Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
ISSN: 0556-8641 (Print) 1996-8523 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rppa20
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy:
Eric Schwitzgebel, Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Andrew Higgins & Ivan Gonzalez-
To cite this article: Eric Schwitzgebel, Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Andrew Higgins & Ivan Gonzalez-
Cabrera (2018): The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses, Philosophical
Papers, DOI: 10.1080/05568641.2018.1429741
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/05568641.2018.1429741
Published online: 27 Apr 2018.
Submit your article to this journal
Article views: 9
View related articles
View Crossmark data
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy:
Eric Schwitzgebel, Linus Ta-Lun Huang, Andrew Higgins and
Abstract: We present evidence that mainstream Anglophone philosophy is insular in the sense
that participants in this academic tradition tend mostly to cite or interact with other participants
in this academic tradition, while having little academic interaction with philosophers writing in
other languages. Among our evidence: In a sample of articles from elite Anglophone
philosophy journals, 97% of citations are citations of work originally written in English; 96%
of members of editorial boards of elite Anglophone philosophy journals are housed in
majority-Anglophone countries; and only one of the 100 most-cited recent authors in the
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy spent most of his career in non-Anglophone countries
writing primarily in a language other than English. In contrast, philosophy articles published
in elite Chinese-language and Spanish-language journals cite from a range of linguistic
traditions, as do non-English-language articles in a convenience sample of established
European-language journals. We also find evidence that work in English has more influence
on work in other languages than vice versa and that when non-Anglophone philosophers cite
recent work outside of their own linguistic tradition it tends to be work in English.
1. Introduction: Insularity, Mainstream Anglophone Philosophy, and
Asymmetry of Influence
Philosophers who write in English tend to read, cite, and discuss mostly
other philosophers who write in English. This is a widely acknowledged
fact in informal discussions. However, to our knowledge no one has pub-
lished quantitative data demonstrating this fact, nor is there consensus on
how severe the insularity of English-language philosophy is. In this article,
we present some quantitative data.
1 Related studies of the centrality of English in science and in cultural influence include
Ronen, Gonçalves, Hu, Vespignani, Pinker, and Hidalgo 2014; and Gordin 2015. On whether
ISSN 0556-8641 print/ISSN 1996-8523 online
© 2018 The Editorial Board, Philosophical Papers
We define insularity as follows: An academic subgroup is insular to the
extent that people within that subgroup mostly cite or academically interact
with others in that same subgroup. For example, if specialists in ancient
Chinese philosophy almost exclusively cite and academically interact with
other specialists in ancient Chinese philosophy, then that subgroup is
highly insular. In contrast, if they cite and interact extensively outside of
their subgroup––for example, drawing on resources in twenty-first century
ethics, or interacting with specialists in ancient Greek philosophy––then
they are not very insular. We claim that mainstream Anglophone philosophy
is highly insular. Scholars who belong to this group mostly cite, and interact
with, other scholars who belong to this group.
Mainstream Anglophone philosophy is vague-boundaried and nebulous.
However, it can be characterized well enough to permit sociological exam-
ination. Participants in this group are philosophers who write primarily in
English (regardless of their native language); publish in English-language
academic journals that are widely regarded as prestigious by other
English-language philosophers, such as Philosophical Review and Ethics;
belong to PhD-granting departments that are ranked in the Philosophical
Gourmet Report, or have close scholarly ties to people in those departments;
and are highly cited in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and in presti-
gious English-language journals. Individual philosophers differ in how
central or peripheral they are to this group, with no sharp boundary of
inclusion. It is this fuzzy-bordered group that is the target of our analysis.
In addition to measuring the insularity of mainstream Anglophone phil-
osophy, we will also measure asymmetry of influence and language dominance.
Group A and Group B have symmetrical scholarly influence if Group A is
as influenced by the work of Group B as vice versa––for example, as
measured by rates of cross-group citation. Group A and Group B have asym-
metrical scholarly influence to the extent that one group is more influenced
‘analytic philosophy’ought to be written in English, see Hurtado 2013; Perez 2013; Rodriguez-
Pereyra 2013; Ruffino 2013; Siegel 2014.
2 For some evidence that these measures converge, compare Schwitzgebel 2010,2014a,2014b,
2014c; Healy 2013; Leiter 2013, 2014; Brogaard and Leiter 2014.
2Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
by the work of the other than vice versa. We will argue that, over the past
several decades, Anglophone philosophy has had a highly asymmetrical
influence on the work of philosophers who write in other languages, for
example, in Chinese and Spanish.
The dominance of a language is the influence of work produced in that
language, relative to work produced in other languages, in the scholarly com-
munity being examined––as measured, for example, by proportion of cita-
tions. For example, if a group of articles in Spanish cited 80% Spanish-
language sources, Spanish would be the dominant language among the
cited sources. If it cited 60% Spanish, 30% English, and 10% all other
languages, then Spanish would be dominant overall and English would be
dominant among foreign-language citations. Insularity, asymmetry, and dom-
inance are interrelated, but they are not equivalent. For example, a language
could be dominant without beinginsular: If a group of articles in Spanish cited
80% German-language sources, German would be the dominant language in
that group, but no conclusions about the insularity of German would follow.
Although we believe that insularity, asymmetry, and dominance raise sub-
stantial ethical and epistemic issues, we will not address those issues in this
article. Insularity, asymmetry, and dominance might be ethically and/or
epistemically justified if, for example, English-language work is much
higher quality than work in other languages. Also, one might celebrate
English-language philosophy as a distinctive and valuable cultural enterprise
that benefits from insulation, even if there is equally excellent or even
superior work available outside of English. Or one might think it sufficiently
valuable that philosophy have a single lingua franca that Anglophone dom-
inance and asymmetry of influence is a price worth paying. We set these nor-
mative questions aside here.
2. Study 1: Citation Practices in Elite Anglophone Philosophy Journals
In elite Anglophone philosophy journals, most of the citations are to works
originally published in English. Although this is easily detected by quick
perusal, the magnitude of the phenomenon has never, to our knowledge,
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 3
been measured. If non-Anglophone sources are frequently cited in these
journals that is evidence against a high level of insularity and English-
language dominance. In contrast, if non-Anglophone sources are rarely
cited, that is evidence of a high level of insularity and dominance.
We examined a group of 12 elite journals; the top-ranked journals in a 2013
poll of ‘Top Philosophy Journals, Without Regard to Area’at one of the best-
known philosophy blogs (Leiter 2013). The list has surface plausibility as a
group of journals regarded as elite in mainstream Anglophone philosophy,
with Philosophical Review,Journal of Philosophy,Noûs,andMind leading the
We examined the most recent issue, as of September 8, 2016, of each
of these journals, with theexception of Philosophers’Imprint for which we exam-
ined all of 2016 to that date (due to its thin publishing rate and lack of group-
ing by ‘issue’). From each selected issue, we examined only original research
articles (not reviews, discussion notes, comments, symposia, etc.). This gener-
ated a target list of 93 articles, most of which cited dozens of sources, for a total
of 3556 cited references for analysis––hopefully enough to be a representative
sample of citation practices in this group of journals.
A coder with substantial knowledge of both the current state of the field
and the history of philosophy then hand-coded the reference sections of
each article (or the footnotes when citations were not aggregated in a refer-
ence section), noting: the year in which the cited work was first published,
the original language of the cited work, and whether the work was translated
into English from another language. Expertise in philosophy was valuable to
this task due to uneven citation practices: Not all citations clarify the original
language of the target work or its original publication year, or even that it is a
translation rather than a work originally published in English. (For this
3 The full list in ranked order: Philosophical Review,Journal of Philosophy,Noûs,Mind, Philosophy &
Phenomenological Research,Ethics,Philosophical Studies,Australasian Journal of Philosophy,Philoso-
pher’s Imprint,Analysis,Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophy & Public Affairs. The top four jour-
nals also match the top four journals analyzed in Healy 2013.
4Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
reason, automated searches of citations in Web of Science or Google Scholar
can generate misleading results.)
Sometime after World War Two, English became the common language
of most scholarship intended for an international audience, even when the
writer’s native language is not English. With this in mind, we divided the data
into four periods by year of original publication: ancient through 1849,
1850–1945, 1946–1999, and 2000–2016.
Of the 3556 citations included in our analysis, only 90 (3%) were citations of
works not originally written in English. Of the 93 analyzed articles, 68 (73%)
cited no works that had not originally been written in English. Eleven articles
(12%) cited exactly one non-Anglophone work, either in its original
language or in English translation. Fourteen articles (15%) cited at least
two works originally published in a language other than English. The only
source languages other than English were ancient Greek, Latin, German,
French, and Italian. Thirty-three citations (1%) were of non-Anglophone
work in its original source language.
Table 1 shows the breakdown by historical period. As is evident from the
table, there is virtually no citation (< 1%) of post-War work originally written
in languages other than English. Also potentially interesting is that English is
the original language of 67% of the citations of work written between 1850
and 1945, despite the fact that the period includes globally influential work
Table 1. Citation of work originally written in languages other than English, in 12
elite Anglophone philosophy journals, by original year of publication of the cited
Original pub. year of cited source English non-English % in English
Ancient through 1849 12 51 19%
1850–1945 61 30 67%
1946–1999 1228 8 99%
2000–2016 2165 1 100%
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 5
by such European philosophers as Marx, Nietzsche, Frege, Heidegger, Witt-
genstein, and Sartre. Only 154/3556 (4%) of citations were to works orig-
inally written before 1946.
In a representative selection of articles from elite Anglophone philosophy
journals, almost all citations (97%) are to work originally published in
English. Twenty-first century work written in languages other than English
was almost invisible: only one instance among 2166 citations. We interpret
these results as strong evidence of high levels of insularity. As measured
by rates of citation, philosophers publishing in elite Anglophone philosophy
journals appear not to interact much with work by philosophers writing in
languages other than English.
If very little philosophy were being published in languages other than
English that could explain the results. However, that is not so. For
example, approximately 27% of the journals listed in the PhilPapers jour-
nals database are non-Anglophone.
This is a floor estimate, since while
the database is likely to contain every major Anglophone philosophy
journal, it surely lacks many non-Anglophone journals (for example, it con-
tains only one of the 15 elite Chinese-language journals analyzed in Study 5).
Furthermore, as we will see in Studies 4 to 6 below, philosophers writing in
languages other than English find many recent non-Anglophone sources to
be worth citing, both in their own language and in other languages.
These results fit also with evidence from Schwitzgebel (2012) who found
that the ‘big three’philosophy journals (Philosophical Review,Journal of Phil-
osophy, and Mind) each have on average only one article per year that
4 The analysis was conducted in 2013, using the PhilPapers database as it existed then. We
believe this is recent enough to still be representative. We downloaded the full list of journals
and searched for language-specific pronouns, prepositions, or conjunctions. When the journal’s
language was unclear from the title, the journals were manually checked by looking at the
languages of their most recent publications. Given that the list runs to more than 1000 titles,
a few misclassifications are likely, but note that the method described does not misclassify
Noûs,Erkenntnis, etc., as non-Anglophone journals.
6Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
mentions even one of five well-known ‘Continental’philosophers:
Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Foucault, and Derrida.
Raw data for this study and the other studies are available at http://www.
3. Study 2: The Editorial Boards of Elite Anglophone Philosophy
Serving on the editorial board of an academic journal tends to reflect a high
level of prestige and influence in one’s field, as well as (to varying degrees)
influence over the scholarly direction of the journal. We decided to examine
the composition of the editorial boards of elite Anglophone philosophy
journals. If those editorial boards are mostly composed of philosophers
housed in major Anglophone countries, it suggests a relatively high
degree of insularity and/or asymmetry. In contrast, if editorial boards
contain relatively large numbers of philosophers from non-Anglophone
countries,it suggests a higher level of influence from and interaction with
scholars outside of mainstream Anglophone philosophy.
We used the same ranking of Anglophone philosophy journals as in Study 1,
but extended it to the top 15 instead of the top 12. This incidentally resulted
in a greater representation of journals specializing in philosophy of science.
Some of these journals are ‘in house’or have a regional focus in the editorial
boards. We did not exclude them on those grounds. It is potentially relevant
to the situation that the two top-ranked journals are edited in-house by
faculty at Cornell and Columbia respectively.
We examined the composition of editorial boards based on data on the
journals’websites on April 5, 2017. We included editors in chief, associate
5 This study was inspired by a similar study of the almost complete absence, from bioethics jour-
nals, of editorial board members from low-HDI (Human Development Index) countries: Chat-
topadhyay, Myser, and De Vries 2013.
6 Included journals are those listed in note 3 plus Philosophy of Science,British Journal for the Phil-
osophy of Science, and Synthese.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 7
editors, regular editorial board members, consultants, and staff with full-
time permanent academic appointments, including emeritus. We excluded
editorial assistants and managers without full-time permanent academic
appointments (which are typically graduate students or publishing or sec-
To determine institutional affiliation, we used the affiliation listed at the
journal’s website when that was available. For systematicity, we did this even
in a few cases where the coder had personal knowledge that the information
was out of date. Otherwise, we used personal knowledge or a web search. For
editorial board members with multiple institutional affiliations, we
attempted to determine which institution was their primary affiliation. In
a few cases where two institutions appeared to be about equally primary,
we used the first-listed institution on the source page.
We did not attempt to track editorial board members’country of birth or
native language. Our thinking was this: Someone who was born in Italy, for
example, and who is now employed full-time in a US academic institution
and serving on the editorial board of an elite Anglophone journal, is
likely to be interacting primarily with Anglophone philosophers, doing
most of their philosophical work in English. In contrast, someone located
in a non-Anglophone country, even if serving on the editorial board of an
elite Anglophone journal, is much more likely to regularly interact with
and be influenced by philosophers in their non-Anglophone community.
In all, 562 editorial board members were included in the analysis. Of these,
538 (96%) had their primary academic affiliation with an institution in an
Table 2 shows the breakdown by country. Notably,
the journal Synthese showed much more international participation than
did any of the other journals, with 13/31 (42%) of its editorial board
7 We also noted the Philosophical Gourmet Report ranking of editorial board members’univer-
sities, finding that 40% of editorial board members were housed in the 17 ‘top 15’-ranked uni-
versities in the Anglophone world.
8Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
housed in non-Anglophone countries. Only 4 (1%) were from non-Anglo-
phone countries outside of Europe.
The vast majority (96%) of editorial board members on our list of 15 elite
Anglophone journals are housed in universities in Anglophone-majority
There might be excellent reasons for concentrating the editorial board
membership in Anglophone countries. However, this does suggest a
degree of insularity. At least in principle, an Anglophone journal could
Table 2. Primary academic affiliation of editorial board members at 15 elite
Number of board
USA 377 67%
United Kingdom 117 21%
Australia 26 5%
Canada 13 2%
New Zealand 5 1%
Total Anglophone 538 96%
Germany 6 1%
Sweden 5 1%
Netherlands 3 1%
China (incl. Hong Kong) 2 < 1%
France 2 < 1%
Belgium 1 < 1%
Denmark 1 < 1%
Finland 1 < 1%
Israel 1 < 1%
Singapore 1 < 1%
Spain 1 < 1%
Total non-Anglophone 24 4%
Note: English is one Singapore’s four official languages.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 9
compose its editorial board in a way that draws its members more broadly
from the global academic professoriate. This would plausibly correlate
with more openness to influence from non-Anglophone sources. The
example of Synthese shows that this is possible.
If publication in these journals is professionally valuable for career
advancement in philosophy even in non-Anglophone countries––which
appears to be the case in at least some countries––then these results also
suggest asymmetry of influence: Non-Anglophone philosophers’careers
depend, to some extent, on impressing people in mainstream Anglophone
philosophy, while the reverse is not so.
4. Study 3: Highly Cited Philosophers in the Stanford Encyclopedia of
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is widely regarded as the
premier resource for up-to-date review articles on major topics in philos-
ophy. Contributors of articles are typically among the best-regarded
researchers on their topics, and citation in the SEP is a plausible measure
of prominence in mainstream Anglophone philosophy.
In Study 3, we examined the 100 most-cited twentieth- to twenty-first
century authors in the SEP to see how many of them were raised
outside of Anglophone countries and/or wrote primarily in languages
other than English. If mainstream Anglophone philosophy is highly
insular, then almost all of the authors most cited in the SEP should
live in Anglophone countries and write in English. If mainstream
Anglophone philosophy is relatively less insular, then we might
expect a substantial number of non-Anglophone philosophers in the
past hundred years who have been influential enough to be highly
cited in the SEP.
Citation data from the SEP are difficult to compile, so we rely on the
citation data reported in Schwitzgebel (2014c), which we believe are
recent enough to still be representative of the current situation.
10 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
Schwitzgebel’s method was to download the bibliographical sections of
every main-page entry in the SEP as of July 2014 (excluding notes and
appendices), sorting by author. Every author was counted only once
per entry, and only if listed as first author; and authors born before
1900 were excluded. Authors with common names (e.g., ‘J. Cohen’)
were hand-separated, and prominent authors cited under different
names (e.g., ‘Ruth Barcan’and ‘Ruth Marcus’) were hand-merged.
In this way, a list of the 267 most-cited authors was produced. The list has
good surface plausibility as a list of the most influential mainstream Anglo-
phone philosophers of the past 60 years or so, with the top five being David
Lewis, W.V.O. Quine, Hilary Putnam, Donald Davidson, and John Rawls.
The list also has more surface plausibility as a measure of prominence in
mainstream Anglophone philosophy (as we have defined it) than do
other widely used bibliometric measures such as Google Scholar and Web
For this study, we examined the biographies of the top 100 ranked phi-
losophers, using web resources plus personal and professional knowledge.
We determined country of birth, and when that country was not Anglo-
phone-majority, we examined their biographies for countries of residence
throughout their lives and in what languages their most influential works
were published. In some cases, where birthplace information was not
easily obtainable, we inferred birthplace from location of undergraduate
8 For example, a 2007 Thomson-Reuters ISI Web of Science list of ‘most cited authors of books
in the humanities’(Thomson-Reuters 2007) features philosophers most of whose influence has
been in other humanities disciplines or outside of the mainstream Anglophone tradition, with
Foucault, Derrida, Habermas, Butler, and Deleuze topping the list. A Google Scholar search for
profiles in the topic of ‘Philosophy’has Derrida, Arendt, Rawls, Popper, and Žižek as the top five
among twentieth- to twenty-first century philosophers (accessed August 8, 2017, from Riverside,
California). Some convergent evidence of the SEP list’s surface plausibility comes from a Brian
Leiter poll of ‘Best Anglophone philosophers since 1957?’(Leiter 2017), which has Quine,
Kripke, Lewis, Rawls, and Putnam at the top, thus overlapping with our SEP measure in four
of the top five positions.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 11
Of the top 100 most-cited authors in the SEP, 87 were born in majority
Anglophone countries (51 in the US and 22 in the UK). Among the 13
born in non-Anglophone-majority countries, six earned their undergradu-
ate degrees in Anglophone countries and spent all or virtually all of their
academic careers in Anglophone countries (Kim, Nagel, Parfit, Rescher,
Van Fraassen, and Williamson), and one (Raz) did the same starting
with graduate work. The remaining six (6%) had substantial philosophical
training or careers outside of Anglophone countries. Four of them––Kurt
Gödel, Carl Hempel, Karl Popper, and Alfred Tarski––emigrated to
Anglophone countries during the Nazi era, while still less than 40 years
old, and spent the majority of their careers at Anglophone universities,
producing important work in English. Nonetheless, three of these four
(Gödel, Popper, and Tarski) are probably best known for their early
career, non-Anglophone work. Jaakko Hintikka taught in Finland for
most of his career, but split time with various universities in the United
States and published primarily in English. Jürgen Habermas is the only
philosopher of the hundred whose scholarly career has been by all
measures primarily non-Anglophone.
Notably, despite their fame outside of mainstream Anglophone philos-
ophy, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault appear
nowhere on the full list of 267. Jean-Paul Sartre is 133rd most-cited alongside
Ruth Millikan, Stephen Schiffer, and Eleonore Stump.
Among the 100 most-cited contemporary authors in the Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy, only six had a substantial portion of their academic careers
outside of Anglophone countries, and only one worked the majority of his
career in a non-Anglophone country, writing primarily in a language
other than English. The period covered is long enough to include globally
influential philosophers such as de Beauvoir, Derrida, Foucault, and Sartre,
but none of them ranked among the top 100.
12 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
We interpret these data as evidence that mainstream Anglophone philo-
sophers do not typically find it necessary to cite work by prominent recent
non-Anglophone philosophers to feel that they have adequately reviewed
major topics in the field.
5. Study 4: Citation Practices in Non-Anglophone Journals in the JSTOR
In the next three studies, we examine citation practices in philosophical
journal articles published in languages other than English. We aim to test
First, do journal articles in other languages show the same pattern of
insularity as do journal articles in English? That is, do they almost exclusively
cite sources from within their own linguistic tradition? Or do they cite more
broadly across linguistic traditions?
Second, is there evidence of asymmetry of linguistic influence? That is, are
recently published works in English more frequently cited in non-English-
language journal articles than vice versa? Or do English and other languages
cross-cite each other at about the same rate?
Third, to what extent is English dominant among foreign-language cita-
tions in articles not written in English? That is, when articles not written
in English cite sources outside of their own linguistic tradition, are those
sources more likely to be English than to be other languages? Or are
sources in English not especially more likely to be cited than sources in
Chinese, French, German, Spanish, etc.?
For our first non-Anglophone study, we used a convenience sample of non-
Anglophone journals available in the JSTOR database. Our intention in
using this sample was to find a variety of well established, easily accessible,
9 Disclosure: In this regard, the first author of this article appears to be a typical mainstream
Anglophone philosopher in his own SEP entries on ‘Belief’and ‘Introspection’.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 13
internationally visible, European-language journals, not confined to a single
We included all non-Anglophone European-language journals in that
database that met three criteria: (1) they had JSTOR records going back
to at least 1999 and extending forward through at least 2010; (2) they
publish at least approximately half of their articles in languages other
than English; and (3) they are classified as philosophy journals on the Phil-
Papers journals list.
We then accessed the most recently available issue of
each of these journals in the JSTOR archive (as of August 13, 2017) and
examined the references of every research article in those issues, excluding
reviews, discussion notes, editors’introductions, etc. This generated a total
of 96 articles for examination: 41 in French, 23 in German, 14 in Italian, 8 in
Portuguese, 6 in Spanish, and 4 in Polish. Although this is not a systematic or
proportionate sample of non-English European-language philosophy
journal articles, we believe it is broad enough to provide a preliminary test
of our hypotheses about insularity, asymmetry, and dominance. Studies 5
and 6 will examine more systematic samples from Chinese and Spanish
Five of the journals specialize in history of philosophy. This is possibly an
overrepresentation of history of philosophy journals, and in any case a differ-
ence from the elite Anglophone journals, none of which specialized in
history. Since history of philosophy journals might be expected to have
different language citation practices, these five journals were flagged as
such for analysis.
10 Included journals (H for history journals) were Archives de Philosophie,Archiv für Rechts- und
Sozialphilosophie,Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía,Gregorianum,Jahrbuch für Recht und
Ethik,Les Études Philosophiques,Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia,Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale,
Revue de Philosophie Ancienne (H), Revue Internationale de Philosophie,Revue Philosophique de la
France et de l’Étranger,Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica,Rivista di Storia della Filosofia (H), Roczniki
Filozoficzne,Rue Descartes,Sartre Studies International (H), Studi Kantiani (H), and Studia Leibnitiana
(H). Three journals were excluded for not being on the PhilPapers journal list (https://
philpapers.org/journals, accessed August 13, 2017): Bruniana and Campanelliana,Esprit, and
Méthexis. One journal, Philosophische Rundschau, was excluded because it published only reviews.
14 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
References were hand-coded from reference sections, footnotes, or in-
text citations by two expert coders with PhDs in philosophy, each with
reading skills in several European languages. For each citation, we noted
the language of the citing article, whether the cited source had originally
been published in the same language as the citing source or in a different
language, and if it was in a different language whether that language was
English. As in Study 1, sources in translation were coded based on the orig-
inal language of publication rather than the language into which it had been
translated (e.g., a translation of Aristotle into French was coded as ancient
Greek rather than as French). We also noted the original year of publication
of the cited source, sorting into one of four categories: ancient to 1849,
1850–1945, 1946–1999, or 2000–2017.
Due to the multilingual nature of the coding, the often unsystematic cita-
tion patterns in journals using footnote format, and the often incomplete
data about the original year and language of publication of translated
works, we were concerned about the accuracy and reliability of coding.
For this reason, after the initial round of coding was complete, five articles
coded by each of the coders (10 in total) were randomly selected for inde-
pendent recoding by the other coder, so that we could check the extent of
In all, we found 2883 citations across the 96 articles, 258 of which appeared
in the 10 articles selected for reliability testing.
In the articles selected for reliability testing, the coders agreed on both
the original language and year-category of publication in 91% of cases
(235/258). Errors involved missing or double-counting some footnoted cita-
tions, typographical error, or mistakes in language or year category, and
were corrected based on discussion between the coders. The errors did
not fall into any notable pattern, and in our view are within an acceptable
rate given the difficulty of the coding task and the nature of our hypothesis,
which is concerned with broad trends rather than exact numbers.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 15
Of the 2883 citations included in our analysis, 44% (1270/2883) were to
same-language sources, 30% (864/2883) were to sources originally written
in English (some translated into the language of the citing article), and
26% (749/2883) were to all other languages combined. Only 5% of articles
(5/96) cited exclusively same-language sources. French- and German-
language articles showed more same-language citation than did articles in
other languages (French 51% [565/1104]; German 71% [489/690];
average of all other languages 20% [216/1089]). However, we interpret
this result cautiously due to the small and possibly unrepresentative
sample of articles in each language.
Table 3 shows the breakdown by historical period. As is evident from the
table, citations of very recent work are most likely to be citations of same-
language sources, while citations of work published in the period from
1946 to 1999 are about equally divided between same-language sources
and English-language sources.
Perhaps surprisingly, citation of non-English vs. English sources differed
little if at all between history and non-history journals (27% [165/622] vs.
31% [699/2261], two-proportion z = –2.1, p = .03). However, history journals
were much more likely than non-history journals to cite work in foreign
languages other than English: 48% vs. 20% (297/622 vs. 452/2261, two-pro-
portion z = 14.0, p < .001).
Table 3. Original published language of cited work in recent non-Anglophone
European-language journal articles in the JSTOR database, number of citations by
of cited source
Cited source was
in same language as
Cited source was
Cited source was
in some other
ancient to 1849 68 (14%) 29 (6%) 386 (80%)
1850–1945 98 (43%) 59 (26%) 72 (31%)
1946–1999 544 (43%) 514 (40%) 214 (17%)
2000–2017 560 (62%) 262 (29%) 77 (9%)
16 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
In a convenience sample of non-Anglophone articles from established
journals in several European languages, the results look very different
than they do for the selection of articles from elite Anglophone journals
that we examined in Study 1. Whereas in the Anglophone articles, 97%
of citations were to sources originally published in English, in this
sample, only 44% of citations were to sources written in the same
language as the citing article, suggesting much less linguistic insularity
in the latter group. The asymmetry hypothesis is also supported:
Although in our sample of Anglophone articles virtually no twenty-first
century non-Anglophone sources were cited (< 1%), in this sample of
non-Anglophone articles, 29% of twenty-first century sources are Anglo-
phone. Anglophone dominance is also supported for recent (post-War)
work: Among citations of recent sources written in languages other
than the language of the citing article, 73% (776/1067) are to sources
originally written in English.
One notable finding is that English-language sources written in the
period from 1946 to 1999 are proportionately more cited than English-
language sources written in the period from 2000 to 2017. We see two poss-
ible explanations for this pattern. One possibility is that English-language
dominance peaked in the latter half of the twentieth century and is now
decreasing. Another possibility––the likelier, we think––is that it is a
recency effect: When citing very recent work, authors are more likely to
cite others in their linguistic tradition than they are to cite work in
foreign languages, perhaps because it may take a bit longer to become
aware of or gain access to foreign-language work or because other philoso-
phers working in the same language may be more likely to be in their
immediate academic circles of influence. The declining-dominance hypoth-
esis and the recency-effect hypothesis, though not incompatible, make
different predictions about what citation patterns will look like in the
future. Study 6 will provide some evidence for a recency effect in Spanish-
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 17
6. Study 5: Citation Practices in Elite Chinese-Language Journals
English is the third most commonly spoken native language in the world,
after Chinese and Spanish.
In Study 5, we examine citation practices in
elite Chinese-language journals. In Study 6, we examine citation practices
in elite Spanish-language journals.
We examined citation patterns in 15 elite Chinese-language journals, using a
sample of articles in five-year intervals from 1996 to 2016. The selected jour-
nals were Tier-I philosophy journals as ranked by the Research Institute for
the Humanities and Social Sciences, Ministry of Science and Technology,
Taiwan, (科技部人文社會科學研究中心, 2016) and the core philosophy
journals as ranked in the Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index by the Insti-
tute for Chinese Social Sciences Research and Assessment, Nanjing Univer-
sity, China (中國社會科學研究評價中心, 2016).
We sampled original
research articles from each journal’s first issue in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011,
and 2016, generating a list of 208 articles for examination. Three of the
selected journals specialize in the history of Chinese philosophy and were
flagged as such for analysis.
As in Studies 1 and 4, references were hand-coded from reference sec-
tions, footnotes, or in-text citation by an expert coder with a PhD in philos-
ophy and reading knowledge of the target language. For each citation, we
noted the language in which the source had been originally published
and whether it was cited in its original language or in translation.
11 See https://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/size [accessed September 17, 2017].
12 Included journals were 臺灣大學哲學論評 (National Taiwan University Philosophical
Review), 政治大學哲學學報(NCCU Philosophical Journal), 東吳哲學學報(Soochow Journal
of Philosophical Studies), 哲学研究(Philosophical Researches), 哲学动态(Philosophical
Trends), 自然辩证法研究(Studies in Dialectics of Nature), 道德与文明(Morality and Civiliza-
tion), 世界哲学(World Philosophy), 自然辩证法通讯(Journal of Dialectics of Nature), 伦理学
研究(Studies in Ethics), 现代哲学(Modern Philosophy), 周易研究(Studies of Zhouyi; history
journal), 孔子研究(Confucius Studies; history journal), 中国哲学史(History of Chinese Philos-
ophy; history journal), and 科学技术哲学研究(Studies in Philosophy of Science and
18 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
In all, we found 2952 citations across the 208 articles. Of these, the original
language of publication was discoverable for 2929 (99%). More citations
were discovered in recent articles than in older articles, with articles from
1996 contributing 12% of the citations in our sample, articles from 2016 con-
tributing 30%, and the other years intermediate between these two.
Among the 2929, 1507 (51%) were to Chinese-language sources, 915
(31%) were to English-language sources, and 507 (17%) were to sources
in all other languages combined, including ancient Greek, Dutch, French,
German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Polish, Russian, Sanskrit,
Spanish, and Tibetan. (The third most-cited language was German, at 9%
of citations.) Among the English-language sources, 260 (28%) were cited
in Chinese translation. The remainder were cited in their original English.
Journals specializing in the history of Chinese philosophy cited almost
exclusively works that had originally been written in Chinese: 98% (860/
882). Excluding those journals from analysis, we found that the plurality
of citations, 44%, (907/2047) were to works originally written in English,
and only 32% (647/2047) were to works originally written in Chinese
(and thus 24% [493/2047] for all other languages combined). Ninety-two
percent (152/168) of these articles cited a source from at least one language
other than Chinese.
We thought it worth seeing whether the English-language citations were
mostly of classic historical philosophers like Locke, Hume, and Mill, or
whether they instead were mostly of contemporary philosophers. Although
the sources’unsystematic citation practices made it impractical to code the
original year of publication of every cited article, we randomly selected 100
English-language sources for post hoc examination of original publication
date. In our random sample of 100 cited English-language sources, 68
(68%) were published in the period from 1946 to 1999 and 19 (19%)
were published in the period from 2000 to 2016.
Finally, we analyzed the results by year of publication of the citing article,
excluding the three history journals. Figure 1 displays the results. Point-
biserial correlation analysis shows a significant increase in rates of citation
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 19
of English-language sources from 1996 to 2016 (34% to 49%, r
= .11, p
< .001). Citation of both Chinese and other-language sources may also be
=–.05, p = .03; r
=–.08, p = .001), but we would interpret
these trends cautiously due to the apparent U-shape of the curves and the
possibility of article-level effects that would compromise the statistical inde-
pendence of the trials (e.g., a single article with many references to ancient
Elite Chinese-language philosophy articles appear to cite from a variety of
linguistic traditions, with 49% of citations being to sources originally
written in languages other than Chinese. The percentage is similar to
what we found for non-English European languages in the JSTOR analysis
of Study 5 and very different from what we found in our selection of elite
Anglophone journals. Remarkably, Chinese language journals specifically
discussing Chinese history appear to cite Chinese sources at about the
same rate (98%) as Anglophone journals cite Anglophone sources when dis-
cussing general philosophy (97%). Among Chinese-language journals not
Figure 1. Original Language of Works Cited in Elite Chinese-Language Philosophy
Journals, by Year.
20 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
specializing in history of Chinese philosophy, English sources are more com-
monly cited than Chinese sources, a trend that appears to be increasing over
These results constitute strong evidence that articles in elite Chinese-
language philosophy journals are not linguistically insular, that they are
asymmetrically influenced by recent Anglophone work, and that English is
the dominantly cited foreign language by a large margin.
7. Study 6: Citation Practices in Elite Spanish-Language Journals
For our final study, we looked at citation patterns in 12 elite Spanish-
language philosophy journals, examining all original research articles pub-
lished in Spanish from each journal’s first issue in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011,
We chose the top 12 philosophy journals as ranked by the
SCImago Journal Rank, selecting nine among them that matched the sug-
gestions of four faculty members in Spanish-speaking departments of philos-
ophy that are highly regarded in the Spanish-speaking world. We completed
the list by replacing the three journals that had not been recommended by
the faculty members with the three that had been most commonly rec-
ommended but were not indexed by SCImago (Análisis Filosófico,Contrastes,
and Diánoia). References were hand-coded by an expert coder with a PhD in
13 To put this trend in a larger historical context, we can compare it with an earlier study on the
citation patterns of one elite general philosophy journal, 哲学研究(Philosophical Researches)(梁
(Liang) 1989). According to 梁(Liang) (1989), 90% of the citations in articles published
between 1984 and 1988 are to sources written originally in or translated into Chinese. These
data are not strictly comparable with our data, because they do not distinguish between the orig-
inal and translated languages. However, they do provide a floor number for that journal over
that period of time. At least 10% of citations in it were of sources originally written in foreign
languages, and presumably considerably more than 10% once translated works are taken
14 Included journals were Anales del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía,Análisis Filosófico,Contras-
tes, Crítica,Daimon,Diánoia,Ideas y Valores,Isegoría,Pensamiento,Teorema,Theoria, and Tópicos.
Articles published in languages other than Spanish in these journals were excluded from analy-
sis. In some cases, no Spanish-language articles appeared in a targeted journal issue for a par-
ticular year, in which case the journal contributed no data in that year. For example, Teorema
and Theoria had no qualifying articles in 2016.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 21
philosophy and fluency in both Spanish and English. For each citation, we
noted the original language and publication year of the cited source.
We found 8421 citations across 312 Spanish-language research articles pub-
lished in these 12 journals in the sampled years from 1996 to 2016. More
citations were discovered in recent articles than in older articles, with
articles from 1996 contributing 14% of the citations in our sample, articles
from 2016 contributing 28%, and the other years intermediate between
In our sample overall, only 1671 (20%) were citations of work that had
originally been written in Spanish. English-language sources were cited 3712
times (44% of citations), and sources in other languages were cited 3038
times (36% of citations). Cited languages included Arabic, Catalan,
Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian,
Italian, Latin, Pali, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Sanskrit. (The
third most cited language was, as in the Chinese data, German, at 17% of cita-
tions.) Only seven (2%) of the 312 articles cited only Spanish-language
sources. (Indeed, 70/312 [22%] cited only foreign-language sources.)
Table 4 shows the breakdown by historical period. As is evident from the
table, English is the dominant language of cited sources from the post-War
period, drawing a narrow majority of all citations. Similarly to the English-
language and JSTOR data, citation of sources that are neither in English
nor in the language of the citing article declines sharply by historical
period of the cited source. Also similar to the JSTOR data, the greatest
rate of same-language citation is for twenty-first century sources.
As with our Chinese-language database, we analyzed the data by year of
publication of the citing article, to look for temporal trends. The results are
displayed in Figure 2. Point-biserial correlation analysis shows a significant
increase in rates of citation of English-language sources from 1996 to
2016 (36% to 45%, r
= .06, p < .001), and a corresponding decrease in
citation of Spanish-language sources (25% to 14%, r
=–.07, p < .001).
22 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
We detected no effect in citation rates of other languages over the time
= .00, p = .95). Although we are concerned about article-level
violations of statistical independence, we are somewhat more confident
in these trends than in the Chinese-language data due to the somewhat
larger number of source articles (312).
Finally, we conducted a recency analysis to test the hypothesis that same-
language citations are generally higher for recent citations than for older
Table 4. Original published language of cited work in elite Spanish-language
philosophy journals 1996–2016, number of citations by year category.
of cited source
Cited source was
Cited source was
Cited source was
in some other
ancient to 1849 45 (5%) 145 (16%) 726 (79%)
1850–1945 130 (14%) 267 (28%) 542 (58%)
1946–1999 948 (20%) 2433 (51%) 1408 (29%)
2000–2016 548 (31%) 867 (49%) 362 (20%)
Figure 2. Original Language of Works Cited in Elite Spanish-Language Philosophy
Journals, by Year.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 23
citations, regardless of the publication year of the citing article. Citation
rates of Spanish-language sources were most common when the source
was published less than 15 years previously than when the source was pub-
lished 15 to 29 years previously (31% [970/3086] vs 18% [348/1964], two-
proportion z = 10.8, p < .001). This trend held for all publication years of
citing articles (2016: 25% vs 12%, 2011: 30% vs 23%; 2006: 37% vs 24%;
2001: 31% vs 12%; 1996: 38% vs 19%). In other words, citation of recent
work was disproportionately same-language compared to citation of older
work, in every year studied.
Our sample of recent articles from elite Spanish-language philosophy
journals shows very low insularity, with the large majority of citations
being to non-Spanish-language sources. English is the dominant language
among recently cited sources, and combining these results with the results
of Study 1 supports the hypothesis that recent English-language philos-
ophy has a highly asymmetric influence on recent Spanish-language
philosophy. We also found evidence of a recency effect, with same-
language citation rates higher when citing recent sources than when
citing sources 15 to 29 years old. Speculatively, such a recency effect
might also explain some of the patterns in the JSTOR and English-
Our research supports four main conclusions.
First, mainstream Anglophone philosophy is insular in the sense that
mainstream Anglophone philosophers tend to mostly cite or interact with
others participating in the same linguistic tradition. We find this general
result unsurprising. However, we confess to being somewhat surprised by
the magnitude of the result. Fully 97% of all citations in our sample of elite
Anglophone journals are to work originally written in English, leaving
only 3% of citations for all other linguistic traditions combined. This 3%
24 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
includes all citations of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Frege,
Wittgenstein, and Foucault, and all Islamic and ‘non-Western’work, as
well as all recent work by philosophers writing in other languages around
the globe. Similarly, 96% of editorial board members of elite Anglophone
journals are housed at universities in majority-Anglophone countries. And
again similarly, among the one hundred most-cited recent philosophers in
the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, only one spent the majority of his
career in a non-Anglophone country, writing primarily in a language
other than English.
Second, philosophy written in Chinese, Spanish, and a sample of other
non-Anglophone European languages is not similarly insular, as measured
by citation practices. In all the non-English languages examined, foreign-
language citations constituted a substantial portion of citations.
Third, recent Anglophone philosophy has an asymmetric influence on
philosophical work done in other languages. Philosophers writing in
Chinese, Spanish, and other languages frequently cite recent work written
in English, but philosophers writing in English almost never cite recent
work written in other languages.
Fourth, English is the dominant foreign language in foreign-language
citations by philosophers writing in Chinese, Spanish, and other languages.
When philosophers writing in languages other than English cite recent
(post-1945) work from outside their linguistic tradition, they are about
twice as likely to cite a work originally written in English as they are to cite
a work written in all other languages combined.
It is widely accepted that English is now the lingua franca of academic
philosophy, and the language that one must write in if one seeks a broad
international audience. Our present analyses help quantify the extent to
which this is the case. We take no stand here on whether this is good or
bad for global philosophy. Our results should also help in framing questions
about linguistic justice and linguistic issues in the epistemology of philos-
ophy. If Anglophone philosophy is as insular, asymmetrically influential,
and dominant as it appears to be from our analyses, does that create
unjust burdens on philosophers for whom English is not their native
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 25
language? Rather differently, does philosophy as a discipline suffer epistemi-
cally from having become as Anglo-centric as it appears to be from our ana-
lyses? We leave these questions for another time.
Schwitzgebel: University of California at Riverside, email@example.com
Huang: Academia Sinica, Taiwan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Higgins: Illinois State University, email@example.com
Gonzalez-Cabrera: Australian National University, ivan.gonzalez-cabrera@anu.
We would like to thank Wesley Fang, Tzu-Wei Hung, and Qiaoying Lu for their
help with the information regarding the elite philosophy journals in China
and Taiwan; four anonymous experts who helped with evaluating Spanish-
language journals; commenters on our posts on these topics at The Splintered
Mind and Eric Schwitzgebel’s public Facebook page; and the editors of this
Brogaard, Berit, and Brian Leiter (2014). The Philosophical Gourmet Report, 2014-
2015. http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/ (accessed 1 August 2017).
Chattopadhyay, Subrata, Catherine Myser, and Raymond de Vries (2013). Bioethics
and Its Gatekeepers: Does Institutional Racism Exist in Leading Bioethics
Journals? Journal of Bioethical Inquiry,10,7–9.
Gordin, Michael D. (2015). Scientific Babel. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.
Healy, Kieran (2013). Lewis and the women. Blog post at kieranhealy.org (June 19),
(accessed September 1, 2017).
Hurtado, Guillermo (2013). Filosofía analítica en lengua vernácula. Crítica,45,
Leiter, Brian. (2013). Top philosophy journals, without regard to area. Blog post at
Leiter Reports (July 3, rev. July 6), http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2013/
26 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.
——— . (2014). Departments ranked by SEP citations. Blog post at Leiter Reports
(August 13), http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2014/08/departments-
——— . (2017). Best Anglophone philosophers since 1957? Blog post at Leiter
Reports (March 31), http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2017/03/best-
Perez, Diana I. (2013). The Will to Communicate. Crítica,45,91–97.
Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo (2013). The Language of Publication of ‘Analytic’
Ronen, Shahar, Bruno Gonçalves, Kevin Z. Hu, Alessandro Vespignani, Steven
Pinker, and César A. Hidalgo (2014). Links that Speak: The Global Language
Network and its Association with Global Fame. PNAS (December 14), E5616-
Ruffino, Marco (2013). Some Remarks about Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra’s Advice
on the Language of Philosophy. Crítica,45,99–105.
Schwitzgebel, Eric. (2010). Most cited journals in the Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. Blog post at The Splintered Mind (May 10), http://schwitzsplinters.
——— .(2012). The ghettoization of Nietzsche. Blog post at The Splintered Mind
(August 23), http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-ghettoization-
——— .(2014a). Citation patterns in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Part I.
Blog post at The Splintered Mind (August 4), http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.
——— .(2014b). SEP citation patterns: Further analysis and thoughts. Blog post at
The Splintered Mind (August 14), http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2014/
——— .(2014c). The 267 most-cited contemporary authors in the Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy. Blog post at The Splintered Mind (August 7), http://schwitzsplinters.
Siegel, Susanna (ed.) (2014). Reflexiones sobre el uso del ingles y el español en
filosofía analítica / Reflections on the use of English and Spanish in analytic phil-
osophy. Informes de Observatorio / Obervatorio’s Reports,006-12. ISSN 2372-874X.
The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses 27
Thomson-Reuters’ISI Web of Science (2007). Most cited authors of books in
the humanities, 2007. Times Higher Education (web news article, March 26),
中國社會科學研究評價中心(2016). CSSCI (2014–2015) 来源期刊收录目录.中國社
會科學研究評價中心. Retrieved from http://cssrac.nju.edu.cn/a/zlxz/
20160329/2720.html (accessed 1 August 2017).
科技部人文社會科學研究中心(2016). 2016 年「臺灣人文及社會科學期刊評比暨核心
from http://www.hss.ntu.edu.tw/model.aspx?no=354 (accessed 1 August 2017).
梁春阳(Liang Chunyang) (1989). 《哲学研究》引文分析.
(Library Theory and Practice), (03), 11–15 + 10.
28 Eric Schwitzgebel et al.