Philosophy and the Real World: Leadership Class

So my partner so brilliantly wrote a piece Studying Philosophy, Getting a Job, and Saving the World. Which is ever so fitting for the question of what is a philosophy supposed to do to make some money in this world. I however am the philosopher that has spent time in a number of other fields. Some of these have been more conducive to philosophy than others. My current position is an Executive Director of Tri-County Love INC, a nonprofit that works with churches to help people in need.

My role puts me as a community leader in my small town and I regularly participate in leadership type activities. One particular leadership class caught my attention, because it was free for my wife and I, and it provided lunch and dinner.

One particular topic found our curriculum caught me off guard with my philosophical training. Granted in the field of leadership development, is a very progressive field and not as rigorous as analytic philosophy. The discussion of conflicts categorized them into relationship conflicts, data conflicts, interest conflicts, structural conflicts and value conflicts. The last is the one of most interest.

The curriculum defined value conflicts as “caused by perceived or actual incompatible belief systems.” Personally, I think the definition needs more, but I can agree with it for the class. However, a few sentences later we run across this problem. “Value disputes arise only when people attempt to force one set of values on others or lay claim to exclusive value systems that do not allow for divergent beliefs.”

Really… Did I just read that. No doubt they missed that the very statement written is a value statement. In our politically correct, want to offend no one culture, this statement is taken as a truth. It is likely the one absolute truth in the whole class.

Another quote to show the absurdity of this paragraph, “Differing values need not cause conflict.” This can only be true if we accept that harmony with others is a more important value than our current beliefs. However, there are some values that are actually of greater importance than harmony: justice, honesty and courage.

In a nutshell, what can I say that my background in philosophy has done? It gave me tools to critique information presented as truth, by understanding and finding the logical inconsistencies.

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