Are answers to political questions less concrete than answers to questions of epistemology? Does this mean that even if 100% of philosophers think that Israel has no right to exist, it is no more valid than if 30% of philosophers agreed to the problem of other minds?

Not sure I follow, but by "concrete" I'm guessing you mean either "objective" or "easy to settle." If you do, then on either alternative I can't see why there would be any difference between the two. In any case, the way you've put things suggests that nose-counting may be relevant. That's surely wrong. The percentage of philosophers who think Israel does or doesn't have a right to exist doesn't seem to me to tell us much of anything about whether that's the best view of the matter; likewise for questions about epistemology. What really matters are the reasons. I'd add this, however: most philosophers have spent a fair bit of time thinking about epistemological questions; it's part of their training. And so if most philosophers held a particular epistemological view, that would be interesting and might suggest something about the weight of the arguments. However, most philosophers have not spent much of their training thinking about political philosophy; insofar as we can talk about expertise here,...

Do philosphers think answers to questions always should mandate a philosophical response or do they think there is no such hierarchy? For example, do philosophers think they should have any more say than a politician, a political scientist or a theologian to the answer to the question, "Should there be a United Ireland?"

To say that all questions demand a philosophical response (whatever exactly that is) would be at best a very controversial philosophical view. And a philosopher who thought that philosophers should have more say on large practical questions than anyone else would be hard pressed to justify his or her position. To take your example, the question of whether there should be a united Ireland has many parts. Some of those parts no doubt call for philosophical reflection but some don't. (For example: what people in Northern Ireland and in the Republic actually think is surely relevant; but isn't something we can sort out by doing philosophy.) And even the philosophical aspects (having to do, say, with how we balance competing values) needn't be addressed by professional philosophers; philosophers don't have a monopoly on philosophical thinking. Of course, there's a more straightforward way to deal with questions of the form "Do philosophers think X?" If X is something controversial (and often even if it...

If a philosophy is widely considered difficult to understand and even more difficult to put into practice, then what good is it? Is not overthinking philosophy creating problems where none exist? For example, I sometimes read that Marxism, despite all its failures these past 150 years, has never been correctly implemented and must be given more chances to succeed. Since so many varieties of Marxism have already been tried at the cost of tens of millions of lives and an immeasurable amount of personal and economic freedom lost, why can't we say that history has "disproven" Marxist philosophy?

I'd like to pause over the first half of your first sentence (the 'if' bit): the idea that philosophy is difficult to understand and difficult to put into practice. I'd suggest that this isn't the best way to put things. Philosophy may or may not be difficult to understand, but no more so than any number of other subjects. Philosophy can be difficult to follow because when done well, it depends on careful arguments and subtle distinctions. That means there's a lot to keep track of, even if the writing is crystal clear. Compare: each step in a math proof might be clear by itself; seeing the argument entire might not be easy. The next bit is supposed to be that philosophy is difficult to "put into practice." What's striking here is that very few of the philosophers I know think of philosophy as something you "put into practice" in the way that, for example, I might put the Golden Rule into practice. By and large, philosophy isn't in the business of giving practical advice. For example: some...

Why are personal religious beliefs more respected and legally protected than personal philosophical beliefs? Could this be because religious metaphysics are more irrefutable than secular metaphysics?

I'm guessing that by "personal philosophical beliefs" you mean not just philosophical beliefs that someone might happen to hold (such as the belief that numbers exist as Platonic objects, for example) but beliefs and commitments about matters that someone takes to be of great personal significance—the kinds of things one might build one's life around. To clarify: I might think that numbers really exist as abstract objects, but if I were talked out of that belief, not much about how I live my life would change. For many religious people, on the other hand, religious beliefs are part of their core. A committed Christian, for example, might well think that if she lost her Christianity, there's an important sense in which she wouldn't be the same person. However, as you apparently recognize, religious beliefs aren't the only ones in that category. Ethical commitments are a good example. Many people with deep ethical commitments are not religious, and yet those commitments are every bt as important to...

In the rare event that all the professional philosophers in the world agreed on the answer to a philosophical problem, would that mean it is solved? If not, what good is philosophy anyway?

In the event—rare or otherwise—that all physicists in the world agreed on the answer to a physics problem, that wouldn't mean that the problem was solved. It wouldn't mean that because it's at least possible that all the physicists could be mistaken or could be missing some crucial piece of information. So if a discipline's being worthwhile requires that universal agreement among its practitioners amounts to a problem being solved, then there likely aren't any worthwhile disciplines. Perhaps the preceding remarks show that philosophy can at least provide us with useful distinctions, and that's surely worth something. But forget about agreement; if the criterion for a discipline being worthwhile is that it provide definitive answers to its problems, then deck is already stacked against philosophy. It traffics in exactly the kinds of problems where it's unreasonable to expect definitive answers. However, why think that's the criterion for a discipline's being worthwhile? Definitive answers to...

Will computers ever be able to solve philosophy problems and should they? If they could, would they give better answers than humans?

I think the best answers to your questions are, in order, we don't know, why not, and we don't know. A bit less tersely: you're asking about the capabilities that computers might one day come to have. In particular, you're asking whether they'll ever be able to pass a philosophy version of the Turing Test (that is: will they ever be able to give response that a philosopher couldn't distinguish from the ones given by flesh-and-blood philosophers.) I'd be very skeptical of any a priori argument meant to show that this is impossible. And I'd keep in mind that it's a mistake to think that the only way this could happen is for the answers to be "programmed into" the computer.

Does the amount of suffering in the world that is caused by man's misbehavior towards each other indicative of a failure of philosophy to create meaningful solutions or rather an ignorance of philosophy?

I'd say neither. Ideas can inspire, but knowing philosophy doesn't mean you won't be cruel. Theoretical understanding need not change our dispositions and sympathies. The extent to which it does is an empirical matter, but I'd guess that a sociopath could also be a skilled and brilliant philosopher. Even more important, people don't need philosophy to treat each other well. Whether someone is kind decent, and whether they understand Kant are two quite different questions. There's a related point: even if we have the right theory of goodness and justice, the question of how to get people to be good and just isn't one that philosophy can answer. It depends on all sorts of difficult factual questions that call for psychology, sociology, economics and a great many other kinds of empirical knowledge. In short: on one end of the question, I fear you may be overestimating the need for philosophy; on the other end, I fear you may be overestimating its power. That said, there's a problem I haven...

Having the opportunity to learn and discover philosophy is in my mind a privilege. Learning and understanding philosophical matters can be enlightening, clarifying, reassuring and ultimately life-changing. Although this may appear as a personal issue but relevant to all those who are interested in philosophy, my question is why might someone feel inadequate or not worthy of gaining such knowledge? I'm very interested and want to expand on the knowledge I already have but I feel guilty at the same time. Why should I get this and not someone else? I think philosophy should be taught in all schools and branched out to all corners of the world.

I'm going to read your question not as a psychological one (that as "What would cause someone to feel inadequate or unworthy or learning philosophy?") but rather as a question about whether there could be good reasons for feeling this way. Before we go on, an important preliminary: what I'll say is intended to be perfectly general and not to be a diagnosis of your particular case. Since I don't know anything about your case beyond the question I've asked, I couldn't possibly speak to its particulars. As for why someone might justifiably feel inadequate, one obvious answer is that they might lack the requisite talent. For example: if someone paid for me to do a PhD in mathematics, I would feel inadequate for the very simple reason that I don't have enough mathematical talent to be a serious part of the community of students in a PhD mathematics program. And if it turned out that my being part of the program meant I was taking the place of someone with real talent, that would reasonably make me...

If i define philosopher as lover of wisdom, how can i be sure that its a rational,critical and systematic investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct(one of nowadays favoured definitions of philosophy, it seems to me)that brings wisdom? It seems quite bit too dogmatic to me. It seems like these epithets are implying the only way through one can gain wisdom, but what if there are others means to gain wisdom?

If word origins were a good guide to the nature of a profession, a secretary would be a keeper of secrets and a plumber would be someone who works in lead. That suggests we have some reason to be suspicious at the outset. Even if we grant that "philosopher" comes from the Greek for "lover of wisdom," that doesn't tell us much about what the discipline of philosophy actually is. Let's take the philosophers who think of themselves as systematically, critically examining principles of being, knowledge and/or conduct. Do they see themselves as engaged in the pursuit of wisdom? Some might, but I'd guess most don't. They're trying to sort through interesting and abstract questions of a particular sort, but no wise person would think of abstract theoretical understanding as amounting to wisdom nor, I submit, would any wise person think that wisdom requires abstract, theoretical understanding. I'd side with the wise here. Wisdom isn't easy to characterize in a sound bite, but I think of a wise...

Does complex and conventional language hamper the growth of true understanding in philosophy?

On one way of understanding your question, the answer seems not just to be "No," but "Hell no!" What I mean is this: the discipline of philosophy isn't a mystical practice. Among its most important techniques are careful analysis and well-reasoned argument. The kind of thinking philosophers pursue needs to be embodied in a rich and subtle language. And on one meaning of "conventional" -- i.e., based on shared conventions and meanings -- we would be unable to communicate successfully without the conventions of language. Now for a couple of caveats. Good philosophical ideas might come by any number of routes, including sudden bursts of insight. But the discipline of philosophy calls for shaping and articulating those insights. And if by "complex language," you mean bad, bloated writing, then indeed that can get in the way of understanding. But this goes for any discipline; not just for philosophy. So yes: philosophers sometimes smother their ideas in a blur of verbiage. But good philosophy...

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