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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 25, Issue 2, Fall 2011

Ben Hale
Pages 215-232
DOI: 10.5840/ijap201125219

The Methods of Applied Philosophy and the Tools of the Policy Sciences

In this paper I argue that applied philosophers hoping to develop a stronger role in public policy formation can begin by aligning their methods with the tools employed in the policy sciences. I proceed first by characterizing the standard view of policymaking and policy education as instrumentally oriented toward the employment of specific policy tools. I then investigate pressures internal to philosophy that nudge work in applied philosophy toward the periphery of policy debates. I capture the dynamics of these pressures by framing them as the “dilemma dilemma” and the “problem problem.” Seeking a remedy, I turn to the interdisciplinarity of a unique approach to policymaking generally known as the “policy sciences.” Finally, I investigate the case of bioethics, an instance where philosophy has made decent headway with policymakers. From this I draw parallels to public policy. I suggest that because the policy sciences are essentially an alchemist’s brew of academic fields, and because philosophy covers many of the foundational questions associated with these fields, it is only natural that applied philosophers should begin collaborations with other applied academics by adopting the strategies that have so successfully applied in other theoretical fields.

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