As I am paid to listen to radio you would only do so if you were paid, I encountered on Canberra's ABC 666's morning Saturday show with Greg Bayliss, an interview with Jeanette Kennett, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, ANU.
Kennett said the Centre does try to have an influence and is doing so in public policy in various ways. She said the Centre last year did a report for the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on dual use dilemmas in science; one of her colleagues is developing a new patent system to make it easier to get pharmaceuticals companies to make their research available so third world countries will benefit from cheaper drugs.
As a trained philosopher who does not get paid to think, I understand the frustration of Mr Atkinson that philosophy is barely understood and often maligned as not useful. This was demonstrated sadly by Bayliss who appeared quite intrigued that there was such a thing as a philosopher let alone actually understood what one did. He understood the word ethics however, not deeply though enough to know that he was dealing with a serious discipline. Still, he failed to really get anything much out of her other than that she lived inside her own mind as a kid and she took long enough to start a family before she finished her degree.
I also offer as an example our own Samuel Douglas who for all intents and purposes is a professional philosopher currently or at least headed in that direction.
Finally I evoke Karl Marx and Michel Foucault who not only being philosophers, managed to become almost ideological through out academia generally, or at least the humanities.
I agree that society at large does not take philosophy seriously. I feel however that it can not be maintained that academically and politically it is thought to be useless. Areas of philosophy are scientific such as logic, while as a discipline it has both created modern science in the one instance, and then conformed to be more scientific. This is where we may have three theories:
- Mr Atkinson proposed that philosophy needs to become more scientific
- Mr Hill has been claimed to be saying that philosophy is scientific because it created science
- I am suggesting that philosophy has already become more scientific
I accept that mine and Martin's theories may be the same thing or very similar, but I call upon him to post his hypothesis as this may be grounds for an interesting discussion. If that fails, then we should turn to the more general question: is philosophy useful?