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Graham White

We (in Britain) do have quite a few politicians with a philosophical training, because of the Oxford degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, many of the students on which subsequently end up in politics. It does not go well: many of these people end up with a very combative, and successful, approach to argument, without any deeper insight to anchor it in. Now I also know quite a few analytic philosophers, and most of them are Not Like That At All (this may, of course, be selection bias, because the people I'm thinking of are my friends). But many of their ex-students are quite distressingly Just Like That.

I don't think it has anything to do with whether people like arguing or not: I know quite a few philosophers who like a fight, but who are also full of ethical insight. The problem is rather the other way round: that if you do not have much of an ethical sense, and if you acquire awesome skills of argumentation, then you will do more harm than you would have otherwise.

Derek Bowman

Graham White identifies a problem that Plato himself was quite concerned with in the Republic (see, e.g. 489d and following: "Do you want us to go on to explain why it's inevitable that most of those who go in for philosophy will turn out to be villains?").

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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