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  1. Wealth
June 30, 2010

Texting Dr. Phil

By Spear's

Ever been in the middle of dinner when you suddenly wondered what it all means? Well, now there’s an app for that.

Ever been in the middle of dinner when you suddenly wondered what it all means? Well, now there’s an app for that.

AskPhil, an app for iPhones and other smart phones launched by, will now give people instant access to professional answers to philosophical questions even while showing off at an Upper East Side cocktail party. 

Launched in 2005 by Amherst philosophy professor Alexander George, uses a panel of over 30 professional philosophers (including my former mentor, Prof. Thomas Pogge) to answer questions from the public organized by categories such as sex, suicide, value, truth, religion, animals, etc. One question will naturally straddle several categories. 

On the website of, the public can click through the question categories, click through the panelists to see which ones each panelist has answered, or ask a new question and then wait for any interested panelist to answer it. The app gives access to a large selection of these questions, most answered, some not. There’s a lot to choose from: over 3,000 entries the last time I checked my app.

“When philosophical questions occur to people away from their desks or computer screens they’ll now have the opportunity through their mobile devices to see quickly whether other people have already asked that question and whether it’s received interesting responses,” said Prof. George in his press release. In other words, the app allows you scroll through the categories and their contained questions and answers and even email these. 

What the app does not allow you to do is to write or text a new question of your very own and get an instant and definitive answer to it. For that, you will either have to wait until you get to the Pearly Gates. 

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