Would you vote for a philosopher to become taoiseach?

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Posters from  last year’s general election campaign. What slogan would Immanuel Kant approve of? Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Posters from last year’s general election campaign. What slogan would Immanuel Kant approve of? Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Could a philosopher ever be elected to lead a government? Emmanuel Macron studied under the French phenomenologist Paul Ricoeur and Barack Obama had a grá for political theory, but a pure intellectual would surely find the murky business of political compromise too much to bear.

Perhaps Socrates was right in portraying philosophy as incompatible with democracy. After all, philosophers don’t try to appeal to the listener’s desires. Rather they question those desires and try to undermine fixed opinions or prejudices. Risky stuff for someone seeking a vote.

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