Wikipedia:WikiProject Atheism/Style

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This is a proposed guideline for Wikipedia:WikiProject Atheism. As such it is a work in progress -- feel free to edit it as you see fit

See also Wikipedia:The perfect article; Wikipedia:Featured articles

General and introductory articles[edit]

These include Atheism, together with the main philosophical topics such as Agnosticism, God, Ethics, as well as the articles relating to Atheism (Demographics of atheism) and Science (Scientific method, Free will).

By their nature, such articles tend to be lists of the various positions and arguments of the field, along with outlines of the views of the significant philosophers/ideologists. The emphasis should be on breadth rather than on depth.

These articles should be written for the general reader. In these articles

  • Use minimal technical language
  • Explain any jargon as soon as it occurs
  • Describe key arguments briefly and link to their main article rather than presenting them in detail in the body of the article
  • Introduce the views of key philosophers/ideologists and link to their main article rather than describing their work in detail.

Biographical articles[edit]

These articles describe the body of work and biographical details of significant Atheists.

As with the main articles, the biographical articles should be written for the general reader. However some detail is to be expected in order to accurately explain the view of the philosopher concerned. Judgement will be needed in determining the placement of arguments. For instance, Karl Popper describes falsification briefly, linking to the main article falsifiability; whereas John Searle presents detailed arguments.

  • Biographical articles should include an infobox template: wpa
  • Biographical articles should be included in Category:Atheists, at the top level, as well as in any appropriate sub-categories.

Publications[edit]

These articles describe important publications in Atheism.

These articles should present sufficient information to understand the arguments being presented in the publication. They might present the argument in a more accessible way than the original article, targeting readers with a deeper understanding of the topics involved. As a rule of thumb, the reader of these articles might be assumed to be familiar with the general features of the field under discussion, and understand some jargon that is relevant to the topic. The emphasis should be on depth.

Arguments/criticisms[edit]

Articles that present specific arguments, for example Criticism of atheism, Existence of god. Again, the emphasis should be on depth, and it is reasonable to assume some familiarity with jargon and technicalities. For instance, it is reasonable to assume that the reader of Raven paradox is familiar with inductive logic, and be able to make sense of Bayes' theorem.

Guidelines for criticisms[edit]

Whenever possible, philosophy articles that contain criticisms or objections should also contain links to the groups, persons, or movements who raised the objection. If this is not possible, criticisms/objections must, at the very least, be attributed and documented, so that anyone can look it up in the original book/article. The reasons for this are:

  1. These are ideological articles. It demands a certain level of thoroughness of research and verifiability in its argumentation, and we should try to present arguments as completely as possible.
  2. Just saying "some people think" gives the reader no resources to check out the arguments for themselves, and in philosophy it's the argument that counts, not that some, or most, or all people believe it to be true - speaking from the perspective of rational discourse, that someone presented an objection doesn't tell us anything about the soundness of their argument.
  3. It looks a little sloppy, like we haven't done our research.
  4. This sort of phrasing often seems to be a cover for original research at best, and a presentation of the writer's opinion masked as a philosophical viewpoint at worst (see: Wikipedia:Avoid weasel words).
  5. It tends to lead to a sort of dialogue between two characters: "Some" and "Others", and this is an encyclopedia, not a theatre piece!

The general layout should be similar to the following (except they should be true):

Logical positivism makes the claim that the only meaningful propositions are those that make falsifiable claims about the world. Michael Christopher Jackson argues that the claim that the only meaningful propositions are those that make falsifiable claims about the world is not itself falsifiable, and therefore meaningless.

What sections for criticisms are[edit]

A section in an Atheism article outlining criticisms is:

  1. A place to put well known objections to a particular concept, philosophy, or ideological position (the problem of evil in philosophy of religion articles, for example).
  2. A place for specific arguments by specific Atheists.
  3. Provocative. It should encourage the reader to look more deeply into the topic, and provide links for them to do so.

What sections for criticisms aren't[edit]

A section in an Atheism article outlining criticisms isn't:

  1. A place for a dialogue between two opposing camps: "some say... others counter... a common reply is..."
  2. A place for the author's original work (See Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought).

An aid to criticism[edit]

Some people think…; Some say that…; means I think this next bit is wrong.

Most people think…; Experts agree that…; means I think this next bit is right.

Essentially, (followed by a trite explanation) means I couldn’t be bothered doing a decent job on this bit

In fact, (followed by some statement) means that the statement is certainly wrong.

Anyone who has read the topic (or book or author) will know that… Means I haven’t read it, so I’ll just make this next bit up….