Welcome to the Monist Interactive Issue group on ``Representation in Electronic Philosophy.'' As moderator of this group, I want to say a few things about what we were up to, and to give you the guidelines for participants. First, this was an experiment in doing philosophy. Some of the old rules applied, lots of them did not. The discussion was begun with a ``starter paper'' written by me. I deliberately kept this paper short (c. 2000 words), and did not write a ``target'' paper because I wanted to leave open the possibility that the finished product would be a collaborative effort and not a paper with a set of responses attached to it. The latter is familiar to us and we don't especially need this new way of doing things to get that result. So my starter paper was written as a sketch, with numbered sections. It was also much looser and informal than my usual way of doing philosophy. It was meant to be suggestive rather than definitive, and participants were free to engage, to ignore, or to add to bits of the starter paper as they saw fit. I was genuinely interested in what form the result of a lengthy, collaborative (or antagonistic) exchange over electronic channels would look like, and that was the main reason for trying this experiment.
The instructions to participants were: ``This is not a free-for-all. Not everything you contribute will get into the final version - maybe only a fraction of it will. I'm open to any contributions on this topic, and I'm not going to edit anything initially. However, ultimately we need and want a first-class piece of professional philosophy and that means we will only include the best parts of the exchange in the published version. (All of it will be archived electronically). That means I have to have the final say on what goes into the published version, subject to the Monist editors' approval. I'll discuss anything with anyone, and I welcome views with which I disagree, but without a final arbiter, the result will be chaos. Third, I do reserve the right to exclude people from the discussion if in my view they are undermining progress. I'll only do this in extreme circumstances, but wackos, angry people, huge uncontrolled egos, irrationality and ignorance are not welcome here.''
In any case, the following forms a lightly edited exchange that
was rewarding for me at least, and will perhaps also be so for the
reader. The contributions, all of which are included here, are
printed in the order in which they were submitted. A few hortatory
passages have been excised and the occasional grammatical lapse
corrected, but otherwise the flow and content of the original
exchanges have been preserved.