I just found out from the blog of mathematician Terence Tao about Scholarpedia, which is apparently trying to fill in the space between Wikipedia and academic encyclopedias. The goal is to be more authoritative than Wikipedia, and more responsive and current than other academic encyclopedias. Right now, this space is filled quite well in philosophy by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, though I can also imagine a use for something in which multiple people can update and edit articles. But right now, Wikipedia seems quite spotty on philosophy (it seems quite good on math and physics, though perhaps not so much so for people who aren’t already well-educated on the relevant topics).

Since it’s quite new, there’s a lot that’s still under development, and there are especially few articles on philosophy so far. But if philosophers get involved in this early enough, it could become quite useful. It looks like they’re commissioning an article on philosophy of mind from Jerry Fodor. The article on the mind-body problem looks like it needs some revision at the moment. And the article on intentionality looks like it could use some philosophical additions – right now it seems to define intentionality as a property only of brains. (Even if this is a technical use of the word, it seems relevant to mention the different but related technical use by philosophers.)

Also, it looks like the way policy is determined depends on who has made edits that previous moderators found useful, so making some good edits now could make sure that some philosophers have a say in how this develops.

2 Replies to “Scholarpedia”

  1. None of the links are working. I wondered over to Scholarpedia, and, as one does, I looked at things I know something about. I checked for an entry on “free will”. Benjamin Libet was invited to contribute an entry. This is not a good start for a reference that wants to be taken seriously: whatever the value of Libet’s work, he is simply and badly confused on the relevance of his findings to free will.

  2. Hmm… I just can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong with the markup for those links – the blog doesn’t seem to like regular old html.

    Anyway, hopefully the fact that it allows for some amount of collaborative editing will allow such an article to end up not being as strange as a totally single-authored one might. Selection of authors for these entries will hopefully not be as significant a choice as for the SEP.

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