Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion

David Chalmers has, with the help of some crowdsourcing, put together a list of “guidelines for respectful, constructive, and inclusive philosophical discussion.” They are “intended primarily for oral philosophical discussion in formal settings: colloquia, conferences, seminars, classes, and so on.”

It is a work in progress, and suggestions and comments are welcome.

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9 years ago

I didn’t see the one that my wife likes to make fun of us philosophers about: At some point after you are called on, actually *ask a question*, rather than just expounding your own views. (Ideally, your “question” would not then be “So, what do you say about all that?”)

Christy Mag Uidhir
9 years ago

I loathe the finger rule. It’s one question per person. Done. No clandestine multi-parters and definitely no fucking follow-ups. Take your fraudulent fingers to the back of the goddamn line!

Jonathan Cohen
9 years ago

Limit follow-ups to your own questions: two bites at the apple (initial question, then trying again after the response) should be a normal limit for one person. Further follow-up should be pursued in the reception/dinner/email.

Christopher Gauker
9 years ago

I would like to qualify III.5. Before you ask an uninformed question, wait to see whether others will ask better informed questions. If the level of discussion does not seem very high, then go ahead. It is better to ask an uninformed question than to let the discussion period end early.

Jennifer Frey
9 years ago

I would add don’t raise your voice unnecessarily, don’t yell, and don’t be needlessly agressive. One can forcefully disagree without being a hotheaded jerk. It’s really not hard.

anon grad
anon grad
9 years ago

Don’t sleep in the middle of a talk. If you fall asleep, don’t wake up in Q&A and ask a very aggressive question as if nobody noticed that you were taking a nap.

(So, this isn’t only about that one person in my current department, but also about that other person in my previous department)

Filippo C
Filippo C
9 years ago

I don’t understand the Don’t be incredulous rule completely. Should it be Don’t express incredulity? Why would that be a rule?

I definitely disagree with the body language restrictions rule. Laughing at a participant directly can certainly be too much, but not rolling eyes and especially making faces can be too much of a restriction. Too close an emphasis on formal rules can leave the substance of aggression and partiality unaddressed. We are finite and imperfect creatures.

Lots of philosophy seminars are with friends or people that are in friendly terms with each other. It isn’t unreasonable to allow for differences in expected behaviour given differences in personal relationships.