From Permanent Black:

MehtaMehta: I think of you, especially in the essays that constitute this book, as doing a rather particular kind of philosophy. It is a very distinguished tradition of practitioners, including the late Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Alasdair MacIntyre in the Anglo-American tradition; Michel Foucault, in the French tradition, Adorno and Walter Benjamin in the German tradition, and of course several others. One of the things that marks this way of doing philosophy (if that is the term we should use) is that the familiar, and typically sharp lines, that separate philosophy from the humanities and the social sciences are willfully and self-consciously breached. I don’t mean that they are breached just for heck of it, but that questions are posed in such a way that makes answering them reliant on such a breach. Bernard Williams, as you know, proudly affirmed philosophy as a humanistic discipline. Your own work is heavily informed by the Dissenting tradition of 17th century thought and by contemporary history and social science. And, yet, in many ways this way of doing philosophy is the minor key of contemporary Anglo-American, and increasingly, even Continental philosophy. How would you describe what you do? Does it matter to you if it is thought of as “doing philosophy,” or does that description seem arcane to you, as it did for Richard Rorty?

Akeel smallerBilgrami: I must confess that my work has not been motivated by any self-conscious effort towards trying to reorient the discipline of philosophy nor even to follow a tradition set by the philosophers you mention, much as I admire them all. Rather, it’s just that certain issues grabbed my interest and I followed what I thought was most important and urgent in them and when that led to having to read history and intellectual history, and to study some political economy and politics and a variety of cultural phenomena, I just followed that lead as best I could—mostly for the sake of coming to some fundamental understanding of the issues. You are certainly right that most philosophers do not have a capacious understanding of their subject and many might even view this sort of outreach as contaminating their discipline. However, looking at things from the other side, we mustn’t forget that the social sciences themselves, particularly Economics, have manifestly abandoned the historical, the broadly conceptual, and, above all, the value-oriented aspects of their pursuits. So it is possible that we are now at a disciplinary moment when philosophy is poised to pick up that slack and pay close attention to the very things that the social sciences have abdicated. This would, then, be an exciting time to be doing philosophy.

More here.