Does Philosophy Matter?—It Would Appear So. A Reply to Fish

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Abstract
In a piece provocatively entitled “Does Philosophy Matter?” Stanley Fish sets out to respond to my July 24, 2011 Stone column on moral relativism in the New York Times. His argument proceeds as follows. First, Fish changes the topic: instead of talking about the thesis I was discussing, he defines another thesis that, he claims, implausibly, also deserves to be called “moral relativism.” This thesis, he implies, is both more interesting and more defensible than the one I was criticizing. Second, he argues that neither his thesis nor mine could make any difference to “real life,” because philosophical conclusions don’t travel outside the seminar room. His argument limps at both stages. Fish’s ‘relativism’ is neither relativism, nor interesting in its own right. And his claim that no philosophical or meta-ethical thesis can matter in real life is clearly false.
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Archival date: 2021-03-22
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2011-08-30

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