The American Philosophical Association (APA) has issued a statement supporting public philosophy and urging philosophy departments to consider recognizing work in public philosophy not just as service, but also, when fitting, as teaching or research. Here’s the statement:
The American Philosophical Association values philosophers’ participation in the public arena. This includes work that engages with contemporary issues as well as work that brings traditional philosophies to non-traditional settings. Public philosophy may also bring the discipline into dialogue with other humanities, the arts, natural sciences, social sciences, and interested people outside of academia. Public philosophy is done in a variety of traditional and non-traditional media. Public philosophy can be especially valuable when it reaches populations that tend not to have access to philosophy and philosophers. Further, the APA notes that public philosophy raises the profile of the discipline, the scholar, and the home institution.
The APA encourages departments, colleges, and universities to recognize public philosophy as a growing site of scholarly involvement. To that end, the APA encourages institutions to develop standards for evaluating and practices for rewarding public philosophy in decisions regarding promotion, tenure, and salary, so that faculty members who are interested in this work may, if they choose, pursue it with appropriate recognition and without professional discouragement or penalty. Although peer-reviewed scholarly publications remain central to the profession, the APA applauds philosophers’ contributions to public policy, to consultation with government, medical, business, and civil society institutions, and to public opinion in general. Public philosophy presented or published outside of standard academic venues has evident value as external service to the profession and/or community. But we also urge institutions to consider broadening their standards for evidence of excellence in research and teaching and to consider whether their faculty’s work in public philosophy is more properly counted as contributing to these latter categories of faculty evaluation.
The statement was put forward by the APA’s Committee on Public Philosophy and its Committee on the Status and Future of the Profession in March, and approved of by the APA’s Board of Officers in May, 2017.[Note: I am on the Committee on Public Philosophy.]