Simon Blackburn On Philosophy’s Contributions

In the UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills intends to assess “the benefits of postgraduate study for all relevant stakeholders” and “the evidence about the needs of employers for postgraduates.” Philosopher Simon Blackburn answered a request for faculty comments with a letter worth reading in full. A couple highlights:

(1) Our postgraduate philosophy education is primarily vital in ensuring the quality of the incoming stream of future teachers of philosophy. These provide the continuing educational resource for very acute and educated people to flow into very diverse channels of administration, business and other branches of employment, including what used to exist as and be known as “public service”, before that fell into the hands of people unable to conceive of it as anything other than a cornucopia of opportunities for corruption. If these last are your “stakeholders”, then we probably cannot convince them that we are of use to them, any more than music, art, literature or history could.

(2) Our future teachers will, in turn, educate philosophy graduates who can flourish in business: there have been many examples. But we don’t think that you should pay slavish attention to what business people, especially those who believe themselves fit to judge things about which they know nothing, say are their “needs” because we do not have any confidence that without more philosophy than most of them possess, they have the least idea what those needs are. We merely note that conceptions of need that have given us such outstanding examples of business expertise as British Leyland, Rover and RBS seem strange instruments with which to assess institutions that enabled such legacies as those left by Bacon, Locke, Hume and Wittgenstein. We are, to adapt one minister’s words, intensely relaxed about having assisted the country to this filthy rich legacy.

via Leiter Reports

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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