Philosophy of Academics included Philosophy of Education, but also questions about the validity of methods of research and scholarly communication. Questions include, but are not limited to is the separation between “fields of study” in academia reasonable or arbitrary?, is there a more reasonable way to measure academic achievement beyond degree level?, and can people still be world class scholars in more than one field?. If I were to categorize these questions, I think they would fit reasonably well into a category that I would call “philosophy of academics.”
This article will be updated over time, as I build a list of questions and concerns that reasonably fit into Philosophy of Academics (PoA) and as I consider further argument for the validity and utility of the topic.
Questions & Problems
The following is an incomplete list of questions and problems within the topic of PoA.
- Is the separation between “fields of study” in academia reasonable or arbitrary?
- Is there a more reasonable way to measure academic achievement beyond degree level?
- Can people still be world class scholars in more than one field?
- Is Consensus a Valid Measure of the Robustness of Theories?
- Does bias exist in research funding and publications, if so, what kind, how does it affect results, and how can it be fixed?
All of the questions are questions about academia specifically because of how academia is reasonably defined. Specifically, Academia is “the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship (Oxford).”
Why is it Philosophy?
It is value theory: these questions ask what value there is in the current practices of academia and whether there are better ones. It is epistemology: it is asking about whether or not there are even boundaries, that can be identified, a priori, between academic fields. What is Philosophy) Finally, it asks “what is possible within academia?”
Not Just Philosophy of Education/Science
Because academia is the environment or community concerned with education, PoA includes philosophy of education. But it is much more than just philosophy of education. Philosophy of education includes many of the questions asked above, especially when it comes to specific division of ideas as they are taught, but not in terms of actual differences between the domains of knowledge. PoA also would include other questions, such as those related to research methods and availability. Whether or not peer review is most reasonable way for researchers to communicate, how much bias, and what kind of bias exists in research funding and publishing all would fall under PoA.
Because science is a method of doing research, Philosophy of Academics is also intimately connected to Philosophy of Science, although the questions are going to be a bit different. PoA would focus more heavily on institutional issues, over the core nature of scientific investigation.
Some of these questions fall into philosophy of science, some into philosophy of education, some into social epistemology, and so on, but they all fall into philosophy of academia, because academia is the “environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship.”
While philosophy can exist for philosophy’s sake alone, it can also provide insight into problems and can help to offer solutions. Philosophy of academics can not only help us understand academia, but also help improve it, including through improvement of education specifically, the relationship between research, education, and scholarship, and as a tool to help produce better quality data, and more open research.