Public philosophy

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Public philosophy is a subfield of philosophy that involves engagement with the public. Jack Russell Weinstein defines public philosophy as "doing philosophy with general audiences in a non-academic setting".[1]. It must be undertaken in a public venue but might deal with any philosophical issue. Michael J. Sandel describes public philosophy as having two aspects. The first is to "find in the political and legal controversies of our day an occasion for philosophy". The second is "to bring moral and political philosophy to bear on contemporary public discourse."[2] James Tully emphasizes that public philosophy is done through practice, through the contestable concepts of citizenship, civic freedom, and nonviolence.[3] [4] According to Sharon Meagher, one of the founders of the Public Philosophy Network, “'public philosophy' is not simply a matter of doing philosophy in public, but must also engage with the community it finds itself in.[5]

Some public philosophers are academic professionals, such as Cornel West, Jürgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Richard Rorty,[6] James Tully, Jack Russell Weinstein , but others may work outside of the usual academic contexts of teaching and writing for peer-reviewed journals such as social activist Jane Addams[7] and novelist Ayn Rand.[8]

Jack Russell Weinstein, director of The Institute for Philosophy In Public Life, contends that although it is commonplace to argue that public philosophy promotes democracy, this argument assumes philosophers are better citizens than non-philosophers.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weinstein, Jack Russell (2014). "Public Philosophy: Introduction". Essays in Philosophy. 15 (1): 1–4. doi:10.7710/1526-0569.1485.
  2. ^ Sandel, Michael J. (2005). Public Philosophy: Essays on Morality in Politics. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-674-01928-8. OCLC 60321410.
  3. ^ James Tully, especially Chapter 9 "On local and global citizenship: an apprenticeship manual," Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume II: Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Ideas in Context series. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 243-309.
  4. ^ Tully, James (18 December 2008). Public Philosophy in a New Key: Volume 1, Democracy and Civic Freedom. Ideas in Context series. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-521-44961-8. OCLC 316855971.
  5. ^ "Create your own social network with the best community website builder - NING" (PDF). Archived from /KetteringreportfinalcorrectedFeb2013.pdf the original (PDF) on 2020-02-14. Retrieved 2022-02-26. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  6. ^ Posner, Richard A. (2003). Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline (paperback ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 320–321. ISBN 0-674-01246-1. OCLC 491547976.
  7. ^ Hamington, Maurice (June 15, 2010). "Jane Addams". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  8. ^ Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (1995). Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-271-01440-7. OCLC 31133644.
  9. ^ Weinstein, Jack Russell (2014). "What Does Public Philosophy Do? (Hint: It Does Not Make Better Citizens)". Essays in Philosophy. 15 (1): 33–57. doi:10.7710/1526-0569.1488.[permanent dead link]

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