David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (S1):177-196 (2006)
A philosopher once asked me: “Paul, how do you collaborate?” He was puzzled about how I came to have more than two dozen co-authors over the past 20 years. His puzzlement was natural for a philosopher, because co-authored articles and books are still rare in philosophy and the humanities, in contrast to science where most current research is collaborative. Unlike most philosophers, scientists know how to collaborate; this paper is about the nature of such procedural knowledge. I begin by discussing three related distinctions found in philosophy and cognitive science: knowledge how vs. knowledge that, procedural vs. declarative knowledge, and explicit vs. implicit knowledge. I then document the prevalence of collaboration in the sciences and its scarcity in philosophy. In order to characterize the sorts of procedural knowledge that make collaborative research possible and fruitful, I discuss how scientists collaborate, how they learn to collaborate, and why they collaborate. Contrary to some recent suggestions by philosophers, I will argue that knowledge how often does not always reduce to knowledge that, and that collaboration has many purposes besides the pursuit of power and resources. The relative scarcity of philosophical collaborations might be explained by the nature of philosophy, if the field is viewed as inherently personal or a priori. But I argue against this view in favor of a more naturalistic one, December 2, 2005 with the implication that the main reason why philosophers do not collaborate more is that they do not know how. My account of collaboration is based on my own experience, published advice by practicing scientists, and interviews with a group of highly successful scientific collaborators who are members of the Social Psychology area of the University of Waterloo Psychology Department. For the past two decades, Waterloo’s social psychology program has flourished, both in collaborative publication and in graduate training: their former Ph.D..
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