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I am an undergraduate student who is interested in attending medical school. My primary reason for wanting to work in the medical field is to improve access to medical care in underserved further along my career path. However, attending medical school costs quite a bit. While I am fortunate enough to likely be able to pay for med school without crippling debt, I can't help but think that the money going towards my education could go towards better causes, such as improving infrastructure in rural, underserved communities and improving vaccination rates. Would the most moral option here be to donate money going towards my education to these causes or to go to medical school and use my education to improve access to healthcare in underserved populations?

This is a beautiful question--unanswerable, of course, in any substantive/concrete/objective way. One of the many reasons why it is unanswerable is that even if you are implicitly using some rubric (such as utilitarianism--what will maximize happiness, goodness, etc.), you have no solid way of quantifying the terms. How to weigh donating $100K (say) toward cancer research v. toward your medical education? What if the $100K of research fails to produce anything useful? What if (God forbid) you die on the day you received your MD, thus can't put the education to use? How much good, exactly, is done, by building some infrastructure in rural places? But I think hinted at in your question is perhaps some concern that in spending the money on your education you are somehow wrongly being "selfish." To that I would offer just a couple of thoughts. (1) Being concerned about your own interests and welfare is not automatically a moral wrong. (2) Given how you describe the scenario, it's clear that your own...

Dear Madam or Sir, this is not a question but a request: Is there an introduction into philosophy that you would recommend? Hoping to get an answer I remain sincerely yours Matthias

Glad to hear of your interest in learning more philosophy! There are MANY ways to go about doing this, from taking courses in person or online, or reading on your own etc. And then there are many different ways to read on your own, from working through primary texts by the philosophers themselves or various secondary texts. You are right to solicit advice and opinions, and no doubt you will find some terrific works out there to get you started. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention several of my own books that are aimed precisely at people like yourself, interested to get started in philosophy. (1) The 60-Second Philosopher: https://www.amazon.com/60-Second-Philosopher-Expand-Your-Minute/dp/1851686886/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243353185&sr=1-1. Provides short pieces each presenting one interesting idea or argument, hopefully to get the reader engaged in the activity of philosophizing. (2) The God Question: https://www.amazon.com/God-Question-Famous-Thinkers-Dawkins/dp/1851686592/ref=sr_1_1...

Is it better to have a STEM degree than having a Humanities one? Most people today seem to think the Humanities are basically useless, and that the only thing worth doing is STEM. Do you have any opinions on this matter?

good, and timely, question. of course you're asking a bunch of humanities folks, so you might expect a not entirely unbiased answer. :-) On the other hand, it is probably the humanities folks who would be best equipped to speak to the value of a humanities degree. but just for a brief start of an answer -- 'better' is obviously a many-meaninged termed. Better with respect to what? If your only goal in life is to get a certain kind of job, then you need to figure out which degrees are best for that job. But if you don't know what kind of job you want? Or it's not actually clear which degrees would lead to that job? Moreover, you must factor in who YOU are -- what interests you, what you WANT to study -- it is probably more desirable to find something you love and throw yourself into it than to force yourself into studying something because of vague speculations about how 'useful' it might be toward some future you currently think you want .... (Keep in mind that whatever you study will also change...

Hello everyone. I am a sophomore starting a philosophy club at my high school. No other high school in the district has one. To get straight to the point, I need a clever acronym for the club's name. Although this isn't really a philosophical question, can you please take your time and possibly give me a good, witty name? We cover all fields of philosophy.

Good for you! .... There's also this organization you might want to check out, interested in promoting philosophy in high school: http://plato-philosophy.org/lesson-plans-2/pre-college-course-material/ What you clearly need is a slogan and a t-shirt. How about "Philosophy: It's What You Think"? Andrew Pessin

Hi, I'm a high school student and I am interested in philosophy. I intend to study philosophy on my own (it's not taught at my school), but this subject is so vast and rich that I feel a bit lost and don't know where to begin. Could you give me some advice on how to study philosophy on my own?

Those are great classics, and worthwhile reads. And there are lots of introductory philosophy books out there (just google that phrase and see what comes up). But perhaps I might recommend a couple that aren't classics (but are hopefully worthwhile), and also by me (if you'll excuse the self-plug): "The 60-Second Philosopher: Expand your mind on a minute or so a day!" and "The God Question: What famous thinkers from Plato to Dawkins have said about the divine." The first one consists of a collection of very short essays, each one of which is presenting one interesting, challenging, provocative philosophical idea or argument; the second does something similar, but focuses (obviously) on God. More info on my website: www.andrewpessin.com. And as Gabriel said -- if questions arise as you read, then come back to this site! good luck, ap

I am about to finish my third semester of college. (Switching majors now, wouldn't be a big deal.) I am currently majoring in Mass Communications/Journalism. (I want to eventually become a sports columnist.) However, I also plan on writing numerous books (sports related as well as fiction). Would you recommend majoring in Philosophy instead? My journalism courses are too restricting (forcing me to write in a straight-jacket) and I have currently gotten very much into philosophy and it really amplifies my writing.

Seems like you've answered your own question! ... My own view (for what it is worth) is that while it's useful to use your college education to prepare you for a career (esp if you're pretty clear what career you're after), it's also valuable to use it to pursue your interests, intellectual and otherwise -- and the sheer fact that you find philosophy interesting or appealing is reason enough at least to take more philosophy courses. (That it ALSO contributes to your ultimate career goal, writing, is a further bonus.) As far as majoring -- well if your career trajectory requires (say) going to graduate school in journalism and that that would be helped by majoring in communications etc., then you've got a pretty pragmatic reason to stick with your major (while perhaps trying to squeeze in extra philosophy courses). But you yourself seem to be suggesting that your broader interests would be better served by the philosophy major -- so both your intellectual interests and your pragmatic concerns are served...

I have been reading discussions on this site about the Principia and about Godel's incompleteness theorem. I would really like to understand what you guys are talking about; it seems endlessly fascinating. I was an English/history major, though, and avoided math whenever I could. Consequently I have never even taken a semester of calculus. The good news (from my perspective) is that I have nothing to do for the rest of my life except for working toward the fulfillment of this one goal I have: to plow through the literature of the Frankfurt School and make sense of it all. Understanding the methods and arguments of logicians would seem to provide a strong context for the worldview that inspired Horkheimer, Fromm, et al. So yeah, where should I start? Do I need to get a book on the fundamentals of arithmetic? Algebra? Geometry? Or do books on elementary logic do a good job explaining the mathematics necessary for understanding the material? As I said, I'm not looking for a quick solution. I...

lucky you, with so much time on your hands and with such interesting interests! there are numerous secondary expositions of Godel etc. -- I personally love Douglas Hofstadter's way of explaining it (in Godel Escher Bach and also his more recent Strange Loops) ... but Rebecca Goldstein has a recent book on it (haven't read it, can't speak to its quality) -- http://www.rebeccagoldstein.com/books/incompleteness/index.html good luck ap

I just graduated from college with a philosophy degree. I don't think that I want to get a Phd in philosophy (though, you never know...) but I remain excited by many philosophical questions, particularly in philosophy of mathematics and ethics. How can I keep philosophy a part of my life?

let me supplement Eddy's fine response by noting that you will probably have to be very pro-active in making this happen! not only will you get distracted (reasonably) by life, but so will most of the people you're hanging out with, who may not have any initial interest in philosophy anyway! so you'll have to take charge -- for example, start a book club or discussion group at a local coffee shop ... check out 'socrates cafe' on that score ... find organizations that have public events of philosophical import so you can meet more like-minded folks (if you're in NYC you might look up 'socrates in the city') -- make sure your local NPR station carries the program Philosophy Talk (look it up!) and then be sure to listen to it ... organize a lecture yourself -- for example, i recently gave a talk at a bar in New York City that has a tuesday evening literary series ... find such a thing, or start one yourself! .... so don't count on others keeping your philosophy bug alive, you'll probably have to do it...

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