Rubio Warms Up To Philosophy


In November of 2015, Florida Senator and then presidential candidate Marco Rubio had some critical remarks for higher education in the United States, calling it outdated and saying, “I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

In the intervening years, Rubio appears to have warmed up to philosophy. Just a few hours ago, he tweeted: “I made fun of philosophy 3 years ago but then I was challenged to study it, so I started reading the stoics. I’ve changed my view on philosophy. But not on welders. We need both! Vocational training for workers & philosophers to make sense of the world.” His tweet included a link to an editorial in the Quad City Times criticizing the plan at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point to eliminate programs in philosophy and other subjects.

 

Perhaps Senator Rubio will welcome further suggestions for philosophical reading. Have one?

 

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Eddy Nahmias
Eddy Nahmias
3 years ago

Come on, Justin. He obviously changed his views after reading my take-down (it took a few years to sink in): https://www.myajc.com/news/opinion/ideas-and-arguments/Hc5fAzArpIoJXaMzopsazK/ Report

Christopher Hitchcock
3 years ago

*On Bullshit* by Harry FrankfurtReport

Andrew
Andrew
3 years ago

i recommend “Why Little Marco Rubio is a Disgrace Who Ought to Resign” by Me

abstract: i review the reasons for thinking that little marco rubio is a disgrace who ought to resign—he’s a savage capitalist ideologue more interested in nra money and the flourishing of corporations than the lives of his constituents, etc.—plus some stuff on epistemic injustice, grounding, and a variety of Other Hot Topics

it’s a great paper, you’ll love itReport

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Andrew
3 years ago

Well if it has stuff on grounding, then I am in!Report

Brian Kemple
3 years ago

I like how some respond to Rubio admitting he was wrong and trying to better himself by childishly berating him for still not being as “with it” as they themselves are. Mature, rational discourse.

At any rate, I think Aristotle’s ethics is a nice follow-up to stoicism and likely to resonate. Josef Pieper’s Leisure and In Defense of Philosophy might also help broaden his view even more.Report

Matt McAdam
Matt McAdam
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

You think folks are criticizing Rubio for not being hip? Report

Grad
Grad
3 years ago

One can think of Rubio what one likes (and my overall estimate certainly isn’t too high), but I find it commendable that he was actually open-minded enough to take a first-hand look and let himself be convinced. I wish more people, especially in politics, would demonstrate that.Report

Jon
Jon
3 years ago

I’d give him credit for having the integrity to admit his mistake. (At the time, I was more appalled that Fiorina, a philosophy major, let it go.) Also give him credit for showing up at NRA town hall—only Republican to do so—and take his lumps fairly graciously. And, of course, revising his position upward on minimum age for gun ownership. Look, politicians are mostly terrible and I’m no Rubio fan—watching Christie destroy him in a primary debate was epic—but there’s certainly much, much worse out there, even beyond the obvious Warren/Booker/Gillibrand trifecta.Report

ajkreider
ajkreider
3 years ago

Ah, I remember those comments well. The next day, I found that my chair (a historian) had left a present on my desk – a welder’s mask. Report

Alan White
Alan White
3 years ago

Rubio as a convert to philosophy? He’s hedging his bets and nothing more. He clearly sees a backlash against anti-intellectualism as does Walker in my own Wisconsin, now backing aid to schools, long overdue raises to UW faculty, and a magical 100 dollar giveback to families in an election year. They see the blowback from Trump in recent special elections–this is all about promoting themselves in the most overt way to smooth the path to reelection. If you think otherwise, then I have a bridge to sell you. As CH avers above–pure bullshit. Like my own Walker: Taxes Ranger.Report

Rick
Rick
Reply to  Alan White
3 years ago

If even philosophers can’t believe that someone else could find value in philosophy, it’s no surprise that we have an image problem and politicians think we have no value.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Alan White
3 years ago

Who cares what Rubio’s inner motivations are? Of course politicians respond to electoral incentives; of course a highly visible Senator curates their public persona carefully. But if a major GOP politician has shifted from dismissive hostility towards philosophy, to warm words about it, that’s good news regardless.Report

Alan White
Alan White
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

David, isn’t that precisely the reasoning behind the Evangelicals’ “mulligan” forgiveness of Trump? I think it does matter what motivates politicians and those with authority in general. Epistemic trust must have some ground in the authenticity of so-called authority. I don’t trust Walker’s new-found love of funding schools; I don’t trust Rubio’s new-found appreciation of philosophy. Maybe he can convince me he’s a convert to Stoicism. It’ll take more than a tweet though.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Alan White
3 years ago

Perhaps Evangelicals have good reasons to care about politicians’ inner motivations. I’m not an evangelical and can’t speak for them; I’m interested in what’s in a politician’s policy platform, not what’s in their soul. And I think it would be naïve to think that any frontline politician doesn’t tailor their opinions very substantially around concerns of electability (do you really think Barack Obama had a sincere change of heart on gay marriage between 2008 and 2012?) That’s fine by me: in a democracy, I *want* politicians to pay attention to electoral incentives.Report

Alan White
Alan White
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

I agree; now, if we just had something approaching a real democracy. The present occupant of the Oval Office is the ultimate example of our collective failure to take character into account as assisted by powerful plutocratic forces. Trump has no principles I can see (other than maybe family loyalty), no regard for anything other than what he can mold into some compliment that he can pay to himself, certainly no regard for truth other than his own version of Trump-command-theory–and yet he has turned out to be the tool of the corporate-friendly far right to get their agenda done. He is the ultimate means justified by some people’s ends, and almost certainly not the ends of the majority of US citizens. We in part put ourselves here, helped along by restrictive and gerrymandered voting, billionaire-infused campaigns, targeted social-media meddling, etc. etc. Our plutocracy has helped make questions of politicians’ character irrelevant (other than the character of the political opponent in negative advertising)–and I’d argue to our peril, not our benefit.Report

Grad
Grad
Reply to  Alan White
3 years ago

Yeah, it may be true that many people have questionable motivations in what they do, and certainly politicians, but I’m frankly getting tired of all the cynicism that everywhere only suspects bad intentions at play in one’s opponents. The dumb polarization of US political culture runs deep. I’m glad I live in Europe.Report

Marco
Marco
3 years ago

The Logic of Scientific Discovery Karl PopperReport

Karl
Karl
3 years ago

Capital Volumes I – III, Karl MarxReport