Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice

Volume 2, Spring 2020

Brian J. Collins
Pages 72-87

The Broad Nature and Importance of Public Philosophy

Many professional philosophers are hesitant about “public philosophy”—unsure about what it is and how it’s done, and downright pessimistic about whether it is an important and valuable philosophical practice. In response to this hesitancy and in support of public philosophy, I argue that most of these philosophers already find at least one form of public philosophy important and valuable for the discipline and profession: teaching. I offer and defend a broad conception of public philosophy in order support this controversial claim. I continue by briefly offering some reasons to think that public philosophy is of value for society generally (i.e., “the public”), and argue that we, as a profession, need to fully recognize our standing commitment to public-facing philosophical work; and to engage in serious discussion and debate to better examine the various types of public philosophy, clarify the broad range of public-facing activities, and encourage/reward further public work of value.