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Taylor M

The Visionary, Master of the Domain, The Cunning Hypotheticalist, Shiftgenstein, and De Morgan JD.

The Philosophical Phive learn they aren't the only super-powered beings in the universe when they square off against the powerful Silver Rander and the planet-eating Dialethactus.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Josh: Great post! I entirely agree with your main message--that it is important and healthy to recognize that there are many different types of philosophers, and that there are many quite different ways people can contribute.

Different people have different strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are good at reframing old problems in new ways. Others of us are good at developing intricate philosophical systems. Some of us are really good at making fine distinctions. Others of us are good a "big picture" stuff. And very few of us are awesome at everything.

I too have had your experience where, sometimes, you're tempted to think there's only "one way" to do philosophy well--but, the more I've gone along, the less inclined I am to think this, and the more inclined I am to think that it's important to appreciate, and value, the different kinds of strengths and contributions different types of philosophers can make!

Mark Zelcer

Great post! I like thinking about these things.

Two things: Off the top of my head, I can't think of any contemporary systematic philosophers. It strikes me that philosophy is getting too big and complex to do that, whereas Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume, and even Mill could. Can you name any? I'd be curious. I tend to admire the approach.

Also, there is a type of philosopher who just flits from topic to topic, making a modest, or perhaps not so modest contribution in one field after another without any attempt at systematization. I think this may be another kind of kind of philosopher. What do you think?


Thanks for the comments everyone!


Here are some potential examples from main stream analytic philosophy: Thomas Nagel, Davidson, and McDowell. I think there are a number of philosophers who have worked in a systematic way through Logic, Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Phil of Mind. Kripke, Fine, Lewis, Davidson, and Quine all come to mind. Davidson thought that his work had profound implications for ethics too, though he didn't do much with that. McDowell does, however.

I'm less familiar with folks outside of LLEMM, but might Martha Nussbaum or Lorraine Code count as systamaticians?

Even if there are very few systematizers, need this worry us? It is not as though every generation of philosophers has produced tones of novel systems, and I'm not sure that is a bad thing.

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