Want to do philosophy research? Want to get involved, contribute something and learn something? Here's how:

Benefits of Philosophy Research

  • Learn something!
  • Get involved with the most important problems in the world.
  • Work on something more important than scientific research.
  • Philosophy has low barriers to entry. In philosophy, having a PhD is actually a disadvantage. The only requirements to get started are being interested and being willing to change your mind as you learn new things. (If you have problems with those, you can ask for help at the Fallible Ideas discussion group.)
  • You can do cutting edge research faster than in other fields. Only a handful of past philosophers are relevant, so there's less to learn to reach the forefront of the field.
  • Philosophy has to do with how to think well and how to make decisions well. It's about the most general purpose skills, which you use for all other activities. If you get better at philosophy, you'll be better at your entire life.

Steps for Philosophy Research

  • Step 1: Choose a research problem. Note sure what to choose? Pick a topic discussed here on Fallible Ideas!
  • Step 2: Research Plan: Write down what the problem is, and what your plan is to work on it including what literature you plan to begin with.
  • Step 3: Post your research plan to the Fallible Ideas discussion group and ask for criticism. Be clear that you aren't just looking for answers about the topic itself. What's most important is whether the research plan will be effective.
  • Step 4: Improve your research plan using the criticism you receive and any that you can think of. Continue improving the research plan until all criticism is addressed, otherwise you might waste your time. Post the final version to check that no one knows any more ways to improve it.
  • Step 5: Proceed with the improved research plan. This should involve reading some literature, taking notes, and both thinking of and seeking out criticism on some of your initial ideas.
  • Step 6: When learning about the topic, you will get new leads. In addition to following your original plan, pursue leads. For example, you might find a passage in a book difficult to understand, and could follow up by reading more about the topic until you do understand it. As you pursue more issues, you may discover new problems to address, and keep going further.
  • Step 7: Once you learn a significant amount, write down what you think the prevailing ideas about your topic are, and write criticisms of important mistakes you find in the existing literature.
  • Step 8: Write an explanation of what you now consider the best ideas about your topic. Also mention any remaining unsolved problems.
  • Step 9: Post what you have to the Fallible Ideas discussion group and ask for criticism.
  • Step 10: Iterate on it and improve it until there's no further criticisms.
  • Step 11: Send the final version to to be posted on the Fallible Ideas site, or post it on your own site and send a link.
  • Step 12: Choose a new research problem.

Sound too hard? Not sure if you're up for it? Join the Fallible Ideas discussion group and ease into things. See what others are talking about and see how you like it. Maybe you can rise to the challenge.

By Elliot Temple |

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