New Rules for the PF Philosophy forum beginning January 1, 2011

  • #1
Math Is Hard
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The announcement and discussion thread is here. Please also read page 2 of the applicable rules.

Rules for the PF Philosophy forum beginning January 1, 2011

Beginning in January, we are implementing a theme for the Philosophy Forum. These new rules were developed in the spirit of making the Philosophy forum of PF a more academically-oriented discussion place. We are looking to get away from the Philosophy forum as an "anything that pops into my head" discussion section, and similar to the homework help forums, require effort from those posting new topics.

There are three options for starting a thread:

1) When starting a new topic, you must reference a published philosopher or researcher who has worked on the topic. The idea is to focus the topic along the lines of a specific area of research or school of thought.

ex. In A Treatise of Human Nature, What did David Hume mean when he said, "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them"?

Also, when discussing the philosophical implications of some piece of scientific work, references are required for both the underlying scientific content as well as the resulting philosophical discussion.

ex. The research of Benjamin Libet suggests that our decisions to act occur before our conscious awareness of them. Isn't this a serious problem for the idea of free will?


2) If you do not have a reference, you may state your question in the form of "This is the topic I am investigating. Can you recommend resources?"

ex. I am researching human moral instincts for a paper for my class. Where can I find more information on this?


3) Requests for help with standard definitions and terminology are perfectly acceptable.

ex. I am trying to understand the difference between epistemological and ontological questions. Can you advise?

Note: All the same previous rules will still apply to both new posts and replies. Symbolic logic questions should be placed in the appropriate Homework Section or the Set Theory/Logic/Probability/Statistics subforum.
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Note: All of the original rules will still apply to both new posts and replies. See the rules below.

The following guidelines are intended to promote productive, insightful, and interesting discussion in the philosophy forums. Please read the guidelines carefully and make a commitment to following them when posting.

If a given thread or post is deemed to be in violation of the guidelines, the thread or post in question may be moved, locked, or deleted at the mentors' discretion. Additionally, warnings may be issued to members who are judged to have violated the guidelines.

Such action on the part of the mentors may sometimes take place without further explication, as posters in the philosophy forums are expected to have thoroughly read and be familiar with the guidelines. Any questions or comments pertaining to these guidelines or their enforcement should be conducted via PM with the appropriate mentor.

In general, one should attempt to flesh out questions and arguments in the philosophy forums adequately enough that readers will have a good understanding of the problem, the backdrop against which it resides, and the justification of one's perspective. This might include

* explicitly defining key terms;
* justifying why this is a valid issue or problem in the first place;
* explicitly stating starting premises or assumptions;
* providing logical or empirical support for such premises or assumptions;
* making subtle logical steps more explicit;
* summarizing previous arguments made on the topic and explaining how they are relevant to your argument;
* etc.

In particular, please make a concerted effort to adequately define key terms whose meaning might otherwise be ambiguous and to provide proper justification for any claims that might be contentious. Doing so will go a long way towards stimulating productive discussion, whereas failure to do so will inevitably lead to lots of confusion, wasted words, and effort, and ultimately to moderator intervention as outlined above.

It is essentially a subjective call on your part to what degree a philosophy post needs to be developed before clear, meaningful, and productive discussion can take place. But remember, it is also a subjective call on the mentors' part to decide what constitutes a well-motivated question or argument and what does not, so it is best to err on the side of caution.

A good rule of thumb is to place yourself in the shoes of your readers and ask whether a prospective post is clear enough and developed enough to be understood by them-- Does this make sense? Am I making a sufficiently strong argument for my claims? How likely is it that someone will be confused by, or misinterpret, what I have written? You should strive to make your posts intelligible, well supported, and unambiguous.

In the interest of conveying ideas as clearly as possible, posts in this forum are required to show reasonable attention to written English communication standards. This includes the use of proper grammatical structure, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. SMS messaging shorthand, such as using "u" for "you", is not acceptable.

Remember, also, that our policies for discussion of science and mathematics hold just as strongly in the Philosophy Forums as anywhere else on the site. Overly speculative or incorrect statements within the domains of science and math may be moved, locked, or deleted at the mentors' discretion, and warnings may be issued. In general, there is more legroom for speculation in philosophical discussion, but it must be in the form of a well motivated question or argument, as described above. In particular, even a 'speculative' argument should be logically consistent with well established scientific knowledge and theory.

Overly Speculative Posts

It is against our Posting Guidelines to discuss new or non-mainstream theories or ideas that have not been published in professional peer-reviewed journals or are not part of current professional mainstream scientific discussion. Non-mainstream or personal theories will be deleted. Unfounded challenges of mainstream science and overt crackpottery will not be tolerated anywhere on the site. Linking to obviously "crank" or "crackpot" sites is prohibited.

These guidelines are meant to make your arguments as good as possible, thereby making the PF philosophy section as good as possible. Thank you for your cooperation.
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