# Questions if arguments or interpretations are correct

On math.SE, a “question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields”, it's no problem to post your own solution of a problem and ask if it is correct.

On physics.SE, described as a site for “researchers, academics and students of physics” similar questions have a good chance to be closed. It is assumed that you should rather ask your fellow students. It's not for a site for somebody informally (outside of an institution) studying physics.

Philosophy.SE doesn't exclude such users, but if you ask here if your own argument or interpretation is correct, you will run into trouble, too. The close reason is, as we all know:

"Questions that push a personal philosophy with no question beyond "am I right" or "what do you think" are off-topic here as this is not a blog. It's ok to express unique opinions, but you must have an actual, answerable question to go with them."

But users posting a problem in formal logic including their own solution and asking ”am I right?” don't get their questions closed. In this regard we're similar to math.SE.

If such questions are okay here, then how much is a question, if one's argument, solution or interpretation is correct, allowed to be thematically different from a formal logic question?

Of course, formal logic questions are the most definitely answerable questions on this site. But there might be “Am I right?”-questions which are similarly definitely answerable. If somebody asked “I've read Kant and it seems to me he is a consequentialist, because [a)... b) ... c)...] . Am I right?” a definite answer could be “No! You've clearly interpreted him wrong: [Explaining serious misunderstandings of a) ... b) ... c)] ...”

'Am I right?' comes on a continuum between 'Is this application of these principles right or wrong?', and 'I dare you to prove me wrong!'

In my book, the former is just fine, and in practice, it stays. And the subject matter is not just logic, it can be anyone clear enough, from Kant to Sartre. You can get an answer to where the standards lie by just looking at the open questions. At least a third of them, even outside logic or science, take some variant of this form.

The latter is never productive, as it can only lead to long strings of contentious defense by the author against the people he has supposedly asked to help him.

Often, the latter comes masquerading as the former, and when it gets to the point the author is obviously not listening, or refuses to make themself clear because it would expose them to more legitimate judgement, we figure that out.

(Though people who create reasons to object when there is not really a problem can make it almost impossible to reach that determination, as the author will naturally reject nonsense insulting to his intelligence. And there can be an endless debate despite lack of defensiveness on the author's part.)

I have definitely asked questions squarely in the middle ground, which are more problematic. This kind of question is bad by the site standards because they are just very unlikely to get an answer. It is possible someone way brighter than me talks me out of an ingrown bias for which I cannot contrive adequate support or someone way better informed finds support I can't identify. But the response to all the answers until then is 'Already considered that...', and these questions just rot.

Questions regarding any argumentation is, of course, completely acceptable. Questions asserting interpretation in the sense of verstehen & erklaren are acceptable, however, interpretation in the sense of (further) weltanschauung is not.

• "Am I right?" in the sense of *"is my understanding (verstehen) correct (reasonable, rational, accurate, factual, faithful to the author's intent, etc.)?"* is completely within the purview of this site's stated scope.
• "Am I right?" in the sense of "is my argument valid and/or sound?" is acceptable.
• "Am I right" in the sense of "is what I have said true?" is also within the scope of this site and more likely to fit the "laser-like focus" principle.
• "Am I right?" in the sense of "do you agree with my interpretation, (in the sense of sentiment, opinion or weltanschauung)?" is, on the other hand, not acceptable.
• "Am I right?" in the sense of a moral evaluation is outside the purview.

Inasmuch as philosophy has translated from the Greek for the last 2500+ years to "love of wisdom" and not "love of wisdom to you", "personal philosophy" is oxymoron. Wisdom requires knowledge, not sentiment, belief, opinion, personal view or insight. Philosophy is about "what is", not "what is to you". "What is to you" is subjective, regardless of logic and reason applied; Plato's "Forms" and Kant's "Categorical Imperative" are but two examples of this.

Inasmuch as, in the words of Wittgenstein, "Philosophizing is: rejecting false arguments" then rejecting assertions of "personal philosophy" or weltanschauung or solicitations to agreement with opinion is adequate to the occasion of a philosophy forum. This is especially the case given the Stack Exchange model, which philosophy is uniquely suited for as philosophy is heuristic, not hermeneutic. That said, accepting false arguments, statements of weltanschauung and solicitations to agreement with sentiment and opinion as questions and expecting their rejection as false arguments for answers seems somewhat at odds with the goals of the SE model to not solicit opinions in the first place.

"What do you think?" is only irrelevant to philosophy inasmuch as the mind often believes it is thinking while merely passing from one metaphor to another. Similarly, the rhetoric of "right and wrong" is often quite confused when used for "valid and sound" or "true or false."

• Do you talk about a different site? If we look at questions like this, it's clear that questions like "is my argument valid and/or sound?" will be closed. I don't really have a problem with such decisions, it's just that we have to find out about this “rule” by trial and error! Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 9:02
• also regarding the mentioned question, it's simply extremely difficult to find out why exactly the close reason applies. The questioner doesn't push his personal philosophy. What he mentions is a pretty common “argument,” you surely all know it. And it's obviously also true that “an actual, answerable question” goes with the opinions expressed. Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 9:09
• As you answered the question u reference I presume you found it useful enough to answer usefully. It's not a rule, it's a cultural prejudice regardless of policy enacted by those with access to moderation tools. Note the disparity of reputation points amongst philosophySE users and the picture of where the problem lies is clear. Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 9:10
• @wolf-revo-cats as demonstrated by whomever just deleted the last two comments. If you participate on other SE forums, you'll see that this one is fairly unique in the thin-skinned approach to moderation. It's like a hot-house for all the personality ticks of engineers and philosopher-trolls. Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 9:37
• I found the question useful but already suspected it to become closed. The point is, if a question is elegantly phrased, written in a neutral tone, sounds highbrow, gives many references, is about a special technical subject it must blatantly violate the rules to get closed. If a question is clumsily written, emotionally charged, gives no references and is about a broad subject, then any far-fetched close-reason will do. It sucks that the de-facto rule number 1 “Don't let SE become Yahoo Answers” is so vague, but it's even worse that people deny that clear-cut rules don't exist here. Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 9:41
• Ayep. It also goes hand in hand with the mis-use of the term philosophy, which is just sloppiness of thinking: confusing what is true for opinion and not being able to tell the difference much less discern a knowledge claim from a sophisticated and over-wrought solicitation to agreement with gossip. The cultural bias of the "in" crowd is especially lame considering the heuristic model of SE, but when in Rome, eh? Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 10:05