14 Nov '15     home | previous

Marco Rubio, Critical Thinking and Philosophy

News in the last two days has been dominated by the ISIS attacks in Paris. ISIS has claimed responsibility, and in keeping with their brand of religiosity, philosophy or whatever you want to call it, they called Paris the "capital of prostitution and obscenity."

Philosophy became a subject during last week's Republican debate, when candidate Marco Rubio said:

For the life of me, I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less [he meant to say fewer] philosophers.

Douglas MacLean, professor of philosophy, defended his profession:

Students of philosophy learn to think critically; they learn to analyze complicated arguments; they learn to defend their views with good reasons, to think and write clearly.

Following the debate it was claimed that Rubio's observation was faulty: philosophers make more money than welders.

Another professor, the liberal economist Paul Krugman, complained that Rubio wants the Federal Reserve Board to focus solely on price stability and to stop worrying about unemployment. He accused Rubio and Republican colleagues of turning their back of Milton Friedman, whether they know it or not, and going hard money all the way. Krugman said,

You might think that the overwhelming empirical evidence against the hard-money view would count for something. But you'd only think that if you were paying no attention to any other policy debate.

A part of the critical thinking that philosophy is supposed to be about is being careful with language. Following the attacks in Paris, Marco Rubio tweeted:

The #ParisAttacks are a wake-up call. This is a clash of civilizations. Either they win or we win.

Unwittingly, Rubio was elevating a bunch of terrorists, despised by Muslims and others around the world, to the level of a civilization.

I repeat Professor Douglas MacLean's defense of his profession:

Students of philosophy learn to think critically; they learn to analyze complicated arguments; they learn to defend their views with good reasons, to think and write clearly.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.