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Midgley, Mary. Philosophical Plumbing
1992, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements 33: 139-151
Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion

Introduction: Is philosophy like plumbing? I have made this comparison a number of times when I have wanted to stress that philosophising is not just grand and elegant and difficult, but is also needed. It is not optional. The idea has caused mild surprise, and has sometimes been thought rather undignified. The question of dignity is a very interesting one, and I shall come back to it at the end of this article. But first, I would like to work the comparison out a bit more fully.

Comment: This text offers an accessible and vibrant discussion of meta-philosophical concerns regarding the nature and purpose of philosophical enquiry. It raises questions about what philosophy is, and what philosophy is for. No prior knowledge is assumed, and the text would make for a fruitful starting point – or introductory reading to – the topic of metaphilosophy or philosophical methods. It will be particularly useful for sparking interest in philosophical methods and demonstrating to students the purpose and value of asking meta-philosophical questions. Very suitable for students that are new to philosophy, for example in a first year History of Philosophy module.

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