I don’t know how much any of you have been following the back and forth between Chris and I in the comments for this post, but I think it’s a pretty good example of why blogging is a really interesting medium for doing philosophy.
Analytic papers break down their arguments into discrete components, similar to a mathematical proof. When Chris questioned one step I made in a larger argument, I wrote that post to elaborate on the step. Then, in the comments, he tested it further and I continued to elaborate, breaking down more of the component pieces. My argument was sort of sketchy to begin with, but Chris’s line of argument helped me clarify it both in text and in my own mind.
That’s the sort of thing I’d like to see more of on philosophy blogs. It’s a great tool, I think, for philosophy instruction, and it’s also a good way for academic philosophers to get their thoughts straight and here lines of criticism they need to address before they actually get down to writing papers. Unfortunately, most of the philosophy blogs I’ve seen are dedicated to either presenting already-complete papers or commenting on insider-y Philosophy department happenings.
I can see why philosophers–especially accredited ones with reputations to maintain, as opposed to undergrad ramblers like myself–would be reluctant to publicly present less-than-fully-formed ideas. It’s a competitive field, and not really kind to error. But blogging strikes me as a particularly good medium for engaging with those ideas, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.