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What is Philosophical Expertise? November 5, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Philosophy.
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There is an interesting and important discussion going on at Certain Doubts regarding the nature of philosophical competence or expertise.

The problem arises because there have been (and still are) great philosophers whose work was clearly false and leads us away from the truth. So philosophical competence cannot consist of finding the truth about something.

So what is philosophical expertise? What qualifies someone as an expert at philosophy? (We should exclude cases of someone who is very good at reporting philosophical positions. The question under discussion involves doing philosophy, not reporting it.)

For what it is worth, my own view is that philosophical expertise involves describing logical or phenomenological relationships between concepts and developing standards for evaluating whether such concepts are true. This involves the ability to recognize and clearly express conceptual options, entailment relationships, inconsistencies, and empirical support.

The latter ability requires the help of science whose job it is to actually develop and test empirical claims. Philosophers by contrast have to recognize when those claims provide support for conceptual distinctions.

But what say you?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com




1. Huan - November 5, 2009

Seems like the title of a great philosopher is only awarded to those who contributed a great amount to the historical course of philosophy. The history of philosophy seems to be somewhat akin to an epic tale, and the more dramatic points of this tale are labeled significant, and the corresponding philosophers are labeled great regardless of their closeness to truth.

It could be said that Descartes unintentionally destroyed dualism, and Kant unintentionally destroyed metaphysics, but their self-annihilation was so epically played out that they just have to be dubbed great philosophers.

So in a few words, philosophical merit and expertise is perhaps judged by the philosophical impact of said philosopher.

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