Volume 11, 2001
Social and Political Philosophy
Jorge J. E. Gracia
Philosophy in American Public Life
De Facto and De Jure
My focus here is on two questions: Does philosophy have a place in contemporary American public life? and should philosophy have a place in American public life? Because my answer to the first question is negative, I also will discuss some of the reasons why I believe philosophy does not play a role in American public life. I suggest that philosophers have been excluded from the public conversation in part because the work of philosophy entails criticism and challenge—activities best accomplished from “outside” of the structures of power. This means that we have a role in public life, but it is an indirect role, as teachers and critics, not as advisers and active participants.