Philosophical Pathologies

There are many.

One of which is this: Philosophers do not keep a sufficient eye out for when a field or topic has become largely ‘emptied out’–where most of the useful work has been done. I’d argue that this is where feminist epistemologies of science are today. And I have been arguing for 10 years that environmental ethics needed to a) become environmental philosophy (a shift that has largely occurred) and b) make a policy turn (largely not).

On the other side, it is possible for philosophical movements to become abortive–to end while there is still rich work to be done. Existentialism and phenomenology fall into that category, I believe.

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2 Responses to Philosophical Pathologies

  1. Carl Sachs says:

    I agree about existentialism and phenomenology, in large part because, as I see it, the interesting questions of science, metaphysics, politics, and so on come into view most clearly when delineated by existential phenomenology. Existential phenomenology is inexhaustible because human life is inexhaustible, for as long as it remains.

    I’m not quite sure if I agree about “feminist epistemologies of science”, because I’m still confused about the intension and extension of that term. Would Susan Haack, Helen Longino, and/or Heather Douglas count as doing “feminist epistemology” and/or “feminist philosophy of science”? It seems to me that, on the face of it, it’s true that (a) their work contributes to the philosophical conversation in helpful and interesting ways, and (b) their work has a recognizably feminist orientation (more pronounced in Longino, less so in Douglas and Haack but still noticeable).

    One very large of area of philosophy which has become moribund is areas of “analytic” philosophy-of-p that are conducted entirely “from the armchair,” without dialogue in what experts in p are actually doing: philosophy of physics without dialogue with physicists, philosophy of biology without dialogue with biologists, philosophy of mind without dialogue with psychologists and neuroscientists, etc.

    The so-called “X-Phi” movement is a good step in the right direction, and so is “field philosophy” (now, wherever have I heard someone use that term?).


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