Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Welders vs. Philosophers We Need Them Both, but Philosophers Take More Grief

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Welders vs. Philosophers We Need Them Both, but Philosophers Take More Grief

Article excerpt

During last week's Republican presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio quipped that "welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less [sic] philosophers." This wasn't a new idea for Mr. Rubio, he's been picking on us throughout the campaign.

After the debate, many were quick to point out that Mr. Rubio was wrong. While philosophy majors and welders begin at about the same salary, philosophy majors make more money over their careers than do welders. At "mid-career," philosophy majors make more than $80,000 while welders make slightly more than $40,000 (according to payscale.com). Ironically, Mr. Rubio was also sharing the stage with a former philosophy major whose net worth is estimated at $59 million, Carly Fiorina.

Welders and philosophy majors alike will remind Mr. Rubio that the worth of a person isn't measured in their wage, otherwise Donald Trump would be the most valuable Republican candidate. Philosophers - and welders - are also smart enough not to take Mr. Rubio's bait and make this an argument about whether a welder or a philosopher is more important. I live in Pittsburgh, a city that would literally fall apart without welders. Nor is Pittsburgh unique in this respect. Our society exists because of millions of hardworking men and women who build and sustain it. Contemporary philosophers know this.

But maybe Mr. Rubio, and those he's appealing to, don't know the way that philosophers have shaped and continued to shape the country we love in equally important ways.

Historians argue that Jefferson's famous phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was inspired by the English philosopher John Locke.

Locke argued that all people began life with certain natural rights, that could only be abandoned if they formed a government of their own making - a democracy. Jefferson, like many Americans at the time, didn't feel they had any say in the way the British crown was running things. Thomas Paine, another English philosopher, had a more direct role in the revolution. He wrote pamphlets that inspired Americans to take up arms against the British.

These same philosophers and many others helped to influence defining moments in American history. Ideas from Locke and Paine can be found throughout the Constitution. …

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