Thomistic Scholarship and Plagiarism, Part 2

Two plagiarized articles on Thomas Aquinas have been retracted in recent weeks: 

  • M.W.F. Stone, “Practical Reason and the Orders of Morals and Nature in Aquinas’s Theory of the Lex Naturae”, in Mind, Metaphysics, and Value in the Thomistic and Analytical Traditions, ed. John Haldane (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), pp. 195-212 
  • M.W.F. Stone, “The Angelic Doctor and the Stagirite: Thomas Aquinas and Contemporary ‘Aristotelian’ Ethics”, in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 101 (2001), pp. 97-128 

Regarding the first article, University Notre Dame Press has appended a note to the book’s online advertisement that states: 

Parts […] have been subject to claims of plagiarism. The editor and publisher as a result cannot stand behind the noted material as originally contained in this volume.

Regarding the second, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing has published a short article titled “Retraction” in the most recent issue of the journal that states in part: 

The retraction has been agreed due to significant overlap with previously published material. 

Details of the plagiarism for these and additional cases were set forth in “40 Cases of Plagiarism” in Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 51/2009 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 350-391, compiled by Pernille Harsting, Russell L. Friedman, and me. For an earlier discussion, see here.

Thomistic Scholarship and Plagiarism

Readers may be interested in the article “40 Cases of Plagiarism” appearing in Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale 51/2009 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010), pp. 350-391, compiled by Pernille Harsting, Russell L. Friedman, and me. It presents evidence of plagiarism in a number of publications under the name of Martin W. F. Stone on mainly medieval and Renaissance philosophy.

That Martin W. F. Stone succeeded in publishing the words and research results of Fernand van Steenberghen, Ralph McInerny, Carlos Bazán, John Wippel, and Lawrence Feingold (among others) as his own, in academic journals and in books with reputable publishing houses, must surely cause scholars to take note. Arguably, the situation is especially pressing for Thomists; nine of Stone’s plagiarized pieces are currently listed in the Bibliographia Thomistica, and one piece is listed in Thomistica 2006: An International Yearbook of Thomistic Bibliography. The editor of the Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale, Kent Emery, Jr., highlights the relationship of Stone’s work to Thomistic scholarship in an editorial in the same issue of the Bulletin, observing:

Or how was it possible that the scrivener hugely plagiarized the essay of an eminent Thomist published in a volume bringing together “Thomistic doctrines and modern perspectives,” and then published his workmanship in a volume bringing together “Thomistic and Analytical Traditions,” edited by another eminent Thomist and crammed full of essays by yet other eminent Thomists (see Case 14, pp. 367-68)? One thing is clear: Eminent Thomists do not necessarily read the essays of other eminent Thomists, which, if they had, they might have been able to detect that someone was ripping-off another person’s essay. (p. xii)

Elsewhere, Emery argues forcefully that the situation demands reflection among members of the scholarly community:

That there are those who commit acts of plagiarism is one thing; that such acts can be repeated successfully, without detection, in 40 articles, over a period of at least 11 years, in the pages of the most “prestigious” journals and at the most “prestigious” presses, is quite another thing altogether, which exposes some pathology in the contemporary body academic that cries out for diagnosis (p. 348)

So far, retractions have been issued by:

 Discussion and news reports on the issue include here, and here.

Allow me to repeat two requests made in the introduction to “40 Cases of Plagiarism.” First, as the great majority of Stone’s pieces examined in the article have not, at present, been retracted by the editors and publishers of these pieces, we encourage the many authors, editors, and publishers whose legal copyright and intellectual property rights have been infringed, to seek retractions of all the pieces plagiarizing their original work. Secondly, we caution that the evidence published in the Bulletin article is not exhaustive, and urge other readers to supplement our findings.