There’s a very interesting interview with Brian Leiter over at 3:AM Magazine. Read the whole thing, as they say. Interesting and entertaining though Brian’s thoughts are, I reacted somewhat negatively to his promotion of “realism” over “moralism” and to the somewhat dismissive (though sugar-coated) remarks he makes about Jerry Cohen. Jerry actually did have some “realist” things to say about society and politics, most notably in parts of Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality and in chapter 11 of Karl Marx’s Theory of History, but his work can speak for itself. More worrying, I think, is Brian’s apparent desire to abolish large parts of philosophy altogether when he write approvingly of:
those who think the aim of philosophy should be to get as clear as possible about the way things really are, that is, about the actual causal structure of the natural and human world, how societies and economies work, what motivates politicians and ordinary people to do what they do ….
My question here is: why’s that an aim of philosophy ? The people investigating the actual causal structure of the natural world are natural scientists, not philosophers; the people investigating the actual causal structure of the human world are social scientists, not philosophers.
Update: Brian assures me that he has no desire that the moralists be “purged” (my work was “abolished”). I’m happy to hear that, but it remains that he thinks that we moralists are pursuing an agenda that is other than he believes the aim of philosophy ought to be.