When the Philosopher Enters the Room : Comments on Jonathan Wolff’s Approach to Philosophy and Public Policy
Journal of Philosophy and Public Issues
7 - 19 p.
Philosophy, Ethics, Public policy
What can philosophy tell us about ethics and public policy? What can the ethics of public policy tell us about philosophy? Those are the questions that Jonathan Wolff addresses in his wonderful little book. At one level, of course, the answer is straightforward—ethics is a branch of philosophy, so philosophy can tell us about the ethics of public policy, understood as a matter of deciding ‘what we should do’ in a manner that is institutionalised and collectively binding. But at another level, as Wolff shows, there is something deeply puzzling about the idea that philosophy can tell us anything very useful about public policy and about the ethical dilemmas that it raises. [First lines]