Marco Rubio recently suggested that we need fewer philosophers and more welders because welders make more money. See below:
In case it’s not obvious why this is a foolish suggestion, I’ll explain.
THE MAIN PROBLEM
Here are a couple claims that are probably true:
- There is a need for more welders.
- Some welders make more money than some philosophers.
Notice, however, that neither of the following follow from those probably true claims:
A. We need fewer philosophers.
B. On average, welders make more than philosophers.
So, insofar as Marco Rubio thinks that A and/or B follows from 1 and 2, Rubio is just wrong. And many people have pointed out that B is just false.† So insofar as Rubio thinks B is true, he is just wrong.
What can we learn from this?
- We need better fact-checking in politics (ideally, politicians would check the facts before they start talking at a public venue).
- We need more philosophy (viz., a proper understanding and appreciation of good reasoning) — even in the highest ranks of US politics. Maybe we need argument-checking: “Fact-checking is not enough. We need argument-checking“.
TWO MORE PROBLEMS
And for those who still want to point out that we need more welders: fine! Having more welders and having more philosophers is not mutually exclusive! We can have both!††
Finally, there is the implicit suggestion that we should choose careers based on how much money the career offers. Sigh… Look, I get that we need a certain amount of money to flourish. But — contra Rubio’s short argument — surely there are other (more important?) variables involved in a career choice.
† “Marco Rubio said wrongly that welders make more money than philosophers” (Politifact). “Marco Rubio says welders make more money than philosophers do. He’s wrong” (Slate). “Philosophy majors actually earn a lot more than welders” (Vox).
†† Thanks to John Ballenger, James Endicott, Andrew Chapman, Cameron Buckner, and Andrew Cullison for making these points (and other points that I haven’t even mentioned). Finally, thanks to my Facebook friends for humoring my Facebook rants about this.
Featured image: “Gas metal arc welding” via Wikipedia, Public Domain