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Public Opinions about Philosophy

A recent national survey performed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences reveals some key insights about the way that Americans view the humanities in general, and philosophy in particular. The survey was administered to a representative sample of 5,015 American adults in fall 2019. The findings, summarized here, are divided into three categories: Engagement in Philosophy, Perception of Philosophy, and Childhood and Educational Exposure to Philosophy. Some of the highlights and surprising results are listed below.

Engagement

  • 54% of adults sometimes or often think about the ethical aspects of a choice in their life.
  • Younger adults are more likely than older adults to engage in ethical questions.
  • Adults with a college degree are more likely than others to engage in ethical questions.

Perceptions

  • 77% of Americans have a favorable impression of the term¬†philosophy.
  • Black Americans tend to have a more favorable impression of philosophy than do Asian Americans and White Americans.
  • Self-identified political liberals are twice as likely as self-identified political conservatives to have a “very favorable” perception of philosophy.

Childhood and Education

  • 1 in 4 Americans wish they had taken more courses in philosophy.
  • Almost 9 in 10 Americans think that it is important to teach ethics to K-12 students.
  • Almost 9 in 10 Americans think that it is important to teach logic to K-12 students.

For more insights and analysis, see the full report.