Editor's note: This paper was read at the fourth annual University of Dayton Philosophy Colloquium, held in 1974.

Should walls be brown. or white? The question is ridiculous because, as it stands, it is unanswerable. Why should walls be brown rather than white, or white rather than brown? On what basis can we decide that one color is more fitted than another for walls? In order for the question to become truly intelligible and answerable, its context needs to be specified. Tell me whether you are talking about the walls of a house or the walls of an industrial plant, whether the industry is a clean one or a dirty one, whether you have in mind the walls of an office or the walls of a shop. … Then we will be in business.

Ought philosophers be neutral or committed? I am afraid that this question may sound to some ears as unanswerable and, therefore, as ridiculous as the question about walls. As I happen to be the one who proposed it as the subject for our colloquium, I feel that the least I owe you and myself is to place the question in a context in which it becomes answerable and to share with you for further discussion my answer to it.

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