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Is Philosophy Important? (2012)

February 8, 2013

Philosophers have to continually explain the importance of philosophy, but they don’t all agree what’s important about it or what exactly philosophy is in the first place. This is a list of links to articles concerning the importance of philosophy from 2012:

1. For a Better Society, Teach Philosophy in High Schools

Michael Shammas believes that philosophy will help improve political debates that are so important for democracies. He speculates that teaching philosophy in high schools can help improve our dysfunctional political discussions.

2. No, you’re not entitled to your opinion

Patrick Stokes believes that nonphilosophers often have the irrational presumption that their opinion is equal to that of experts because “all opinions are equal” or “arguing is disrespectful.” We want to know what is true, but not all opinions are serious candidates concerning what is likely true.

3. Reasons to Study Philosophy at University

Stephen Law believes that philosophy is important because it helps us improve our critical thinking skills—to detect errors in reasoning, clarify our thinking, think outside the box, etc.

4. Begging questions about philosophy, science and everything else

John Wilkins doesn’t think philosophy is like science and he doesn’t think it’s meant to generate knowledge. Instead, he thinks that philosophy helps us analyze our knowledge.

5. Does philosophy generate knowledge?

John Wilkins continues to discuss the importance of philosophy despite the fact that he doesn’t think it generates knowledge.

6. We think, therefore we are

Jules Evans discusses the rising popularity of philosophy groups or “communal philosophy organizations.” He believes that philosophy can be used as therapy for the soul and can help improve society as a whole by spreading important ideas.

7. The Philosophical Life: 12 Great Thinkers and the Search for Wisdom, from Socrates to Nietzsche

Alain De Botton discusses a new book by James Miller—Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche. He agrees with the book that philosophy has relevance to everyday life, perhaps in the form of self-help or therapy.

8. Philosophy by Another Name

Colin McGinn believes that philosophy has a bad reputation and wants to try to mend the reputation by saying it’s a type of science (Ontics). “[T]he subject is systematic, rigorous, replete with technical vocabulary, often in conflict with common sense, capable of refutation, produces hypotheses, uses symbolic notation, is about the natural world, is institutionalized, peer-reviewed, tenure-granting, etc.” In particular, philosophy a the type of science concerned with “the study of the fundamental nature of reality, knowledge and existence.”

9. Philosophy Is Not a Science

Julian Friedland argues that philosophy is neither a type of science nor should it be merely a “handmaiden to science.” He believes that philosophy offers knowledge beyond what science has to offer, such as conceptual clarifications (and knowledge of logic).

10. Name Calling: Philosophy as Ontical Science

Colin McGinn defends his view that philosophy is a type of science. He believes that philosophy is mainly concerned with what we can know a priori (without observation) and admits it is not an “empirical science” in that empirical science is entirely concerned with what we can know using observation. Instead, philosophy should be considered to be a science like mathematics.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 12, 2013 2:42 pm

    Thanks for this list.

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