Can't we just accept that there are philosophical questions that people ask that aren't from reading a book?

As it stands these questions are either closed or trend.

Is there no middle ground?

1 Answer 1


I think no one in their right minds would say that this kind of question does not exist or is not asked.

The problem is not about whether we accept that people ask these questions. It is not like we had a choice, do we? The problem is about whether these questions are asked in a fashion which suits the StackExchange model.

What many new and not-so-new users tend to forget is that StackExchange, by design, is not a good format for discussion and does consequently reject questions that are about discussion. This holds regardless of the actual topic.

We (the community of experienced, active users) are well aware that philosophy as a topic tends to be quite different from programming, math, or physics. In the end, philosophy is all about discussion, is it not? Well yes, philosophy as a practical endeavour is. But, and this is another point often misunderstood, Philosophy.SE is not for doing philosophy. In other words: We are here in our capacity as experts who know a lot about philosophy.

To take the original site, StackOverflow, as an example: It is hard to imagine being a good programmer without a lot of knowledge about programming, but the only thing that counts on SO is the knowledge. Nobody there is actually programming when they answer. As a matter of fact, asking others to write code is considered off-topic if not confined to a very specific problem. Similarly, one hardly has expert knowledge about philosophy without being a philosopher of kinds, but StackExchange is about the knowledge, not the practice. So asking others to muse philosophical ideas without a very specific problem which can be solved by knowledge in the field of philosophy is off-topic.

All that being said, one may well ask questions which are not based on books here, but the research effort which leads to questions that are well-defined and comprehensible is mandatory in a real Q&A format which wants to be a database of questions that have an answer and are answered.


BTW, I, personally, would moderate this kind of question with a much heavier hand, but since the theory of moderation on StackExchange is all about the community self-governing the content and mods only solving problems which the community cannot solve on its own, throwing in mandatory votes without community votes present is effectively abuse of powers.

  • do you mean this question, here, above? i can't see what's wrong with it?
    – user38026
    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:50
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    @another_name Nope, I am strictly speaking about open-ended questions on the main site which solicit discussion or even ask for opinion on philosophical problems. Philosophical problems without a lot of focus tend to be answered in books since no other format is nearly appropriate.
    – Philip Klöcking Mod
    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:54
  • yeah, ok. my own questions [which is NOT all i meant] i think tend to be as focused as they can be without familiarity with the literature itself.
    – user38026
    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:56
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    oh i like the analogy with not writing code in stackoverfloiw
    – user38026
    Feb 5, 2020 at 10:57

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