How to Ask the Right Question to Get Better Answers

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  • Unpack
  • Don’t ask for “too much” at once
  • Define which way you understand the thing
  • Specify context and motivation
  • Talk about what you are be reading or studying that’s made this interesting or urgent
  • Unpack what particularly you are looking for someone to explain to you
  • Say how such an explanation would advance your study of philosophy…
  • Say what you have tried? What have you found out already?
  • It helps to know the context — what problem someone are you trying to solve.
  • There more to politics and religion in code than people realize, too….
  • Tie down the concept to one philosopher who discusses it. Try to find out what he means by it. Why he’s concerned with it. Who he inherited it from. Have a look at his actual writings even if you don’t understand it.
  • Ask for secondary literature that may help you understand him..

What is it?

You want to ask a serious philosophical question on a forum or otherwise.

Why is it useful?

Asking the right question is extremely important to get the information you need and to take the necessary steps forward. If you are going to ask a philosophical question to someone who knows about philosophy that you have to ask the question in a particular way in order to get a good answer. Philosophy is a complex and nuanced subject and its easy to ask over-simplified or biased questions. The above technique can help to find out what you really want to ask so you can get a better answer. This does not just apply for philosophy forums but asking questions in general.

How do I use it?

See above.