The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Nov 7, 2019
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Agnes Callard (University of Chicago)
Is there such a thing as being good or bad at philosophy?

Suppose we define being good at an activity in terms of the kind of talent or skill that would ground comparative decisions about who to assign the activity to: if you need someone to do some musical composition, you should choose Mozart over me. He’s more talented, and will therefore do a better job. Some people are clearly better at musical composition than others. Likewise, if you need someone to diagnose your illness, you should choose your Doctor over me: she is better at medical diagnosis than I am. Are there people who, in this sense, are better at philosophy than others? My answer is: no. There is no such thing as being good or bad at philosophy. I also explain how, given that this is true, it is nonetheless possible for us to make principled decisions as to whether a given individual should be the student or the teacher of a philosophy class.