Why are PhDs doctors of philosophy? - PhDData

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Why are PhDs doctors of philosophy?

September 2022

A doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) is an academic degree with the highest academic standard. This is essentially the pinnacle of academic achievement. But here the question is “Why are PhDs doctors of philosophy”? Actually Ph.D. is the abbreviation of two Latin terms Philosophiae (Ph.)  & Doctor (D). The word comes up with the representation of the study of philosophy, but if we look at its original meaning, it is “lover of wisdom.”

There could be two possible reasons why the term Philosophy is used in PhD.

Firstly, historically the higher studies at the university level were divided into three categories: the first doctorate degree in theology (known as Divinities Doctor or DD), the second, Doctorate degree in law (known as Legum Doctor or LLD), and the third Doctorate degree in medicine (known as a Medicine Doctor or MD). Since the Renaissance believed true knowledge could be acquired from actual observation, the term “philosophy” was used to describe fields of study outside of religion, law, and medicine. What was originally dubbed the “philosophical sciences” are now categorized under “sciences” and “humanities,” respectively. This is why, with the exception of medicine and law, Philosophy is the foundation of almost every other academic field, and the Doctor of Philosophy is the most suitable title for this academic achievement.

Secondly, research in higher education aims to improve our understanding of the world by expanding our current knowledge, posing new questions about it (just like theories, principles, postulates, etc.), or providing new perspectives on it. That’s why a PhD is called Doctor of philosophy.

Thinking critically has its roots in philosophy. It raises the relevant issues and makes progress in finding solutions. Questioning, critical discourse, logical argument, and systematic exposition are all examples of philosophical approaches. Research is made easier with the use of these techniques. Concepts, definitions, arguments, and issues may all benefit from a philosophical analysis. In addition, it facilitates the consolidation of divergent points of view into a coherent whole. Philosophy places a premium on precise wording of concepts and issues, careful curation of facts, and impartial evaluation of arguments. Also emphasised is the cultivation of an openness to and appreciation for the novel avenues of inquiry opened up by the unforeseen questions and ideas that arise throughout the course of one’s study. Aristotle, the “father of logic,” was the first to formulate a method of thinking. He made the interesting observation that the form, rather than the substance, of an argument is what matters most. According to Aristotle, rational thought is essential to human flourishing.

In conclusion, the term “Doctor” in “Doctor of Philosophy” designates a person who is qualified to or is authorized to teach. And Philosophy, as the love of knowledge and wisdom, offers tools for doing efficient inquiry that increases our pool of available information. So, it’s true that a Ph.D. confers the ability to instruct others, but it also indicates that the bearer is a “authority,” someone who knows their field inside and out and can push the bounds of what’s known.

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