Are philosophers experts?

My friend Dan Kaufman and I engaged in yet another conversation, this time on the somewhat weird — in my opinion — question of whether there is such thing as philosophical expertise, and what it consists of.

We begin by responding to the obvious objection: “But Socrates didn’t have a PhD!” (no kidding, Sherlock), moving on to explain why I just hate it when teachers say that they learn “just as much” from their students as the other way around. If they do, I submit, they are incompetent teachers.

We then get a bit more in depth on the topic, exploring, for instance, the similarities between doing philosophy and doing mathematics, as well as what exactly philosophers of science can teach scientists.

We also cover research showing a disappointing degree of personal morality in professional moral philosophers, talk about why Dan’s grandmother’s was a good person without having studied any philosophy, and contrast her example with the Socratic dictum about examining one’s life. Enjoy the video!

Published by

Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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