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In an 'open' question like this one, should I accept any answer at all?

I called it an 'open' question because I ask "what are some books generally regarded as good for a general introduction on philosophy", and not something like "with which book should I get started on philosophy". This means that I was looking for more than one book and have the intention of reading more than one book, which means I was hoping for several answers. By accepting one answer I am somewhat discarding the others, and that is not my intention. I even think it would be interesting that people kept on adding their opinions as comments or answers.

To sum up: should I accept an answer or leave the question open? Or should it be turned into some sort of 'sticky question' (or wiki?)?

Thank you.

  • I might consider reformulating the concern so that it's a bit more directed. Note that, just in passing, great questions aren't totally open -- they focus on very specific issues and tend to have correct answers. – Joseph Weissman Nov 27 '12 at 17:01
  • Thank you. BTW, I didn't mean for it to become a great question. It is just that, considering its character, it would be somewhat strange to accept one answer over another. – JNat Nov 27 '12 at 17:48
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First, it is helpful to point out what "accepting an answer" means on stackexchange, and particularly in philosophy: What is the criteria for marking answers as correct in philosophy?

As @Cody Gray points out in his answer:

Accepting an answer is not necessarily intended to mark [the] one that is correct, but rather the one that the asker found most helpful.

Secondly, accepting an answer is completely optional. @Matthew Read points out that

The question owner is not required to accept an answer to their question. We view accepting an answer as a simple social convention, a little informal “thank you” between the asker and answerer, a virtual tip o’ the hat to that person whose response, as the question owner, you personally found the most helpful. […]

Basically, voting is extremely important. Accepting answer is great, but we shouldn't be pushing users to do it if they're not ready.

Accepting answers early can potentially discourage other answerers.

So, if you don't feel like you can judge which answer is (the most) helpful right now, just wait until you do, by all means.

Wrt your specific question, I think you can accept the answer

  • that convinced you to buy a specific book; or
  • that suggested a book you read and you found helpful as an introduction to philosophy. (You certainly don't have to review every single book suggested to you in order to accept a given answer!)

The bottom line is:

You are not compelled in any way to accept an answer. Accept an answer if you think it was particularly helpful. Don't overthink it.

  • Thank you! I actually bought the book you suggested, but it still hasn't arrived. Still, you point out that accepting an answer might discourage others, and in that I agree. I guess I'll keep it like this for some more time. – JNat Dec 2 '12 at 16:14
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I think the idea on stack exchange is that you accept the answer that was most helpful to you and the community votes the best answer. So it may be that the accepted answer is not the top voted answer.

  • So this would mean that I'd have to read at least some of the books proposed before ever being able to vote. – JNat Nov 28 '12 at 13:37
  • @JNat not necessarily -- accepting an answer just indicates that answer was the most helpful to you. – Joseph Weissman Nov 28 '12 at 20:01
  • The thing is that I think that in such a question I cannot know which answer helped me most without reading the books and finding out which one was the most helpful. I mean, I bought one of those books already, but intend to buy two more. Should I accept the answer that refers to the one I already bought? – JNat Nov 28 '12 at 22:44

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