TLDR: I’m interested in creating an online map of philosophical concepts and their interrelations; which could be used to automatically identify contradictions within, and implications of, given belief systems. I am looking for interested collaborators - especially those with coding capacities – and development advice. I believe there are compelling reasons for rationalists to be interested in this proposal.
[If you’re interested in reading the full Philosophy Web proposal, please see the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1X9fdGUMFase_GGPlXqJH6CcydREaSaDb/view?usp=sharing]
What is Philosophy Web?
Philosophy Web is a proposal to create an interactive online map of philosophical concepts, and the relationships of support and opposition between them. This map would take the form of a node and spoke diagram, with nodes representing concepts, and spokes representing relations of support or opposition.
Users would be able to add these concepts to their own personalised webs of belief. Philosophy Web would then automatically highlight potential contradictions and implications of users' personalised conceptual maps; helping users expand their intellectual horizons, discover errors in their thinking, and incorporate a broader evidential base in formulating their theories (or do the same for other belief systems they were interested in investigating).
Why Philosophy Web?
Philosophy Web has the potential to assist philosophers in several ways; each of which are expanded upon in the above linked proposal document:
- Philosophy Web would facilitate research into the underexplored conceptual space between philosophical specialisms, to pluck the low hanging intellectual fruit which grows there.
- Philosophy Web would reveal “long range”, implications of, and contradictions within, philosophical theories; which might otherwise be difficult for supporters (or critics) to discern.
- Philosophy Web would support comprehensive philosophical theory building. Comprehensive philosophical theories draw upon - and test themselves against - broader evidential foundations, and are thus likely to constitute epistemic improvements on extant (predominantly very narrow) theories.
- Philosophy Web would provide a valuable educative resource for Philosophers.
As a rationalist, you might find this compelling because:
- If you intrinsically value knowledge, Philosophy Web could represent a valuable epistemic tool for facilitating new discoveries, encouraging clearer and more synoptic thinking, and generally assisting philosophical progress.
- If you extrinsically value knowledge, Philosophy Web could constitute a “proof of concept”, which could be translated into similarly useful tools in fields with greater practical relevance, such as political science or economics.
What does Philosophy Web Need?
Presently, Philosophy Web primarily requires technical support. I would guess that the programming required to create Philosophy Web would not be unduly complex, however it comprehensively exceeds my bedrock programming capacity of “absolutely nothing”. If you can code, and might be interested in taking this idea forwards, please reach out to me in the comments or by direct message (or just take the idea and run – I’d be happy with that too). Likewise, please comment if you know a person or group who might be interested in hearing this idea.
Secondarily, I need advice about the best way to present and develop this idea. I currently have three plans for how Philosophy Web could be developed. It could be developed by crowdsourcing, in a manner analogous to Wikipedia. It could be developed by curation, in a manner analogous to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Or it could be developed by a combination of the two: initial curation to “interesting proof of concept” stage, followed by crowdsourcing to encourage further development. I am especially interested in feedback on the merits of these development options. Any other feedback is of course also appreciated.
Who Are You & How do I Get in Touch?
I am Ben Evans, a solicitor and former philosophy student, interested in rationalism, effective altruism, and intellectual progress. You can get in touch by commenting below or - if you want to reach out in private - by messaging me on LW, or on the following email address: email@example.com.
 This will be especially compelling if you value “fundamental” knowledge, concerning the base nature of reality, more than other knowledge.