In the last couple of weeks, over at Justice Everywhere, I’ve launched a series of interviews that I am editing, exploring the role of political philosophers in ‘real politics’. Here’s an excerpt from my introduction to the series:
The purpose of Beyond the Ivory Tower is to speak to prominent philosophers that have, in different ways, managed to bridge the divide between academic political theory and ‘real politics’. In part, this is because their stories are interesting in their own right. It is also to help us understand the position of political theory today, and how other political theorists might achieve wider impact.
We want to use these interviews to understand both the ‘demand side’ and the ‘supply side’, so to speak, for philosophers in the public debate. On the ‘demand side’: how much appetite is there for the ideas of political theory among political actors, decision makers and the wider public? How do they view the discipline? What problems, if any, are they looking to philosophy to solve? On the ‘supply side’: are political theorists asking the most useful and relevant questions? Are there ways they can better ‘sell’ their expertise? How can such activities be combined or balanced with the imperatives of academic success?
I’m really excited about the interviews: already we have spoken to Onora O’Neill, the ‘last philosopher’ in the House of Lords; Marc Stears, who was chief speechwriter to Ed Miliband; and Jonathan Wolff, who has written in depth about the role of philosophy in public policy, drawing on his experiences contributing to committees such as the Gambling Review Body and the Nuffield Council of Bioethics.