In North Carolina in February, some of the conference organizers were very impressed by my graduate school options, but also very mistaken: they thought my options were job offers. "If all those places want you," they asked, "then what are you doing here, at our conference?" A month later, in the Borough of Princeton and then in Ithaca, cynical remarks were made about attending any school ranked lower than the top-20.
Comments like these discourage me because I actually think it's a professional duty to philosophize entirely indiscriminately, no matter how famous or smart you take yourself or your interlocutors to be. Otherwise, I suspect, you're only using philosophy for your own advantage and not really devoted to her project; that is, you're a mercenary and not a patriot. (Always better to be a patriot.)
One of my best conversations this spring was with a taxi driver in the Silicon Valley. We talked about religion, morality, and objectivity. It was a good reminder of how perplexing and important these questions are.
Of course, philosophers aren't the only ones to use and abuse philosophy. The taxi driver told me I had beautiful eyes and asked for my email before dropping me off at the San Jose airport. "I can sense that you have knowledge," he told me, "and I would love to have more of it."
My considered view is that the professional duty to philosophize indiscriminately does not extend to giving out one's email indiscriminately, no matter how famous or smart or flattering your interlocutor may be. So, I politely refused the request. My religious taxi driver will have to continue his ascent to the good without the help of my blue eyes.