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Prof Says Daugaard Peddling Myth: Philosophy Skills Boost Earning Potential

I learn from the Patheos:Inklingations blog that USD philosophy professor Joseph Tinguely has penned a pointed riposte to his employer Governor Dennis Daugaard's persistent denigration of Tinguely's chosen field—philosophy—and the product he cranks out for the state—philosophy majors.

Professor Tinguely brands the Governor's declaration that philosophy majors are not profitable as "false" and "myth". Tinguely cites a Wall Street Journal chart (with data) showing that by midcareer, philosophy majors out-earn information technology grads. (Engineers are at the top; I look dolefully at my wife and note that education and religion majors are at the bottom.) Philosophy majors also rock grad school entrance exams.

Tinguely says philosophy majors' skills are fundamental to success:

These results are not surprising for anyone with the slightest knowledge of what professionally transferable skills a philosophy degree actually develops in its students. The ability to identify and formulate an argument for oneself and to communicate it clearly to others; the critical capacity to recognize assumptions and evaluate reasons; the confidence to express oneself in speech and in writing; these are not just skills required to do philosophy well, these are the very skills required to do any job well. Everyone is always “doing philosophy” whether she knows it or not, but only a regrettably few take upon themselves the discipline and responsibility of learning how to do it well [Joseph Tinguely, "Philosophy Degree Offers a Lifetime of Value," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.09.24].

I'd rather beat the Governor's anti-humanities tirade by pointing out there's more to life than money. But even if you stay in Governor Daugaard's cash-only paradigm, Tonguely shows that philosophy can profit everyone.


  1. bearcreekbat 2014.09.29

    Good catch Cory. Years ago as an undergrad at then BHSC I became interested in studying philosophy, but BHSC had no philosophy courses. An econ teacher who studied philosophy worked with me outside regular classes and helped me meet and study with other individuals interested in philosophy. I believe these studies added more to my marketable skills and successes in grad school than my actual bachelor's degree from BHSC, especially in the areas of analysis and writing, just as suggested by Professor Tinguely.

  2. john tsitrian 2014.09.29

    I studied Philosophy under Angela Davis' tutelage at UCLA in 1970, during the quarter that coincided with Kent State. I have no marketable skills (unless you consider inciting a violent revolution a marketable skill, lol) but well understand why spokespeople for the power elite would try to dissuade the youngsters in their society from studying Philosophy. Their precious status quo can only bear so much examination. If the unexamined life is not worth living, then the unexamined state is not worth living in.

  3. danno 2014.09.29

    I went to a small college near Lincoln Ne, that required a religious course for graduation, (Doane). Philosophy courses worked for that, and as it turned out, it was a highly enjoyable experience. I took "the search for good".

    The stress was all on applied logic, which has served me well over the years.

  4. mike from iowa 2014.09.29

    John T-you studied under a known libby radical former Black Panther and still ended up an R? Was that in spite of or because of?

  5. lesliengland 2014.09.29

    time for Susan to start talking philosophically.

  6. lesliengland 2014.09.29

    tsitrian-great blog appealing for a special prosecutor in true angela davis form!! thank you. obviously delayed until after the election, though :(

  7. john tsitrian 2014.09.29

    mfi, I've been a Republican since I handed out brochures for Barry Goldwater in '64, though over the years I've probably voted for as many Dems as Pubs. Davis taught me Existentialism, which is basically consistent with the "grand" Republican emphasis on individualism, not statism. She has a lot more in common with the libertarian right than the nanny-statist left. I felt very comfortable in her class, even got an A+. lesliengland, thanks. This whole Slaughterhouse EB-5 thing needs an outside hardass to get straightened out.

  8. mike from iowa 2014.09.29

    and from what I remember of her from the early 70s,she was quite attractive and waaaaaaay smart.

  9. lesliengland 2014.09.29

    chilling -"slaughterhouse EB-5", vonnigut's book and movie reference : "Since the beginning of the war I had been retreating step by step from one moral position to another, until at the end I had no moral position at all". RAF physicist Dyson[157]. One photo says it all.

    has daugaard has lost his moral compass?

  10. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    John T.

    I met Angela Davis years ago during the Wounded Knee take over, I spent part of the day with her before she was escorted off the reservation as an undesirable

  11. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    Daugaard continually promotes a "labor" force as opposed to a work force.

  12. bearcreekbat 2014.09.29

    John, I came away with a different view of Existentialism based on studying John Paul Sartre. Sartre's views of Existentialist ethics seems much more consistent with humanism than individualism. While Existentialism as a philosophy starts with consideration of the individual mind it seems to rely upon the other, or being for others, as a basis for an ethical value system.

    For example in his famous 1945 speech "Existentialism is a Humanism", Sartre contended: "Thus, the first effect of existentialism is that it puts every man in possession of himself as he is, and places the entire responsibility for his existence squarely upon his own shoulders. And, when we say that man is responsible for himself, we do not mean that he is responsible only for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men."

    He also said, "What we choose is always the better; and nothing can be better for us unless it is better for all. If, moreover, existence precedes essence and we will to exist at the same time as we fashion our image, that image is valid for all and for the entire epoch in which we find ourselves. Our responsibility is thus much greater than we had supposed, for it concerns mankind as a whole."

    And, "Our aim is precisely to establish the human kingdom as a pattern of values in distinction from the material world. But the subjectivity which we thus postulate as the standard of truth is no narrowly individual subjectivism, for as we have demonstrated, it is not only one’s own self that one discovers in the cogito, but those of others too."

    And, "We will freedom for freedom’s sake, in and through particular circumstances. And in thus willing freedom, we discover that it depends entirely upon the freedom of others and that the freedom of others depends upon our own. Obviously, freedom as the definition of a man does not depend upon others, but as soon as there is a commitment, I am obliged to will the liberty of others at the same time as my own. I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim."

  13. john tsitrian 2014.09.29

    Roger, why was she regarded as undesireable? I stood next to her and David Dellinger, one of the Chicago 7, during the Kent State riots at UCLA in '70. She was a dynamo. I don't think Governor Daugaard has lost his moral compass. I think he's just waiting for somebody to tell him what to do. When in doubt, vacillate and hope the whole matter goes away on its own. bcb, I note Sartre's dictum "the freedom of others depends upon our own," in this excerpt, which I take to mean that securing one individual's freedom is the means to securing freedom for all individuals. Individuals exist for themselves, not the state. This is why I identify with the libertarian wing of the GOP, and why I believe Angela Davis does the same.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    John T.
    Absolutely Angela was a dynamo, we had several conversations that told me how well she was connected to the causes of the 60's and 70's.
    The reason for expulsion was not from the tribal council, but from council chairman Dick Wilson. Any reporter or advocate for the Wounded Knee take over was deemed an "outsider" or "rabble rouser" by Wilson. There were a lot of outsiders during the take over, but Angela was black and she stood out.

  15. john tsitrian 2014.09.29

    Thanks Roger and mfi. Never knew about her involvement. I guessing Wilson must've totally freaked when he saw Angela was there.

  16. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    Mike, thanks for the link.
    The tribal council exclusion of undesirables resolution was seriously questioned at the time. The council was divided and often couldn't get a quorum for their meetings.
    It was even suggested that the resolution wasn't passed until after the Angela Davis expulsion.

  17. lesliengland 2014.09.29

    in fact Susan should implement serious ethics training for every new batch of legislators. PHIOSOPHY ANSD ETHICS

  18. bearcreekbat 2014.09.29

    John, There was a time when I too thought I believed that a Libertarian political outlook made sense. And this was probably near the time you studied under Davis, during the Vietnam war. I was just starting to study Sartre and I hated the war. I felt our leaders at that time, who I mistakenly called "the government" were engaging in immoral acts of war and I thought Libertarians were there to challenge "the government" on ethical and moral grounds.

    My understanding of today's Libertarian arm of the Republican party, however, suggests that it does not have an Existentialist foundation nor does it support the ethical principles that Sartre espoused. Instead, recent articles I have read suggests that it has become an Ayn Rand style of everyone for himself philosophy - the exact opposite of the Existentialist idea that each person needs others to fully realize his or her individual humanity.

    Here are some links to the articles about today's Libertarian that gave me pause. I would appreciate your take on them:

  19. mike from iowa 2014.09.29

    Roger-who was Leo Wilcox and what did his death have to do with this story? Do you know?

  20. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    Leo was a good friend of mine who died a "mysterious death" during the occupation. Leo was against the occupation and an advocate and member of the John Birch Society.
    They believed Wounded Knee was a communist plot, I never agreed with Leo's politics, but were good friends.

  21. mike from iowa 2014.09.29

    Thank you,Roger. This is getting interesting all o0ver again.

  22. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.29

    Yeah it is Mike.

    Sorry Cory if being so seriously off topic.

  23. john tsitrian 2014.09.29

    bcb, interesting that you should mention Vietnam, as I believe the roots of my libertarian nature go back to the war, where I was a Marine Corps radioman at the DMZ, mostly with a forward support unit and occasionally out in the field with a rifle company from 1966-68. I promised myself two things at the time: 1) if I ever had a public voice I would call things the way I saw them, and 2) I would never again allow myself to be used as a pawn to further somebody else's political or economic agenda. I knew squat about Ayn Rand, except that I found her books (and still do) to be unreadably dense and had no clue that there was a growing body of political and philosophical thought developing around her work. Later, when I got to know some of her devotees, I found most of them to be pretty weird. My libertarian orientation is more personally-centered and has to do lifestyle choices, not so much political and economic considerations. On those last two fronts, pure libertarianism is a hopeless fantasy, which is why the Libertarian Party is so marginalized. I think most of those people are nutty when it comes to public policy--except when they stand up for individuals behaving the way they want to in the privacy of their own lives.

  24. bearcreekbat 2014.09.29

    John, Thanks, I appreciate your comments. I fully agree with the idea that people ought to be allowed to behave the way they choose in their own private lives, provided they do not harm others. I also agree with your comments about the problems with the political and economic views of some folks who label themselves as libertarians.

    I thought Rand was actually rather shallow. For a truly dense and difficult philosophical read, but one with actual moral foundations in contrast to Rand, check out one of Sartre's influences for Being and Nothingness - G.W.Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind. I am currently working through a hard copy for the second time, but it is also online at

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