I was thinking the other day about the different reasons a person might want to get a PhD, and I wondered if those who weren't necessarily intending to be researchers when they were done would be valued as highly during their grad school years as those who did.
I suppose the most common reason to get a PhD is because you want to do research, either as a professor in an academic setting or at a research lab (industry or otherwise). After all, this is what the actual PhD work teaches you more than anything else: how to do research. Sure, there are opportunities to improve and practice your teaching as well, but it's certainly not required. Some people don't even want to be TA's because of the time it takes away from their main task.
But is it not also perfectly legitimate to get a PhD because you simply want to learn more about something? To have the opportunity for academic and other experiences that you'd never have otherwise? Or maybe you want to work on a particular problem not because you love the world of research in and of itself, but because that problem is something you are passionate about solving.
Perhaps you want to just teach when you are done. Sure, you might not need more than a Masters to do that in a university setting, but the reasons above may be enough to take it that step further. Or maybe you want to continue working on solving that problem you started working on as a business venture or within another company. Maybe you see the solution as something that can make the world a better place.
Are students whose primary post-grad goals do not include research less valued during their PhD, assuming they have fairly good (but not top) research ability combined with other excellent qualities (such as leadership, etc)? Do they get less scholarships and recognition? Do they suffer more because of the Publish or Perish mantra?
I don't know the answers, but while I would like to think this wouldn't be the case I suspect that it could easily be. Does it matter? What are your thoughts?