Re: Why read philosophy?

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 05 Oct 1999 10:04:11 -0400

I got a masters in philosophy of science long ago. This is what is called "analytic" philosophy, and my comments must be limited to that.

The great thing about this sort of philosophy is that no question is out of bounds. They excel at taking questions that other disciplines have punted on, thinking them too intrinsically fuzzy to deal with, and actually making progress. Their methods are to be very careful with language, and to be very careful about the logic of arguments.

So philosophy of biology takes biology-related questions biologists refuse to deal with, and makes progress at least clarifying what the question could mean, and what answers could make sense. Once you read this and assimilate it into your thinking, you needn't think of it as philosophy - you can instead think of it as biology.

For me there are very few things I think about that I think of *as* philosophy - I index them in my mind as biology, or physics, or economics, or whatever. But quite often it was philosophers who deserve credit for the insights, as it was they who weren't afraid to deal with it.

Like good administration, philosophy done well fades into the woodwork.

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323