So I had a rather bright student approach me the other day inquire about majoring in philosophy. Although she said she really enjoys philosophy, she expressed some concerns about it that I'm sure most, if not all of us, have had students ask us, and which (I assume) many of us have asked ourselves!
Her questions, more or less, were these:
Don't you ever get frustrated by the fact that there are no answers in philosophy? We study all of these theories and arguments, and yet, after thousands of years, there seems to be remarkably little agreement about which arguments/theories are good, and which aren't. Some are dualists in philosophy of mind, some are physicalists. Some are Hobbesians in political philosophy, some are Lockeans, some are libertarians, some are liberal-egalitarians, etc. What's the point of doing it all if you never get answers?
Again, these aren't just questions that we get from undergraduates. Professional philosophers ask, and attempt to answer, these types of questions themselves in print from time to time (see e.g. Bertrand Russell's famous article or, more recently, Jason Brennan's 2010 paper in Ratio).
I have to confess that I gave my student the standard boilerplate answer that (A) philosophy helps us achieve greater understanding of considerations/evidence for and against different philosophical answers, and (B) that, like most philosophers, I think that sometimes we do get real answers. But, I wonder, is this what I should have said? How do you all answer these questions when posed to you?