Monday, August 06, 2007

New Essay: Do Ethicists Steal More Books?

I've put up a new essay on my homepage: Do Ethicists Steal More Books? This essay presents more formally and in more detail the data discussed in two previous posts: Still More Data on the Theft of Ethics Books and Liberating On Liberty (from the Library).

I planning to submit this essay to a psychology journal soon. So email me your devastating objections now, before I embarrass myself in public! (Well, I suppose my websites are public too -- but you all know and love me, right?)

The abstract:

If explicit reasoning about morality is morally useful, as Kohlberg and many ethicists have suggested, then one might expect ethics professors to behave particularly well. However, professional ethicists’ behavior has never been systematically studied. The present research examines the rates at which ethics books are missing from leading academic libraries, compared to other philosophy books. Study 1 found that contemporary (post-1959) ethics books were actually 25% more likely to be missing than non-ethics books. When the list was reduced to the relatively obscure books most likely to be borrowed exclusively by professional ethicists, ethics books were almost 50% more likely to be missing. Study 2 found that classic (pre-1900) ethics books were more than twice as likely to be missing as other classic philosophy books.

I'm off camping for a few days, so this is in lieu of the usual Wednesday post. See (see?) you all Friday!


David Hunter said...

Hi Eric

No feedback apart from good luck with the paper! A query though, I am curious about why a psych journal? I would have thought some philosophy journals, and certainly some bioethics journals would be interested in the paper. Is it an audience thing?


Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the good wishes! I'm hoping to do a series of at least four empirical essays on the moral behavior of ethics professors, some for psych journals and some for philosophy journals. I'm thinking that this one is better for a psych journal because it's pretty heavy on the statistics.

Josh Rust and I are presently at work drafting one aimed for a philosophy journal: "The moral behavior of ethicists: Peer opinion", based on our APA questionnaire. Once we're happy with a draft, I'll post a link here.

Unknown said...

Why are ethics professors to blame ?

The offender could be anybody.

Which libraries are we talking about exactly. By name.

Unknown said...

Ach..... I now see the library list

Hmmm.... yes, I see that the books are "likely" to be read only by advanced students.

However, there is the recent case of the serial thief of libraries (often DVDs) in Colorado.

I retract any objections toward publishing your analysis. Good luck.