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Once in a while I read a philosopher's curriculum vitae on the Internet. Unfortunately, I usually don't find the philosopher's birth year, and most times not even the year of his or her first college degree. Don't you think curricula should have that information? Approximate age is so useful for readers to have "a picture" of the person they are interested in....

Interesting! I think you are probably right. Oddly, under the present circumstances, it is likely to be easier to discover the age of a philosopher after she or he has died than when they were alive and able to be on this panel! Maybe one of the reasons why *living* philosophers are reluctant to put down their age is professional. In job searches, I believe -but I could be wrong- the person or institute doing the hiring is not allowed to ask for the age of a candidate --just as we are not allowed to inquire into marital status, sexual orientation, physical health. Nor, I think, are we allowed to NOT hire someone because of their age. At least we are not allowed to do so in a direct fashion; at our institution I think we did not hire a candidate who was probably 70 years old on the grounds that the credentials of others were better but also because we judged that the person was not as likely to provide long-term leadership. Age was not THE deciding factor, but I suspect that we did have an *unstated*...

After you have achieved tenure, has the quality of your work increased or decreased?

You have asked your question in a way that makes it extremely hard to reply to, for (at least in my case) I may not be the best qualified to indicate when my work has improved or decreased in quality. Tenure decisions are usually made on the basis of past accomplishments and future expectations in terms of the quality of one's teaching, scholarship, and service to one's college or university (and, in some cases, contributions to the wider community). In other words, if the quality of my work (and the work of all those tenured) has not increased, then (in my view) the decision to grant me tenure was a mistake. So, I certainly hope that in the case of tenured colleagues (as well as myself) there has been an increase in quality, but I want to pause to suggest that for some (and certainly not all or many) professors it is (in principle) possible that their best work was done earlier in their career, prior to tenure. At least by reputation, mathematicians seem to do their most brilliant work early on, and...

As an academic philosopher what do you think are your biggest responsibilities outside of teaching and research in terms of to the world and to the field in general? Why do you feel you even have those responsibilities at all?

Good questions! For myself and those in a similar position as a professor in the liberal arts each of the faculty is understood (and this is part of our job description) to have obligations in terms of teaching (or, putting this slightly differently, the obligation to be a professor in terms of engaging students in the practice of philosophy) and research, as well as the obligation to contribute to the life of the department (being available and assisting colleagues and majors), the life of the college as a whole (engaging in policy decisions, supporting students, staff, and colleagues in the general college community) AND to contribute to: the general profession of philosophy (whether this be only nationally or internationally) AND to contribute to the larger non-academic community. Contributions to the greater community might involve some kind of civil service (speaking on behalf of some group or articulating some neglected alternative at a town meeting) or promoting an international exchange ...

How convivial are modern day philosophers towards other philosophers who have differing views? Is academia totally free of ad hominem attacks and focused on debate?

Good question. At our best, there is conviviality between persons across different philosophical viewpoints. In fact, for many (but hardly all) of us we are invested positively in the welfare of those with whom we disagree. I myself oppose probably as much as 80% of what the philosopher Bernard Williams defended, but I felt genuine remorse over his death and I have spent much of my life re-reading his work, attending his seminars and lectures when he was at Oxford, and I feel strongly that he was an outstanding, brilliant, deeply admirable philosopher. Sadly, there is some vindictiveness among some philosophers, but I think this is clearly in a minority. For any philosopher you find who is patronizing and bullying, showing disdain for other philosophers (I am intentionally not giving any names here!) you can find at least twenty philosophers who are truly considerate and respectful (from John Rawls to Philippa Foot.....).

So I’m a doctoral student trying to become a physicist. As a philosopher though, I’m just a dilettante amateur. I might however, some day, wish to professionally develop and publish a philosophical paper (the assumption being that before attempting this, I rigorously research on whatever I wish to publish). How do I (or any amateur for that matter) go about doing that, without switching departments? I imagine that I’d have to contact a professor at some department, and if given encouraging words, I’d then submit to some journal. What is this process like for amateur philosophers in general (if it exists)?

Great! Some journals do blind reviews and so your identity and thus your not being a professional philosopher in a department would not be know to those who are evaluating the work submitted. Though the initial review would be by the Editor in Chief or an assistant to her or him, and that would probably be transparent. To get started I highly recommend your reading a handful of journals in your area of choice, possibly reading the last 10 years of issues. So, if you are interested in ethics, there is the journal Ethics as well as Philosophy and Public Affairs, the Journal of Value Inquiry. If you are writing on philosophy of art, you might start reading both the British Journal of Aesthetics or the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and if philosophy of religion Faith and Philosophy, Religious Studies, the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Philosophia Christi, and Sophia. If you are seeking to do something on the philosophy of science there are a range of special journals that...

I am a student thinking about career choice. My parents say that I should focus on getting a job that will make a lot of money but without too many hours. But other people have told me that doing something I really believe in is good and having pleasant co-workers are equally as important. My priest says I should do work that I believe glorifies God, but I don't really understand how that translates into a concrete job choice. What answers does philosophy offer for thinking about what kind of job is worthwhile to pursue?

We think philosophy can help in finding one's identity and values, as ap points out. We also think that you have identified a number of different values (money, satisfaction, good co-workers...). Some values are essential (you need enough money for food). We suggest identifying your fundamental values, and trying rank or bundle them to get the best overall combination of values available to you. Good wishes from CT and TJH, a soon to be graduate who is wrestling with a similar question!

A recent while ago a person asked why their were so few religious persons in Philosophy departments these days. One philosopher responded that there were many opportunities for abstract thinking in the religion department of universities. Most religion departments are centered around particular religions such as Christianity while historically philosophers have often been spiritual but not affiliated with a religion. So I guess you could still ask why are so few philosophers spiritual in orientation and what educational department could they possibly turn to?

Interesting! There are significant numbers of self-identified "religious persons" throughout the world in different philosophy departments. You may find mostly Muslim philosophers in countries where the culture is Islamic, but that is not always true, as can be seen in the UK and USA. My own school includes a Hindu professor who shares a position with the religion and philosophy and you can find a guide to the many Christian philosophers working in the English-speaking world by looking at the Society of Christian Philosophers website. As for philosophy and spirituality, there are a few secular philosophers who have sought to promote a kind of spirituality without any religious affiliation or theistic framework (this was a project of Robert Solomon, for example). For a fascinating essay by one of the greatest living philosophers on the desire for some kind of spirituality, you should check out Thomas Nagel's essay "Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament." I think this is on his NYU ...

Would there be better philosophers if it was more lucrative? Do market forces determine the quality of philosophers?

What a wonderful question! It would be great to launch a social experiment in which this question was addressed, e.g. in certain parts of the world large sums could be made available for students to go on to do philosophy life-long and compare regions where there is less money in the offing. I suspect that if there was more money in philosophy, more people would practice the discipline and some people with native good philosophical skills who have chosen other fields due to monetary reasons might stick to philosophy. I believe Bertrand Russell observed that in his day many of the brightest, most promising philosophical students chose non-philosophy fields due to money and politics. More recently, John Searle remarked that the key to a movement in philosophy was youth and funding. That said, many of us in the field of philosophy are not in it for the money. I haven't met a philosopher (yet) who claimed they were in it for the money, but I don't think I have met many philosophers who would complain if...

My question is about the ethics of working in applied vs. pure research. I'm a student in a technical field. I am now trying to choose between a few subfields, some of which contribute more to practical technology than others. Say I'm a physics student with a choice between black-hole research, or designing a better solar cell. What, if any, are my ethical responsibilities in making this decision? Is it ethically wrong to devote my time to what amounts to a very expensive hobby, and at taxpayer or university expense? Is it better to use my education and skills to work for solutions to urgent problems? In short, what is the ethical difference between a career in pure and applied scientific research? Thank you for any response.

Great question! You are in a great position if you have the skills to do either pure or applied science. I am not sure about classifying black-hole research as "a very expensive hobby," but I think the answer to your question(s) depend on the urgency of the problems facing your community, family or nation. If you are in a political community that is facing urgent needs involving energy use, and there are few if any people as skilled as you in designing a badly needed solar cell, then I think you would have a prima facie obligation to pursue the relevant applied science. But assuming there are other well qualified scientists that can or are addressing urgent problems in technology, medicine, security and the like, then it seems that there is no such obligation. Besides some of what you might think of as "pure scientific research" may lead to some fruitful, important results in applied science.

How should one best go about selecting a career that suites their personality, values, current realities? Is it best to go with intuitive "gut" urges or try to do as much research as possible on certain careers? If the latter, how much research would be enough before simply diving into a career. I guess my question is this: a making a career choice matter of faith, methodical research and thinking, both, or something else? -T.R.S

Unfortunately or fortunately, there is no pat answer to your question from a philosophical point of view. There are, however, a few general points that might be of use: Socrates admonished the people of Athens for spending their lives in the ambitious pursuit of wealth and power rather than seeking to cultivate the soul. There is a rich 'care of the soul' tradition from Socrates on up through the medievals in which we are called to use time wisely and reflectively. For an overview of this tradition, check out Richard Sorabji's Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation (Oxford). Socrates is well known for highlighting the importance of reflection ("The unexamined life is not worth living") and so he would probably respond to your question by asking you to engage in careful examination of all options and the reasons behind each. Values: Philosophers like Pascal and William James thought that our beliefs and practices should be shaped by the values that are in play. ...

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