Stay in any field long enough and you’ll also start to ask questions about the state of that field. As a philosopher I’m in luck, since asking questions about philosophy is (sometimes at least) also considered doing philosophy. Here are some questions I have discussed in writing:

Is academic philosophy societally relevant enough? Many philosophers – myself included – intend to do work that is societally relevant. In fact, I believe we ought to do so given that most academic research is publicly funded. But to what extent do we succeed? I think the answer is: not nearly enough, and it’s the academic incentive structure that is to blame. In an interdisciplinary paper (with Stijn Conix and Pei-Shan Chi), we provided some data that support this view and discussed some possible solutions.

A second interesting meta-philosophical question I have discussed in writing (together with Uwe Peters) focuses on the sub-field of experimental philosophy. Experimental philosophers study people’s intuitions about philosophical cases. When doing so, they often generalize their results from a sample to a broader target population. Such generalizations can be justified, but it can also occur that experimental philosophers generalize their results to a larger population when their sample is too small, not sufficiently representative, or when they have not considered whether the sample and target population are in relevant respects similar so as to warrant the generalization. This inferential error is called a ‘hasty generalization’. To check how often it occurred in experimental philosophy,  we analyzed 171 experimental philosophy studies published between 2017 and 2023. We found that most studies tested only Western populations but generalized beyond them without justification. There was also no evidence that studies with broader conclusions had larger, more diverse samples, but they nonetheless had higher citation impact. Our analyses revealed important methodological limitations of many experimental philosophy studies and suggest that philosophical training may not protect against hasty generalizations.

A third interesting meta-philosophical question I have considered (together with Andreas De Block) is the level of ideological diversity that would be desirable in both philosophy and academia more broadly. Not all ideological viewpoints are currently equally well represented in academia, with recent discussions focusing on liberal/conservative diversity and bias in psychology, sociology, and the political sciences. I have written about the epistemic impact that a lack of ideological viewpoint diversity can have on both academia and philosophy specifically.