In the previous thread, Robbie Williams asked about the converse of the question set there. That is, he was wondering
- What fields that are currently not (primarily) studied inside philosophy departments could (in nearby worlds) be inside philosophy?
This is a much harder question I think. But there are a few candidates that come to mind.
Note that in every case I’ll describe, there is some work on this topic done inside philosophy. It’s just that the primary location for them in the contemporary academy is (I think) outside philosophy.
The simplest perhaps is professional ethics. There is tons of ethics teaching in medical and business schools, much more I think than there is in philosophy departments. It isn’t as clear that the primary location for research into professional ethics is outside philosophy, but I suspect that it is. And it is easy enough to imagine a world where that isn’t true.
Not too far behind is work on feminism and race theory. There is a pretty nearby world where researchers like Tommie Shelby have their primary home in philosophy departments. Though that’s probably a world where people actually in philosophy departments rate work on Philosophy of Race as higher than 27th out of 27 fields.
The other idea I have is perhaps a little harder to imagine given the current arrangement of the academy, but I think with a small tweak at the right point in time it could have happened. There’s currently a lot of work, primarily in psychology and economics departments, on happiness research. I think a lot of this concerns questions of long lasting philosophical interest; in particular it connects to important debates about welfare. Now we’d have to rearrange a lot of things to make philosophy departments suitable homes for people like Daniel Gilbert or Justin Wolfers. But I imagine that had various things happened a little differently at the start of the 20th century, the idea that contemporary philosophers did this kind of experimental and statistical work would seem no more surprising than than Descartes and Locke worked on optics and economics.
Still, I feel this is too small, and too idiosyncratic, a list. What else could philosophy have easily incorporated?
Posted by Brian Weatherson in Uncategorized