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As a philosopher I am often asked about the usefulness of philosophy. At this point, I have a set template for my reply. I begin by presenting the historical contributions of philosophers in areas such as logic, ethics, political theory and the sciences. I then note some of the trees that have grown from these philosophical seeds, such as computers, the web, notions of human rights, and various political systems. I usually close by discussing what philosophy can do for people today, such as improving their reasoning skill. I then close by noting the continued importance of philosophical discussions in such vital areas as ethics and politics.

Yet, oddly enough, some people are still not satisfied and insist that philosophy is useless. While this might be merely an attempt to start and continue an amusing fight, perhaps there is something substantial to this sort of insistence. Perhaps there is actually a meaningful dispute over what it is to be useful. As such, I invite the reader to propose some accounts of “useful” as well as provide some examples of what sort of disciplines and things would be useful. For bonus points, compare philosophy to these paradigm cases and show how it matches up or fails to do so.

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