• Allyn Fives
  • Keith Breen
Part of the International Political Theory book series (IPoT)


Do philosophers have a responsibility to their society that is distinct from their responsibility to it as citizens? If so, what form does this responsibility take? It has been argued by many that philosophy has a specific contribution to make to the discussion and resolution of public matters. Such a philosophical enterprise concerns itself with issues that are of a public rather than a purely private nature, or issues that have political rather than simply intellectual or academic relevance. This was the conclusion of many philosophers who began to engage in practical ethics in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, Joseph Mahon argued that, as moral language is used in appraising everyday practices—political, legal, religious, economic, educational, and domestic—then philosophers should ‘concern themselves with these practices, and make that concern primary, pervasive and lasting in their professional practice. It is good philosophical sense to do so, and, ultimately, the only professional initiative that can be justified’ (Mahon 1975, pp. 10–11). The main objective of this edited volume is to explore both what type of contribution philosophy can make to public matters and what type of reasoning is appropriate when addressing public matters now. These questions are addressed by leading international scholars working in the fields of moral and political philosophy.


Reflective Person International Scholar Human Good Moral Language Responsible Citizen 
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  1. Mahon, J. (1975). Philosophy and public matters. Understanding, 5, 5–11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allyn Fives
    • 1
  • Keith Breen
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Political Science and Sociology, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, at the National University of IrelandGalwayRepublic of Ireland
  2. 2.Queen’s UniversityBelfastNorthern Ireland

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