Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How should one comment on Philosophy Blogs

When one makes a comment on a blog one can write as if one was in a number of situations. Ignore my examples if you cant immediately recognize the debate i refer to)

1) The first is the 'harsh reviewer' of an academic paper. this is the one I tend to use. In this case you look over the article and try to find any sort of error you can. What matters most to this view is that you expose the logical error or the argument that is not properly supported not that you prove it is wrong. The Author of the article can then take your critique into consideration in the next round of reviewing. It seems to me that this is the sort of review that an academic should appreciate. Generally these require quite a bit of mental work from the other side.

2) Next is the friendly approach. In this model you are trying to be supportive and to build relationships. you compliment the good things and tend to take as given the more dubious things for the sake of argument.

3) there is the entertainment approach - in this one you are trying to be interesting, it becomes valuable to be eloquent and use what one might term political speech. You repeat ideas for emphasis and tie them back to what you think a general audience would find intuitive. (most of RC's posts I think)

4) there is the head to head debate where you look to find the key issue that the article raises and tackle it head on. (RB in the zombie debate RC vs RB)

5) the student to teacher - here you assume the other side knows the answer and just needs to explain it to you

6) the teacher to student - here you switch the above - you really need the other side to buy into being a student or it will degenerate.

7) the academic response - here you assume no one trusts your opinion and so you effectively refer people to famous people's opinions. If they then disagree you can reasonably say they have a credibility issue.

8) the seller of ideas - in this case your trying to win the debate but without allowing it to become a head to head (i.e. you don't want to 'get their back up')

I'm sure there are others. I don't think it is entirely clear which is the best because each works on different assumptions of what is valuable however it is possible that a certain approach will be useless in a certain context with certain people.


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