Rubio’s Philosophobia

[cross-posted at BHL]

The other night I caught a few minutes of Marco Rubio talking about education. (I think it might have been from this.) One of the remarks he made was that students shouldn’t major in “Roman philosophy” if they want a successful career after graduation. Apparently he’s been saying this a lot, though more often with Greek philosophy as his example.

Will studying Cicero wreck your career?

Will studying Cicero wreck your career?

I suppose it’s no surprise that a Senator named Marco Antonio Rubio would have it in for the likes of Cicero. But apparently Rubio is unaware that philosophy is one of the very best majors one can take to prepare for a successful career. For those going on to law school, philosophy majors score higher on the LSAT than any other major; they also have higher admission rates to law school than such common prelaw majors as political science and criminal justice.

For other graduate degrees, philosophy majors score higher on the verbal and analytic portions of the GRE than any other major, and are also very competitive on the GMAT. Philosophy majors also enjoy a higher acceptance rate to medical school than either biology and biochemistry (and also higher than English or history).

For students planning to go straight on to the job market after graduation rather than going to graduate school, philosophy majors with no post-bachelor’s degree receive on average a higher starting salary than most other majors, including biology, chemistry, and business. And philosophy majors also enjoy a faster rate of salary increase than any other major.

I wouldn’t suggest that any student major in philosophy solely for the sake of the career boost. First, such a strategy disrespects the mind. And second, the kind of student who values philosophy solely as a career boost is not likely to have the kind of mindset that makes philosophy majors do so well after graduation. But any student who loves philosophy but is afraid to major in it because she doesn’t plan to become a philosophy professor and she thinks there’s no other practical use for the degree should take heart – and heed the data rather than the junior Senator from Florida.


3 Responses to Rubio’s Philosophobia

  1. Richard O. Hammer March 10, 2016 at 8:47 pm #

    A very enjoyable reminder for me, your last link “disrespects the mind”, a reminder of your lucid and entertaining style, your surpassing grasp of philosophy.

  2. Irfan Khawaja March 12, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

    I linked to this post in a post I wrote for my Phil 250 blog at Felician U–“Making Moral Decisions” (basically a general education “contemporary moral issues”-type class). The link is at the very bottom.

    I’m of the view that for those not going on to teach philosophy, a PPE-type major (if available) is probably superior to a pure philosophy degree. In any case, you’re right that Rubio’s advice is philistine and wrong-headed.


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