Survey on the Value of Philosophy


Andrew Mills (Otterbein) is conducting a survey about what philosophers think is distinctively valuable about philosophy. I’ve reproduced his note about it, below, and I encourage you to complete the survey. As he says, the survey might help us adjust our teaching “so that we are emphasizing those skills and content that we think are most important for students to know.” Also, “if the discipline of philosophy has a clear sense of what it is that we think is distinctively valuable about philosophy, we might be able to do a better job of articulating the value of our discipline and our classes to prospective students, their families and our administrations.”

Here’s Professor Mills’ note about the survey:

Many of us believe that it is valuable and important for undergraduates to study philosophy even if they do not intend to go on to graduate school. We have, however, different understandings of why studying philosophy is valuable. Is studying philosophy valuable because of the skills it teaches, or because of the content? Or both? Is there anything valuable that a student gets from one or two philosophy classes that they couldn’t get from classes in other disciplines? If so, what? In short, for students who don’t intend to study philosophy at the graduate level, is there anything that is both distinctive to philosophy and valuable for them to know? That is the question that I am thinking about and for which I would greatly appreciate your responses to the survey linked below.

I am interested in what those of us who teach philosophy think is distinctively valuable about what we teach so that we might make any necessary adjustments to our majors, our minors, and our popular philosophy classes so that we are emphasizing those skills and content that we think are most important for students to know.  Moreover, if the discipline of philosophy has a clear sense of what it is that we think is distinctively valuable about philosophy, we might be able to do a better job of articulating the value of our discipline and our classes to prospective students, their families and our administrations.

The survey, linked below, should take about 15 minutes to complete, and certainly no more than 20. I very much appreciate your time and would also appreciate it if you would forward this invitation on to any colleagues (graduate students included!) who you think might have the time to take the survey. If you want to receive a copy of the results of the survey when I have them, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected] and I will contact you with results when I have them.

Click here for the survey.

As you are thinking about the value of philosophy, if anything comes to mind to add to the Value of Philosophy Pages, feel free to email it to me.

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