Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Stanford University News recently published an update about its very heavily visited website: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The article's author, Cynthia Haven, stresses the authoritativeness of the Encyclopedia which was launched in 1995, years before both Google and Wikipedia. Visited over 700,000 times a week, the Encyclopedia has more than 1,200 entries authored by over 1,400 individuals. Contribtions are overseen by 120 leading philosophers from all over the world while Stanford's Dept. of Philosophy is the advisory board. Thus, "[N]o one can alter text without passing through several layers of approval."

It's September, and as school resumes, so does the wrangling between students and teachers across the country over the reliability of Wikipedia and other Internet sources as fodder for footnotes in research papers.

The debate has been going on for years. When philosopher Larry Sanger left Wikipedia – the project he co-founded – he said its "anti-elitism" was the root of its shortcomings. He said that because pretty much anyone could write anything, expertise was mistrusted and those committed to mayhem or propaganda could too easily dominate the medium.

But he did recommend an online alternative: the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . . .

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