Why is it important to insist that nobody sees my tags? It's bad enough that you insist on telling me what I'm allowed to write. What's the intention behind removing my categories?

  • When I said "insist" I meant that my higher-order-thinking tag was removed, replaced, and removed again. It's my interdisciplinary academic specialization.
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 17:25
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    Maybe you could speak to the positive case for adding the tag. Is it meaningfully applicable to a lot of existing questions? Is there significant classificatory value here, and how...?
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:30
  • Ummm, perhaps someone (such as I) might reasonably believe that if I ask a question then you ought to answer it?
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 20:26
  • Joseph, I have no intention of arguing with anyone who's an expert in a different field, who's in authority, or who already claims to know the truth. I give you credit for authority on this site, so I'll say something , listen to your response, and then I'll have no recourse because I'm a subject in this realm. It's an extremely disadvantaged position for me.
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 20:26
  • When I was awarded the privilege to create tags, I didn't realise all of the stringent limitations, and I protest the censorship at this level. My reasoning is philosophical, and I've already explained it. There's hardly any opening for anything that hasn't previously been deemed fixed, authoritative, appropriate, moral, correct and acceptable by a small group of people who have agreed on what those things mean and what they imply.
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 20:32
  • I've worked at university level for five decades on developing higher order thinking, and studied pedagogy on the subject at university and doctoral level since 2000. It refers to the process (my definition, but I didn't invent the subject!) of developing deeply coherent sets of ideas about complex subjects. Searching on Google produces "About 355,000,000 results (0.62 seconds)". Here are some references:
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 20:39
  • ...[sigh]... ...
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 20:52
  • Now will you please answer my questions? [wondering]
    – Rortian
    Apr 23, 2019 at 21:39
  • 3
    You do not have to credit yourself, you were asked to explain the benefits and criteria of adding this specific tag. HOT is an educational concept, not a philosophical one. You may have worked in that field for some time, but concepts and tags helpful to you are not necessarily helpful for others. And if tags do not fulfil their purpose, they should not be used. So, what Joseph asked you for is showing some amount of pedagogical skill by making others understand why and how this tag should be used. Instead, you imply others were dumb and post papers with bad English and statistics.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 12:07
  • 4
    By the way, it would have been a possible way to start a meta discussion on the introduction of a new tag, explaining why you deem this tag to be an important improvement and tool and when to apply it as well as when not to apply it. Tags are - as everything else here - governed by community decisions, not by the caprice of individuals. So if you want to participate, change, contribute, and improve, you should try to convince other users by argument. Quite pedagogical an experience for a lot of new users, btw.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 12:13
  • lol thanks for the tip, @PhilipKlöcking. " you should try to convince other users by argument". Is it clearly obvious to you that I was ignorant of that sagacious bit of advice? Geez, Fella. As for your other recommendation, I'm sure that it's clearly obvious to you that you know the right way for other people to do things. I understand what it's like to have very strong opinions and beliefs! I simply don't allow myself to be so attached anymore, because I learned that it's a very bad way to think with regard to learning. Fallibilism is preferable for that.
    – Rortian
    Apr 24, 2019 at 12:58
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    @Rortian: I am a fallibilist. And as a good pragmatist, I tell you what the rules of this community are, what will work, and what won't. One may creatively think about how fire does not have to be hot, but one will nevertheless burn one's hand when touching it. The touchstone of fallibilism and pragmatism is reality, which is notoriously resistant against change. One of the (often misunderstood) pioneers of pragmatism (and modern education), John Dewey, was most clear about that.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 13:05
  • 1
    @Rortian: Exactly, discussing reality is moot (one of the points of Dewey). You have to do something in order to have (and change) experience. I did not imply that reality is static, but that there are limits of action that are beyond action and language at a given time, even if they are fluid eventually. That being said, I can only tell you the rules and procedures that I cannot change. The StackExchange community as a whole can. Both lamenting about the rules or about people that have their privileges to enforce these rules and do so is moot.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


The way that you've been using makes it look like a meta tag.

The reason meta-tags are a problem is that they do not describe the content of the question. They describe some other aspect of the question, like the author’s skill level, or the author’s motivation for asking it, or generally what “kind” of question it is (poll, how-to, etc.).

Higher Order Thinking is not a sub-field of philosophy. In fact it's not even specific to philosophy at all. While Higher Order Thinking would be an appropriate tag for questions about pedagogical theory and for comparing various teaching methods (perhaps on sites like Mathematics Educators), it is against Stack Exchange best practices to use it on questions because you want the answers to be engaging in HOT. A higher-order-thinking tag would then be a meta tag, because it's about how people approach the question, not the content of the question itself. And after all, don't we want people to be thinking well for all questions? Anything you could legitimately add to every question probably doesn't belong.


Short answer: The justification is that there is no such thing as "your" tag

StackExchange is based on the self-government of the community. Everything you do here can be evaluated by other community members and may also be rejected because everything should be done for the betterment of and in agreement with the community. Nothing here is "your" content, it is a contribution to a joint effort to create a Q & A database that is as concise and objective as possible.

Therefore, if you disagree you have to discuss and offer arguments for your point, which includes an openness to dissenting arguments. Otherwise, the result is not a discourse but a mere exchange of standpoints. You may want to consult Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action about this difference.

Long answer

1. Every privilege comes with duties.

Yes, you gained the privilege to create tags. Privileges are not the same as a right to do as one likes, there are rules for using them. These state, among other things (bolded in quotes mine):

When should I create new tags?

Most common tags already exist on a mature site. You should always favor existing tags; only create new tags when you feel you can make a strong case that your question does cover a new topic that nobody else has asked about before on this site.

This makes clear that tags should always be topic-related. This is made even more clear in another point:

However, note that:

  • on some sites, new tags will be automatically culled and removed from the system if they are not used by at least 1 other question in a 6 month period.
  • meta tags, tags that cannot stand alone as the only tag on a question, are not allowed.

Please create new tags responsibly!

In other words: It is a critical and justified response to the creation of this tag to ask whether it can stand on its own here. Is HOT a philosophical topic that can solicit a number of on-topic questions on this site? Or is it rather a meta-tag that may stand in relation to many topics, but is not a philosophical topic itself?

2. Accordingly, it is your duty to make a strong case for your tag

Instead of simply doing something and wondering why people disagree, you will have to seriously consider the rules and arguments of the community. Ideally, you should do this first, here on meta:

If you think that the community can benefit from the use of this tag, offer arguments. Educate others how and in which contexts it is a philosophical topic and when to properly apply this tag. Answer to the objection that it cannot stand on its own as the topic of an on-topic question.

  • In my experience, the likelihood that I would ever live up to the expectations of people who are attached to their beliefs and in positions of authority is zero. That attitude doesn't allow for people to express themselves in any way which hasn't previously been deemed acceptable. It's a way to operate within safe and comfortable limits for people who intend to control other people. Many people enjoy that lifestyle. You speak to me as if you know that I'm ignorant and you tell me to offer arguments as if I haven't. Nice work, not.
    – Rortian
    Apr 24, 2019 at 13:07
  • 3
    @Rortian: You have not addressed the concerns offered to you so far. You have demonstrated that this is a popular concept in (US-American) education. You have tried to make a case that this site would benefit from using HOT in questions and answers to improve critical thinking and meta-skill development when consulting this site. I do not even disagree here. Yet, the quotes from the community rules make clear that tags should be topic-related, not method-related (these would be meta-tags). BTW Moderators are elected and I do not flatter myself for being elected as the sole viable candidate
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 13:14
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    @Rortian: Concept, method, or theory do not make a difference (and are IMHO labels for practices that cannot be independently from one another) as long as it is not the topic of philosophical literature. Show me the philosophers who discuss HOT (as opposed to pedagogics who discuss philosophy in the context of HOT) and I will happily stand by your side when defending this as a tag. A tag that I will nevertheless only defend in the context of literature that explicitly discusses this concept/method/theory.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 13:34
  • 3
    @Rortian: To close this case, you will not change Philosophy.SE to follow contemporary educational concepts. It is deep within the site's purpose and code to be what it is. Whether this is "good" or "bad" for learning philosophy is irrelevant. Philosophy as a subject within which HOT is taught and learned does have its merits, which is why philosophy is introduced as a subject for first-graders in Ireland. Still, this kind of doing philosophy has no place on this site. I do probably know and understand more about myself and what you write than you think, it's just irrelevant here.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 14:08
  • Well, I don't think about your understandings at all, only your utterances. And yes, what I understand is irrelevant to your already-considerations.
    – Rortian
    Apr 24, 2019 at 14:42

If the authority or authorities here claim that a topic isn't a topic then it's not a topic.

The omnipotent Oz has spoken; my perspectives on bias and pretension have been squashed. Oz is also omniscient. Of course it's impermissible to peek behind the curtain!

It's (almost) lovely how bias and authority combine so beautifully to overpower reason.

The notion of normativity is appreciated by relatively few people, and it's a very complex philosophical matter. People who don't understand it very well (who does?) seem to believe that rules should apply strictly to people's actions according to the perspectives of expert authorities. They might not recognise that being an expert on what the rules are is different from being an expert at considering how they ought to be interpreted, applied or developed!

"'Normativity' may have at least two senses: first, a nomophoric sense, if one refers to implicit or explicit rules (of various kinds); second, an axiological sense, if one refers to values." L. G. Faroldi

"Yet a third kind of engagement with normativity concerns the very sources of normativity itself. An attempt to vindicate or debunk the implicit normativity of some specific ethical claim will ultimately face the question of what could support claims to normativity in general. Here we find a fertile debate between Humeans, who seek to ground practical normativity in instrumental rationality, and Kantians, who argue that practical reason necessarily includes formal constraints that extend beyond means/end coherence...Philosophical discussion of normativity is by no means restricted to ethics, however. Epistemology has an irreducibly normative aspect, in so far as it is concerned with norms for belief. And the idea that meaning is implicitly normative has sparked some of the most exciting discussions in recent philosophy of language." REP

"Primitive normativity thus is what distinguishes the behaviour of the speaker who uses her terms with understanding from that of the parrot, or automaton. Using a term with understanding requires more than just being disposed to use it a certain way, Ginsborg argues; it requires understanding that it has a certain meaning. If a speaker for instance uses ‘slab’ to mean slab, she needs to grasp or recognize that it means slab (2012, 135). Ginsborg’s ambition is precisely to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for what it is to have this understanding." SEP

"John Rawls (1971) has argued that toleration—even of intolerance—is a constitutive part of justice (derivable from what Rawls calls the “liberty principle” of justice), such that failure to be tolerant would entail failure to satisfy one of the requirements of justice. Rawls emphasizes, however, that genuine toleration need not lead to utopia or agreement, and that it is substantially different from a mere modus vivendi, that is, simply putting up with one another because we are powerless to do otherwise. According to Rawls, true toleration requires that we seek to bring our differences into an 'overlapping consensus,' which he claims will be possible due to an inherent incompleteness and 'looseness in our comprehensive views' (2001: 193)." IEP

I haven't asked anyone to change any rules and I won't. My job is to inquire and to learn, and to support others in doing those things. You've made it clear that inquiry here must be about objective discourses (as if interpretation is irrelevant) rather than about understanding how philosophical discourses apply in practice to our actions. That's simply a series of meaningless debates. What people think or understand is irrelevant. Imo that process defeats the purpose, and drastically degrades the value, of the project 'philosophy.'

Naturally, my considerations have been ruled irrelevant by the Q&A experts. Not wrong, merely irrelevant! My inference is that people who want to learn should use other methods. Discussion is allowed in the chat rooms, so that opportunity hasn't been stamped out right? If my job can be enacted there, and if anyone is deeply committed to learning by inquiring into open questions which are relevant to human activities other than academic self-stimulation, I'll be open to discussing complex questions in the fields of philosophy, psychology and education. I’ll visit other rooms to see if anyone is openly inquiring and learning useful stuff. I'll be happy to focus on other priorities...

Best wishes

  • 2
    I think it is telling that this is all about how you are the only expert for how rules should be and understanding the application of philosophical thinking. The only expert here that can get the only job that matters done. It's been you who wrote about humility? Yes, the ideal discourse sets its own rules in a democratic, critical, and evaluative fashion. Dewey said this, Habermas reintroduced the thought some forty years later (1981). Normativity as inherent to language and how this implies power and possible abuse of it (Foucault). Thing is, it is you who agreed to the Terms of Conduct.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 24, 2019 at 21:23
  • "If the authority or authorities here claim that a topic isn't a topic then it's not a topic." Please understand: no one here has said HOT isn't a topic. Ask a question about it, and the tag will be appropriately applied to it. Apr 24, 2019 at 23:02
  • "no one here has said HOT isn't a topic".. nor that it is, not that I've heard. Isn't that why people were arguing against my view on it? Isn't that why I was justifying my perspective? Why else would people be baiting me? So, is it an acceptable tag or isn't it? [wondering]
    – Rortian
    Apr 24, 2019 at 23:17
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    Firstly, watch your tone. If you really have an academic record you should know how important a civil tone is and how to keep it despite disagreement. Secondly, you have been asked to offer a piece of philosophy (e.g. in a book or paper) that discusses HOT as its topic. The question still is whether it is a topic in philosophy as defined in the help center. Not any critical inquiry in psychology, pedagogy, cognitive science, everyday life or other sciences is philosophy and thus treats a philosophical topic. Otherwise, all people with highly developed cognitive skills would do philosophy.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 25, 2019 at 14:21
  • Metacognition is a synonym for HOT. It's the core principle of HOT...(philpapers.org/s/%2AMetacognition)
    – Rortian
    Apr 25, 2019 at 15:31
  • you should know how important a civil tone is and how to keep it despite disagreement I know lots of stuff about that, and I don't like your tone either, PK. However, I don't see the relevance of our opinions about such picayune stuff. If I'll ever actually violate the local rules of netiquette according to your opinion then I'll be informed, is that correct?
    – Rortian
    Apr 25, 2019 at 15:41
  • monoskop.org/images/9/90/…
    – Rortian
    Apr 25, 2019 at 16:47
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    Your links do not show that they are synonyms. The only paper within your links that uses both (by Rosenthal) explicitly uses HOT as a synonym, but at the same time does not at all appeal to the educational concept, but uses it merely in the more general sense of awareness and cognitive processing of one's cognitive states and functions (i.e. metacognition). Glossing over this difference seems misplaced to me. So, while metacognition indeed is a common topic in philosophy, the educational concept of specific sets of HOT skills and the corresponding taxonomies is yet to be shown to qualify.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Apr 25, 2019 at 20:18

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