(Click through for the rest, and for a caption explaining the philosophy referenced.)
Does philosophy have a responsibility to be relevant to real world problems? This is a question often asked of science. I think the answer is complicated, because we never know where a real world solution might come from. Most of philosophy is a waste, but the problem is that there is no agreement on which part is useful and which is a waste, and you can never know when something that initially appears utterly irrelevant to the real world won’t turn out to have profound consequences.
That said, I’ve noticed a pattern in recent years with publications about scientific studies having a short blurb added explaining what its possible real world benefits might eventually be. Should philosophy contemplate doing something similar?
Many might argue that no one expects mathematical proofs to have this kind of real world application, and they’d be right. Of course, I doubt anyone would expect an abstract logical proof to have one either. It’s only when someone is attempting to apply math and logic to entities in the world where pragmatic applicability starts to become expected.
Personally, I think that both philosophy and science should be free to explore areas that might not have real world applicability, on the promise that many of those pursuits will stumble on pragmatic solutions. But I can understand the other side of this argument given never ending budget pressures.
What do you think?