Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Philosophy Degree Earns More Than an Accounting Degree!

We talk a lot about the need for good jobs in America, but good-paying jobs often require certain skills. Engineering, science and technical degrees are seen as highly prized, and not without merit.

However, you don't necessarily need to major in software development or computer science to go far in this world.  You can make a good living with a philosophy degree...a really good living.  Click below to watch the video:

Make More Than Accounting?!?

This should be a huge relief to parents putting their children through college and wondering how junior is ever going to be able to pay the bills after earning a master's degree in Elizabethan poetry.

Research from, and suggests that people with degrees in the humanities can go on to well-paying jobs. Granted, engineering grads still stand to make the most, more than six figures, according to Bankrate pegs physicians as having the highest median pay at $172,000, but it costs $137,000 on average to become a doctor. However, not too further down the financial food chain are some interesting degrees which don't require you to write code or cure disease to earn enough to pay back your college loans and then some.

According to Payscale, graduates of journalism school have starting median salaries of $38,100 which jump to $67,700 by midcareer. Broadcast journalism graduates start out a little lower, but jump a little higher midcareer to $68,800 in "report"-able income (report, get it? Heh, heh). points out that "those with a background in journalism also tend to be in high demand in lucrative areas such as marketing and communications." Bottom line: just because you study journalism doesn't mean you're going to make a living as a journalist.

See “journalism” above. A degree in one area doesn’t mean you’re going to make a living there. If you can understand Shakespeare, maybe you can understand a business plan, or at least know how to market a company using iambic pentameter. Like journalists, English lit grads can go into other careers like marketing, PR or publishing. reports median midcareer salaries are $71,400, which is slightly more pay than the average for people with degrees in business administration!

"Government jobs are notoriously highly paid," said TheRichest. Really? Well government lobbying jobs certainly are, and companies often look for grads with knowledge of public policy. says while median salaries for poli sci grads start around $40,000, by midcareer they can nearly double to $78,500. Definitely good enough for government work.

Skip the poli sci, go straight to IR. Payscale says this is one of the best-paying degrees to have, with median incomes by the middle of your career at $85,700.

I think, therefore I … make money! Graduates with philosophy degrees have "higher earnings potential than many other arts and humanities-related fields," said TheRichest. Payscale reports midcareer median salaries are $84,000 for your modern day Kant or Descartes. Why? Well, let's be logical. Which is exactly what philosophy programs require of students … logic. Thinking is hard, it requires analysis, and those who can do it well can get a good job … which is a good philosophy to have.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

German Philosophers Ponder Unexpected Proposition: Popularity


January 12, 2015

Wolfram Eilenberger, editor of “Philosophie Magazin,” in Berlin, savors the disciplinary boom. Philosophic discourse, he argues, should be conducted not only on university campuses but in the public square.

By Paul Hockenos

In Germany, a country known for esoteric thinkers like Hegel and Heidegger, the growth of media focused on philosophy is drawing university philosophers out of the ivory tower and thrusting them into the mainstream of public life. As flattered as many of them are at the unlikely attention—which has attracted more undergraduates to their classes—some worry that the so-called philosophy boom may put pressure on academics to dumb down the likes of metaphysics and epistemology for a lay audience.

The boom includes several new magazines, three TV shows, several radio "philosophy cafes," which are informal roundtables with  deep thinkers, and an annual Philosophy Festival. Popular paperbacks, too , aspire to tackle the profound questions of the day by employing the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, Descartes and Spinoza, as well as contemporary practitioners like Judith Butler and Jürgen Habermas.

"For us, it’s about how philosophy and today’s philosophers can help us renew our perspective on what we know or seem to know," says Wolfram Eilenberger, editor of the glossy Philosophie Magazin, which is based here.

"Philosophy can be an extremely effective means to help us interpret and order ourselves in our environment," says Mr. Eilenberger, a former academic who taught at the University of Toronto. The public square, not the elitist confines of university campuses, is the appropriate domain for philosophic discourse, he argues.

Philosophie Magazin, which hit the newsstands in 2010 and has a circulation of 90,000, proposes to investigate the "large and small questions in life through a philosophic lens." Its first issue asked "Why do we have children?," bringing Nietzsche, Jacques Derrida, Plato, and other thinkers to bear on the topic. Subsequent issues have dealt with questions as disparate as "Do Germans think differently?," "Do coincidences decide our lives?," and "God, a good idea?" One recent issue looked at the intellectual tenets behind Vladimir Putin’s "New Russia" ideology.

Aside from the magazine, popular, even best-selling, books written by a new generation of philosophers are available at newsstands. The philosopher Richard David Precht’s Who Am I?—And if So, How Many? sold 1.4 million German copies. Along with Mr. Precht, Markus Gabriel, a philosophy professor at the University of Bonn, belongs to the group of best-selling philosophers. His Why the World Does Not Exist, which argues that metaphysics is dead, was on German best-seller lists in 2013.

Observers of the upswing in interest say theoretical thinking is ever more relevant to rapidly changing, crisis-ridden societies. "Many people are searching for the kind of orientation that religion had provided in the past," says Eva Gilmer, philosophy editor at the Suhrkamp publishing house, who notes that Germans have been leaving churches for years. "They’re perhaps also searching for something more substantial than all of the TV channels, Internet information, and social media."

As pleased as university philosophers seem to be in the limelight, they see pitfalls, too. Thomas B. Sattig, chair of theoretical philosophy at the University of Tübingen, says that like any other discipline, philosophy needs experts, and that the best way to do serious philosophy is in "the controlled conditions of a philosophy laboratory"—an academic setting.

"It’s important not to distort philosophy by asking overly simple questions and then providing simple answers to them," he says, drawing a line between rigorous philosophy and pop psychology that poses as philosophy. "Sometimes there are 10 questions behind that one question. If you oversimplify, you risk getting it wrong."

Nonetheless, many philosophers are pleased that the apparent boom includes undergraduates flocking to their classes. At Tübingen, Mr. Sattig says, the number of students enrolled in philosophy courses has increased by nearly one-third, to 1,600, in the past three years. The philosophy departments at both Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg and Goethe University, in Frankfurt am Main, have had to impose limits on enrollments for the first time ever.

Germany’s academic philosophers are adapting to the unexpected demand at their universities and from the public. In the past, says Ms. Gilmer, of Suhrkamp, they wouldn’t have considered aiming books about their latest research at a popular audience. Now even the most serious philosophers enjoy recognition and influence beyond the classroom, she says.

"Academic philosophy and the popular publications can very well exist side by side, as long as you don’t mistake one for the other," says Ms. Gilmer.

Mr. Eilenberger says many academics initially turned up their noses at Philosophie Magazin. But now just about every philosopher in Germany is open to the idea, he says. "The challenge for us is to get academics to express themselves in an accessible, dialogic style."

Michael Hampe, who writes for Philosophie Magazin and is the author of the widely read Four Meditations on Happiness, cites the complexity involved in writing philosophy for a general public. It’s not as easy as conducting academic research and then spinning off a few lighter books about it, he says.

"Sometimes the popular version is harder to write than the academic product," Mr. Hampe says. "The true public intellectual can do both. But it takes hard work and lots of time."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Reason and Moral Progress

Rebecca Newberger GoldsteinSteven PinkerReason is the tool of the Philosopher. It is also what makes most of society happen. To ignore it is to still be subject to it. 

 In the following animated TED video, watch as psychologist Steven Pinker is gradually, brilliantly persuaded by philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein that reason is actually the key driver of human moral progress, even if its effect sometimes takes generations to unfold.

Curiously, the arguments that Goldstein uses are reminiscent of Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, and Plantinga (All theists, by the way.  You'll see what I mean...).

The dialog was recorded live at TED, and animated, in incredible, often hilarious, detail by Cognitive.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Restorative Justice and Psychopaths

In our Philosophy classes, we often discuss the difference between retributive and distributive justice.  Yet in those concepts is implied another aspect of justice that is often overlooked: restorative justice.

"There is a long tradition of associating justice with punishment and, of course, punishment with violence. When there is an offender and a victim, traditional justice ignores the needs created by the crime for the victim and the victim's community. Instead, all of the attention is paid to how punishing the offender might restore justice in the abstract--removed from the actual wounds that need healing--as though the state were the victim. But when we shift our thinking and look at the actual needs that result from the crime (restoring trust, security, truth-telling, and more), we can focus on what we should: on restoring victims, communities, and even offenders." --Dr. Craig Hovey

In the following Ted Talk, Daniel Reisel takes up this issue and studies the brains of criminal psychopaths (and mice). He asks a big question: Instead of warehousing these criminals, shouldn't we be using what we know about the brain to help them rehabilitate? Put another way: If the brain can grow new neural pathways after an injury ... could we help the brain re-grow morality?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AU's Ethics Minor!

Did you know that AU offers a unique Minor in Ethics?

Shared between the Philosophy and Religion departments, the Ethics Minor trains students to be more ethically diverse and aware of their global responsibilities.  Consisting of only 15 hours, if planned correctly, almost EVERY MAJOR can benefit from this opportunity and add the Ethics minor with as little as ONE additional course beyond their core requirements.  It's a value-added, low to no cost minor!

Minor Information for All Students: BASIC INFO

Minor Information especially for Nursing Students: NURSING INFO 

Be Extraordinary . . . Be an Ethics Minor!

For the complete program, as well as a list of approved electives, please visit:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Colloquium Talk on Business Ethics: UPDATE

The Philosophy Department, in conjunction with the AU Philosophy Club and Phi Sigma Tau
proudly sponsor the following presentation:

“Business Ethics: Can Aristotle Help Us?”

Dr. James Stover
Wheeling Jesuit University,WV
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
4 pm
Schar Ronk Lecture Hall

This talk is an attempt at a sort of fusion of horizons with regards to ethics.  It asks two questions: First, is Aristotle’s ethics a viable system for a person living in the 21st century?  Second, is Aristotle relevant for today’s business ethics?  This second question became especially poignant at the beginning of this millennium with such debacles as Enron, Arthur Anderson, and WorldCom.  Moreover, these debacles were trumped by the recent financial scandals of Lehman brothers, Countrywide Financial, AIG, and others, associated with the financial meltdown of 2008 and 2009.  Are there ancient answers to these modern questions?  More specifically, what can Aristotle who lived over twenty-three hundred years ago, contribute to how we live our lives and operate our businesses today?

Dr. Stover is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wheeling Jesuit University.  He specializes in the areas of philosophical ethics, ancient philosophy, and business ethics.

Mediasite Presentation:


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Faculty Update: Dr. William Vaughan Gives Workshops on Phenomenology

Dr. William Vaughan, core director, AU
Dr. William Vaughan
Dr. Vaughan recently delivered two invited workshops on Phenomenology at the College of Wooster, August 28th and September 4th, 2014.

The first workshop addressed the arguments of Husserl’s Fifth Cartesian Meditation, the distinctions between ‘static’ and ‘genetic’ phenomenology, and the historical reception of Husserl’s efforts. The second workshop detailed the phenomenology of intersubjectivity in reaction to Husserl through select works of major German and French thinkers Scheler, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas.

In the first workshop, Dr. Vaughan zeroed in on the unfortunate historical circumstances of Husserl’s career and publications that had led to misunderstandings of his views. An entire generation of both German and French thinkers had reacted to Husserl’s work Cartesian Meditations, wherein Husserl had seemingly argued that understanding and relating to others (known as intersubjectivity in this literature) could be taken only as sense-correlates of one’s own conscious processes. On this view, actual other human beings never condition the processes of this monadic ego; they are always only quasi-reproductions of oneself. However, subsequent scholarship and release of Husserl’s Gesammelte Werke (complete works) has shown that he had in fact developed a much more nuanced conception of intersubjectivity in his unpublished manuscripts.

“Husserl was not well served by historical circumstances,” said Vaughan. “We have 20 volumes of unpublished work that is probably superior to his published work. His publications were always out of joint with where his actual thinking was leading. He could have used a better book-agent.”

In the second workshop, Dr. Vaughan explicated both how famous thinkers reacted to and criticized Husserl, and also how they misunderstood Husserl. Rather than merely a ‘static’ phenomenology with a rigid structure that focuses on constitution by an already-constituted ego, Husserl had already developed a genetic phenomenology that addresses temporal phenomena, historical accumulation and community, features which he came to conclude were the actual features of human intersubjectivity.  Later thinkers unfortunately came to identify Husserl with static phenomenology only, reinforcing the Cartesian framework that the subject or ego is absolute.

“Contemporary scholarship is correcting the historical record, but the existentialist bus had already left the station. These later classical phenomenologists thought they were articulating general features of the human condition, but in many respects we can now see some of their work as extensions of the debilitating cultural aspects of the world wars.”