Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become the editor of THINK?
Dr. Stephen Law: The Royal Institute of Philosophy decided it wanted a journal that would be aimed at laypeople some time ago and advertised for an editor. I was appointed. There were early difficulties, though – Cambridge University Press didn’t want to publish it (they publish the RIP’s other journal Philosophy) and so it looked like it might have to be online only – but then The Philosopher’s Magazine very kindly offered to publish it, which they did, very successfully. Some wanted to call it a journal; ‘for schools’ which would have been the kiss of death, I think. I asked Simon Blackburn if he’d mind us using ‘THINK’ as the title (he has a book of that name) and he agreed so we went with that. The Strapline is ‘Philosophy for Everyone’.
Jacobsen: You are searching for philosophers with an emphasis on women philosophers. Why the search for women philosophers in particular?
Law: Unfortunately we don’t get nearly enough unsolicited submissions from women to achieve a decent gender balance. So I specifically approach women philosophers. This has had some effect, but still not enough so I am really pushing very hard on trying to achieve a healthy gender balance now. There’s a forthcoming themed issue on women and philosophy too.
Jacobsen: How will these submitted pieces be used by RS teachers and students?
Law: The idea is that they will be useful resources helping teachers of RS better understand the material;, and they will be accessible enough to be read by pupils. However, I want to stress that these are all fascinating topics anyway, and will be of interest to a lot of people. I recently put together a themed issue on naturalism and theism which, while of interest to schools, has proved extremely popular with all sorts of people – theists, philosophers, skeptics, etc.
Jacobsen: You have proposed a number of possible topics including the “application of virtue ethics to embryo research and designer babies, abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, capital punishment, lying, theft, use of animals as food and intensive farming, xenotransplantation, vivisection, and blood sports,” and more. If any, what are the guiding themes behind the topics?
Law: In that case, the RS syllabi. However, they’re also fun topics. I am really looking forward to reading the pieces.
Jacobsen: Have any of these topics been particularly overdone or underdone?
Law: I don’t think so.
Jacobsen: How can people submit pieces or submit proposals for consideration of articles?
Law: They just email them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacobsen: What are you hoping will be the big takeaway from this issue of THINK?
Law: Well, these pieces won’t all be in the same issue – I will spread them out. But I think they will help make it clear how relevant philosophy is to a lot of practical questions – about our treatment of animals, assisted suicide, etc.