Journal of Controversial Ideas

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The Journal of Controversial Ideas (JCI) is a cross-disciplinary, open access, peer-reviewed academic journal that aims to allow academics to publish using pseudonyms if they request it.[1][2] The first issue of the journal was published on 23 April 2021 and it is expected to be an annual publication.[3]


The journal was established in November 2018 by academic moral philosophers Francesca Minerva, Jeff McMahan, and Peter Singer.[1][4] It began accepting submissions in April 2020,[5] looking for "careful, rigorous, unpolemical discussion of issues that are widely considered controversial, in the sense that certain views about them might be regarded by many people as morally, socially, or ideologically objectionable or offensive",[3][5] and published its first issue in April 2021.[6]

The idea for the journal started when Minerva received death threats and had difficulty finding employment as a result of a 2012 article she co-wrote on the ethics of child euthanasia in the Journal of Medical Ethics.[2][3][7] Minerva then published a 2014 article in Bioethics titled Why Publishing Pseudonymously Can Protect Academic Freedom that led to discussions with McMahan and Singer that Minerva said gave the core concept: "We thought we should establish this journal where people can send papers they’re afraid couldn’t be published in other journals."[7] According to McMahan, JCI "enables people whose ideas might get them in trouble either with the left or with the right or with their own university administration, to publish under a pseudonym".[8]

Of the ten articles published in the first issue of JCI in 2021, three of the authors used pseudonyms.[3]


The Editors of Philosophy congratulated the journal for upholding the spirit of John Stuart Mill, but wondered whether the use of anonymity would hamper the quality of academic debate; they also noted the irony of leading academics from some of "the most prestigious universities in the liberal western world" launching what in another era would be known as a Samizdat. [9] Tyler Cowen wrote that the journal would highlight the "very real pressures for excess conformity in academia", but could also "ghettoize" ideas.[10] Russell Blackford welcomed the journal and said the first issue was "at a level comparable to most well-regarded journals dealing with ethics or public policy"; Russell also noted that while it seeks to be cross-disciplinary, the first issue was very much a "philosophy journal".[3]

Of relevance to MAPs

In 2022, the journal platformed a MAP writer with a controversial and unsettling style. The Pedophile as a Human Being: An Autoethnography for the Recognition of a Marginalized Sexual Orientation[11] - an autoethnography of what appears to be hebephilic desires, was deemed to be highly offensive by Anna Slatz of the Regressive Feminist Webmagazine, Reduxx.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bartlett, Tom (12 November 2018). "Here Comes 'The Journal of Controversial Ideas.' Cue the Outcry". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Anthony, Andrew (2 December 2018). "Do we need to hide who we are to speak freely in the era of identity politics?". The Guardian.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Blackford, Russell (3 December 2021). "Oh No, That's Controversial!". The Philosophers' Magazine. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  4. Turner, Camilla (12 November 2018). "'Controversial ideas' journal where academics can publish under pseudonyms for fear of backlash". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lim, Woojin; Shin, Daniel (4 May 2020). "Courting Controversy". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  6. Whipple, Tom (24 April 2021). "Journal of Controversial Ideas dares to print the unsayable". The Times. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Matthews, Dylan (19 November 2018). "The Journal of Controversial Ideas is already, well, controversial. Here's a founder's defense". Vox. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  8. Rosenbaum, Martin (12 November 2018). "Pseudonyms to protect authors of controversial articles". BBC News. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  9. Editorial (January 2019). "A Journal of Controversial Ideas: Samizdat in Oxford". Philosophy. 94 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1017/S0031819118000499. S2CID 233319716. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  10. Cowen, Tyler (15 November 2018). "The Coming Controversy in Academia". Bloomberg Opinion. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  11. Vaerwaeter, B. (pseudonym) The Pedophile as a Human Being: An Autoethnography for the Recognition of a Marginalized Sexual Orientation. Journal of Controversial Ideas 2022, 2(1), 3; doi:10.35995/jci02010003.
  12. Researcher admits to being a PAEDOPHILE in bizarre academic paper where he urges society to be 'more tolerant to people attracted to children'

External links