Last week's most underrated philosopher, John Corvino, is (as was noted) besides being an accomplished philosopher a public intellectual and advocate. This made me wonder if there weren't other most underrated philosophers who fit the public intellectual profile. (You may recall that my criteria for this entry are meant to pick out interesting philosophers, not just hyperspecialized ones.) Laura Snyder may well fit the bill in a week or two. Her book,The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World, which will tell he story of how William Whewell, Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and Richard Jones, founded the Philosophical Breakfast Club, devoted to scientific discussion, at Cambridge. If it sells and captures the public's imagination a radiant philosophic star may be born.
Laura is a past president of HOPOS (the History of philosophy of science society--full disclosure: I served under her); she is an expert on nineteenth century (British) philosophy of science and how it fits into a wider intellectual culture. She is an author of an important monograph on the Mill-Whewell debate(s) over induction. I like it, especially, because it treats discussions over political economy as integral to our philosophic heritage. She has also written on nineteenth century fiction, including a fun article on forensic science's influence on the creation of Sherlock Holmes. With the popularity of structural realism (especially in British philosophy of science), it is a bit peculiar that her early paper on the topic has not garnered more attention.