Today even the humanities are expected to have an impact. In the 2014 REF, for instance, philosophy formed one of 36 ‘units of assessment’. In a previous post we raised the question of impact for the field of applied philosophy. We argued that applied philosophers, a field that should be brimming with impacts, have fallen prey to ‘disciplinary capture’: even when they have sought to be practical they have played an inside game, writing for other philosophers rather than for a wider audience.
Looking back at our own earlier work in applied philosophy we see that we have committed the same mistake. We offered analyses of environmental problems, but never sent our papers to the parties concerned, much less sought their participation at the front end of the research. In recent years we’ve tried to do better. These efforts that have led us to reflect on what could be called ‘the philosophy of impact’ – what counts as impact, how is it achieved, and how can it be demonstrated.