restricted access Getting Out of Dodge
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Getting Out of Dodge
Thomas H. Murray, Publisher and Joyce A. Griffin, Managing Editor

This issue features two articles, one of them by the Report's editor. That article prompted considerable discussion among members of our editorial committee—not only about the merits of the article itself, but about whether publishing the editor is a good idea. We had two concerns. The first was that publishing an article by the editor might imply that his views represent some kind of "official" position of the Report or The Hastings Center; the second was that publishing the person who directs the selection process for Report publication might look—as our art director put it—a bit dodgy. In the end, we set aside both concerns.

The Report has a long history of publishing its editors, and likewise publishers and editorial committee members. Part of the rationale for this practice is that the Report has always been as much literary magazine as journal, and for a literary magazine, publishing staff is unexceptionable. Still, since we want our articles to meet the standards of peer review, explaining how the staff gets articles into our pages demands some explanation of our review and selection process. The editor reads all submissions, and further review is at his discretion. If he decides an article-length manuscript should be considered for publication, then it undergoes further review to gauge its quality and how it contributes to the existing literature on that topic. We usually seek one outside review, although sometimes we'll look for more. When we can, we pair the outside review with an assessment by a Hastings Center associate. If the opinions are favorable, the editorial committee then reads it, discusses it, and makes a recommendation. Very few manuscripts reach this stage, and even fewer survive it. We accept only about 10 percent of the article manuscripts we receive.

This review process can be tedious for authors, but it ensures quality. We rely heavily on what comes in over the transom and on what people outside the Center then say about it. As a result, the Report's content depends on the consensus of multiple opinions, as well as the luck of the draw. We sometimes amass a few pieces that complement each other (as we did in our May-June issue, in which we ran two articles on newborn screening), and we often solicit our shorter pieces, which do not receive the same intensive peer review. But overall, our articles reflect no party line, no specific direction, and most importantly, no individual or collective viewpoint beyond a commitment to excellence, clarity, and originality.

Greg's manuscript went through the same review as others, with an unavoidable caveat: while the outside review was anonymous, the committee's consideration could not be (we all knew what Greg was working on). However, we think this made our review even more exacting—the manuscript was batted around for well over a year, and the editorial committee demanded significant revisions and further review before finally accepting it on the condition of yet more revisions.

Does it represent an official position of any sort? Not at all. Greg argues that assessing "appeals to nature" requires that we think about some foundational issues in philosophy—how we define crucial moral concepts, as well as how we defend and deploy them. As a personal matter, some of us on the committee think the final article is about right. Others find it useful and interesting—challenging, even—but stop short of agreeing with it. Probably nobody agrees with everything in it. But we hope the result allays any suspicion of dodginess. [End Page 2]