As opposed to answerability, canonicity to me seems to have something more to do with the truth-value of an answer. Maybe there is a loose analogy between answerability, with syntax, and canonicity, with semantics.

A question may be deep or trivial, hard or easy, obscure or mainstream, etc, yet in all cases depending on how it formulated, could be answerable or not. This is sort of like the idea of “precision vs. accuracy”, answerability is more like precision.

Canonicity is more about to what extent most people agree that something is the answer, or, the correct answer. However, this is imperiled by assuming that consensus is the census of good judgment. Whatever canonicity is, we might have to differentiate it from simply what the majority prefers.

1 Answer 1


This site is about expert knowledge.

A canon is, according to Merriam-Webster's

a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works.

Thus, a canonical answer is an answer that is given across several different books and papers that are deemed relevant to the topic of the question in the sense of "taken into account and/or referenced by experts when thinking and writing about that topic".

Consensus, here, does not mean majority vote. It means experts and the books they use agree, which is about as high a standard as there can be in philosophy.

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