The Value of Philosophy to Other Disciplines


The Value of Philosophy to Other Disciplines

Having discussed the value of philosophy to the individual who studies, we shall in this article examine the value of philosophy to other disciplines such as law, education, religion and business. 

In time past, all humans’ information of the world and of themselves was grouped under philosophy. As this body of knowledge expanded, however, it was broken down and specific disciplines took their root from there. 

This is how medicine, physics, biology, sociology, psychology, law and the likes gained their divorce from philosophy and philosophy came to be known as the mother of all disciplines.

This idea was aptly expressed by Descartes, who compared philosophy to a tree with metaphysics as its roots, physics as its trunk and all the other sciences comprised in the three main disciplines of medicine, mechanics and ethics as its branches.

Another reason why philosophy is described as the mother of all disciplines is because no theory in science, art, socio-political or any other discipline performs the highest role of creating a worldview and methodology. 

This is an area to which philosophy is specifically privileged as it deals not only with the relationships between humans and the universe, but also with principles, categories and laws, revealing the place of humans in the world and their relation to the world. 

For this reason, the notions of worldview and methodology are not parts but functions of philosophy.

Harry Schofield’s narration of how Philosophy came to be known as the mother of all disciplines is a little more interesting. He noted that, at different times, Philosophy brought forth offspring. These were called science, theology, history, mathematics and each of these ‘children of philosophy’ gathered a store of knowledge of his own.

Ultimately, when their store of knowledge was great, Philosophy called her children to her and asked them to show her what knowledge they had discovered.

Being older, and wiser than her children, she was able to derive great meaning from what knowledge each provided. She herself acquired no factual knowledge, but, by putting side-by-side all the knowledge that her children brought to her, she was able to develop an overall understanding of all the variables.

Sometimes there were gaps in the overall pattern.

On such occasions, Philosophy did not produce knowledge of her own or criticize her offspring for providing her with insufficient information. Instead, she made suggestions that would fill in the gaps and interpretations that would provide greater coherence in the picture.

By the end of this article, you would be able to discuss the value of philosophy to law, Enumerate the relevance of philosophy to education, explain the value of philosophy to religion and identify the importance of philosophy to business.


Value of Philosophy to Law

There are many distinctions between ethics and laws. Ethics comes from people’s awareness of what is right and what is wrong while laws are written and approved by governments. 

It means that ethics may vary from people to people because different people may have different opinions on a certain issue, but laws describe clearly, what is illegal no matter what people think.

To some extent, just like philosophy, the definition of ethics is not conclusive but laws are defined and precise. An action can be legal, but morally wrong. For example, the racial discrimination of apartheid South Africa was backed by law and was considered to be legally right but at the same time, it was immoral.

In the same way, mercy killing may be illegal in certain countries but considered moral given certain conditions. Some of the ways philosophy is relevant to law are:

1. Philosophy will help a Lawyer to Reason Clearly: The value of philosophy to the lawyer cannot be over emphasized. Philosophy will help him or her to reason clearly, express him or herself precisely and to put his or her thoughts across to the audience firmly. Philosophy will teach the lawyer how to detect bad argument and identify the fallacies in it.

Philosophy makes a lawyer to notice the difference between a true statement and a false one, a validity argument and an invalidity one as well as a sound argument and an unsound one.

It is not enough for a lawyer to master the facts of his case and the laws backing it, it is also important for him to present his argument in a logical manner. This is where philosophy comes in to assist him to achieve his professional responsibilities.

2. Philosophy acts as Gadfly to the Enterprise of Law: Philosophy focuses on the analysis of the concept, purpose and meaning of law, and the validity and morality of such laws. It is part of the vocation of the sub-discipline of philosophy called philosophy of law to investigate the boundaries and limits of laws and the need to have a good understanding of the relationship between law and other bodies of norms.

Philosophy of law also studies reasoning or logic behind rules and principles, thereby underscoring the importance of logic to the legal enterprise. This is because a legal system that operates without coherence and consistency, but with obvious contradictions and multiple standards cannot lay claim to justice, and therefore cannot promote social stability or order.

3. Philosophy Seeks to Provide a General Account of the Nature of Law: The account is general in the sense of targeting universal features of law that hold at all times and places. It does this through the tools of conceptual analysis. 

Whereas lawyers are interested in what the law is on a specific issue in a specific jurisdiction, philosophers of law are interested in identifying the features of law shared across cultures, times, and places. Taken together, these foundational features of law offer the kind of universal definition philosophers are after.

Also read: The Value of Philosophy to Other Disciplines

Value of Philosophy of Education

Ikuli and Ojimba gave a general view of the relationship between philosophy and education thus: Philosophy determines the direction towards which education has to go. It inspires educational theory as well as practice.

Thus, education is the laboratory in which philosophic distinctions become concrete and are tested. Philosophy is wisdom and education transmits that wisdom from one generation to another. Philosophy represents a system of thought, while education embraces that thought in the content of instruction. 

Furthermore, while philosophy embodies a way of life, education represents the preparation for life. Philosophy is the knowledge obtained through natural reason, while education is the development of that reason as well as other powers of the mind.

Every aspect of education has a philosophical base. Philosophy provides aims for education and these aims determine the curriculum, the methods of teaching as well as the school discipline. Furthermore, great philosophers have been great educationists.

Philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Gandhi and many more have been great educators. They reflect their philosophical views in their educational schemes. 

Socrates, for instance, has given the world his Socratic method of questioning and cross-questioning. His philosophical views reflect in his educational scheme. Other ways in which philosophy is important to education are:

1. Students Get Great Benefits from Learning Philosophy: The tools taught by philosophy are of great use in employment as well as in further education. Even though the questions usually asked by philosophers are abstract, the tools philosophy teaches tend to be highly sought-after by employers. 

Philosophy students learn how to write clearly, and to read closely, with a critical eye. They are taught to spot bad reasoning and to avoid it in their writings and in their works.

2. Philosophy enhances the Students’ Cognitive Abilities: According to James Wallace Gray, there is some scientific evidence that philosophy can benefit people in many ways. He stated that statistics have shown that philosophy majors do well in a variety of standardized tests and that even children around the age of ten were found to have benefited from philosophy in their education.

He went on to say that one hundred and five children in the penultimate year of primary school aged approximately ten years were given one hour per week of philosophical-inquiry based lessons for 16 months compared with control children.

The result was that the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities at the end of the 16-month period relative to their baseline performance before the study.

After two years, these same children were made to go through cognitive abilities test at a time the children were nearly at the end of their second year of secondary school. He noted that the children had not had any further philosophy-based lessons but the benefits of their early experience of philosophy persisted.

He confirmed that the philosophy-taught children who the researchers were able to track down showed the same cognitive test scores as they had done two years earlier and by contrast, control children who did not take the philosophical-inquiry based lessons actually showed a trend towards a deterioration in their inferior scores from two years earlier.

3. Philosophy Introduces the Concept of Morality to Education: Education is a process of socialization through which the child internalizes the basic cultural values, mores and essential tools that will aid the child to survive sustainably in the society.

Therefore, if education is to fulfill its purpose of catering for some aspects of human needs in the society, it is important that it should be given a touch of morality.

According to Ekanem and Ekefre, the necessity and inseparability of morality in education can be seen in Rousseau’s responses to whether the arts and the sciences have been beneficial to humanity. Rousseau in one of his famous essays responded in the negative when he said: since learned men began to appear among us, good men have disappeared.

What Rousseau alluded in his response is the fact that the education of those ‘learned men’ was devoid of morality. As a result of lack of morality in the education of these ‘taught men’ their education was not beneficial to mankind since it could not fulfill the purpose of catering for the needs of human nature.

In addition, education is an intentional activity. The entire process of planning and implementation of education is structured or designed purposefully and it is made to be futuristic. This intentionality and purposefulness made education to be value-driven.

This explains the fact that educational ends are driven, and are expressed by what we value as individuals and as a group in the society. Human beings are not just products of biological reproduction, but are indeed moral and cultural.

 Also read: 4 Core Values of Philosophy to the Individual

Value of Philosophy of Religion

Philosophy in relating with religion is interested in subjecting religious beliefs, rites, attitudes and modes of experiences to rational criticisms, with the aim of offering justifications for them.

Since beliefs invariably determine rites, moral attitudes and modes of experience, Inagbor and Osarhiemen are of the view that philosophers of religion have largely focused on beliefs that are doctrinal in nature.

They believe that philosophers seek to establish what might be called the metaphysical background of the doctrinal system of particular religions which focused on worldviews, ultimate sources and nature of the universe, the nature of man and his place in the universe as well as the ultimate end of man.

The views of the above scholars on the positive values of philosophy to religion can be summarized thus;

1. Philosophers of religion seek to justify the place and relevance of religion in the world. They are overly optimistic about the capabilities of human reason and of religion itself; although some other scholars admit that there might well be aspects of religion that reason cannot justify because it is not sufficiently equipped to probe them.

2. Another point is that philosophers of religion whose orientation is deterministic see the world as already completely emancipated. For this reason, there is no prospect in criticizing or defending it. All that needs to be done is to merely investigate religion, to describe and compare its realities without making value judgments.

3. There is yet another point which seems not to recognize anything good in religion in that religion has been nothing less than a potent force for conflict in the society all through history. While this is partly true, it must be stated that some good enjoyed by man are attributable to religion.

4. Philosophy of religion is very important to religion as a discipline and this is not unconnected with the fact that philosophy, as have been said, is the mother of all disciplines.

Philosophy of religion could change the way we view religious matters in a positive manner. This is because it impacts our worldviews and religion forms a very important part of that worldview.

Philosophy of religion raises questions about the origin of the world and of everything in it, including ourselves.

Without philosophy, we may take every dogma as a truth and never question anything. The mind needs to expand to see beyond what is merely believed and philosophy encourages one to question all religious assumptions in search of credible justifications.

Value of Philosophy of Business

The relationship between philosophy and business is often linked, but not limited to ethics. Business is a set of interrelated activities or any lawful activity engaged in or carried on with the view of making profit.

The basic economic unit in which this set of activities is performed is the business enterprise. Therefore, it is imperative to define the business enterprise as an organizational context within which men, ideas, materials and machines and other resources are harnessed and combined for the purpose of providing needed goods and services, in order to make profit and remain in existence.

In other to achieve the intentions of any business, one basic objective is to establish a proper structure that defines the rules and responsibilities when it comes to recruitment and job description within the context of the business enterprise.

It is however important to note that unless the employees and employers of business enterprise demonstrate the appropriate ethical behavior in the execution of assigned duties, ultimately, enhancing the corporate image of the business outfit in the environment will be difficult.

Employees who demonstrate unethical behaviors do not promote the well-being of the organization and therefore, unless such a negative behavior is jettisoned, it becomes impossible for them to make the desired contributions.

This is where the role of philosophy from the perspective of ethics becomes very significant. Ethics as we already know refers to “a code or set of principles by which men live.” It is a branch of philosophy, also known as moral philosophy that prescribes how men ought to behave and live the ‘good life’.

However, business ethics has to do with the study of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad human conduct in any business environment. These right and wrong or good and bad conducts make up the codes of ethics of any particular business.

In Jones’ view, codes of ethics are “formal standards and rules based on beliefs about right or wrong that managers can use to help themselves make appropriate decisions with regard to the interests of their stakeholders”.

The following have been identified by Michael Josephson as ethical principles for business organizations:

i. Honesty: Individual should be honest and truthful in all their dealings and they should not deliberately mislead or deceive others through misrepresentations, overstatements, partial truths, selective omissions, or any other means.

ii. Integrity: They should demonstrate personal integrity and the courage of their convictions by doing what they think is right even when there is great pressure to do otherwise; they should be principled, honorable and upright; they should fight for their beliefs and not sacrifice principle for expediency or be hypocritical or unscrupulous.

iii. Promise-Keeping and Trustworthiness: They should be worthy of trust. They should be candid and forthcoming in supplying relevant information and correcting misapprehensions of fact, and they should make every reasonable effort to fulfill the letter and spirit of their promises and commitments. They should not interpret agreements in an unreasonably technical or legalistic manner in order to rationalize non-compliance or create justifications for escaping their commitments.

iv. Loyalty: They should be worthy of trust, demonstrate fidelity and loyalty to persons and institutions by friendship in adversity, support and devotion to duty; they should not use or disclose information learned in confidence for personal advantage. They should safeguard the ability to make independent professional judgments by scrupulously avoiding undue influences and conflicts of interest. They should be loyal to their companies and colleagues and if they decide to accept other employment, they should provide reasonable notice, respect the proprietary information of their former employer, and refuse to engage in any activities that take undue advantage of their previous positions.

v. Fairness: They should be fair and just in all dealings; they should not exercise power arbitrarily, and should not use overreaching nor indecent means to gain or maintain any advantage nor take undue advantage of another’s mistakes or difficulties. They should be fair, manifest a commitment to justice, equal treatment of individuals, tolerance for and acceptance of diversity and open-minded.

vi. Concern for Others: They should be caring, compassionate, benevolent and kind; they, like the Golden Rule, should help that in need, and seek to accomplish their business objectives in a manner that causes the least harm and the greatest positive good.

vii. Respect for Others: They should demonstrate respect for human dignity, autonomy, privacy, rights, and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions; they should be courteous and treat all people with equal respect and dignity regardless of sex, race or national origin.

viii. Law Abiding: They should abide by laws, rules and regulations relating to their business activities.

ix. Commitment to Excellence: They should pursue excellence in performing their duties, be well informed, prepared, and constantly endeavor to increase their proficiency in all areas of responsibility. 

x. Leadership: They should be conscious of the responsibilities and opportunities of their position of leadership and seek to be positive ethical role models by their own conduct and by helping to create an environment in which principle reasoning and ethical decision-making are highly prized.

xi. Reputation and Morale: They should seek to protect and build the company’s good reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging in no conduct that might undermine respect and by taking whatever actions are necessary to correct or prevent inappropriate conduct of others.

xii. Accountability: They should acknowledge and accept personal accountability for the ethical quality of their decisions and omissions to themselves, their colleagues, their companies, and their communities.


Also read: Meaning and Nature of Philosophy

Conclusion on the Value of Philosophy to Other Disciplines

In relation to law, we have said that it is not enough for a lawyer to master the facts of his case and the laws backing it, but that it is also important for him or her to present his or her argument in a logical manner. This is where philosophy comes to play its role.

In education, Philosophy teaches students how to write clearly, and to read closely with a critical eye, for the purpose of spotting bad reasoning.

In religion we noted that philosophy seeks to justify the place and relevance of religion in the world and in business, philosophy teaches how to be fair, manifest a commitment to justice, equal treatment of individuals, tolerance for and acceptance of diversity and open-mindedness.

In this article, we have been able to show that philosophy acts as gadfly to the enterprise of law by cubing its excesses. 

We noted that if education is to fulfill its purpose of catering for some aspects of human needs in the society, it is important that it should be given a touch of morality. 

We also said that philosophy of religion could change the way we view religious matters in a positive manner because it impacts our worldviews and religion forms a very important part of that worldview.

Finally, we have been able to show that, business ethics has to do with the study of what constitutes right and wrong, or good and bad human conduct in any business environment and that these right and wrong or good and bad conducts make up the codes of ethics of any particular business.

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