Arno Wouters - Utrecht University

Version: 4.2

Last modification: 28 February 1995

"Internet Services for Philosophers" provides a selection of philosophy related services on Internet and Bitnet. It aims (1) to give philosophers who are new to the Internet (or sceptical about its use) an idea of the available resources, and (2) to provide some hints on how to locate information on the Internet.

A text-only version of this document is available at the gopher server of the Department of Philosophy, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

I have also compiled an index of philosophy sites, which is available at our www server.

Note: I use quotes to make clear what does and what does not belong to an address, login or command. These quotes themselves are not part of the address, login or command and should, therefore, be left off when used.


  1. Revison history
    1. Introductions
    2. The InterNic InfoGuide
    3. Internet Guides
    4. Network Services
    5. Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ's)
    1. Listserv and other mailservers
    2. Gopher
  4. Information archives (general)
  5. Mailing lists
  6. Usenet Newsgroups
  7. DialogNet
  8. Spoon Collective
  9. The University of Chicago Philosophy Project
  10. Newsletters
  11. Electronic Journals
  12. Addresses
  13. Electronical Texts
  14. Course syllabi and curriculum guides
  15. Preprints
  16. Tables of contents


Changes with version 4.2 (28 February 1995)

Changes with version 4.1 (2 February 1995)

Changes with version 3.11 (29 November 1994)

Changes with version 3.10 (31 October 1994):

Changes with version 3.9 (30 september 1994):



One of the best introductions to the Internet is:

Two other popular books are:

However, it is more exciting to retrieve the information for free from the Internet itself.

An important source is the InterNic InfoGuide described in the next section.

Another possible source is the introducing the internet archive, which is available at several sites. To learn more about this archive, send an email message to "", with the text "send" (remember to leave off the quotes). If you have Internet access, but don't have email, you should try to get the access guide by gopher from the Merit Network Information Server (type "gopher" at your main prompt and see what happens) or by anonymous ftp from ("ftp" at your main prompt, user "anonymous", password: your emailaddress!!!, "get introducing.the.internet/").

The first edition of Brendan Kehoe's Zen guide is available from many sites. This free edition is a bit out of date (it does not treat now popular information systems like gopher and WAIS), but it will give you a good start. (The third edition is much longer, updated and improved.)

Adam Gaffin's EFF's Guide to the Internet is better up to date. In a light and readable style it provides all the information you need to survive on the net. The guide is available in a variety of formats and from a variety of sites. More info in the EFF Guide FAQ.

The EARN Association provides a very good Guide to Network Resource Tools. This guide is available from their infoserver at by anonymous ftp (get /pub/doc/resource-tool-guide.txt), gopher (under the heading "User Service Documentation") and e-mail (send listserv@earncc.bitnet the command "get nettools.txt").

In addition one should consult the Internet Services FAQ. "This document should help you find answers to frequently asked questions about the Internet. Usually, the answers are already available on the Net in one or more detailed documents. In these cases, this document will tell the reader where to find the information in question." The Internet Services FAQ is distributed via the usenet newsgroups "", "news.answers" and "alt.answers". As any FAQ, it is also available from the MIT usenet archive by anonymous ftp (ftp, get pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services/faq) and by email (send a message to "", with the text "send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/faq").


The InterNic Information Service of General Atomics has brought together a collection of information on the Internet under the name InfoGuide. There are sections for beginners, network specialists, and for general information of interest to everyone on the net. The beginners area contains information intended for the first time Internet user: Internet overviews, brief descriptions of the most common tools, glossaries and lists of books about the Internet. The section on "Using the Internet" explains the use of the different Internet tools in more detail. The section on "Internet Resources" should help you to find information on the Net. The InfoGuide can be accessed electronically in various ways: gopher (type gopher at your main prompt and see what happens), telnet (telnet, login: gopher), anonymous FTP (ftp, login: anonymous, password: your e-mail address (!), cd infoguide), e-mail (send a message to with the text "send help"; to receive a file with the filenames of all available documents send a message with the text "send INDEX" to the same address), WAIS (source name is internic-infoguide), and WWW (


Kevin Savetz maintains an Unofficial Internet Book List. This file is regularly posted to several Usenet newsgroups, among others to and news.answers. It is also available from the MIT usenet archive by anonymous ftp (ftp, get pub/usenet/news.answers/internet-services/book-list) and by email (send a message to "", with the text "send usenet/news.answers/internet-services/book-list").

John December's internet-cmc provides many pointers to information describing the Internet and computer mediated communication (cmc) technologies, applications, culture, discussion forums, and bibliographies. In addition to guides and documents for new users it lists much specialized and technical information. "Internet-CMC" is available via anonymous ftp from as the file: pub/communications/internet-cmc.

Several networks provide comprehensive and system specific guides. Many of these guides are listed in John December's "internet-cmc".

Scott Yanoff edits a great list of Special Internet Connections, from "Agricultural Info" to "WWW servers". This list is distributed via the Usenet newsgroups "" and "news.answers" and archived at many sites (among others on as the file /pub/ One may also obtain a copy by sending an empty message with "inet" in the subject header to "". Finger to find more ways to receive this list!

There are several discipline orientated lists (like this one). UMKC's "Science Studies" gopher ( has a nice collection (look into the "Other E-sources" menu).

Most guides deal with the technical means for finding information on the net. Finding information, however, is but one way in which the network might be relevant to your work. It is much more difficult to get information on other aspects of network use. As far as I know there are two sources:


For information about telnet access to network services like Archie, Gopher, Netfind and WAIS consult Scott Yanoff's list of "Special Internet connections".


In many newsgroups a list with answers to frequently asked questions is posted periodically. Both the lists and the questions are called "FAQ's". Many of these are concerned with computers and networking, but there are FAQ's about almost any subject you can think of, from aquaria via physics to vegetarian restaurants. All these documents are collected in the newsgroup news.answers. As news.answers is archived at many sites, the FAQ's are readily available, also for people without Usenet access. The main repository is MIT's news.answers archive at (RTFM stands for Read The F?$#%! Manual) in the directory "/pub/usenet/news.answers". This archive is open for anonymous ftp and email (send a message with "help" in the body to for more info). The Introduction to the *.answers newsgroups FAQ lists many other sites that carry a news.answers archive, some of which can be searched by subject via gopher or WAIS. This document is available from the news.answers archive as the file "news-answers/introduction". Thomas A. Fine maintains a WWW page with a list of all Usenet FAQ's. The list is alphabetized by topic (more or less) and provides (limited) search capabilities.


LISTSERV and other mailservers

A mailserver (for example, ListServ, ListProc, MailBase, MajorDomo) is a program that interprets the lines in an e-mail message as a series of commands to act on, for example to mail a file to somebody or to add a person to a mailing list. To learn how to handle a mailserver one should send a one line message containing the command "help" (no quotes!) to the mailserver's address. (In some rare cases, the mailserver needs an empty message with "help" in the subject).

LISTSERV is the name of the single most important mailserver on Bitnet. It supports three kinds of services: (1) mailing list management, (2) file archives, (3) address registration. A userguide is available from LISTSERV@EARNCC.BITNET by sending it the command "GET LSVGUIDE MEMO". Most Listservs allow you to search their listarchives on line. Send Listserv the command "INFO DATABASE" to get more information.

On the Internet, many so-called "listservs" are in fact Unix ListProcessors. Don't expect these versions to function exactly like the traditional Listserv.


Gopher is a menu directed information system that allows you to browse through information resources all over the globe. Apart from connections with gopher servers, it enables connections with or gateways to a lot of other information systems, such as telnet servers, CSO addres servers, Whois address servers, WAIS databases, ftp archives and more. Gopher is geographically orientated.

To access gopher you need a special gopher client. This software is installed on most systems that have Internet access. Simply type gopher at your main prompt and see what happens. If you don't have gopher complain to your systems administrator. You may retrieve your own gopher client by anonymous ftp from or use a public client via telnet (consult Yanoff's list for a large list of telnetable gopherclients).

There are several ways to locate information with gopher: (1) by means of a directory of gophers, (2) by means of Veronica, (3) by means of a gopher's address, (4) by means of a subject tree. Don't forget that all gopher clients allow you to save bookmarks to the gophers you may want to visit a second time.

(1) After starting the gopher you are connected to a so-called "root gopher server". Usually, this is a server at your own department or university. Typically, its menu contains an option like "Other gopher and information servers" or "all the gophers in the world". This option lets you localize gophers in a geographic manner. For instance, to connect to Utrecht University's philosophy gopher, first choose "Europe", next "Netherlands", then "Universities", and subsequently "Utrecht University", "Faculteiten en Universitaire Diensten", and "Faculteit Wijsbegeerte" and there you are. (Don't worry about the Dutch, my gopher speaks English). This way of navigating is especially useful if you know where the information is to be expected, for instance, if you are looking for the library in Cambridge or the weather in Reykjavik.

Texas Tech Computer Science Gopher ( maintains a searchable directory of all the gopher servers in the world. It is searchable by name or internet address. This allows one, for example, to connect to our department's gopher by searching for the keyword "Utrecht" or the domainname "".

The Department of Philosophy of the University of California at Irvine runs a Directory of Philosophy Gophers which links to many philosophy gophers in the world (

(2) Veronica is a database containing the titles of all the gopher items in the world. It allows you to search for an item by keyword and to connect directly to the items found. Veronica searches are especially useful if you know exactly what you are looking for (for instance Hume's "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding). Searches for very general keywords like "philosophy" output a lot of uninformative garbage. Veronica can be accessed through virtually any gopher site, at the first or second "level" of menus (just look for the name).

(3) If you know the address of the gopher you want to connect to (e.g. you may directly connect to that gopher by typing "gopher gopheraddress" (e.g. "gopher") at your system's main prompt. If you have a graphical interface (Macintosh, XWindows, Windows, etc) you need to activate an option like "another gopher" or "new gopher link" after starting the gopher program.

(4) Several sites experiment with so-called subject trees, that allow you to search for gopher items by subject. Unfortunately, as far as philosophy is concerned, most subject trees are not very helpful, yet. The philosophy subject tree of Valdostata State University points to lots of good stuff, but its structure leaves room for improvement.


Servers that post all sorts of information of interested to philosophers in a bulletin board like style:


A mailing list is a computer program that distributes messages among a list of subscribers. This program has an email-address (listname@domain). Mail sent to this address is distributed automatically to all the subscribers.

There are two types of mailing lists: manually maintained lists and automated (mailserved) lists.

(1) In its manual form the list of subscribers is maintained by a person, the list administrator. To subscribe to such a list one should ask the list administrator to add you to the list. Typically the administrator can be reached at listname-request@domain.

(2) An automated list is maintained by a program (a so-called mailserver, see above under basic tools). To (un)subscribe to an automated list one should send a message to the mailserver (mailserver@domain). Usually, this is the command "SUBSCRIBE listname Yourfirstname Yourlastname" to subscribe and "UNSUBSCRIBE listname" to sign off (substitute the appropriate names and leave off the quotes!). Majordomo is deviant in expecting the format "SUBSCRIBE listname" to subscribe.

IMPORTANT: One should carefully distinguish between the address of the list and the address of the administrator/mailserver. Never send requests/commands for (un)subscription to the list! Such a message would bother all the participants, but it would not help you to get on/off the list.

Interesting mailing lists are easily located by means of the WAIS database of academic email-conferences, provided by Lund University in Sweden. If you have gopher, connect to Veronica and search for "academic email conf". If you use WAIS, look into the central "directory of servers" for the "academic_email_conf" database. After connecting to this database search through it for keys like "philosophy", "ethics", "Peirce" or whatever subject that interests you.

More information on "How to find an interesting mailing list" is available by email from "" with "GET NEW-LIST WOUTERS" or by anonymous ftp from "" as "new-list.wouters" in the directory "listarch".

Stephen Clark has compiled an annotated list of philosophical mailing lists, which is available from PHILOSOP (LISTSERV@YORKVM1.BITNET) by sending it the command "GET LIST-OF PHILLSTS".

Examples of mailing-lists (the address between brackets is the address of the mailserver/administrator):

(a) General

(b) Philosophy of science, science studies, history of science

(c) Ethics

(d) Aesthetics, philosophy of art

(e) Periods

(f) Individual philosophers and schools

(g) Other fields

Please, remember that commands/requests for subscription are to be sent to the mailserver/administrator (that is to the address between brackets) not to the list!


David Lawrence maintains two lists of newsgroups on Usenet. The "List of Active Newsgroups" lists the regular Usenet newsgroups. The Usenet software also allows the transport of hierarchies of newsgroups not part of the "traditional" Usenet (bionet, alt-groups, bit.listserv etc.). These groups are listed in the list of "Alternative Newsgroup Hierarchies". Both lists are distributed via the newsgroups news.lists and news.answers. Most newsreading software will allow you to search through these lists by keyword.

The main philosophy related groups are:

Most of these newsgroups are misserable and frequently raged by flame wars.

The, sci.philosophy meta and talk.philosophy.misc newsgroups excel in layman's opinions, prejudices and other drivel. At regular times you'll find posts of people who think they've found the truth. Quite often the truth is a thesis of which undergraduates in philosophy know the refutations at the back of their hand. Other favourite topics are the existence of God, the meaning of life and propoposals for a theory of everything.

Every now and then you may find informed discussion of philosophy of mind and language at Posts to this newsgroup are archived at "" in the directory "pub/c.a.p" and available for anonymous ftp. is devoted to the discussion of issues related to biological and physical origins (cosmogenesis, abiogenesis, evolution, creation, neo-catastrophism (Velikovsky) etc.). The signal to noise ratio is very low. The same issues are repeated again and again. The talk.origin archive at in /pub/origins offers a plethora of files with answers to frequently asked questions in this group. Among other things you'll find a general introduction to evolutionary theory and many detailed refutations of creationist views. There are two WWW interfaces to this archive:

  • The FAQ archive at the University of California at Irvine and The University of Ediacara.

    Sci.skeptics is "for those who are skeptical about claims of the paranormal to meet with those who believe in the paranormal." Its scope "extends into any area where hard evidence can be obtained, but does not extend into speculation." The FAQ treats lot of amazing phenomena like psychic powers, flying saucers, crop circles, alternative therapies, fire-walking and strange machines.


    Under the banner "DialogNet", Kent Palmer and Lance Fletcher collaborate on establishing an electronic community of philosophic discourse largely outside the walls of the university. At present DialogNet consists of a group of mailing lists which are maintained on two bulletin board systems: The Free Lance Academy, owned by Lance Fletcher, and the Thinknet BBS, owned by Kent Palmer. Thinknet is dedicated to thoughtful conversation in cyberspace. Most of the Thinknet mailing lists are devoted to modern and postmodern thinkers. To get more information about Thinknet send a "help" message to The "slow reading lists" of The Free Lance Acadamy are intended to support slow, thoughtful readings of the texts of major philosophers. More information about The Free Lance Academy is available from

    Spoon Collective

    The Spoon Collective is a group of net citizens devoted to free and open discussion of philosophical issues on the Internet. They run a number of discussion lists, most of which deal with some aspect or other of contemporary philosophy. The lists include deleuze-guattari, film-theory, cybermind, marxism, blanchot, foucault, fiction-of-philosophy, french-feminism, frankfurt-school, postcolonial... among others. Subscribers are warned that "based on the collective's philosophy posts containing language or dealing with subject matter that some may find offensive may appear on the lists from time to time, and such posts will not be censored". The lists are maintained by To see the full range of lists, send the message "lists" to that address. To find out information about the lists that interest you, send the message "info " to the same address. Archives are available at the gopher of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (University of Virginia).


    The University of Chicago Philosophy Project "seeks to provide a forum for electronically mediated scholarly discussion of philosophical works". This project is implemented on the World Wide Web (WWW). WWW is a world wide system of hyperlinked texts. Hyperlinked means that the system allows you to jump from one text to another (not necessarily on the same computer) by activating marked (highlighted) phrases in a certain text. To access the Web you need a special WWW-client, a so-called "browser". The browser allows you to read documents on the Web. Most browsers also provide an interface to other parts of the net, like gopher, ftp, usenet, and an ever-increasing range of other systems. In addition, the browser will permit database searches. The best way to access the web is to run your own browser. Browsers are available for many platforms. If you don't have a browser yourself you may telnet to a public browser. A list of public browsers is available on the web. More information in the WWW FAQ

    From the home page: "The disk space which constitutes the University of Chicago Philosophy project is divided into sections, each of which is devoted to a scholarly discussion of a single subject. The discussions on each subject take place between participants chosen by a moderator. The moderator is chosen by the administrators of the University of Chicago Philosophy Project. What goes on in each discussion group is left largely in the hands of the moderators. However, every group will contain short biographies of the participants. Beside the biographies, other elements of a discussion group might be (1) comments on or exegesis of sections of the text under discussion by the participants, (2) attempts to elucidate difficult arguments in the text, (3) interpretative argument between participants over parts of the text, (4) papers by the participants which are related to the text in some way, and (5) general discussion of the text by participants. The groups might also be used as fora for slow reading of texts."

    The discussions currently accessible within the University of Chicago Philosophy Project are:


    Several philosophical societies and journals post newsletters to appropriate lists.

    Newsletters from the following societies/journals are archived on the net:


    Michael Strangelove has compiled a Directory of Electronic Journals and Newsletters. This directory is available by e-mail from LISTSERV@UOTTAWA.BITNET by sending the commands "get Ejournl1 Directory" and "get Ejournl2 Directory" and by anonymous ftp from "" in the directory "/pub/net-guides/strangelove".

    The CIC-net gopher server provides a nice collection of electronic journals (use the libraries menu at the gopher home in Minnesota to connect to this server).

    Examples of electronic journals of interest to philosophers:


    The easiest way to find e-mail addressess and other information about people (postal addresses, phone numbers, and so on) is also the most succesful: personal communication, ask it the persons themselves, call them, study their letterheads and so on.

    If you absolutely have to find the information on the net your best source is often the gopher or www-server of that person's department or university (look for the person's homepage and/or for headings like "phone book", "white pages", "addresses", "user directory" and so on).

    It is important to be aware that there are many different ways to make information about people available on the net and that you don't know beforehand how the organization you're looking for has made this information available, if it has. If you can't find a gopher or www-server or if it does not contain address information you may try all of the following options:

    In addition you may want to consult the list of email addresses of APA members at the APA bulletinboard.


    Leslie Burkholder and Eric Palmer have written a guide on Electronic Texts in Philosophy This guide is available from the APA server (see under bulletin boards). It contains information on software for text analysis, major etext projects and a list of available etexts.

    The Center for Text and Technology of the Academic Computer Center at George Town University (Washington DC) maintains an electronic archive with information on projects in electronic text in the humanities. This Catalogue of Projects in Electronic Texts (CPET) includes a section on philosophical texts (classical texts as well as contemporary ones). Information about where the texts are available and what they would cost is included. Many of the available texts are on CD ROM, others are archived or available on disk. CPET can be assessed by gopher and anonymous ftp at "".

    There are several projects that aim to provide electronic texts in the public domain (free for all and unencumbered by copyrights). The main ones are:

    The main tool for finding public domain e-texts is Alex - A Catalogue of Electronic Texts on the Internet. Alex tracks the content of most public domain archives and allows users to find and retrieve the texts. It supports searches by author and by title.

    Many texts released by these projects are also available at other sites via Gopher, WAIS or anonymous ftp. Using WAIS one may locate these texts by searching through the central "directory of servers" for general subjects like "humanities", "philosophy", "arts" or for more specific topics like "Bible" and "Shakespeare". Using gopher one may locate the texts by means of Veronica (search for the author and/or words in the title). Archie is the main source for finding etexts available via anonymous ftp.

    Pointers to various electronic text projects available via Gopher on the Internet can be found at Wiretap's gopher ( in the Various ETEXT Resources on the Internet menu.

    Valdosta State University Gopher (Georgia, USA) contains many pointers to public domain philosophical texts. Gopher to and opt for Inter-Campus Computing Resources/Subject Tree/Philosophy/TEXTS.

    The "History of Science" department of Johns Hopkins University maintains a Scientists on Disk archive, which is a growing resource of primary material for recent history of science. The archive is accessible by gopher.

    The Usenet newsgroup alt.etext offers a channel for announcements and discussion regarding electronic text. Archives are kept on Wiretap.


    George Gale's "Science Studies" gopher server at "" (University of Missouri - Kansas City, USA) provides a useful pedagogy archive of course syllabi and several interesting curriculum guides, relevant to science studies.

    SWIP-L keeps a file of feminist philosophy course syllabi and SWIP-L subscribers can get them on request. Send an "INDEX SYLLABI" to LISTSERV@CFRVM.BITNET for a list of available syllabi.


    The International Philosophical Preprint Exchange archive at Chiba University, Japan, provides storage for working papers, abstracts, and comments, and provides a variety of means by which papers and abstracts may be browsed and downloaded. It is administrated by an international volunteer group headed by Richard Reiner and Syun Tutiya. Submissions are accepted from all, on the sole condition that papers must be of interest to contemporary academic philosophers. In addition to original papers, comments on papers already available on the system are encouraged. The archive also contains abstracts and tables of contents of an increasing number of philosophical journals.

    BEHAVIORAL & BRAIN SCIENCES (BBS) is an international journal that publishes important and controversial interdisciplinary "target articles" in psychology, neuroscience, behavioral biology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, linguistics and philosophy. Those articles are circulated to a large number of potential commentators (so-called BBS associates) around the world in the various specialties on which the article impinges. Their commentaries are then co-published with the target article as well as the author's response to each. Preprints are available from the BBS target article preprint archive at Princeton University.

    Several departments run their own archives:


    Some mailing lists (most notably mersenne) forward tables of contents of the journals of interest to their subscribers. Many of these listings are collected at the Utrecht Philosophy Gopher. The IPPE provides contents listings of an increasing number of publications. Your best bet, however, is the