Topical Collections < Reactivity in the Human Sciences

Reactivity in the Human Sciences

STATUS: Closed

GUEST EDITORS: Marion Godman, Caterina Marchionni, and Julie Zahle

TITLE: Reactivity in the Human Sciences

SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: 1 October 2020 until 1 December 2021 (extended) 31 January 2021

SYNOPSIS: The European Journal for the Philosophy of Science is pleased to announce a Call for a Topical Collection on the challenges that the phenomenon of reactivity poses for the human sciences.

“Reactivity” refers to our reactions to being studied, classified, or intervened upon by science, reactions that in turn affect the science itself. It encompasses such phenomena as the Hawtorne effect in experimental research, Merton’s example of self-fulfilling prophecies, the looping effects of human kinds, the performativity of economic models and others. Reactivity can occur at different stages of the research process, such as when the researcher or research situation influences what the research participants say and do, thereby affecting the inferences that may be drawn from the data describing these sayings and doings; when people respond to the way they are described and categorized by science, thereby affecting the scope and applicability of the original classifications; when people change in unintended, undesirable, or unpredictable ways in response to the implementation of a policy with the result that the science behind the intervention no longer applies.

So far academic discussions on reactivity have proceeded separately in a range of different fields –  including philosophy, economics, medicine, anthropology, social research, psychiatry, and gender studies – and under diverse labels, such as “the Hawthorne effect”, “the John Henry effect, “the observer effect”, ”Pygmalion or Rosenthal effects”, “self-fulfilling prophecies”, “reflexive predictions”, “looping effects”, and “performativity”. We suspect that such divisions reflect disciplinary isolation more than kinds of phenomena, however. Thus, we invite philosophers as well as scientists to take part in launching an interdisciplinary and systematic study of reactivity, with the aim of classifying its different forms and furthering our understanding of the distinctive epistemic, methodological, and ethical challenges they pose for the human sciences.

The topical collection addresses the questions raised by different forms of reactivity from both a philosophical and methodological perspective. We welcome both theoretically and empirically oriented papers that address reactivity. Questions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What are the mechanisms behind reactivity?
  • What, if anything, do the mechanisms that bring about reactive effects have in common?
  • How may reactivity be controlled and exploited?
  • Should researchers handle the different forms of reactivity in similar ways?
  • Is it possible to overcome the threat that reactivity poses for the human sciences?
  • Do scientists have a special moral responsibility for the effects of reactivity?

WHEN: The submissions portal will open on 1 October 2020 and the final deadline (pending the COVID-19 situation) is 1 December 2021 (extended) 31 January 2021. The submissions portal will only be available during these dates.

WHERE: Submit your paper through the EJPS Editorial Manager under a dedicated heading entitled Reactivity. Please select this heading when submitting the manuscript.

HOW: Submitted papers will be peer-reviewed as per usual journal practice. Typically, two reviewers will be assigned to each paper and final decisions will be taken by EJPS Editors in Chief, following the recommendation of the Guest Editors, which is based on the reviewers’ reports. Please prepare papers for masked reviews.

Submit a paper


Available online first


Visit the EJPS homepage


Become a member today

© 2024 European Philosophy of Science Association

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software