Why Study Philosophy? (Reason 632)

The Mellon Foundation is carrying an interview with investment fund manager Bill Miller (who made waves with a 75 million dollar donation to the philosophy program at Johns Hopkins University) on the practical--and not so practical--value of studying philosophy. From the interview,

I was recently giving a talk at a conference, and there was a speaker there who specialized in disruptive technologies and had a PhD in computer science. He described all the different technologies that would be changing significantly over the next 10 to 20 years and would upend the work force. During the audience Q and A, somebody asked, "If that's the case, what should we advise our children to do, because so many of the things that they would be trained for might become obsolete?”

He said, "You need to think about this in a way in which an economist would think about it. Mainly, what's the scarcest resource?" The scarcest resources get more valuable, and the abundant resources get less valuable. He said, "In that kind of an environment, the scarcest resource will be critical and analytical thinking, and moral reasoning. That would indicate you might want to have them take philosophy, or other disciplines in the humanities that might encourage those habits of mind."

That was an interesting point, and I think it's exactly right.