I’ve been meaning for a while to write something encouraging philosophers to write entries for Wikipedia. I was hoping to have part of this encouragement be a link to a page I’d added or substantially improved, but sadly that hasn’t happened, so this is an all talk no action post. But sometimes it is good for people to do as I say, not as I do, and this is one of those times!

I’d particularly like to encourage philosophers who have written encyclopedic articles, and have copyright over what they wrote, to consider uploading a version to Wikipedia. It is a great way to spread philosophical knowledge to the wider world.

The best encyclopedia article I wrote was the Stanford piece on intrinsic properties, and it would probably be a good idea to do something similar for the Wikipedia page, which right now consists mostly of the introduction to my Stanford piece. Maybe when I get a little more spare time…

5 Replies to “Wikipedia”

  1. Speaking of Wikipedia, I created a Brian Weatherson entry the other day. Feel free (obviously) to fix any inaccuracies.

  2. Have a look at this:

    “Knowledge can also be described as a psychological state, since in a strict sense there can never be a posteriori knowledge proper (see relativism). Much of the disagreement about “proofs” of God’s existence is due to different conceptions not only of the term “God” but also the terms “proof”, “truth” and “knowledge”. Religious belief from revelation or enlightenment (satori) falls in the second, a priori class of “knowledge”.”

    - From the Wikipedia page on the existence of God.

    I also never knew that:

    -The moral argument for the existence of God should be classed as an empirical argument. – The historical argument for the divinity of Jesus is to be classed as a subjective argument. – The no reason argument is empirical. – It’s okay to cite internet cranks as philosophical authorities.

  3. I am more of a fan of wikipedia than many people in the profession (at least, I often find myself defending it to other philosophers). I have also contributed some material to it.

    However, I would say that the most unpleasant thing about contributing to wikipedia is the need to constantly remain alert for one’s contributed material being “helpfully modified” by amateurs. Of course you can revert such changes if they are mistaken and explain why to their authors, but this soon gets to be a drag, like explaining what you do all day to an intelligent and articulate taxi driver.

    And that’s not even taking into account the cranks, or the guy with a philosophy degree who keeps insisting that “consciousness” really means the same as “conscience”.

    Still, it’s a worthy project. Maybe if more academics contributed it wouldn’t be so painful.

  4. To my surprise I found Wikipedia a tremendous resource when doing some research on the history of my department, at University College London. There are many entries copied over from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, which makes it an ideal place to find out some basic material about obscure Victorian philosophers, should anyone else ever have a similar need.

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