New Resource: Database of Philosophical Research on Policing (guest post)

Ben Jones (Penn State) and some of his colleagues have launched a Policing, Policy, and Philosophy Initiative.

In the following guest post, Professor Jones talks about the new initiative and focuses on one of the resources it has developed: a database of philosophical research on policing which tells us, among other things, which journals tend to publish work on philosophy of policing.

[Jean-Michel Basquiat, “La Hara” (detail)]

New Resource: Database of Philosophical Research on Policing
by Ben Jones

This year the Policing, Policy, and Philosophy Initiative (3PI) launched with support from the American Philosophical Association and Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. 3PI looks to connect philosophers with interests in policing as well as highlight and encourage research in this area. Among 3PI’s resources is a database of philosophical research on policing.

The database goes back to 1996, tracking academic books and articles published in philosophy and closely related fields. For details on the methodology used to assemble the database, check out the recent post on 3PI in the Blog of the APA.

Overall, there are more than 200 articles and 30 books in the database. The increased attention on policing during the past decade, spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement, has corresponded with an upward trend in the number of articles published each year on policing in philosophy.

Which philosophy and ethics journals have published the most work on policing? Perhaps not surprisingly, Criminal Justice Ethics leads the way. Its 45 articles on policing during the period covered is more than 2.5 times as many articles as the next journal, Theory and Event (17). The only other philosophy and ethics journals with at least ten articles on policing since 1996 are the Journal of Business Ethics (12) and Criminal Law and Philosophy (10).

When we turn to the leading journals in moral and political philosophy, some like Ethics and the Journal of Moral Philosophy have not published any articles on policing since 1996. The Journal of Political Philosophy and Philosophy and Public Affairs have given more space to the topic, each publishing six articles during this period. It is rare for top general journals in philosophy to publish work on policing—there are no articles in the Philosophical Review or Mind and only one a piece in Nous and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

The database (like most databases) is a work in progress. Anyone who comes across missing entries or errors is encouraged to pass them along to [email protected]. Also, philosophers with interests in policing are welcome to join 3PI (membership is free) and apply for its upcoming symposium on March 1, 2024, which includes a best paper prize of $1,000 (deadline to submit: November 30, 2023).


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Patrick Lin
7 months ago

Nice! I can foresee that philosophy of policing will become more popular and urgent, esp. with new policing tech on the horizon. This may be similar to how philosophy of war blew up in the last 15 years, starting with drone ethics.

If anyone is interested in predictive or AI policing, here’s our project on that: