There is a proposal in Area 51 to create an Atheism/Agnosticism site that is going through the final checks to move forward in Area 51.

Regardless of what you feel (this is important) about the chances of that site, personally, I would like you to answer one question.

If these questions where asked on this site (literally), which of them would be considered on and off topic here?

Discuss this in whatever format you feel fit. List the questions or the percentage, or discuss the merits (or not) of individual questions. This is only an ad hoc polling of sorts. I'm only trying to get a general feeling for how these questions would fare here.

  1. What is the difference between weak atheism and agnosticism?
  2. Was Einstein considered an atheist?
  3. What is the difference between disbelief and not believing, if any?
  4. Would it make sense to register atheism as religion to be granted privileges that religions have?
  5. How much percent of scientists are atheists (estimation)?
  6. (Why) is atheism not just another belief-system?
  7. Is absence of proof the proof of absence?
  8. How do I react to insults and accusations based on my atheism?
  9. Is it mutually exclusive for atheists to believe in the idea of fate or free will?
  10. How do you refute the argument from motion?
share

6 Answers 6

Just gut reactions:

  1. On-topic, probably.
  2. Almost certainly off-topic.
  3. Borderline non-constructive; definitely off topic without more context.
  4. Off-topic; Seems like a politics question almost. "Would it make sense to enact some particular policy" in general doesn't seem like a constructive question-type for this community, anyway.
  5. Off-topic.
  6. Potentially on-topic I think, but to be honest I am not really sure what the question is asking.
  7. On-topic. (Am pretty sure we have one or several instances of this question, maybe in differing contexts.)
  8. Off-topic, probably.
  9. Potentially on-topic, but again I am not really sure what's being asked. Definitely borderline/unconstructive without some motivation.
  10. Probably on-topic.
share
1  
Add 6: I think it refers to the fact that atheism per se does not entail any belief and does not commit you to any belief regarding the existence of God (unlike antitheism), just a negative claim about the (lack of) evidence for the existence of a God. But let's not start a discussion in the comments :) –  DBK Jan 8 '13 at 17:24

I agree with most of Joseph's responses, but I have a few comments:

#2. We actually have a Was Einstein a philosopher? question that's pretty controversial. I don't think asking whether he's an atheist is on-topic here, but honestly I'm doubtful that it's on topic anywhere. Otherwise you'd spawn hundreds of questions asking whether every major figure on Earth was an atheist or not.

#3. When I saw this I thought it looked pretty on topic (if it was asked with enough detail). I can imagine a question like this talking about JTB and the relevant epistemology, I think. Maybe something like "not knowing" vs. "knowing not."

#5. This was actually answered as a corollary on the Christianity SE by our very own stoicfury! Certainly off-topic here though.

So by my count, that's a possible 6/10 questions I'd welcome on this site (if they were asked well).

share

By my count, only 3 are certainly off-topic, 1 might need a bit of tweaking depending on what the OP is asking for with the question, and the rest are on-topic.

1. What is the difference between weak atheism and agnosticism?
On-topic

2. Was Einstein considered an atheist? This will be up for debate. Some people wouldn't like that it doesn't touch "philosophy proper", as in the set of existing philosophy topics per se but rather is asking a historical question about a particular person who some may not even consider to be a "philosopher". I think Einstein was a philosopher and any questions about philosophers are on-topic, so it would be on-topic in my book, at any rate.

3. What is the difference between disbelief and not believing, if any?
On-topic

4. Would it make sense to register atheism as religion to be granted privileges that religions have?
Off-topic

5. How much percent of scientists are atheists (estimation)?
Off-topic

6. (Why) is atheism not just another belief-system?
I'm not entirely sure what this question is asking. Depending on what the OP means, it may or may not be on-topic (i.e., is this question about lack of belief being a belief system? then sure, it's fine.)

7. Is absence of proof the proof of absence?
On-topic

8. How do I react to insults and accusations based on my atheism?
Off-topic

9. Is it mutually exclusive for atheists to believe in the idea of fate or free will?
On-topic

10. How do you refute the argument from motion?
On-topic

share

My count seems to be more optimistic, probably because I assume that the questions given are just the headlines and the expanded questions do offer context and motivation; the questions themselves do not preclude a philosophical contextualization, as far as I can see.

7 on-topic / 2 off-topic / 1 undecided

Here's the breakdown:

  1. What is the difference between weak atheism and agnosticism? (on-topic)

  2. Was Einstein considered an atheist? (probably off-topic, but I give the benefit of doubt)

  3. What is the difference between disbelief and not believing, if any? (on-topic)

  4. Would it make sense to register atheism as religion to be granted privileges that religions have? (on-topic, if not restricted to the mere practical gains of atheists)

  5. How much percent of scientists are atheists (estimation)? (off-topic, but the statistical data itself is pertinent to the philosophical discussion)

  6. (Why) is atheism not just another belief-system? (on-topic)

  7. Is absence of proof the proof of absence? (on-topic)

  8. How do I react to insults and accusations based on my atheism? (definitely off-topic)

  9. Is it mutually exclusive for atheists to believe in the idea of fate or free will? (on-topic)

  10. How do you refute the argument from motion? (on-topic, if the Aristotelian argument is viewed as a proto-scientific argument still in the domain of philosophy)


Most if not all of the questions are part of epistemology or plain philosophy of religion, as the latter draws from many other fields: epistemology, ethics, logic/argumentation, metaphysics.

share
1  
The last paragraph is particularly insightful. As a subject, atheism fits in just fine to Philosophy.SE. #8, however, has me concerned that perhaps the proposal is less about atheism as a subject and more about atheism as a community or self-identifier. –  Jon Ericson Jan 9 '13 at 0:31

Based on the answers here, and the general ability observed to answer questions on these topics on Philosophy.SE, the proposal has been closed as a duplicate of this site.

We felt you've done an excellent job of succeeding where the previous site dedicated solely to atheism failed, and feel that trying yet again to spread it thin on its own site would be a disservice to both the topic and this site.

share
2  
-1: That was painful –  bytebuster Jan 22 '13 at 16:54

Do you think that you can provide a set of guidelines that help you determine what a good subjective question is in philosophy? If you think "Fact good; opinion and discussion bad" in philosophy, good luck.

share
    
The guidelines you link to apply here -- any chance you might be able to unpack this a bit further? (Also, this isn't exactly an answer to the question unless I am missing something...) –  Joseph Weissman Jan 9 '13 at 13:42
    
The question is whether the questions are off topic, on topic, or borderline. But, Is there a way to give "Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions" in a new site of philosophy without "opinion and discussion", which are inherent in the philosophy? What role is left for a philosophy's site beyond the Wikipedia, the International Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy? Answers without "opinion and discussion"? –  Ricardo Jan 9 '13 at 14:59
    
I am not sure I really understand what you're getting at, but to be clear: GSBS applies here. I might suggest reviewing the FAQ and posts here on meta that outline our scope for more details on how we interpret GSBS in the context of our community –  Joseph Weissman Jan 9 '13 at 17:07
    
GSBS application is not as simple as it seems. GSBS is what a moderator/administrator thinks it is. "What is the difference between disbelief and not believing, if any?" is it or not off topic?. Debatable, see your and the others opinion. Philosophy is not "fact good, opinion and discussion bad". –  Ricardo Jan 10 '13 at 17:09
    
Nobody's saying it is. At any rate, I'm not sure this comment space is really the best place to hash this out. If you've got concerns please feel free bring them up in a new meta post and we'll work through this there. –  Joseph Weissman Jan 10 '13 at 17:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .