I find Peter Singer’s ethics to be controversial, but important starting points for debate on philosophy and ethics, which I feel does not happen enough.
Today I agree with him - that we do need more humanities…
Last year, a report from Harvard University set off alarm bells, because it showed that the proportion of students in the United States completing bachelor’s degrees in the humanities fell from 14% to 7%. Even elite universities like Harvard itself have experienced a similar decrease. Moreover, the decline seems to have become steeper in recent years. There is talk of a crisis in the humanities.
I don’t know enough about the humanities as a whole to comment on what is causing enrollments to fall. Perhaps many humanities disciplines are not seen as likely to lead to fulfilling careers, or to any careers at all. Maybe that is because some disciplines are failing to communicate to outsiders what they do and why it matters. Or, difficult as it may be to accept, maybe it is not just a matter of communication: Perhaps some humanities disciplines really have become less relevant to the exciting and fast-changing world in which we live.
I state these possibilities without reaching a judgment about any of them. What I do know something about, however, is my own discipline, philosophy, which, through its practical side, ethics, makes a vital contribution to the most urgent debates that we can have.
I recently released a ranked list of the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013. The ranking includes economists, psychologists, authors, political scientists, physicists, anthropologists, information scientists, biologists, entrepreneurs, theologians, physicians, and people from several other disciplines. Yet three of the top five global thinkers are philosophers: Slavoj Žižek, Daniel Dennett, and me. GDI classifies a fourth, Jürgen Habermas, as a sociologist, but the report acknowledges that he, too, is arguably a philosopher.
The only Global Thought Leader in the top five not involved in philosophy is Al Gore. There are more economists in the top 100 than thinkers from any other single discipline, but the top-ranking economist, Nicholas Stern, ranks tenth overall.
Daniel Dennett, is someone I have some history with - if you havent read any of his work - ‘Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking’ is a great place to start. Like any work on ethics - it will challenge you.. amazon.com
Read more at project-syndicate.org