I sympathize with pleas like this one for academics to resist the pressures of the impact agenda. Serendipity clearly is a factor in achieving influence, and no doubt there are many historical examples of academic work that has achieved significant impact without its progenitors having any intention of doing so. But is it not the case that serendipity is […]

We are very happy to hear that our good friend finds his new book, A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking, on the DailyBeast’s Big Idea List for 2015. Congrats! If your idea of a philosopher is some ivory tower denizen with nothing but contempt for real-world issues, you need to meet Adam Briggle. A philosophy professor at the University of North […]

Adam Briggle–our good friend and colleague–gets a nice review of his latest book from the New York Times. Really glad to see this. Many reviews closer to Texas and to PetroDollars totally mischaracterized this important book. In his investigation of what determines people’s attitudes toward progress and technology, Briggle makes an illuminating distinction between “precautionaries” and […]

Another hurdle to philosophical utility arose in the late nineteenth century with the onset of bureaucratic culture. Professionalization, specialization, accreditation… all of these are, if not anathema to philosophy, at least deeply troubling to the spirit of philosophic inquiry, which is more about the usefulness of questioning than the providing of answers, and of challenging […]

Writing at the dawn of modernity, just before classical liberalism took hold, Machiavelli and Thomas More offered different roles for the philosopher. Machiavelli’s realpolitik embraced the chance to whisper in the King’s ear, plying his skills to make power more effective. In contrast, Raphael (the main character in More’s Utopia) shunned the role of advisor, […]

Being useful doesn’t come easy for philosophers. Some reasons for this are perennial – the chief one being that the philosopher is liable to question the value and meaning of utility. Perhaps a little perversely, she might even argue that such questioning can, in fact, be rather useful. After all, we want things to be […]