It is beginning to bother me that we allow a lot of time thinking about what quantum physics or computational theories mean about our world, but we generally quickly decide to write off considering the implications of anthropology or economics as outside our purview.

The soft-science oriented questions I see get threatened right away with closure, compared to the grinding repetition of simulation theory questions or physics inquiries, because we foresee them getting either very few answers, or a lot that are off-topic or mostly opinion.

It seems to me that this is acquiescing to the Internet's strong engineering bias: the softer sciences just are not real to us, nor is normal philology outside of a narrow band of critical theory which nonspecialists consider impenetrable.

While it is the basis of the sciences, philosophy really is a humanist discipline. Should we do something to improve the quality of more humanist or soft-science questions and answers, so we won't close them just because the answers are bound to be offensive or baseless?

  • 4
    I don't disagree with you, but can you add examples? Would help make the discussion more constructive. Jun 5, 2015 at 16:17
  • I will look. Sorry to be vague. I just remember answering a lot of questions of this form and then seeing them closed.
    – user9166
    Jun 5, 2015 at 16:26
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    It is remarkable hard to search for examples of closed questions of a given type.
    – user9166
    Jun 7, 2015 at 14:50
  • For example, this question link may look about philosophy, but after reading the question, shouldn't it be better put on mathematics education site?? He is asking about the properties of mathematics and the difference of the mathematical deductive method. But might not he have better chance to get a good answer at mathematics teachers' site? After all, he is asking about how to teach more effectively............
    – user13955
    Jun 9, 2015 at 22:44
  • If I am allowed to say honestly, this philosophy site favors quite metaphysical world rather than the materialistic world. Even though I must admit materialists owe much to Hegel, many favor Hegel, a pure metaphysician, even if he claims the difference of ( self ) consciousness and self awareness, from the materialistic point of view, it is simply meaning the human being are social beings ( self ) consciousness is the consiciousness toward the other whereas the self awareness is the admission from the others. It looks like the more difficult it seems, the more the thoughts are favored.
    – user13955
    Jun 13, 2015 at 16:32
  • And I think that is related with God thing, whose question calls gazzilions of people within limited time, and is it strange for anyone to doubt it is because the Christianity is the leading religion in the United States and Europe. After all, it seems people like inhaling addictive drug as far as they like?
    – user13955
    Jun 13, 2015 at 17:00

3 Answers 3


I would say:

  1. I agree with you that the internet in general and SE skew more towards the STEM fields than humanities in terms of the sort of people who participate in forums like this.

  2. In an interesting sense, "science" (meaning here the sort of repetitive QM, clone, and other repeaters) is easier than human fields like sociology. It's easier in several ways. It's often the case that there is at least a formula we are arguing about, rather than ranging across the interpretation of a five hundred page book. Similarly, it's easier in the sense that there's more agreement on the right ways to discuss things (for example, mass is a better term than phlogiston or the four elements for doing physics). Third, tying back to the above 1, many of the STEM people think that knowledge of STEM extends into both knowledge of philosophy and knowledge of how to tell people they are wrong on STEM points.

  3. Some of the more social sciences and humanities question more quickly raise red flags about answerability ("where was the question in that?" / the reading offered is idiosyncratic and outside the norm used for philosophy about that social science), personal philosophy ("am I right?"), etc.

To amend my answer, one annoying problem that many sciencey questions we have gets is that people argue about the science (or the interpretation of the science) and clutter threads with this rather than sticking to philosophy which could be neutral about the science in question (i.e., nearly ever QM-derived question leads to arguments about what QM means -- which is partially philosophical but often is just a premise for the question rather than the meat of what they want).


I'd say that these kind of questions come up simply from the egalitarian nature of participation on the stack, and being on the net it's going to attract, as noted by others, a disproportionate participation from the STEM community - it's simply part of the nature of the beast.

I'd also point out that there's a traditional mutual incomprehension between these two domains; though perhaps the net allowing so many ways of looking onto the world might help break this disjunction down.

We don't see many questions about Engels for sure, but hardly any come up for Bentham or Locke either.


If you kindly let me answer, in my opinion, I think the part of the reasons why the questioner think so is because SE's members are mostly from the United States ( I guess ), where the freedom is the most important concern. ( Forgive me to define what that means. )

But I think since this site is based on the U.S, so I personally take it as an inevitable result.

As the questioner suggested, however, to me too there were questions which looked much off-topic.

I would not like to point out specfically which one is/was that, so that I would like to leave just by delivering what kind of questions I had wondered if they are/were/had been off topic.

  1. Questions which should/should've/should'd been in mathematic site. Such like asking about mathematical term.

  2. Computer terms oriented. Though about this, since there seem to be many engineers, programmars here, it may be not so difficult for me to think such questions naturally to come up frequently.

Thank you for your effort always.

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    Not sure I buy this explanation... first of all, just looking at the top contributors by rep this month, about a third are explicitly not from the US (many don't have any location), so not sure how much the US dominates on PSE. Further, not sure why Freedom would bias someone towards mathematics. Jun 7, 2015 at 14:15
  • So as I said, it is my pure assumption with sorry. But in reality I see sometimes, 2 types of questions appear. I think the subjects favored by many seem to me, about God, I, mathematics ( not in the line with philosophy ), computer porgramme. If I am making a mistake, I would apologize.
    – user13955
    Jun 7, 2015 at 19:27
  • And since almost always we see God-thing question invites thousand of people within quite few limited time, I might have assumed that may be related with the practice of the U.S. The notion about Mathematicas came to me in the same line with God issue since the topic seems to me they are favored because math is an outside object independently standing regardless with human beings while philosophy's duty is human beings oriented.
    – user13955
    Jun 7, 2015 at 19:35
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    @KentaroTomono But we inherited our God from Europe, who inherited it from the Levant, who might have inherited it from India... The God-thing may be specifically non-East Asian, but it is hardly "American" in origin or currency. E.g. Pussy Riot in Russia models the song that got them arrested on an Orthodox Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
    – user9166
    Jun 13, 2015 at 22:38
  • @jobermark Thank you for your reply. I think ( I guess ) I share the same idea with kind ( always thanks! ) moderators' idea that this site is a bit different to handle with than the others, though only if, we can consider here internationally study ( about philosophy ( this is Keelan's opinion about how this site should be )) or to me studying philosophy may at the end of the rope meet with doing philosophy ( this is my personal idea though ), or what kind of style might be, I think talking always about same topics is not so productive, thus I might be able to say about here ?
    – user13955
    Jun 13, 2015 at 22:53

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