Philosophy’s PR problem — I

Footnotes to Plato

public relations[for a brief explanation of this ongoing series, as well as a full table of contents, go here]

“Philosophy is dead.”
(Stephen Hawking)

However one characterizes the discipline of philosophy, there is little doubt that it has been suffering for a while from a severe public relation problem, and it is incumbent on all interested parties (beginning with professionals in the field) not just to ask themselves why, but also what can be done to improve the situation. This chapter is offered as a series of reflections on these two aspects of the issue. We will examine in some detail a series of representative examples of brash attacks on philosophy (to which I will offer my own, shall we say, blunt response), mostly carried out by a small but influential number of scientists and science writers, attacks that seem to capture something fundamental about the broader public’s attitude toward…

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