This is a call for papers for the next Philosopher’s Carnival to be hosted here from April 28 to May 12.I'm inclined to take the second option. Honestly, though, I'm not sure what it means. Not that that's going to stop me.
The theme for our carnival will be ‘Open Source Philosophy’. This may relate to the Philosophy of Open Source or to Open sourcing Philosophy (or anything in between).
Entries from other fields of philosophy will still be most appreciated of course.
The way I conceive of open-source philosophy (based on a half-baked guess about what the phrase means), it is the effect of rapid communication and digital technology on the way philosophical ideas develop. As early as 1991, Daniel Dennett was commenting on how e-mail was making the canonical, published version of a paper less important, and creating a situation where most of the people concerned would find out about a paper by reading a draft. (Dennett then famously suggested this as an analogy for consciousness, but that's not relevant to my post.) Now, that kind of interaction can happen before a paper is even written, thanks to blog posts. And websites that let you upload word documents and PDFs mean you don't even need e-mail to get a paper, you can just go to the relevant website.
I've actually done a fair amount of philosophical reading that way in the past couple of weeks. I read Richard Chappell's honors thesis, which I probably never would have gotten my hands on without the internet. I read the third chapter of Peter Unger's Beyond Inanity, and when I finish reading the last two available draft-chapters, I'll e-mail him with my thoughts. I also asked for the syllabus for a class on disagreement I didn't have the time to take, was warned some of the papers weren't published yet, and found them online anyway. That's the power of the internet for you.
All of this is very strange, in a way. There's nothing stopping me from citing any of the things I've read in what I write in the future, indeed one of those things, Thomas Kelly's Peer Disagreement and Higher Order Evidence cites an awful lot of papers as "forthcoming." The ideas in Beyond Inanity are compelling enough, and projected publication distant enough, that I doubt I'll be able to resist the temptation to cite (indeed, I just printed off a one-page piece solely for the purpose of getting teacher feedback, which referenced BI).
Another odd element is the idea of instant feedback, from anyone on the planet who wants to give it. The idea of a random undergraduate giving comments on a book draft to an established academic just isn't something that could have happened 30 years ago. I'm not sure what to make of it--I must face the possibility that the comments I send in will ultimately turn out to be drivel.
And aside from what you do with a draft after having read it, the experience of reading a draft is different than the experience of reading a finished product. The available BI drafts are things I would regard as frustratingly underdeveloped, if I encountered them as finished product, but as drafts I can get excited about what they do contain and the finished product that may one day come of them.
Having rambled on like this, I'm not sure what all of this means. That admission reminds me of the tag line of the great new blog Journal of Half-Baked Ideas, and it's almost tempting to submit this there, except it doesn't quite seem to be the sort of fare they're printing. Therefore I will just end this post without a definite conclusion. Except that the world is changing.