Does everyone who is doing a PhD has to dabble in philosophy to a certain extent?

The question is irrespective of the field of research.

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    Does everyone who is doing a PhD has to dabble in philosophy to a certain extent? -- Not that I'm familiar with, but the world we live in is large and diverse; can you clarify where in the world you are? – Mad Jack Dec 27 '17 at 21:56
  • I can say no, but doing that would help you in building your logical thinking. – Mahran Dec 27 '17 at 23:00
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    @Mahran - Do you mean would not help you? – aparente001 Dec 28 '17 at 2:08
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    Depends on what you mean by "dabble in philosophy to a certain extent". All educated human beings "dabble in philosophy" to at least some extent, whether they realize it or not. – John Coleman Dec 28 '17 at 3:24
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    Philosophy comes from the greek for love of wisdom. In that sense, yes; doing a PhD should require a love of wisdom. In the modern sense of what the department of philosophy does, no; doing a PhD in computer science will not require you to have anything to do with the philosophy department. – Thomas supports Monica Dec 28 '17 at 6:33

No. This is a misinterpretation of what “Ph.D.” means. The full title of the degree is Philosophiae doctor, technically a doctor “of philosophy.” However, this does not mean "philosophy" in the modern sense, but rather someone who pursues knowledge (“lover of wisdom”—the source of "philosophy"), not necessarily someone who studies philosophy.

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    +1. You could add that the more modern meaning use of the word "philosophy" to mean "what the philosophy department at your university does" is quite new, 100 years or so. Just about everything that isn't medicine, theology, or law would have been considered philosophy, hence the separate academic degree titles for those fields (not that there couldn't be some overlap, of course). – Bryan Krause Dec 27 '17 at 23:34
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    For a long time, what we now call natural science was called natural philosophy. For example, Newton's great book on physics was titled "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica". – Andreas Blass Dec 28 '17 at 1:54
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    @ubadub “You're a scientist? Cool, you need to study scientific ethics and the philosophy of science.” -- No, I didn't. Neither did any of my colleagues, as far as I know. – Pont Dec 28 '17 at 9:28
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    @SSimon: I went to and worked at multiple schools, none of which offered such training. – aeismail Dec 28 '17 at 14:18
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    @SSimon I'm unsure why you seem to think I'm lying about my own PhD, but feel free to consult the university's PhD handbook, which states: ‘There is no course work… Candidates are not permitted to take additional courses… The degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Otago is acquired solely by the submission of a thesis…’. In other words: not only did I not study philosophy during my PhD -- I was in fact forbidden from enrolling in philosophy (or any other) courses during my doctoral studies. – Pont Dec 28 '17 at 16:45

No. In fact, the vast majority of PhDs do not study philosophy in any reasonable sense.

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    Well now you know me. I am a PhD student in pure mathematics, I read the Wikipedia article on the Trolley Problem once, and that's about the extent of my studies on ethics. I think this is typical of a PhD student in an unrelated area. – SolveIt Dec 28 '17 at 7:06
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    @SSimon: I also did not study ethics as a PhD student, and there is no ethical requirement in the PhD program in my department (of which I am the graduate coordinator). But while students in certain fields do get instruction on "following ethical concerns," this need not be studying philosophy in any reasonable sense. To me, this sounds a little bit like saying that someone who learns how to use a spreadsheet is studying computer science. – Pete L. Clark Dec 28 '17 at 7:35
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    @SolveIt That seems spurious; the field of mathematics (both pure and applied) is heavily informed by philosophy. Some of the greatest mathematicians of the last 400 years, such as Gödel, Frege, Pascal, Descartes, Bertrand Russell (just off the top of my head) are as well known for their mathematical contributions as their philosophical contributions. Most of set theory and a good deal of number theory originates in philosophy, ultimately. – ubadub Dec 28 '17 at 8:39
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    @ubadub Both perspectives make sense: Philosophy was involved in shaping the framework of modern Mathematics. But nowadays, to do research in Math, you simply apply this readily-available framework. There is no necessity to understand its philosophical influences. – lighthouse keeper Dec 28 '17 at 9:10
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    @ubadub My point is that there seems to be little need to understand the philosophical background of a subject to be able to contribute to its modern form. – SolveIt Dec 28 '17 at 9:11

From the Greek, "philosophy" literally means the "love of wisdom". If we define philosophy as a study that encompasses knowledge, language, and reason, then everything we study touches upon philosophy. So in this particular sense, the answer to your question is "yes".

However, for the vast majority of PhDs (other than in philosophy, theology, and other related fields) there is no requirement to take any philosophy courses or even to know how to spell Plato. So, in this particular sense, the answer to your question is "no".


It depends on what is your definition of philosophy. In my view philosophy is a discussion of 5 elements 1) Yourself 2) The nature 3) God 4) Life 5) Death If we go by above definition P.hd is studying on at least one aspect. If one can study and understand all above aspects then he is a philosopher. To answer your question. No most of the phd students don’t study philosophy.

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