Being Nicer Won't Save Us

Right now I’m reading Generous Thinking by Kathleen Fitzpatrick. (link) It’s an interesting, challenging book. Fitzpatrick’s thesis is that the crises faced by academia can be mitigated to a greater or lesser degree by what she calls “generous thinking” directed both inward and outward. Academics are generally too exclusionary, too insular, too jargony. In response, she believes that we should adopt more expansive and comradely modes of communication. A great example of how academic philosophers, for instance, separate themselves from the rest of the world is how often we take seriously a deep distinction between “the folk” and “experts” in the content and evidential value of our various ethical or epistemic or metaphysical intuitions. Fitzpatrick isn’t writing as a philosopher or to philosophers specifically, but a lot of what she says resonates strongly with my own experience in academic philosophy. She acknowledges that thinking and communicating generously won’t fix everything but, in her view, it’s the best way forward.

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