In addition to a philosophy magazine, a networking platform and the publisher of Dialectica, the association Philosophie.ch is also a research institution. Our research broadly falls within four categories:
- Open Science. We believe that the pursuit of truth should be for all and that its methods, procedures and outcomes should be available and accessible to everyone. This is why we have made the prestigious philosophy journal Dialectica freely available to everyone online. It is also why we are developing, investigating and testing new and innovative ways of making scientific discussion, assessment and evaluation more open, transparent and fair. This benefits both researchers and students, as well as being more interesting and rewarding for referees. Concurrently, we are experimenting with new ways of producing, sharing and improving scientific information of all kinds, including the work produced by philosophy students. Furthermore, we are documenting our own project of "flipping" Dialectica to an open access journal to potentially persuade other philosophy journals to follow our path and learn from our mistakes.
- Swiss Philosophy. Philosophy in Switzerland has a long and interesting history and exhibits some particular, distinctive features. Our aim is to investigate this specificity and find new ways for Swiss philosophers to collaborate efficiently and fruitfully. We are interested in finding out who in Switzerland does what in what way and in making the fruits of their work better known. Moreover, we are eager to investigate and make available the largely unmapped history of Swiss philosophy, the many faces of Swiss philosophy today and, in particular, the interests and needs of new generations of Swiss philosophers.
- Philosophical Diversity. We believe that philosophical questions and the range of their sensible answers are better understood if a variety of people, with different experiences, from different backgrounds, communicating in diverse languages participate in the common endeavour of formulating these questions as precisely as possible and determining the range of their sensible answers. This is why we want to open up philosophical research to a wider range of people and to add new voices to those available to the interested public.
- Learning Philosophy. While some have doubted whether philosophy can be taught, it can certainly be learned. Indeed, most of us did some such learning, and we hope many others will. In its current offerings, methods and pedagogy, however, philosophy teaching is largely stuck in the last century. We are investigating new ways of making philosophy accessible and of training people to become philosophers, by developing new and innovative teaching techniques, offering accessible online courses and organising entry-level workshops open to all.
Under these four broad headings fall the following specific research projects (click on their titles for further information).
Based in Switzerland, Open to the World
In close collaboration with Swiss universities, philosophy associations, student organisations, cafés philo, counselling practices etc, Philosophie.ch is organising the first-ever national philosophy festival, the philExpo22, which will take place from the 6th to the 15th of May 2022. A series of events, taking place in a variety of formats in all main Swiss cities, will present an eye-opening picture of the diverse faces of philosophy in Switzerland today.
We are not only interested in the present, but also in the history of Swiss Philosophy, as this may give us clues to understand its future, as well as the knowledge to shape it. Our research project on the History of Swiss Philosophy focuses on the institutional and social facets of its academic history since the Second World War.
Swiss philosophy, to a large extent, is funded by taxpayers. As Switzerland is a particularly lively democracy, taxpayers’ decisions are, at least sometimes and to some extent, influenced by arguments. Philosophy’s analytical and conceptual toolbox is therefore fittingly suited to the study of the use of arguments in Swiss politics.
The video project “Abécédaire de la philosophie contemporaine” aims at offering a panopticum of the diversity of voices in today’s Swiss philosophy, in a series of cinematographically appealing interviews with some of its more interesting younger protagonists.
From Knowing Nothing to Knowing that you Know Nothing
Though philosophy, we believe, is naturally of interest to all, many find it difficult to enter its world of complicated phrases, nuanced concepts and arcane distinctions. Our online courses aim to lower its bar to entry, introducing a new audience to the basics of different families of theories in several fields of practical philosophy in an interactive and fun format. Based on the very successful general ethics course and course on climate justice currently in development, we aim to develop online courses in political philosophy, social philosophy, animal ethics, business ethics and financial ethics.
We believe that philosophy’s history offers a vast treasure chest of still relevant distinctions, surprising and unduly neglected insights and views that are absent from contemporary discussions perhaps simply for lack of imagination. Our course series on lessons from philosophy’s history is designed to introduce a new generation of philosophers to the marvels of their past.
One of the principal aims of our association and its portal is to support philosophy instruction both at a secondary and at a university level in Switzerland. To this aim, we plan to make available teaching materials of all kinds and to provide interested parties with an overview of what is happening in philosophy teaching in Switzerland more generally.
Our research on Open Science is mostly focused on our journal Dialectica, on what we have learned “flipping” it (making it accessible in so-called “Diamond” or “Platinum” Open Access) and on developing further resources for making scientific publishing, evaluation and discourse in philosophy more democratic and more open. Our “OA toolkit” aims to produce both a documentation on how to flip a philosophy journal (what are your options, what your decisions, why did we make these and not other decisions?) and an introduction to the vast and ever expanding OA landscape.
For the Dialectica library, we will draw on the knowledge and experience gained from flipping Dialectica to improve the publication process for both classical research monographs and edited topical volumes. The Dialectica library will change the publication process of monographs and edited volumes more radically than in the case of articles, delivering better results in less time, at a fraction of the cost, and with more control and assistance for the authors.
The “md workflow package” is a compilation of the technical tools and fixes we have developed to make the entire production process of a scientific journal – from an accepted manuscript to a beautifully typeset and professionally designed end product in pdf, html and xml – reliant only on Open Source Software, which can be used, further developed and adapted by everyone for free. We believe that by making copy-editing both simpler and more cost-efficient, we will remove a central obstacle in the way of an OA future for all academic publications.
We have also produced an 'Open Manual of Style,' which states Dialectica's instructions for authors concerning matters of style and typography. We strive to balance authors' freedom of expression with a desire for typographical uniformity, and we hope that this document will prove helpful to other journals in the humanities.
The Dialectica bibliography project investigates how bibliographical information – a central source of research in philosophy – is best shared, collectively improved on, efficiently used and effortlessly communicated, building on the fully indexed existing bibliography of approx. 190,000 entries we use for the references of articles in Dialectica.
The 'fishpond' project explores new and innovative ways of open refereeing in philosophy, both for academic journals and for research outputs that do not meet the threshold for a full article, such as student papers, teaching material, review articles, book notes and reviews, as well as other, as yet unnamed, “nuggets” of scholarly output. The beta version we are testing for the Dialectica refereeing process, switches the perspective on reviewing: rather than focussing on the critical, that is negative, evaluation of the papers we reject, we actively search (“fish”) for the good articles in the pond and seek to justify their publication to the other members of the Editorial Committee.
The 'workbench' project, generously funded by swissuniversities for the years 2022 and 2023, ties these different threads together into an academic portal which can be used to do philosophical work: reading and annotating books and articles, sketching one’s own ideas, formulating, circulating, discussing drafts, comparing positions, making references and evaluating the work of others.
Philosophy Needs the Talents of All
Among the sciences, philosophy is special in that both its tools and methods are available to everyone and already in everyday use. We think philosophy is by its nature 'open' because many of the central questions of philosophy - concerning, for instance, time, death, life, and meaning - are questions that are central to human life. Philosophy is simply the systematic reflection upon questions that occur to us from childhood onward. This is why we believe that philosophy will be enriched by reflecting a wider range of experiences and by bringing more diverse reasoning patterns, imaginations and ideas to bear on the problems that have remained intractable throughout the long history of Western Philosophy. To harness this potential progress, we ought to widen the net.
Our 'philosophy and literature' project aims to bring back together these two estranged siblings, exploring their potential for fruitful interaction and trying to answer the question whether, and if so, how and to what extent, philosophy and literature may be seen as two different ways of achieving the same ends.
Philosophy with children (and for, by, on, in view of children) has recently started to play an increasingly important role in Switzerland's philosophical life, mostly through series of very successful events. We are working on a "Wimmelbuch" ("hidden object book") that aims at "translating" philosophical concepts into pictures.
"Refugee stories (Fluchtgeschichten)" is a project that explicitly addresses the cultural potential of a thoroughly non-represented group of people: refugees whose asylum requests have been rejected and who are "waiting", often for years, to be sent "home" (away).
"Shocking news from the world of science" finally is a new science communication format that aims at proving philosophy's cash-value in critically interrogating and contextualising some of the more astonishing claims made on behalf of contemporary natural science.