Philosophers don’t just think and discuss these things without engaging with others, however. I have been in constant dialogue with people from other disciplines, such as computer science, anthropology, history, physics, psychology, mathematics and law. In fact, a major reason why I picked philosophy as one of my undergraduate majors is because I could engage with various disciplines at a meta-level and/or connect different disciplines together in important ways. In my writing sample in this portfolio, for instance, you can see that I bring together different areas of philosophy–moral psychology, ethics and political philosophy–as well as draw upon work in areas such as history and anthropology.
Most philosophers today do not do empirical work. That is, they don’t design experiments, conduct experiments, and evaluate data sets. But some of them do. There is an area known as Experimental Philosophy and many of these philosophers do conduct experiments. Some philosophers, rather than conduct experiments themselves, constantly keep up to date on empirical work that interests them and is related to their work.
How might a philosopher engage with other fields? Well, to give one personal example: One time I was contacted by someone writing something in a field I am familiar with. This person was working on certain cultural issues and wanted to know how to deal with some epistemology related issues. That is, this person had noticed that (1) people in a certain culture made knowledge claims and (2) people in this culture claimed that people who are not members of this culture could not know the things these people claimed to know. That might sound confusing, but the translation is basically this:
(1) People who are S claim to know X, Y and Z.
(2) People who are S also claim that everyone who is not-S cannot know X, Y and Z.
So, we discussed some relevant work in epistemology, and I hope I was able to help on the issue.
Beyond the intrinsic value of doing philosophy for its own sake, philosophy also develops skills which are valuable in the workplace, such as:
- Critical thinking skills
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Careful listening and reading, including following and understanding difficult texts or arguments
- Translating difficult texts, positions, arguments or information to make them understandable to others
- The ability to think in creative ways and find innovative solutions to problems
For more about philosophy, I’ve included some helpful links under the ‘Links’ tab, above.
Here’s an ode to my advisers: