Important things to keep in mind
- If you don't use any special operator in a query (no &, |, -, ~, etc, except *), an OR operator ( | ) will be inserted between all words. Otherwise, an AND ( & ) operator will be inserted wherever no OR operator is found.
- The search engine reduces all words to their stems. For example, a search for "intentionalities" will match the same documents as a search for "intentionality". A search for "dualist" should give the same result as a search for "dualism". However, documents with exact matches are ranked significantly higher than documents with stem matches only. No stemming is done when the * operator is used.
- Word order matters. For example "theories of consciousness" and "consciousness of theories" will return different results.
- You can use + and - as on Google, and many other operators not found on Google (read on). + is equivalent to the AND operator (&).
- Our search engine conflates British and American spelling variations. For example, searches for 'color' and 'colour' should give you the same results.
- Arbitrarily nested brackets and negations are possible.
- AND and OR operators:
content & consciousness | experience
If you don't use any special operator in a query (no &, |, -, ~, etc, except *), an OR operator ( | ) will be inserted between all words. Otherwise, an AND ( & ) operator will be inserted wherever no OR operator is found. So in the example above the & after "content" is superfluous.
OR operator precedence is higher than AND, so the above is equivalent to:
content (consciousness | experience)
- NOT operator:
- truncation operator:
Matches both "dualism" and "dualist".
- field search operator:
@title hello @descriptors world
The following fields can be searched:
At the moment it is only possible to search abstracts by searching all fields (by not using @).
- format (value is either 'book' or 'article')
- pubtype (value is one of: 'book', 'journal', 'chapter', 'thesis', 'manuscript')
- source (journal or anthology)
You can specify multiple fields like this:
@(title,descriptors) hello world
The @ operator affects all expressions following it. If you want "world" to be matched against every field, you can do this:
@(title,descriptors) hello @* world
Or more simply:
world @(title,descriptors) hello
- phrase search operator:
Matches the precise phrase "hello world".
- same-sentence operator:
animal SENTENCE rights
Matches all documents which contain a sentence with both "animal" and "rights".
- nearby operator:
animal NEAR:4 rights
Matches all documents which contain the words "animal" and "rights" within four words of each other. NEAR:n can connect any expressions, not just words.
- proximity search operator:
Matches all documents which contain the words "hello" and "world" within less than twelve (10+2) words of each other. The NEAR:n operator above is more flexible.
- quorum matching operator:
"the world is a wonderful place":3
This example will match all documents that have at least 3 of the 6 specified words.
- strict order operator (aka operator "before"):
aaa << bbb << ccc
The order operator has the lowest priority and can be applied to arbitrarily complex expressions.
- field-start and field-end modifiers:
A more complex example
derivative "intentional phenomenal"~5 -inexistence
Finds documents a) containing the word 'derivative' (or a word with the same stem, e.g. 'derived'), b) containing the words 'intentional' and 'phenomenal' within less than seven words of each other, and c) not containing the word 'inexistence'. At the time of writing this picks out a single paper.
The query must be possible to compute without involving an implicit list of all documents.
aaa -(bbb -(ccc ddd))
aaa | -bbb
PhilPapers uses Sphinx
as its primary search engine. Searches performed using the main search box or the 'extended' option in advanced search use Sphinx's extended2 mode. Consult Sphinx's documentation
for more information. Some of Sphinx's features are not mentioned here.