"I’ve been arguing that philosophers don’t need to believe in their arguments in order to make them. But what they do need to believe in is..."

"... the project of philosophical inquiry itself. A philosopher might offer up her argument in the absence of conviction but in the hopes of furthering the philosophical discussion around it. This is very different from someone who offers up a controversial claim in order to stir the pot of internet discourse, or enrage his opponents. While belief in one’s position can be laudable, it’s not the only laudable motive for doing philosophy. One can aim at truth even while reserving judgment on whether one has hit it this time."

Writes philosophy professor Alexandra Plakias in "Let People Change Their Minds" (OUPblog).

This got me thinking about an essay in The Atlantic that I was just reading: "Cool It, Krugman/The self-sabotaging rage of the New York Times columnist" by Sebastian Mallaby:
In [a 1993 essay], Krugman reflects on his approach to academic research and emphasizes his facility with simple mathematical models that necessarily incorporated “obviously unrealistic assumptions.” For example, his work on trade theory, which helped win him the Nobel Prize, assumed countries of precisely equal economic size. “Why, people will ask, should they be interested in a model with such silly assumptions?” Krugman writes. The answer, as he tells us, is that minimalism yielded insight. His contribution to economics, in his own estimation, was “ridiculous simplicity.”

That same contribution distinguishes his journalism.... But Krugman should surely be the first to admit that his journalism, like his research, is founded on radical simplification. Like those economic models that assume people are perfectly rational, he presumes that his adversaries are perfectly corruptible. ...
In the end, one’s judgment about Krugman the columnist depends on the test that he applies to economic models: Their assumptions are allowed to be reductive, but they must yield a persuasive story. If you accept that almost all conservatives are impervious to reason, you will celebrate Krugman’s writings for laying bare reality. But... [m]ost people [have motives that] are mixed, confused, and mutable..... Krugman’s “ridiculous simplicity” produces writing that is fluent, compelling, and yet profoundly wrong in its understanding of human nature. And the mistake is consequential. For the sake of our democracy, a supremely gifted commentator should at least try to unite citizens around common understandings....
Are Mallaby and Plakias taking different positions? Would Plakias support what Mallaby says Krugman is doing?

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