Trade Publishers: You Need To Fact-Check Philosophy, Too


As you all know, Kant’s moral philosophy includes the idea of universalization. 

But did you also know that “this means that before we do something, we should ask ourselves if the act we are about to perform will be good for everyone involved”? No, of course you didn’t. Because it is not true. And not just not true. It’s not true in the way that, say, “vegans are vegetarians who also eat animals” is not true.

Why do I mention this? Because of this:

This is an excerpt from the book, When You Kant Figure It Out, Ask a Philosopher, written by Marie Robert, translated from its original French by Meg Richardson,* and published by an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. The excerpt was posted at LitHub.

How does this kind of basic error get past the editorial team at a major publishing company? How does this kind of basic error about Kant get published in a book that has “Kant” in the title?

I haven’t looked through the book, so I don’t know whether Robert corrects or clarifies these remarks elsewhere in it. Assuming she didn’t, this is a rather egregious error. Little, Brown and Company should be embarrassed.

More importantly, they and other major commercial publishing firms should recognize that the need for fact-checking extends to the realm of philosophy. Not all philosophical claims are the kind that can be fact-checked, but some are, and having philosophers employed or on call to consult with may help prevent the publication of basic and misleading errors such as this one.

*The original version of this post neglected to mention that the book and excerpt was translated from its original French into English. (11/17/19)

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