Mike Deigan /
The Cursor /
A Philosophy Blogifesto
posted 2020-10-06

More phi­los­o­phy on­line, please! The web would be bet­ter with more phi­los­o­phy on it and phi­los­o­phy would be bet­ter with more of it on the web.

Sure, the jour­nals are al­ready on­line, even if most are lu­di­crous­ly pay­walled.Props to the Open Ac­cess ex­cep­tions: Phil Im­print, Ergo, JESP, JPE, JM­Phil, S&P, and oth­ers! A lot of books are avail­able on­line too, one way or an­oth­er. And of course there are the won­der­ful EPs: the SEP and IEP. Read­ing all the great phi­los­o­phy al­ready on­line would take more time than any­one has.

But to get an idea out to read­ers in these pro­fes­sion­al­ly vet­ted forms, one needs to pack­age it in just the right way to sat­is­fy—in the eyes of re­view­ers and ed­i­tors—a va­ri­ety of con­straints: con­ci­sion, clar­i­ty, rig­or, schol­ar­li­ness, orig­i­nal­i­ty, ‘rel­e­vance’, and word lim­its. Even when this works out, it can take years. So if you want peo­ple to read your stuff while it’s still fresh, or if you want to read what’s at the cut­ting edge of some field, you need to go some­where else.

The de­lay isn’t the only prob­lem. Many ideas that peo­ple should be able to read and dis­cuss on­line sim­ply are not pub­lish­able in these places: the half-baked, the po­lit­i­cal­ly opin­ion­at­ed, the mi­nor nit-pick, the non-crit­i­cal no­tice, the unar­gued syn­op­tic vi­sion, the read­ing list, the cool para­graph you just came across in some ob­scure place, etc.

Fi­nal­ly, some­times one just doesn’t feel like read­ing stuff that has passed through this wringer, you know? Schol­ar­li­ness, rig­or, and the rest are im­por­tant for cer­tain pur­pos­es, but peo­ple also want to read phi­los­o­phy that’s punchi­er, sil­li­er, grander, or more per­son­al than what typ­i­cal­ly gets into the aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nals.I’m not be­ing orig­i­nal in com­plain­ing about aca­d­e­m­ic pub­lish­ing in these ways. See Agnes Callard’s re­cent ar­ti­cle in The Point for one re­cent en­try in the genre. I’m sym­pa­thet­ic to some of what she says there, but also think she un­der­es­ti­mates the qual­i­ty and depth of re­cent work rel­a­tive to the old­er stuff.

I think this is part of what’s at­trac­tive about read­ing the great (and even the not so great) philoso­phers of the past: they had their own con­straints, but not the same ones we have. Lack of the con­straints is also part of what’s great about talk­ing phi­los­o­phy with friends in a pub, de­part­ment lounge, or wher­ev­er. But op­por­tu­ni­ties for that are lim­it­ed, es­pe­cial­ly these days.

Luck­i­ly, there are many oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties for do­ing phi­los­o­phy on­line. Blogs and mi­croblogs; vlogs, video es­says, and streams; pod­casts and mi­cro­casts; newslet­ters, wikis, in­ter­ac­tive tu­to­ri­als, fo­rums, we­b­comics, we­bzines, and on­line books. You can put on­line your read­ing notes, lec­ture notes, teach­ing ideas, ar­ti­cle ideas, ideas too small for ar­ti­cles, ideas too big for ar­ti­cles, book re­views, lit re­views, in­ter­views, and link dumps. Schol­ar­ly or slap-dash, many times re­vised or first pass out­lines, any style un­der the sun. Pub­lic phi­los­o­phy, deep-in-the-ar­cane-weeds phi­los­o­phy, and every­thing in be­tween.

There’s a lot of phi­los­o­phy on­line in most of these forms, but I wish there was more of it, from a wider range of philoso­phers.

“Why not con­tribute some your­self?”

Okay, sure, why not?


This is my new phi­los­o­phy blog.

I’d be hap­py if you, too, would start a phi­los­o­phy blog (or what­ev­er oth­er kind of on­line phi­los­o­phy thing). Tell me about it so I can check it out and maybe talk about it here. One thing I hope to do here is reg­u­lar­ly talk about what’s go­ing on phi­los­o­phy-wise else­where on­line.


" Why not just post on Twit­ter or Face­book or Medi­um or ...?”

As this is a blogifesto, it is fit­ting to have some high-mind­ed num­bered prin­ci­ples to which I solemn­ly com­mit my­self.

They are:

  1. No dis­tract­ing ads or nag­ware.
  2. No in­va­sive sur­veil­lance.
  3. No vol­un­teer­ing con­trol of my con­tent to some cor­po­ra­tion for use in al­go­rithms that ma­nip­u­late peo­ple into ad­dic­tive scrolling and click­ing and post­ing in or­der to gen­er­ate more rev­enue from dis­tract­ing ads tar­get­ed with in­va­sive sur­veil­lance.

There’s a lot of fun and in­ter­est­ing phi­los­o­phy talk on Twit­ter (and, I as­sume, on Face­book), but it seems to me that on bal­ance these plat­forms make the in­ter­net and the world worse. Giv­en their prof­it mod­els, I don’t ex­pect them to im­prove. So we should work to­wards bet­ter al­ter­na­tives. Blog­ging from my own web­site is my small con­tri­bu­tion.

Send comments to mike.deigan@rutgers.edu.