Escape velocity is the speed needed to break free from the gravitational attraction of a massive body without further propulsion. Achieving it takes lots of energy, especially if the gravitational pull is strong. That’s why most things on the planet stay on the planet. This is a useful concept for thinking about applied philosophers. They have wanted to escape the ivory tower and have a real-world impact. They’ve been trying to break free of forces that kept them grounded within isolated and insular discussions.

We think this mission has been a failure. Yes, the last 30 years has produced a great deal of subtle philosophic analysis of practical problems. But the field has failed in terms of having an extra-disciplinary impact. This is because philosophers have not been self-conscious about the gravitational pull of the massive body against which they must struggle.

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