Much as the synthetic-analytic divide, which is certainly a stroke of metaphysical genius entreats us to take propositions and dichotomize them, so too do Quine's attacks on that distinction force us to draw pause and consider what is the proper use of dichotomy? In simpler terms, how exactly is it that we know when we are doing philosophy and when we are answering factual questions about philosophy, since the explanatory powers inherent in our answers are inevitably imbued with normativity much in the same way measurement is. Let's consider the latter case briefly.
When one says, math is the queen of the sciences because of the apparent objectivity of numbers that builds consensus, perhaps things aren't quite so clear. Measurements are not objective strictly speaking. Take note of the following questions and the normativity inherent in them:
- What do we measure? Which parts and to what end?
- How do we measure? With what units and to what precision?
- Who measures? Is it better to be redundant in terms of cost, quality, and quantity?
- Which techniques? Which measures of measures should be used in statistical analysis?
Does the claim 'numbers and measures are ultimately objective' stand when viewed under this lens?
Isn't it highly normative when we take measure of whether or not something is philosophy or merely a proposition about the factual nature of what constitutes mere subject-matter expertise which is inescapably epistemological and ontological insofar as the methods used to determine the question determine the membership of the dichotomy? And isn't this at its heart the primary issue of the metaphilosopher? And if that's the case, doesn't it essentially answer dispel the notion that there is some algorithmic basis for determination? Certainly, we can concede that the application of reason to such an endeavor must be at its core more closely related to the defeasibility of jurisprudence than formal, deductive proof, right?
And I offer a simple assertion:
> Those best in a position to answer a good Q&A question are those who are best at doing philosophy precisely because the distinction between "Q&A" and "original philosophy" is artificial. Answering a good Q&A question is the heart of the philosophical method.
Who provides the resources for us to conduct this passion of philosophy we engage in here? StackExchange, and their motivations are simple: draw traffic, promote brand, do it in the way you see fit. At its heart, crowd-sourcing is the essence of the bazaar, and those SE venues that succeed the best have found a method to encourage contribution according to consensus, balancing the power of authority against the will of the people. But isn't each SE community inherently unique in its interpretation of the method to bring that about? Does psychology use the methods of physics? What of the differences between biology and chemistry? Are they not both science, but have different methods? Can we answer honestly that too many here pretend that the dichotomy is honored through some rigorous formalism when intuition is the key to its application? (Perhaps these are only questions a philosopher can answer?)
Does anyone here really think we are doing "original philosophical research"? Of course not. What I'm asking is isn't this place a cathedral, because the dominant method for doing Q&A questions is based on a false dichotomy, that of "philosophy proper" and "philosophy subject-matter expertise"?
We are here to learn -- not to vent, bully or distract. We have a shared ethos with Wikipedia for a reason. It's really important that content is formulated from a neutral point of view. This dramatically increases the quality of contributions, but also speaks to the basic foundations of our community -- that we're here for education, not here to impose our views on others.
So, if we close a question that is clearly on-topic because of its prominence in the primary literature and secondary and tertiary sources, how are we possibly conducting ourselves in a way that promotes a neutral point of view? The obvious answer is that we are not, at least consistently and with consensus. And until all of the vectors point in the same general direction, all of our answers will continue to have components that cancel, will they not?
So, let's say there is a dichotomoy and I'm wrong, then the question still stands, what exactly is the difference between 'being a philosopher' and 'being a philosophy SME'? Empirically speaking, when we clearly have consensus on this, perhaps we will find that we don't make errors like closing questions about dispositions which is a topic that as philosophicaly essential as the notion of 'essence' itself.