A reader wrote in today with the following query, encouraging me to share it on the Cocoon for discussion:
I hope you don't mind but I thought I'd ask you for some advice. I am a biologist, currently doing a postdoc on a marine biology subject. During my biology PhD I took a couple of extracurricular courses in epistemology, and fell in love with philosophy. Recently I found myself thinking more and more about philosophical themes, especially philosophy of biology, which kind of makes sense considering my background. This year I was very happy to have a paper published in this area. My postdoc advisor was somewhat surprised by the subject matter, but was pleased with the publication (since we are evaluated on the basis of productivity, a paper is a paper is a paper, I suppose). Although I fully intend to finish my postdoc and pursue further employment in biology, I would also like to try to publish an occasional philosophical paper. Do you think this is a reasonable goal? Or do you reckon it might hinder my employment prospects within biology? And in order for me to be able to make a contribution to the discipline, do you think I ought to get a proper qualification in philosophy? I only had philosophy in high school, plus those two epistemology courses I mentioned. I read a lot of philosophy, but I'm not sure that's enough. The problem is, there is no philosophy at the only university where I live now; my only option would be to do the online BA ... but it requires a significant investment of time and money. I'm not sure I could do it on top of the postdoc. Also, is it a bit silly to get a BA in another subject after a PhD? I've never heard of anyone doing that.