Looking at this question, Best books on philosophy of mind and/or consciousness?,

I don't think we yet have a policy on these sorts of questions. What do we want to do with "bibliography" questions?


My thought is that we should allow them but community wiki the answers unless the answerer is making specific comments about the books in questions and why they are useful.

I'm a little unclear myself as to what level of comment quality warrants not being community wiki'd.

  • I would tend to agree, especially seeing how one of the most common questions that people ask in relation to philosophy is "Where should I start (in relation to a specific topic or in general)?". One alternative would be to have ONE community wiki for all purposes (general introductions / 'easy' works, introductions to major fields, historical overviews, etc.) instead of having one for epistemology, one for philosophy of mind, one for logic, etc. That way, you can auto-close any questions on books and encourage people to post in the wiki'd one without having to have debate on topic similarity
    – DTR
    Aug 28 '15 at 18:24

I suggest we should allow them; so long as the poster says why that particular book is useful; that way it discourages boasting about books or references; and it ought to be aimed at the level of the OPs understanding, rather than being used as an opportunity to show-off - an occasional failing of mine.

If an OP is asking this question then they might not know enough to say what it is that they want to know; whereas some do - for example, a commentary on a text, like one poster did recently; and with enough contextual information that one could locate a text properly: ie they were explicit what they were looking for in the commentary, and the level at which it was pitched by reference to a reasonable and recognised standard - spark-notes.

Obviously the more focused the bibliographic request is - the better; and one should encourage them to focus it; unless they are actually just interested in an encyclopaedic overview.

In which case it's best to refer them either to the IEP or SEP; the former is less academic and has a friendlier style - but it's quality is still pretty good - I found their article on the Philosophy of Time very useful; and the latter is more academic and for that reason more forbidding, I expect to some parts of the community.


I think it depends a bit on the question.

There are some questions of the form "What introductory text should I read about X?" in which the answer has a pretty straightforward algorithm:

  1. Go into IEP, Stanford, or Wikipedia for topic X
  2. Go to the "Further reading section"
  3. Look for a book with "introduction" in the title.

I agree, community wiki seems appropriate for those.

I know I've come across "bibliography" questions that are non-trivial though. These might be non-trivial because (as virmaior suggests) some comments are required on the reference. Sometimes, however, the reference (1) wouldn't be trivial from the question or (2) the topic in question is in such a small niche that references are difficult to find. Seems like these should not be community-wiki'ed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .