Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Kitcher on the Value of Philosophy

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Philip Kitcher is skeptical of the role that philosophy plays in the lives of ordinary people. On his view, philosophy has become excessively technical and does not help social conversation about what matters. He writes, 

“Philosophy, so understood, is a synthetic discipline, one that reflects on and responds to the state of inquiry, to the state of a variety of human social practices, and to the felt needs of individual people to make sense of the world and their place in it. Philosophers are people whose broad engagement with the condition of their age enables them to facilitate individual reflection and social conversation.” (254)

In effect, he argues, 

  1. An area of inquiry is healthy only if it is makes a contribution to human lives.
  2. Philosophy doesn’t make a contribution to human lives.
  3. Hence, philosophy is not healthy. 

Though this argument is valid, the pressing question is whether it is sound. So, is this argument sound?