I have the following argument, and I would like to ask if my reasoning is sound:

The Stack exchange has the following guideline for philosophy question:

(1) Is your question about philosophy? We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

(2) Provide details. Share your research. If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

Regarding (1): I suggest that all questions are philosophy questions, since question is a form of inquiry, and all form of inquiry leads to one form of knowledge or another. As philosophy is the study of knowledge, all questions are philosophy questions. Therefore, this guideline since redundant and impractical.

Furthermore, if we agree that validity is not a necessary condition for what constitutes an answer, then all questions can be answered. This is evident since if we assume the converse, then there would be no possible answer for the question: "Is this question not answerable?". For this reason, I argue that there are no criteria for "question cannot be answered but only discussed"

Regarding (2): For those who find my elaboration in (1) unnecessary and unwanted, here I argue that I'm just following guideline number 2. Plus, this is not necessary a meta question, since I'm asking about the soundness of my argument, rather than anything directly related to the website (provided my definition: A is related to B iff the subject of B is referred to in A. If you want a stronger definition of related as having a causal connection, then this guideline would imply all questions on stack-exchange belongs to the meta forum, which is absurd)

migrated from philosophy.stackexchange.com Apr 26 at 23:58

This question came from our site for those interested in the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence.

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    You don't really think that all questions are philosophy questions, do you? (consider "where are my keys?") – Eliran Apr 26 at 18:16
  • @Eliran How do you know you have keys? Perhaps your memory is playing tricks. Perhaps as Descartes hypothesizes, an evil daemon is making you think you have keys. Or as Berkeley would say, all you know is that you have a mental impression of your keys. You can never have evidence that there are keys "out there" somewhere. "Where are my keys?" is indeed the quintessential philosophical question. Some who believe we're just computer simulations point out that unless we're looking directly at our keys, the computer has no need to render them at all. Are you certain you have keys? – user4894 Apr 26 at 18:43
  • There are many philosophical concern with that question. This is just one: assume that you don't have your key at the time you are asking that question; thus you don't know the location of the object. However, you can still refer to that object "the key" as the abstraction of the key. Russell would say that in that key, you omitted the rigid designator of that key, while Kripke/Wittgenstein would say that the question you asked is just the result of the causal process of you observing other people saying the same thing when you assume them to be in the same position as you are. – Joe Martin Apr 26 at 18:47
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    Since this is an argument against this stack exchange forum, I think it belongs on the meta site. – Frank Hubeny Apr 26 at 19:06
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    @user4894 Suppose I'm not certain I have keys, or even that there are no keys. So what? That doesn't make "where are my keys?" a philosophical question. Maybe it makes it a question with a false presupposition (that there are keys), but that's about it. – Eliran Apr 26 at 19:08
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    Philosophy is expressed as the study of WISDOM -- not KNOWLEDGE. There is a distinction between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom expresses that one knows how to best use the Knowledge in the correct or best circumstances. If you are arguing that the rules need to be removed or replaced then your argument needs work. Validity is not all to reasoning. Validity is what Mathematical logic harps on but not Philosophy. I was taught to go for SOUNDNESS in an argument as this tops validity. This is ironic that your use of the word valid is knowledge about logic but there is no wisdom behind it. – Logikal Apr 26 at 20:49
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    Stack exchange is a system for technical exchange. I regularly use Stack Overflow in my line of work. We ask and answer very technical questions about specific problems in very specific programming situations. Philosophy stack exchange is the same. It is intended for use by professioal philosophers to share technical questions that non-professionals wouldn't understand. But sadly idiots like me keep joining in and polluting the resource with idiotic comments because we believe everyone is a philosopher.. despite having no qualifications in philosophy. – Richard Apr 26 at 22:53
  • Doubt Socrates would have been pleased to hear that philosophy is ONLY for professionals. That resonates like some 'archaic' experts only' school. Any and every interested person with an ability to ask questions and seek meaningful answers can hold an interesting view in the philosophy area. – Charles M Saunders Apr 27 at 3:36
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    @CharlesMSaunders: Maybe, but views are exactly what has no place in StackExchange. The site is all about expert knowledge in a given subject, i.e. questions and answers that are about views are misplaced. Philosophy.SE is a StackExchange community first and foremost and only as a secondary property about the subject of philosophy. We would have a lot less discussion and problems as well as a lot more actual experts here if people would realise this fact. How can people think to be a capacity in a subject others have to study years in simply by virtue of not considering themselves dumb? – Philip Klöcking Apr 27 at 5:55

All questions are potentially philosophical, as you say. But on SE it makes sense to ask posters to leap straight to their philosophical formulation. 'Where are my keys?' would be a high-level question. We ought to ask - What do we mean by 'my' when we ask 'Where are my keys?', or, What makes the keys 'mine', or, How I do I know my keys exist? and so forth.

It seems reasonable to ask posters to phrase their questions in a philosophical way.

It also seems reasonable to discourage questions inviting mere opinions. As it happens I don't believe there are any such questions if they are genuinely philosophical, and it seems inevitable that what is a matter of opinion is itself often a matter of opinion, but it seems sensible and necessary to disallow questions that do no more than ask for opinions.

Your argument about the validity of answers doesn't quite work because answers that give only opinions are no more welcome than question asking for them. 'Validity' on SE means expressing more than mere opinion. As an internal requirement of validity this seems eminently reasonable.

I see what you're getting at, and certainly the ambiguity of these issues leads to a lot of grey areas and marginal cases, but on the whole the rules seems sensible to me.

  • "When I say a word, it means exactly what I want to say, nothing more, nothing less"_Lewis Carroll. I believe that my point of making the distinction between answer and opinion here has been misunderstood, from the very fact that people use their own "opinion" to constrain their subjective understanding of what is "opinion." Thus I would now try to make my point clear of what I mean when I define (1) opinion, (2) justified opinion, and (3) answer. This distinction would help elucidate the "grey area @PeterJ mentioned, an hence make my point more clear. – Joe Martin Apr 27 at 19:17
  • By (1), opinion, I mean mere belief without justification. By (2), justified opinion, I mean belief with some sort of justification. However, the classic Munchenhauser trilemma or the Gettier case showed that no justification can be conclusive without assumption. However, if A agrees with B assumption in their chain of justification, then A "must" agree with B justified opinion, unless A defies the laws of logic (like some post-modernist do and call it "wisdom", thus turning philosophy into obscurantism). By (3) answer, I understand SE meant answer as apodictic certainty answer – Joe Martin Apr 27 at 19:24
  • The core of my argument here is to argue that (3) is impossible, thus all "answer" must be either (1) or (2). Both (1) and (2) is useless without discussion, thus the SE ruling out discussion is unproductive toward philosophy. The point here is that all "questions" can be discussed philosophically, but no question can be "answered" philosophically. If one is looking for answer respective to their paradigm, then they should seek the science SE, instead of philosophy. Philosophy acknowledges the importance of discussions and the point is to make opinions in discussions as justified as possible – Joe Martin Apr 27 at 19:30
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    @JoeMartinno Apodictic certainty? Really? StackExchange is about verifiable knowledge. In the case of Stack Overflow, the code/solution can be compiled and does what it should do or not. In the case of Philosophy.SE, the author/branch/text does use the concepts the way described or not. Objectivity is a notion of intersubjective pragmatic context, not apodictic certainty, and has been such pretty much since the late 19th century (some lunatics and ignorant people notwithstanding). Your whole argument demonstrates ignorance regarding the purpose and methods of both philosophy and this site. – Philip Klöcking Apr 27 at 21:08
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    @JoeMartin It wasn't Lewis Carroll who said that but his character, Humpty Dumpty, who is hardly his mouthpiece, or particularly reasonable, for that matter. Alice's response ("The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things") is much closer to Carroll's view. Hence we limit the range of "meanings". Justified opinion is fine as long as it is not "some sort of justification" by A or B, but a named reference. It is the references that "answer philosophically", we merely summarize and annotate them. This reduces discussion w/o "apodictic certainty". – Conifold Apr 28 at 9:34

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