As an academic philosopher what do you think are your biggest responsibilities

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As an academic philosopher what do you think are your biggest responsibilities outside of teaching and research in terms of to the world and to the field in general? Why do you feel you even have those responsibilities at all?

Good questions! For myself and those in a similar position as a professor in the liberal arts each of the faculty is understood (and this is part of our job description) to have obligations in terms of teaching (or, putting this slightly differently, the obligation to be a professor in terms of engaging students in the practice of philosophy) and research, as well as the obligation to contribute to the life of the department (being available and assisting colleagues and majors), the life of the college as a whole (engaging in policy decisions, supporting students, staff, and colleagues in the general college community) AND to contribute to: the general profession of philosophy (whether this be only nationally or internationally) AND to contribute to the larger non-academic community. Contributions to the greater community might involve some kind of civil service (speaking on behalf of some group or articulating some neglected alternative at a town meeting) or promoting an international exchange (in class last fall I enabled my students here in the upper mid-west of the USA to exchange videos of philosophical reflections on the love of wisdom with Muslim students in Tehran, Iran).

I have answered your question in light of what is actually practiced in a formal, intentional way at a liberal arts college, but there will be lots of philosophers in different academic settings in which the above is not expected. Would the above expectations be proper for an adjunct instructor at a university in which she has an enormous teaching load and virtually no support from her colleagues or chair? That would seem excessive.

Taking up one other option: imagine an academic philosopher hired by a college or university to teach and do research with no formal, contractual obligations for the greater service that is expected at my college (St. Olaf College, though I believe that the practice here is similar to most liberal arts colleges). Under conditions when an academic philosopher is not over burdened with teaching and research and has no such additional contractual obligations, I suggest it would be odd if she felt no obligation at all to care about students and colleagues who are not part of her immediate professional responsibilities. Imagine a not over-burdened philosophy professor is invited to give a lecture to her university on one of her favorite philosophical topics or to serve on a tenure committee or to join with a group of faculty and students to informally discuss philosophy over Pizza and, while she is not given any financial incentive to do so, she refuses to do so on the grounds that "none of those activities are part of my job." Let's say she is right in that she was not hired to do those activities nor is she being paid to do them "above and beyond her job description." Still, to stick only within the boundaries of a narrow job description would (to me and, I believe to many) seem (at the very least) to show a lack of generosity or (sounding a bit more sentimental) to show a lack of love for the practice of philosophy itself and a lack of love for members of one's community.

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