Getting Close: Philosophers Engage with Government and NGOs

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



My primary focus here is on characterizing public philosophy as a valuable way to get close to and engage the world, exploiting academic expertise. I distinquish external ad internal public philosoohy and pitch for external forms. One thinks of Peter Singer and Martha Nussbaum as public philosophers, but public philosophy is also exemplified by philosopher Joyce Mitchell Cook, who worked in the United States State Department as a foreign affairs analyst and in the White House as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter; by Paul Root Wolpe, who was appointed senior bioethicist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and by William Galston, who, before landing at the Brookings Institution, served as deputy assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy, as well as executive director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal. I report my own experiences with non-profit leadership and government service as examples of external public philosophy.


public philosophy, applied ethics, NIH, Bioethics Commission, Planned Parenthood, Bazelon Center, Electronic Privacy Information Center

Publication Title

A companion to public philosophy

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