The perils of philosophy in public
We’ve long called for philosophical issues to play a larger role in public debate. Well, on Wednesday, recently crowned Kentucky Senate nominee, Rand Paul, got himself into a bit of trouble trying to do just that. Paul was discussing the legitimate role of government in regulating private institutions and ended up suggesting that government shouldn’t be able to stop a restaurant from discriminating against African Americans The Washington Post’s Chris Cilliza concludes that “theoretical arguments are stone cold losers in the context of political campaigns.” Of course, political campaigns are only one aspect of the public debate – philosophy can play a less problematic role in these other domains. And while we don’t think philosophical arguments are necessarily losers in the campaign sphere, they clearly have their perils. So be careful out there campaign managers – philosophy has an important place in public debate; just make sure you know where it will take you.