I came across an article claiming that 82 percent of peer-reviewed publications in Humanities are not even cited once, let alone read by the general public. What's more interesting is that the increased specialization in contemporary Humanities further narrows down the target readers of academic publications to such an extent that these publications become inaccessible to most other professors.

This leads me to my question: if a fellow philosophy professor critiques your study using an approach you are not familiar with or do not understand, should you bother responding to the criticism?

Say, for example, that philosophy professor A published an article explaining "right" and "wrong" using traditional conceptual analysis. Philosophy professor B critiqued her paper using formal or mathematical models. Assuming that philosopher A does not specialize in math, should she bother responding to the criticism?

  • This seems subjective, and as such, there is no true answer. That said, I would think that if the goal of philosophy is to reach either truth or understanding then the original author should care about the criticism, regardless of whether they know the foundation behind the criticism. It could totally disprove their idea, for instance, so why should the philosopher waste time on an idea that has been disproven? – Phlegon_of_Tralles May 15 '17 at 12:05
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    This seems to be paired with academia.stackexchange.com/questions/89468/… ... but I don't really get the question on several levels. First, I don't understand the connection between the first paragraph and the other two. Second, are you asking what is ethical to do? or what is practical to do? Third, is there some sort of clearer background that could better make sense of when/how such a critique is made? – virmaior May 15 '17 at 14:38

Philosophers (and most humanity scholars) have no incentive to respond to criticisms which come from different fields of study.

Example: Emeritus Professors Churchlands are radical, neuro-scientific eliminativists, who believe that consciousness and intentionality can be reduced to brain states. A lemma to this view, according to them, is that our sense of the good or justice can be eventually reduced to brain states, which further entails that topics of ethics and political philosophy would be reduced to that of neuro-science.

The Professors' prediction could turn out to be right in the era of StarTreck, but presently the best neuro-scientific intelligence we got is AlphaGo's wining Lee Sedol. It is no wonder then that no ethicists and political philosophers find the Professors' finding threatening, as none have been bothered to respond to their conclusion analytically so far.

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  • I think this answer has to be qualified a bit before it comes close to being correct. It really is highly sub-field dependent. Some sub-fields of philosophy are very interdisciplinary and there is regular cross-discipline criticism as well as collaboration. Maybe the more traditional "core" areas, when practiced in a certain way, are insulated enough that what you say is true of them (certain parts of the literature in Metaphysics, Ethics, and Epistemology, e.g.) but it doesn't seem to fit well with what goes on in a lot of "Phil of X" fields (Phil Math, Phil Mind, Phil Science, etc.). – Dennis May 15 '17 at 21:06
  • Thanks for the comment. I was not aiming to be correct with my observation. I just wanted to say that philosophers do not (need to) give a d$$ when people from other fields are trying to meddle with their specialized fields. Why, of course, is more important, but that q was not asked. – Nanhee Byrnes PhD May 16 '17 at 14:03

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