Blind review is a standard practice employed organizers of academic conferences and editors. They remove the name of the author from the manuscript before sending it to evaluation. “For the last few years, I have tried to get the APA [American Philosophical Association] to remove the phrase “blind review” from its publications and website. The phrase is demeaning to disabled people because it associates blindness with lack of knowledge and implies that blind people cannot be knowers. Because the phrase is standardly used in philosophy and other academic CFPs [Calls for Papers], it should become recognized as a cause for great concern. In short, use of the phrase amounts to the circulation of language that discriminates. Philosophers should want to avoid inflicting harm in this way.“
“The phrase is demeaning to disabled people . . . ” There are innumerable people who are disabled in different ways who will not find the phrase demeaning; “… because it associates blindness with lack of knowledge and implies that blind people cannot be knowers.” No one thinks that blind people cannot be knowers or that knowers cannot be blind. A foolish person who is precisely not thinking, but associating, might associate blindness with ignorance, people associate the damndest things. If the name has been removed from the mansucript, then the referee literally cannot see it. This is not to say that the referee is blind, or blind with respect to the author’s name: he could see it if it were there to see. ‘Blind review’ means that the reviewer doesn’t not know the identity of the author. “… it should become recognized as a cause for great concern.” Great concern? This is a wild exaggeration even if this issue is of some concern. “… use of the phrase amounts to the circulation of language that discriminates.” One could argue that the practice of blind review discriminates against those who have made a name for themselves. “Philosophers should want to avoid inflicting harm in this way.” This presupposes that the use of the phrase ‘blind review’ inflicts harm. It would be like arguing that the use of ‘black hole’ inflicts harm on black people because its use associates blacks with holes.
In the 80s a group that called itself PANDORA: Philosophers Against the Nuclear Destruction of Rational Animals. In a meeting one of the weighty topics that came up was the very name ‘Pandora.’ Some argued that the name is sexist on the ground that it might remind someone of Pandora’s Box, which of course has nothing to do with the female genitalia, but in so reminding them might be taken as a slighting of that orifice. Later the group renamed itself Concerned Philosophers for Peace.