Hampering alternatives

Others have claimed that we are looking in the wrong places: applied philosophy journals aren’t where we will find philosophers providing accounts of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work. This strikes us as a peculiar argument. Sure, a policy journal would be a natural place to publish a piece on the philosophical dimensions of a particular policy problem, just as a journal in conservation biology would be a good place to publish a piece on intrinsic value in nature.

And indeed there are philosophers who do publish abroad in other fields. Some of them have been so successful that their impacts on these other fields may rival their influence within philosophy. Some examples of this extra-disciplinary presence might include Michael Walzer with law, Michael Nelson and Baird Callicott with conservation biology, Dan Hausman with economics, Daniel Dennett with cognitive science (and more), Martha Nussbaum with development studies, and Paul Thompson with agriculture.

Clearly we are not claiming that there are no philosophers doing important engaged work. But we are claiming that there is a lack of reflexivity about how to do this work. Because the applied philosophy journals we surveyed  are the places where we should see philosophers reflecting on such work, identifying best practices and lessons learned. Yet there is almost none of this. As a result, efforts to institutionalize alternative philosophical practices are hampered. So too are efforts to train the next generation so that engaged philosophy can become a respectable node on the network of 21st century philosophy.