It’s Hard Out Here for a Materialist

Yglesias seems right on this:

If you find yourself drawn to consequentialist views, you probably won’t find yourself doing work in the field of normative ethics or political philosophy. Similarly, reductionist views about consciousness seem to imply, among other things, that one oughtn’t spend a ton of time doing the philosophy of mind. The fields come to be dominated, numerically, by people who think there’s interesting and important work to be done in the field.

This strikes me as exactly right. I find moral philosophy and the philosophy of the mind incredibly interesting; I also think that Jeremy Bentham and Daniel Dennett, respectively, said all that needed to be said about them. Now, neuroscience doesn’t yet completely understand the mechanisms which produce consciousness, and there’s fascinating anthropological and/or psychological work to be done on evolved, innate human morality. But those are questions to be answered by scientists, not philosophers. For people like me, who aren’t scientifically-inclined yet passionately support science-related philosophical schools, there’s no real reason to get involved in philosophy, either as a philosopher or as a scientist solving philosophical questions.

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