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09/20/2014

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Rachel

Work really, really hard to make sure that you're reading other philosophers charitably, and that you're representing their arguments in a respectful light.

Helen De Cruz

Hi Marcus: A great idea for a thread.
Now my pet theory about the right tone is that it is something that is extremely hard to fake. A confident (but not overconfident), calm and clear way to express yourself is something you acquire over time. It is very hard for someone who just ventures out in the field to hit that tone - how can your prose radiate calm, confidence and clarity, if you are insecure, unsure about whether what you're saying is right at all, and don't have a good grasp of the field (as a grad student is). So the tone is what one in biology might call an honest signal - easy for those who have the trait we are looking for (e.g., expertise), hard for those who lack the trait (e.g., a grad student who gives her first APA presentation).

Fritz Allhoff

I'd also say that working hard is super important. I think a lot of young philosophers (correctly) think they're super smart, but that just isn't enough. And also singularly focusing on "big publications" isn't so good, either, it's also important to get involved, do a lot of things and, as MA says, cultivate relationships. Also just being nice to people is pretty useful.

Guglielmo Feis

Does anybody who is not provided with the English-native-speaker property think that "right tone" often attaches to something that is recognized as a classal paper?
I did not experiment but I guess I'm biased in attributing "right tone" to classical papers I disagree with or find not so interesting rather than to most recently written, hyper-documented, clearer and better structured papers I admire.
Maybe as the literature becomes more technical papers get more like entomologists describing arguments rather than as pieces of writinig putting forward ideas with a tone.
To borrow an analogy from music, it's like there numbers of shredders who can playing hyperfast and clean arpeggios is growing a lot, but still there's no one with Jason Becker's tone.

Anyway, is there something like a "canon" for getting inspiration on good tone (e.g. the sum of all the issues of the philosopher's annual)? Is there a tone section in the referees' guidelines (if there's anything like that)? Do you think that it might be worth to have a survey on that? (i.e.: what do you think is the right tone standard in a certain philosophical community? which works have it? what would you suggest as a canon to learn how to get the right tone?)

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