[FOM] FOM Potential

mjmurphy 4mjmu at rogers.com
Sat May 24 13:11:12 EDT 2003

Torkel wrote:

[Harvey's vision] ... doesn't take
> into account what seems to be a stable feature of the dynamics of
> lists such as this. Few professionals seem inclined to engage in any
> extended interactive clarification of their ideas on the list. This is
> not because they prefer to agonize over philosophical or foundational
> questions together with a small group of awe-struck students - they
> publish books and papers, they attend conferences, they teach classes
> in regular academic style. But it seems that they do not, with few
> exceptions, regard it as worthwhile to present careful arguments on
> mailing lists. This is of course understandable - for one thing,
> mailing list contributions hardly further your academic career like
> articles in Mind or JSL. Also, the free-and-easy style of argument and
> tolerance of eccentricity or brashness even on a moderated list is not
> to everybody's taste (but is strictly necessary if the list is not to
> be moderated to death).
>   As a consequence, most mailing lists devoted to professional-level
> discussion, unless moribund, tend to be dominated (as far as the
> number of contributions is concerned) by a bunch of naturally
> argumentative people of no particular distinction.

I am not sure I agree with your assessment, or at least think the situation
differs from field to field.  To give just one example, the premier
paleontology list--the dinosour list--is regularly graced with contributions
from the "stars" of the field.  In fact, a good deal of working science is
done through the list, and a fair bit of dino-news breaks through the list
(by which I mean you often hear about discoveries etc. that will later grace
the cover of Discovery or Science over the list first).  Mind you, in this
particular field the boundary between amateur/pro is not terribly
pronounced, and alot of important work is done by people without formal
In the philosophical realm, S. Fuller (the author of a relatively new book
on T. Kuhn) regularly appears on the HOPOS and other lists and will happily
argue his points with anybody willing to go.

When it comes to the more analytic realms of philosophy you may be right,
and if so I do not know why this is the case.  After all, the only technical
equipment needed to be a mathematician or a logician is a pencil!  You would
think that the line between pro and amateur would be very small in this



More information about the FOM mailing list