The first video featured the work of Sir Peter Strawson, with discussants Martin Davies and Mark Sainsbury. Its enthusiastic reception at the Joint Session of Mind and the Aristotelian Society in 1993 helped to generate the impetus to take the project further. Next, the late W. V. Quine agreed to be the subject of a comprehensive series, and a seven program series on his work was launched on the official program at the APA meeting in Boston in 1995. A thorough review of the series was written for Mind by the Quine specialist, Roger Gibson, and his enthusiastic endorsement of the series provided further momentum to the venture. A comprehensive archive on the work of Donald Davidson, recorded in London and Berkeley, was completed in September 1997.
To provide unique archival documentaries
The aim of the video series is to capture a clear, up-to-date account of the subject's position, to record their response to the major criticisms of that position and to hear and see the subject present their views. A session between subject and interlocutor(s) will typically provoke thoughtful discussion and debate. Occasionally, a new view will emerge. The role of the discussants must also be emphasized; in shedding light on the subject's work we are simultaneously treated to an illumination of the thought and ideas of other influential contemporary philosophers.
To supply resources for teaching and research
Much of philosophy develops through the publication of finely-honed theses in the major journals. In time, thoughtful criticism and response to the theses emerge, and so the dialectic proceeds. The video archives do not attempt to compete with this process, but to supplement it in ways unique to the medium. Clearly a subject's immediate response to questions posed will sometimes fail to carry the authority of more carefully crafted written work. However, to see and hear the subject engage in philosophical argument and defend, explain and clarify his/her position is a privilege that can be made available to philosophers, anywhere in the world, now and for many years to come.
Outreach and dissemination
PI is also committed to projects which will help to bring philosophy to a wider community. A comprehensive video-based multimedia introduction to philosophy is planned which aims to engage an intelligent non-specialist audience in the problems and concerns, as well as the skills and techniques of the subject.