A recently tenured philosopher writes:
I was wondering if you could request comments from the readers of your blog on the following question: how do academics see themselves as making the world a better place? I am just tenured, and, while I can see how my teaching and advising duties have a direct impact on the lives of students and advisees (hopefully making these lives better at least in some cases), I am far from sure that my research is producing anything else than egocentric pleasure. Note that I am not working in any of these fields which have obvious practical implications, such as applied ethics for example. I wonder if other academics worry as much as I do about whether we spend our time and utilize our skills the way we ought to, or whether we should think about ways to be more useful to the society and the world.