journals are out there; how, if at all, are they ranked; what is the academic politics involved etc. I believe that is an issue that has not been discussed.
I am an informed, though far from neutral, observer on this topic. I'll acccept non-anonymous comments, below.
Two high-visibility, and highly selective, philosophy journals publish work in legal philosophy: Ethics and Philosophy & Public Affairs. I think those two are probably the most prestigious fora for work in philosophy of law, but they don't publish a lot of it, and many quite important papers appear elsewhere. Historically, PPA was very much an "insider's" journal, with even bad work by the editors or friends of the editors, being published. I gather the current editor, Charles Beitz, has improved the editorial practices to make them more impartial and responsible.
There are then four journals with some visbility that publish primarily work in legal philosophy (and sometimes cognate topics): Legal Theory (which I edit with Larry Alexander and Jules Coleman), Law & Philosophy, Ratio Juris, and Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence. In addition, the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (OJLS) publishes a fair bit of work in legal philosophy. Ratio Juris is, in my judgment, the weakest of these five. Unsurprisingly, I view Legal Theory as the best, though OJLS is usually just as good when it comes to publishing work in legal philosophy. But Law & Philosophy has been around longer, and still publishes a lot of good work. (As some objective evidence in support of my non-objective opinion, let me note that on several occasions articles that Legal Theory rejected appeared in one of these other journals (except OJLS))
More recently, USC has created an on-line journal, The Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy, which has also been publishing some legal philosophy. It's too soon to say whether this journal will perform competitively with Legal Theory and Law and Philosophy, but as the title of the journal suggests, they also run quite a lot of work in moral and political philosophy so far.
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