Introducing The “Today’s Open Philosophical Question (TOP Q)” Series

This year I’ve decided to introduce what I hope will be a fruitful new (hopefully) daily dimension to the blog, what I am going to call “Today’s Open Philosophical Question” (which will be abbreviated as “TOP Q”), in which I pose a question for the readership about either an abstract or applied philosophical question. Sometimes the word philosophical will be construed broadly and sometimes rather narrowly. Hopefully we can get some valuable insights and discussions out of this experiment and help build more community among you readers.

I also find that reading other people’s discussions on my Facebook often primes my own thinking and introduces points of controversy I didn’t see in a story and so I am interested in using these questions as primers that stimulate future blog posts from me. Where in the past I would be more inclined to post a story on Facebook when I did not have specific or unique enough thoughts for a post, now I want to float stories and primer questions about them to you and see where it goes. And, of course, as should be clear from a year and a half of my blogging, I already get a whole lot of direction and stimulation for determining what future posts should cover from the issues, angles, and challenges which your comments offer me. And this feature will no doubt create more avenues for that kind of provocation of new posts.

So, hopefully you’ll be willing to play along and this can develop into something good.

I will get a first question up before the first night of the year is over.

In the meantime; Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Cara

    Sounds interesting! Hoping I’ll have time to participate.

  • Jessica Anderson

    It does sound interesting!

  • ozogg

    “Open questions” is a category that might imply that all topics are reasonable.

    But surely some topics ARE NOT reasonable. e.g., self-contradictory topics, argumentum ad hominem topics are not reasonable, etc.

    Sure, a strong moderator(s) can solve that, but maybe “discussion filter rules” could (or ought) be stipulated first.

    And perhaps an appeal process might be a desirable democratic procedure to institute as well (for all of: deletions of post or person, closing of debate, etc).

    Not being vexatious here – only trying to lay out a “reasonable framework”.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Well, I’ll be setting the topics, so they won’t be just open threads in which anyone whatsoever was tossing out just any questions whatsoever. Though even those might be fun at times.

    The broader issue you raise though is one of moderating rules in general to prevent trolling. Thus far, in the first year and a half of the blog’s existence, I have had to delete very, very few abusive posts. I tend not to draw obnoxious commenters here, which is something I’m very grateful for.

    I guess if these threads get popular and they draw large groups of discussants, then fairly applied official ground rules may need to be drawn up. But for as long the commenters are so mature as they almost always have been here, I am happy letting people regulate themselves as much as possible.

  • Maryann

    I hope your first question is: Why is the is-ought fallacy a real fallacy as well as the reason knowledge is justified by the evidence and true by correspondence? And if it isn’t the first question, I hope you e-mail me when it is ‘the’ question. :-D Happy new year…

  • Daniel Fincke

    The is-ought fallacy is not a real fallacy. At least not universally a fallacy. There are limited ways in which one may commit an is-ought fallacy, but some things existing in the way they exist entail oughts.

  • Maryann

    …such oughts are merely constructs, to which we are not ‘really’ obligated. I will hold off on further reply until this becomes an actual open question in your series :)

  • Daniel Fincke

    No, they’re not merely constructs, as I have explained numerous times in posts I’ve directed you to numerous times but which you only ever manage the time to skim rather than understand and seriously engage.

  • ozogg

    Well, that question flew like a lead balloon !

    You know that old ethnic joke:
    Goy: “Why do you jews always answer a question with another question?”
    Moch: “Well, why not.”

    [Insert fave local "whipping boy" wherever suitable, e.g, Polac, Pom, Russky Newfy, Itie, Spick, Mick, Proddy ...]

    Well, before I can answer your question Dan, I have to be a Moch.
    Not because I don’t understand the superficial meanings of the words in your question, but because I believe the question can, and maybe ought, be “tightened up”.

    so, for your readership, would you be so kind as to define :
    - unfair
    - Religion
    - scam.

    … or at least limit their embrace.

  • Daniel Fincke

    well, that’s half the philosophical work to define all the terms. If I’m going to go to that trouble, then I’m going to write a post of my own thoughts on the topic rather than opening the floor to the readers.