Archive for the ‘public’ Category

The Sixth Transom

Thursday, 22 February 2024

Shortly before mid-night on 21 February, I submitted a copy of my paper on Sraffa to yet another journal.

The submission software of the previous journal still lists my paper with a status of Submitted to Journal. Perhaps they don't have a mechanism in place for removing an entry when an author has responded to abuse by withdrawing work at that stage; perhaps someone is hoping to avoid the attention of a manager with greater authority. I've received no further communication from the publisher, nor any from the editor.

Peering over the Transom

Tuesday, 20 February 2024

The journal to which, on 23 January, I submitted my paper on Sraffa declares that it aims to render an initial decision after four weeks, but the reported status of my paper remains at Submitted to Journal. I have therefore sent a query. If I have got no response, or the equivalent of a mere Oops!, then some time on Friday (the day of the mensiversary) I will halt the submission and submit to a different journal.

Right now, my best guess is that the publisher's submission system has failed. But possibly the chief editor has made some mistake; or, possibly, the paper may be moving through the review process at about the regular pace, but the editors don't make a practice of logging changes to the status of papers.

[Up-Date (2024:02/21): Near the end of 20 February, PST, which would be at about the start of a working day GMT, I received e.mail from the publisher.

Thank you for your email regarding the status of your submission entitled " Mr. Sraffa’s Theory of Price; A Thorough and Critical Examination".

I understand the importance of a swift editorial decision, and work hard to ensure articles are reviewed quickly.

I can confirm that, at present, your submission is undergoing pre-assignment technical checks. This is to ensure that your submission meets the journal's submission requirements, and you will be contacted shortly if any corrections are required.

Once approved, your paper will be assigned to an editor for handling, and you will receive a confirmation email containing an editorial reference.

In the meantime, your patience and understanding are much appreciated.

If I can be of further assistance, please do let me know.

My response was blunt:

It is evident that Elsevier lost track of the submission, and did not notify the principal editor of the journal.

Given this disingenuous response, the submission is hereby cancelled, and not available to be accepted or rejected.

I included the aforementioned principal editor in the CC field of the e.mail.

I acknowledge that most or all of us sometimes drop the ball, certainly I amongst those who do. But the question is of what one then does. The publisher cannot reasonably in a case such as this simply publish the paper without it passing editorial review. What the publisher could do is something such as to waive the open-access fee or the span of time after publication before the author can freely distribute copies.

In any case, I will later load my big spreadsheet of economics journals, and try to choose the next journal to which to submit the article.

The Fifth Transom

Friday, 2 February 2024

On 19 January, I received an expected desk-rejection of my paper on Sraffa from the journal to which I'd submitted it a day or two earlier. The editor wrote that he'd enjoyed looking at the paper but that it were not the style of work that the journal published. I don't feel slighted by the lack of an explanation, but I'm more unhappy with something that might be mistaken for an explanation that doesn't actually explain anything.

(My paper on indecision was more than once rejected without explanation for the rejection, but with meta-explanation that providing an explanation would delay my submitting to some other journal.)

Upon receiving the rejection, I looked for another journal. What otherwise might have seemed the best choice required a €100 submission fee, not refunded in the event of a desk-rejection. I instead chose a different journal, in part because it is headquartered in Italy, where I expect more attention is paid to Sraffa even by mainstream economists.

The submission process was stalled by a failure of the software used by the journal's publisher, and a weekend had to pass before that failure was corrected. In the early morning of 23 January, I completed the process. Since then, the reported status of the paper has stood at Submitted to Journal. That report is supposed to change when the paper is assigned to a specific editor.

Once more, a desk-rejection is highly likely. Most papers that are sent to reviewers are rejected by the reviewers. Most papers that are not rejected are returned to the authors for revision. Most papers returned for revision are accepted after revision, but not always.

Over the Transom Again

Thursday, 18 January 2024

I've submitted my paper on Sraffa to yet another journal. Fortunately, this latest journal wanted the initial submission to be in PDF, and wants accepted papers in LAΤΕΧ.

I expect a rejection from this journal, simply because they receive an enormous number of submissions, and will probably decide that their readers would rather not digest a thorough examination of a heterodox theory to which few of them ascribe any credibility, which examination reaches conclusions that, over all, will not surprise them. But I'll hope for an editor to think otherwise.

No Shock

Wednesday, 17 January 2024

And, unshockingly, to-day my paper on Sraffa was rejected by the journal of history of economic thought to which I submitted the paper. In my previous entry, I wrote

A few problems threaten this submission. […] Third, historians might — rather reasonably — see the article as better placed in a journal of theory than of history; I do not, for example, much discuss the position of Sraffa's book in historic context.

Well, the editor didn't suggest submitting to a journal of theory, but did say that it didn't fit the mission of a journal of history of thought.

If I again submit to a journal of theory, then I'll make a note to its editor of the history of rejection. But I'd like to find a respected journal that publishes both articles on theory and articles on the history of economic thought, so that the editors won't pass the buck based upon such distinctions. I'd also very much prefer not to submit to any journal published by Springer, given the abuse to which they subjected me in the case of my paper on indecision.

Another Bounce-back

Sunday, 14 January 2024

As anticipated, my submission to a second journal of my paper on Sraffa received a desk-rejection, in the morning of 8 January. The editor at the second journal, like that at the first, suggested submitting to a journal on the history of economic thought.

I decided to go ahead to do just that, but found that my first choice amongst such journals both wanted the article to be submitted in the format of Microsoft Word, and was somewhat particular about the appearance of formulæ. I do not have any recent versions of MS Word running on any computer, and the computers on which I have old versions installed are old devices, tucked-away, and of course I wouldn't in any case want to reënter the whole article from the keyboard. So I wrestled with going from LAΤΕΧ (by way of LyX) to DOCX by various means, with the formulæ repeatedly trashed in the process. I stepped-away from the problem a few times, rather than become over-stressed.

Finally, early this morning, I had a version that I thought were good enough to submit. I stepped-away again until to-night, and then effected a submission.

A few problems threaten this submission. First, the journal normally wants articles of 11,000 words or fewer, whereäs this article is about 12,665. Second, as may be inferred from their insistence upon the format of Microsoft Word, this journal leans away from mathematic presentation. Third, historians might — rather reasonably — see the article as better placed in a journal of theory than of history; I do not, for example, much discuss the position of Sraffa's book in historic context.

If the paper is rejected in whole or in part on that last basis, then of course I will make a note of such objection in any subsequent submission to a journal of economic theory.

As to how I effected the conversion, I used LyX to export a file in ODT format, then used LibreOffice Writer to do extensive clean-up and export to DOCX, then reïmported the DOCX file into LibreOffice Writer, and effected a second extensive clean-up, the results of which I later submitted.

Cultural Relativisms — Smart, Stupid, and Dire

Sunday, 7 January 2024

The term cultural relativism gets used for more than one concept.

The term can refer to the practice of attempting to adopt the perspective of another culture in viewing that other culture, in viewing one's own culture, or in viewing some third culture. This practice is a healthy one. One should not simply presume that any deviation from one's own customs is deficient, nor even that one's own culture does everything at least equally as well as does any other culture. And, even in cases in which one's own culture is doing something better than does another, it is good to develop an understanding of why things seem as they do to people not from one's own culture.

But cultural relativism is also used to refer to the doctrine that every culture is every bit as reasonable as is every other culture. The rejection of presumption of superiority of one's own culture is replaced by a presumption of equality of cultures. This doctrine is madness, as is swiftly shown by exposing the self-contradiction in claiming that cultures that reject that very doctrine are every bit as reasonable as those cultures that embrace it.

Indeed, a cultural relativist of that sort could not even find logical standing to disagree with a single person who rejected cultural relativism. A culture is a set of customs, broadly conceptualized, of some group of persons who, if more than one person, are connected by interaction. A subculture is itself a culture, of a group contained within some large cultural group. When we say group, we naturally think of a set with more than one member, and some people might insist that the term culture cannot properly refer to customs peculiar to just one person; that insistence would be just a matter of arbitrary taxonomy; the customs of a group of two are no more magically different from the customs of single person than the customs of three are magically different from the customs of two.

Often times, people who advance that second notion of cultural relativism employ something of a motte-and-bailey argument. The motte is the earlier point, that one should not simply presume that any deviation from one's own customs is deficient, or even that one's own culture does everything at least equally well as any other culture. The bailey is that every other culture is just as good, overall or perhaps even in each particular. Of course, most of these cultural relativists will look-away from those cultures that make the relativists or their audiences uncomfortable. Mind you that a significant share of these relativists are not consciously employing a motte-and-bailey argument, and many of them are not conscious that they are averting their gazes from self-contradictions and from the cases of cultures that almost no one wants to defend. Most of these relativists just got thoughtlessly swept up and psychologically over-committed.

When the bailey that every other culture is just as good is unchallenged, it often is treated as a motte for a new bailey that is still worse. The idea that every other culture is just as good is quietly replaced with the idea that every other culture is at least as good, and then it is argued that some cultures are in some ways better than our own. Indeed some cultures are in some ways better than our own, if not necessarily in just any way that a particular critic might claim. But, coupling that point with the spurious proposition that these other cultures are in every other way at least as good, these relativists arrive at a conclusion that ours is necessarily an inferior culture — no better in any way, and worse in some.

Thus, the practice of seeking to free oneself from cultural presumption is perverted first into a new and foolish presumption, and thence into a sophistic attack on our culture.

Bounce-back

Thursday, 4 January 2024

In keeping with my expectations, albeït not with my hopes, during this morning I received a desk-rejection from the first journal to which I submitted my paper on Sraffa. The editor wrote

I read your paper with interest. I appreciate the ambition and breadth of the work as well as the care you put in writing the paper in an accessible and engaging way. However, the contribution is more appropriate for a journal that specializes in the history of economic thought, rather than for a journal that focuses on modern contributions to economic theory.

Two conceptions of modernity seem to be confused here. If the editor were to say that Sraffa's work were not at or near the cutting edge, then I would completely agree with the editor. On the other hand, only if the applicability of that work were without living controversy would discussion properly be restricted to history-of-thought, yet Sraffa's work is at-or-near the center of thought for academically active schools.

Mind you that something could reasonably be treated as within the scope of history-of-thought without being restricted to that scope, so I may indeed submit the paper to a journal on the history of economic thought. But, before taking that route, this evening I submitted the paper to a different journal of economic theory. Yes, I do expect another rejection, and probably another desk-rejection. Still, I gambled on a hope of acceptance.

If-and-when I submit to a journal of history of economic thought, I face some threat of my paper being rejected as too mathematic for the readership. (One reason that I have not submitted the paper to The Cambridge Journal of Economics is that their guidelines for authors suggest that they would reject the paper with the excuse that the exposition relies too heavily upon mathematics.)

Before receiving the rejection, I had effected some minor revisions to the paper. I corrected a typographic error, replaced adjectival -ical with -ic wherever the latter would do, and removed most of my expletive uses of it and of there.

Although expletive uses are grammatic and I've not seen them condemned in any book of style, after I first completed a draft of that paper I became uncomfortable with those uses. That discomfort is part of a prior trend of my becoming uncomfortable with expressions that facilitate conceptual illusions. Saying or writing it is X suggests that something is X; sometimes something is X, as when we say it is sad that you couldn't come, in which case the something is that you couldn't come. Even then, it is a forward reference, and forward references are generally very bad things. But sometimes the it is just a way of satisfying the grammatic need for a subject, as in it's raining. Saying or writing there is X or there are X suggests that X is-or-are at a specific location, but likewise is often just a way of satisfying the grammatic need for a subject.

Usually, one can easily do without these expletive uses, but I acknowledge that sometimes they actually produce more easily understood sentences. Indeed, I left two such uses in the paper because no alternative occurred to me that did not create ambiguity.

[Up-Date (2024:01/07):Alas, I have found more expletive uses in my paper. My search string was naïve, and missed cases with modal auxiliaries. I don't know when or even if I will eliminate those further cases.]

Just Acting?

Saturday, 30 December 2023

This entry deals with a Constitutional question that is only technical, and of trivial importance.

The Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified and adopted on 10 February 1967. Section 1 reads

In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

which would be rather peculiar, if the Constitution had already said as much. But what the Constitution had actually said, in Article II Section 1 Paragraph 6, was

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

(Underscores mine.) A friend once reported to me that, after the death of William Henry Harrison, on the first occasion when Congress sent a bill to John Tyler, they addressed him as Acting President; Tyler returned the bill neither signed nor vetoed, asserting that he were not mere Acting President, but simply President. Congress returned the bill, addressing him as President, and Tyler signed it. Thereäfter, it was almost perfectly accepted that the Vice President became indeed the President after a President resigned or died or were removed. But, had the acceptance been indeed perfect, then Section 1 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment would have been perfectly superfluous. However, I don't think that it properly were superfluous.

My primary argument is fairly straight-forward. The Constitution did not say that the Vice President became President. Indeed, the section lists Inability alongside the other conditions under which the Powers and Duties devolve, and declares that devolution revoked in cases in which the Disability be removed; if the same words about devolution mean taking the Office in other cases, we would have to take it that the Vice President became President during these times of temporary disability, only to lose the Office itself when the prior fellow recovered. Adlai Ewing Stevenson would briefly have been President in July of 1893; Richard Milhous Nixon repeatedly in the 1950s, as Eisenhower had a heart attack and then a stroke, and still later underwent surgery and its aftermath. Whenever a President got drunk and until he sobered-up, the Vice President would be President.

My secondary argument is more novel, but more subject to challenge. Until passage of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, no mechanism was provided for filling a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President. In cases in which a vacancy does not obtain, no mechanism for filling it is needed, so the lack of a mechanism suggests at the vacancy were not felt. Someone might reasonably argue against my secondary reason, by noting that, prior to the adoption of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, eight Vice Presidents left office before the ends of their terms — John C[aldwell] Calhoun resigned, the other seven died — leaving the Office vacant. In the case of William R[ufus DeVane] King (7 April 1786 – 18 April 1853) the vacancy was 1416 days. So perhaps what weren't acutely felt were just the needs for a spare and for a tie-breaker. (Note that Section 1 of Article II did provide for Congress to deal with a joint vacancy by appointing an Officer to act as President.) Still, the primary argument would hold.

I began with an admission that the question is only technical and trivial. If the Office of the Vice President remained that of the Vice President, but with the Powers and Duties of the Office of the President, then we are merely discussing a title, bragging rights.

Before 1967, four Vice Presidents took-on the Powers and Duties of the Office of the President without themselves ever winning election to that Office. These were John Tyler, Millard Filmore, Andrew Johnson, and Chester A[lan] Arthur. I say that we include them out.

Reordering the Queue

Friday, 29 December 2023

Late last night, I finally got around to submitting to a journal a draft of my paper on Sraffa's Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities; Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory [1960].

My attention was first directed to Production of Commodities in the mid-'80s. I did no more than to skim the work at the time, but I planned someday to critique it carefully, and developed an expectation that I would write my critique for academic publication. In the spring or summer of 2015, I finally took-up that task. I completed a working draft by 18 May 2016, then entitled The Begged Questions and Confusions in Mr. Sraffa's Theory of Price, and began providing copies to other economists.

I've made no profound changes to the paper in the time since, but I'd hoped to complete and have published my generalization of decision theory before publishing this paper on PoCbMoC. And editors and reviewers seem likely to treat my paper either as uninteresting or as anathematic; I've been unsure about to which journals I should submit it. But some dreadful lines of thought have been resurgent, and I have grown concerned that Sraffan thought — which epitomizes much left-wing thought about economics — may soon have accelerating popularity. So I've decided to seek now a respectable journal to publish my paper, with the title Mr. Sraffa's Theory of Price; A Thorough and Critical Examination.

I can expect that the article will be rejected by several journals before it finds acceptance. Editors who reject the article without sending it to peer-review may take a few weeks. Peer-review in each case is likely to take four or more months. So perhaps a couple of years will pass before the article is accepted, and then perhaps the better part of a year will follow before it is published.