Public Philosophy Network

Encouraging and Supporting Publicly Engaged Philosophical Research and Practices

Conference schedule for FALL 2011 Conference--thanks to all who made it a great success! Information about March 2013 conference available now.





PDF of final conference program for October 2011 conference.


At A Glance


October 6, 2011


Evening Plenary at the Center for American Progress 7-8:30 p.m.


October 7, 2011 — All sessions to be held at the Washington Plaza Hotel


Workshops 9-12

Lunch and Table Sessions 12-2

Workshops 2-5

Public Philosophy Network Membership Meeting, 5:30-6:30


October 8, 2011 — All sessions to be held at the Washington Plaza Hotel


On-going throughout the day:  workshops on using the Public Philosophy Network website to do collaborative public philosophy work

Workshop Outcomes 8:30-9:45

Papers 10:00-11:30

Lunch and next-step table sessions 11:30-1:00

Poverty Plenary (in the same room as lunch) 1:00-2:30

Papers 2:45-4:15

Papers 4:30-6:00

Wrap-up and Wine & Cheese Reception (cash bar) 6:00-7:30


In Full


Day 1, October 6, 2011, 7 p.m.  Evening plenary at the Center for American Progress featuring Hannah Rosin (Slate and The Atlantic), William Galston (Brookings Institution), E. J. Dionne (The Washington Post), Anita Allen (University of Pennsylvania) and Mark Sagoff (George Mason University) 


Day 2, October 7, 2011


Session 1. Workshops 9-12


Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) (Henry Shue, Oxford University, Justine Kolata, Matthew Lindauer, and Gilad Tanay, Yale) This workshop will focus on how philosophers can contribute to the project of eradicating global poverty. It will consist of three parts: (i) a conversation with Henry Shue on how philosophers can be effective and what they should avoid when trying to intervene in the public sphere, (ii) a short presentation of ASAP, a growing network of academics collaborating  in order to increase their collective impact on global poverty, and (iii) a focused discussion on one of ASAP's main projects, the "Global Poverty Report," an attempt to capture and articulate a broad academic consensus on global poverty and development. We will discuss how philosophers can contribute to this project both in terms of methodology and in terms of content. We will also address what kind of other efforts might complement the work of ASAP.


Feminist Bioethics (Mary Rawlinson, SUNY Stony Brook, with Lisa Eckenwiler, GMU, Ellen Feder, American University, and Kim Leighton, American University) Feminist bioethics is transforming bioethics in both its problems and its methods. While bioethics tends to focus narrowly on issues raised by science and technology, feminist bioethics addresses the broader horizon of health and justice in a global context.  Feminist bioethics also offers new models of collaboration for ethics and philosophy, as well as new strategies for integrating philosophy, policy, and practice.  The panelists will present two collaborative projects as points of departure for discussion and will explore with participants the entrepreneurial aspects of public philosophy, including fund-raising. Participants will be invited to present their own projects and to investigate new conceptual and practical strategies with panelists and other participants.


Foundations and the Common Good (Mark Rosenman, Ph.D., Director of Caring to Change, a project that aims to promote foundation grantmaking to further the common good, and the former vice-president for Social Responsibility at the Union Institute & University) Foundations ostensibly work towards the common good, but what does that mean? In the first part of this practitioner-facilitated workshop, we'll discuss trends within the American philanthropy scene and the inner workings of private foundations.  In the second part of the workshop, we will discuss how foundations might contribute to the common good, and the challenges that they face.  This last point will open up discussion about the common good, justice, and the role of philanthropy in a democracy.   The goal of this workshop is to foster a discussion among philosophers about the ways that they might help shape the agenda of private foundations. How might philosophers develop projects of interest to private foundation officers?  Why might foundations be interested in philosophers' work? 


Philosophers Working in Collaborative Research Teams (Paul Thompson, Michigan State University) Philosophers are classically thought of as solitary individuals who pontificate on big questions. Yet arguably the discipline of philosophy can make some of its most important contributions in conjunction with empirical work from scientific disciplines. In this workshop we will focus on three questions: 1) How can philosophy contribute to interdisciplinary inquiry and problem solving research on issues of practical significance? 2) How does one develop and maintain successful collaborations? 3) How can obstacles to and pitfalls of participating in collaborative research be addressed?


Philosophical Debate with Religion (John Shook, University at Buffalo and Center for Inquiry) As a philosopher who works for the Center for Inquiry, a think tank that advocates secularism and science, I speak to the public about the nonreligious stance. There are perhaps as many as fifty academic philosophers in North America who do this sort of work in blogs, debates, public talks, or mass print publications, at a part-time to full-time pace. A few, such as Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris, are among the most recognizable names in philosophy today. It's time to reflect on what this philosophical challenge to religion is accomplishing: what are the distinct strategies of secular philosophers, and are any of them working? Opinions vary widely, from "It’s not even a rational thing to debate" to "Naturalism and secularism are making good headway with people's minds." This workshop invites people to share their encounters with secular/naturalistic philosophy and its confrontations with religious belief in recent years. Is philosophy contributing much to this secular-religious dialogue? Can any tentative judgments be formed about the philosophical merits or pitfalls of secular-religion debate?  What kind of practices and engagements might be most productive in doing this kind of work?


Public Philosophy in Other Genres (Richard Hart, Bloomfield College) This workshop that will explore the prospects for doing public philosophy through fiction and other genres. There is a body of literature that can rightfully be called “philosophical fiction,” inasmuch as such works raise and explore through narrative a variety of philosophical issues, questions and problems. Such fiction represents a way of reaching out to an intelligent and curious public that is not necessarily trained in philosophy but, nonetheless, enjoys the encounter with and discussion of ideas as presented in stories. Such engagements might take place in short courses, workshops, even one-day events at local libraries, senior citizen centers, churches and synagogues, community centers, non-credit continuing education programs, even perhaps on board cruise ships as part of their educational and cultural offerings.  In our workshop, as a case study we will do a quick reading of one short story and then discus both the philosophical content of the story and a variety of ways in which it could be used in various public venues to advance philosophical discussion. Participants are encouraged suggest other authors, works of fiction, genres, and public settings where similar kinds of work could be undertaken. 


Punishment and Prisons (Rita Manning, San Jose State University) When one surveys the philosophical literature on punishment and related topics over the last 10 years and divides it into what appear to be the central categories: historical interpretation, discussions of Foucault, justifications of punishment, and what Duff calls “normative critique of the penal state”, one finds that the justification of punishment literature is most dominant and the normative, abolitionist literature comparatively slimmer. This workshop takes up such questions as these: Does the justification literature create an impression that our current practice can be justified?  Who is responsible for creating this impression? If philosophical ideas have played some role in the harsh penal practices of the U.S., what is our current responsibility?  Does philosophy as a profession have an obligation to foster a normative critique of incarceration? To help respond to these questions this workshop will explore current research areas and opportunities for engagement with this work.  Discussants: Barbara Hall


Social Media Ethics (Mark Fisher and Veena Raman, Penn State University, and Vance Ricks, Guilford College) Social media technologies give their users new ways to experience self-presentation, public exposure, and social connectedness.  They give their designers, no less than their users, a framework in which to reflect on and discuss these experiences.  They also give philosophers and others with training in ethical analysis (or in normative analysis more generally) an opportunity to raise questions about whether and how some of our fundamental ethical/political commitments can take tangible forms in the technologies that we use.  As citizens in a democratic society, we should encourage both users and designers to examine the relationships between social media technologies and democratic values related to identity, equality, and accountability.  The goal of this workshop is to foster discussion between philosophers and designers and users of social media technologies.  How can we best serve as advocates for the reflective incorporation of moral values in both design and usage decisions?  How can those technologies be used to provide new venues for the development of moral literacy and moral agency? 


Lunch and Table Sessions 12-2


Pragmatists as Public philosophers (Donald Hood)


Can Philosophers be experts? (Robert Kirkman, Georgia Institute of Technology)


K-12 Philosophy (Michelle Gallagher, UCLA) Discussant: Timothy Hall


Writing Public Philosophy (Justin Marshall)


Why philosophers should be consulted on moral matters — and why they’re not (Mark Piper and Pia Antolic-Piper, James Madison University)



Session 2. Workshop 2-5


Agriculture and Animal Welfare (Ike Sharpless, UMass Lowell, wiki at and blog at The goal of this workshop is to foster collaborations between interested citizens and people working in animal agriculture, government, advocacy NGOs, think tanks, and academia. The workshop will focus on the following issues: 1) Framing Animal Welfare – Why do different groups of people assess farm animal welfare differently, and how do these different frames claim privileged status? Emphasis will be placed on bias and polarizing narratives, the science-policy interface, and the role of interdisciplinarity in applied animal welfare studies. 2) Food Politics and Food Choices – How is animal welfare balanced against other 'process distinctions' in our food choices? How are animal welfare claims translated into first, second, and third-party standards? And how do we connect the local and the global, especially in an age when the international political economy of food and animals is so fraught with tension. (An important aside: the divide between 'animal rights' and 'animal welfare' is complex and contested, but this forum will be predominantly welfarist in scope.)


Bioethics and Biopolitics (Jonathan Moreno, University of Pennsylvania) Over the past decade, as issues like cloning and stem cells have become part of our public discourse, bioethics has become biopolitics.  I describe these developments in my new book, "The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America." In this workshop we will consider how and why the new biopolitics has emerged and how it is changing both bioethics and politics. We will reflect as well on the cultural history that has led to biopolitics and the ways the new biology has stimulated reactions that transcend the familiar left-right spectrum.  In this new biopolitical atmosphere we find bioconservatives and bioprogressives, the former (which comprises greens as well as neocons) fretting over the blurring of lines between humans and the rest of creation, the latter lamenting the drag on innovation that might save or radically improve lives.


Climate Change: Science, Policy, Activism (Nancy Tuana, Penn State University, and Andrew Light, George Mason University and Center for American Progress)  This workshop will focus on various ways philosophers have been and can continue to contribute to climate science, policy, and activism.   While there has been an explosion in good academic work by philosophers on climate change in recent years the avenues for us to actively participate in climate policy and activism have been slower to develop.  This workshop is designed to foster discussion amongst philosophers who are currently engaged in or interested in becoming involved in climate change work or related work in environmental issues beyond the academy.  Goals of the workshop include sharing models for interdisciplinary research and practice in this field, as well as determining how to enrich collaborations between philosophers and the publics engaged with climate change issues.  Included in the workshop will be opportunities to engage with members of the US government working on climate adaptation and mitigation.

Opportunities for Philosophers for National Science Foundation Funding (Robert Frodeman and Britt Holbrook, University of North Texas) This workshop will address the many kinds of philosophically interesting fundable projects via NSF and the nuts and bolts of how to apply. The workshop will start with a brief history of NSF, with an eye to its place in US culture and will then describe the gradual penetration of opportunities for philosophers to be funded. Next we will describe the peer review process and during the final hour go into an RFP and describe how an actual application happens.


Philosophy and the Digital Public (Christopher Long and Cori Wong, Penn State University) New digital media technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, have transformed modes of public communication and human literacy.  This workshop will simultaneously explore and demonstrate how digital technologies have revolutionized philosophy by presenting new possibilities (and limits) for pedagogy, philosophical practices, and the nature of public philosophy. Three areas of focus will be: 1) new media literacy and its impact on scholarship, teaching and the academy; 2) examples of concrete practices with digital media, including our own YouTube channels, podcasts, and blogs; and 3) creating an online identity and building a digital community that focuses on engaged public philosophy. Because we will utilize these digital media technologies throughout the workshop to perform what we discuss, participants are strongly encouraged to bring laptops so that they can participate through live blogging, tweeting, etc.


Philosophical Approaches to Cross-Disciplinary and Intercultural Research (Stephen Crowley, Boise State University) The Idaho-based Toolbox Project has developed a philosophically-based workshop approach to facilitating cross-disciplinary research. Using a philosophical instrument, the "Toolbox", we conduct workshops designed to enhance mutual understanding and improve collaborative communication. We are currently engaged in work on translational science that pushes this model out beyond the walls of the academy. In this session, we conduct a workshop designed to introduce participants to this practical, public deployment of philosophical concepts and techniques.


Philosophy in/and the City:  Pedagogies, Research Projects and Community-Based Work (Sharon M. Meagher, University of Scranton, editor of Philosophy and the City (SUNY U P, 2008) and the website In this three hour workshop, we will focus on two questions:  1) how and why philosophy might matter to the city, and 2) how the practice of philosophy is (or might be) transformed by philosophers’ urban engagements.  The workshop will be divided into three parts.  In the first hour, we will focus on pedagogies, sharing teaching methods for bringing philosophy to the streets.   In the second hour, we will focus on research projects that address urban problems and prospects, sharing ideas for collaborative research projects and the possibilities of doing so with urban-based community groups.  In the third hour, we will discuss other community-based projects that might benefit from collaborations with philosophers and assist philosophers in thinking about the city. Discussants:  Loren King, Wilfred Laurier University; Chris Keegan, SUNY Oneonta.



Philosophy through Public Dialogue (David Morrow, University of Alabama at Birmingham) This workshop will provide practical advice about producing events in which philosophers engage in public dialogues or debates with one another or with non-philosophers. Sample topics for such dialogues include: food ethics; gender and global justice; climate ethics; evolution, intelligent design, and philosophy of science; philosophy of law; gay marriage; the proper role of religion in public life; philosophy and the examined life; moral self-cultivation; etc. This workshop will cover: identifying topics for events; identifying participants; finding space to host the event (inside or outside a university); funding; attracting an audience; structuring the dialogue itself; and the potential goals and benefits of the event. Workshop participants who have been involved with such an event will be encouraged to share their own experiences. All participants will receive materials to help them organize events of their own.


Day 3, October 8, 2011


On-going throughout the day:  workshops on using the Public Philosophy Network website to do collaborative public philosophy work


Session 1, Workshop Outcomes Plenary facilitated by Noëlle McAfee, Emory University, 8:30-9:45


Session 2, Papers and Panels, 10:00-11:30


Agriculture and Animals

“Eating in Public: Farms, Food, and Virtues,” Lissy Goralnik, Kyle Powys Whyte, Laurie Thorp, and Matt Ferkany, Michigan State University

“A Tired Impasse: Experimental Science and Chimpanzee Dissent,” Andrew Fenton, Dalhousie University, Canada

Public Philosophizing: What are we learning from our own practice? (Kristie Dotson, Michigan State University; Elizabeth Minnich, Association of American Colleges & Universities; Kyle Powys Whyte, Michigan State University) Each panelist will describe and reflect on her/his relevant ways of working; participants will be invited to reflect on their own; together we will explore what we are learning about public philosophizing. Explicitly holding our practices in tension with our philosophical, political, moral commitments, panelists and then participants will reflect on what we are learning from our experiences of public philosophizing. How have we found ourselves doing our work? How and by what evolving criteria do we find ourselves and others judging the efficacy of what we intend to be doing? Do we find ourselves acting like, and/or being cast as, experts or facilitators, teachers or resources, leaders or collaborators, equals or authorities? How do we change such relations if we think we should? Is it appropriate to philosophize differently with the public than we do with students, colleagues? If public philosophy is not just one more application of philosophical expertise (as in Applied Ethics, or the use of “critical thinking” on public issues), how, and why does that matter?


Military Ethics  (Clinton A. Culp, Major USMC (Ret), Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Idaho’s Center for Ethics; Paolo Tripodi, Professor of Ethics and Ethics Branch Head, Lejeune Leadership Institute, Marine Corps University; Jeffrey S. Wilson, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, and adjunct professor at Mount Saint Mary College and Saint Thomas Aquinas College; George R. Lucas, Jr. (tentatitve), Associate Department Chair, Leadership, Ethics, and Law and Ethics Section Head, the United States Naval Academy) This panel discusses current paradigms and practices in military ethics education from a diverse set of institutional and pedagogical perspectives, focusing on ways in which service academies, Reserve Officer Training Corps units, and military service schools define and conduct ethics education for officers from pre-commissioning programs through required mid-career service-specific and joint courses.


Speech and Knowledge in Public Life

“Political Speech Incorporated: One Year After Citizens United v. FEC,” Elizabeth Victor, Georgetown University and University of South Florida

“Challenging One Way Discussion: Beyond Religious Right and Secular Left,” Karin Fry, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

“Epistemic Responsibilities and the Bench: What Judges Know, What They Don’t, and What They and We Can Do About It,” Susan Henry, Binghamton University


Lunch and table sessions on next steps 11:30-1:00


Session 3, Plenary on Poverty featuring Henry Shue, Oxford University, and (via Skype) Thomas Pogge, Yale University, 1:00-2:30



Session 4, Papers and Panels 2:45-4:15



“Organ Procurement and the Enforcement of Consent,” Charlie Kurth, Washington University in St. Louis

“What Can Bioethics Teach Us About Public Philosophy?” Adam Briggle, University of North Texas


Pragmatism as Publicly Engaged Philosophy


“John Dewey and the Public Responsibility of Philosophers,” Kenneth Stikkers, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale


“Journalism’s Destructive Addiction to Fake Objectivity: How Dewey Can Help Journalists Re-connect with the Public Once Again,” David Hildebrand, University of Colorado, Denver


“Josiah Royce as a Public Philosopher—Lessons for Today,” Jacquelyn Kegley, California State University, Bakersfield


Conflict & Principles

“Care Values in Conflict: Justifying Military Humanitarian Intervention,” Jess Kyle, Binghamton University

“Equality, Neutrality and Immigration,” Eun-Jung Katherine Kim, Wayne State University

Teaching Public Philosophy

“The Primacy of Principle in Practical Philosophy: extending beyond the academy lessons from teaching ethics to environmental science students,” Kenneth Shockley, SUNY Buffalo

“Reflections on Nelson’s Socratic Method: Engaging Philosophy Students,” Marije Altorf, St. Mary’s University College, London

“Philosophy: From Thought to Action,” Ben Wassermann, CUNY


Session 5, Papers & Panels 4:30-6:00


Philosophy in Public Policy

“Applied Philosophy and the Tools of the Policy Sciences,” Benjamin Hale, University of Colorado, Boulder

“No Longer Complacent about Complacency,” Michael Doan, Dalhousie University, Canada

“A Case Study in Field Philosophy: the Comparative Assessment of Peer Review,” Britt Holbrook, University of North Texas


Poetry as Public Philosophy


“Poetic Thinking in the Public Sphere: On the Political Possibilities of Contemporary American Poetry,” Travis Holloway, Stony Brook and NYU plus other panelists or respondents



Conflict & Identity

“Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones and the Possibility of Moral Repair,” Sarah Clark Miller, Penn State and the University of Memphis

“Jewish Self-Hatred in the Debates Over Israeli Policies toward Palestinians,” Marilyn Friedman, Vanderbilt University/Charles Sturt University

“Empowering Women,” Ericka Tucker, Cal Poly Pomona


Practice of Public Philosophy

“Thinking for a Change: Living Philosophy Beyond the Classroom and with Community,” Julia van der Ryn, Dominican University of CA

“Philosophical Influence on Culture,” Eric Thomas Weber, the University of Mississippi

“Socrates as Organizer: What Alinsky Can Teach Us About Publicly Engaged Philosophy,” Frank McMillan, VOICE of Northern Virginia


Wrap-up and Wine & Cheese Reception (cash bar) 6:00-7:30









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