Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 9, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2002

Patricia Shipley, Fernando Leal
Pages 1-9

Is Practical Philosophy for Private Profit or Public Good?
A Critical View of the Practical Turn in Contemporary Philosophy

This paper takes a critical look at the rise of the practice of philosophy in the market place in late modernity. Two main forms of such practice are identified: the practice of Socratic Dialogue in small groups in organisations and one-to-one philosophical counselling of individual 'clients'. The relevance of professionalism for commercialised applied practical philosophy is discussed. Philosophical counsellors in particular may be at risk of engaging with vulnerable individuals who are in need of protection from practitioners who are not trained to deal with their problems. Psychology is the discipline which is most related to practical philosophy and it is growing in ethical awareness. This paper emphasises the importance of ethics for philosophy in practice. There is a pressing need for eternal vigilance by practitioners from such disciplines, whether professionalised or not, in the complex modern'runaway world'.