There is no Neil deGrasse Tyson of Political Philosophy

Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world's leading astrophysicists, has taken it upon himself to raise the scientific literacy of the general public. His entertaining persona and excellent oratory skills makes him the perfect person for the job. In fact, he is so good at being a communicator that he has become somewhat of a celebrity. On top of hosting his own TV program NOVA scienceNOW, Tyson has been a frequent guest on multiple talk shows. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that most people who know who he is are not scientists. I am, of course, a perfect example.

My serendipitous discovery of Tyson was quickly followed by the sad realization that there is no equivalent of him in my field. There is no Neil deGrasse Tyson of political philosophy. This tragic fact has been disturbing me for some time now. However important we think it is to raise the scientific literacy of the general public, I would say it is equally, if not more important, to raise the public's political literacy. We need to improve the quality of our discussions about the fundamentals of politics. From the debate about gay marriage to the fight for economic equality, questions of justice permeate through our society. That there is no Neil deGrasse Tyson of political philosophy to help direct our political discussions is a grave tragedy, the consequences of which will be felt on a societal level.

John Rawls was the most influential political philosopher of the latter half of the twentieth century. His magnum opus, A Theory of Justice, is considered one of the most important texts in the field. Shorty before his great work was published, some actually deemed the field of political philosophy to be dead. John Rawls brought it back to life. And yet, even though Rawls was such a prominent figure, no one outside of academia knew who he was. He should have been a common household name. He should have been on billboards.

Society at large desperately needs a political philosopher to take the next step and go beyond the boundaries of academia. We need a political philosopher celebrity.

So, who wants to be our Neil deGrasse Tyson?