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Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch (guest post by Jennifer Morton)

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“What I’m suggesting here is… doing philosophy with the public not just because of what we think we can offer with our expertise, but because of what we think the public can offer philosophy.” The following is a guest post* by Jennifer Morton, associate professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center. Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch by Jennifer Morton A few weeks into teaching a philosophy of action course at the City College of New York, one of my students exclaimed in exasperation something along the lines of, “We are just talking about the problems of privileged, white people here!” Several other students concurred. I urged them to say more. The examples, one of them explained, were disconnected from their experience of making choices. She didn’t have a second-order desire that her desire to go to her job as a cashier at Walgreens be effective over her desire to stay in bed in the morning. She had to work. Her job sucked, but she did it. Their critique resonated with me. I too had had the experience of reading philosophy and thinking that it wasn’t about people like me. Now, after years as a professional philosopher with a decent salary, I have come to see more of my life reflected in the literature—decisions about whether to agree to referee a paper or where to go on vacation seem relevant rather than fanciful. But the complaint my student lodged raises a serious worry for our profession. Philosophers tend to come from a narrow slice of the population. The worries about the profession’s elitism, whiteness, and maleness have been well-documented and discussed here and elsewhere. But even those of us who buck the demographic trends might find that after years of professional philosophy, we start to sound more and more like our colleagues than like the friends and family with whom we grew up. This is the predictable result of training, socialization, and years of immersion in the system of higher. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

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