PPN Plenary Events

Thursday February 8th

6:30-7:30 pm

Opening Keynote Panel
Public Philosophy: Reports from the Field


Friday February 9th

9:00-10:00 am
Imagining a World Where Philosophers Mattered
Daniel Sarewitz

It is almost trivially obvious that questions of a philosophical nature lie at the heart of many of today’s most vexing public problems. Could philosophers help create some socially valuable clarity about what is actually at stake in such problems?  I’ll briefly explore several issues where public work by philosophders interested in working outside of ideology and ivory towers could help improve democratic policy and politics.

Daniel Sarewitz is the Co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes and a Professor of Science and Society at Arizona State University. He also edits the magazine Issues in Science and Technology and is a regular columnist for Nature magazine. His books include Frontiers of Illusion: Science, Technology, and the Politics of Progress and (with Brad Allenby) The Techno-Human Condition.

3:00-4:15 pm
Reaching the Public
Olivia Goldhill, Peter Catapano, and Justin Weinberg

Public philosophy rarely reaches a wide audience without the attention of the media. Pursuing public philosophy thus involves interactions with institutions that serve as interpreters and critics of our efforts. Peter Catapano of the New York Times’ The Stone, Justin Weinberg of Daily Nous, and Olivia Goldhill of Quartz will explore the challenges of presenting philosophy within public venues, the philosophical ideas that make for a compelling story, and how philosophers might become more effective advocates for their field.

Olivia Goldhill is weekend writer for Quartz with a focus on philosophy and psychology. Her articles tackle a wide range of subjects from Heidegger-inspired political philosophy in Russia to the future of procreation and much more. Goldhill, who has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Harvard, was featured in an interview in 2017 by the American Philosophical Association.

Peter Catapano is Editor of the Opinion Section at New York Times and co-teaches Philosophy and the Media with Simon Critchley at the New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts. He has created and edited some of the most popular New York Times online series, including The Stone, a forum for contemporary philosophers that draws millions of readers annually.

Justin Weinberg is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. He runs the philosophy news and discussion site, Daily Nous, which has become a vital resource for reflections by and for the philosophy profession. The Daily Nous has successfully busted the previous monopoly held by the Leiter Reports, especially on questions concerning the evaluation of philosophical quality.


Saturday February 10th

9:00-10:00 am
Public Conversations about Controversial Topics
Organized by Evelyn Brister
Featuring Rebecca Tuvel, Georgia Warnke, and Lee McBride

The reason to do philosophical research on controversial, socially-relevant topics is that, ideally, this research matters—it can make a difference. Often, working on controversial topics entails taking political and  professional risks. How can philosophers expose unexamined assumptions, generate visions of the future, and take an active role in public conversations, without falling prey to our worst stereotypes? What are the right norms and practices for carrying on these conversations—both among fellow philosophers and with the public? How can the social value of public philosophy be balanced against the risks that public philosophers take in speaking on controversial topics?

Evelyn Brister is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology. She specializes in philosophy of science and environmental philosophy, with a focus on the role of values in ecology and ecological applications. She also writes on feminist philosophy and does work in the Environmental Science program at RIT on the presettlement vegetation of western New York.

Rebecca Tuvel is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rhodes College. Her teaching and research areas include philosophy of race, feminist philosophy, and animal ethics. Her current work is on the ethics of changing race, where she argues that considerations that support transgenderism should extend to transracialism. Her Hypatia publication on this topic recently created a controversy that led to numerous commentaries.

Georgia Warnke is Distinguished Professor of Political Science (and formerly Distinguished Professor of Philosophy) and the Director of the Center for Ideas & Society at the University of California, Riverside. Her research interests include critical theory, hermeneutics, democratic theory, and issues of race, sex, and gender. Her books include After Identity: Rethinking Race, Sex and Gender and Debating Sex and Gender.

Lee McBride is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wooster College. He teachers and researches in several areas, including American philosophy, ethics, and political philosophy. His main focus is on insurrectionist ethics. He was recently selected by St. John’s University in New York City for a one-semester visiting appointment as the 2018 Peter and Margaret D’Angelo Chair for the Humanities.

3:00-4:15 pm
International Perspectives on Public Philosophy
Organized by David Budtz Pedersen
Featuring Tom Børsen, Frederik Stjernfelt, Rolf Hvidtfeldt, and Joachim Schmidt Wiewiura

David Budtz Pedersen is Professor and Co-Director of the Humanomics Research Centre, Aalborg University Copenhagen. His current research focuses on research and innovation policy with a special interest in research evaluation, impact assessment, and Open Science and Innovation. He is a regular policy adviser to European governments, funding agencies, and knowledge-based companies.

Tom Børsen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Planning at Aalborg University. His research focuses on ethics and technology, corporate social responsibility, and techno-anthropology.

Frederik Stjernfelt is Professor in the Department of Communication at Aalborg University. He works on the Humanomics Research Program and the program Mapping the Public Value of the Humanities.

Rolf Hvidtfeldt is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University. His research focuses on interdisciplinarity and mapping the dissemination of the humanities and social sciences.

Joachim Schmidt Wiewiura is a PhD Fellow in Philosophy at the Center for Information and Bubble Studies, University of Copenhagen.  His rersearch deals with the role of (mis)information in public spheres; the contrast between public signals and public opinion; information dynamics (e.g. polarization); intellectual history of the public sphere.