Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Philosophy Museum (guest post by Anna Ichino)

The following is a guest post by Anna Ichino, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Milan. A version of it first appeared at the blog, Imperfect Cognitions. The Philosophy Museum by Anna Ichino Have you ever visited a Philosophy Museum? I bet not. Apparently, though there have been some philosophy-related museum exhibits and temporary installations, there aren’t any permanent philosophy museums in the world. So my colleagues and I in the Philosophy Department of the University of Milan have decided that it is time to build the first one. In this post, I’ll tell you about this exciting project. What we had in mind was not an historically-minded museum collecting relics about the lives and works of important philosophers, but something more dynamic and interactive—built on the model of the best science museums—where philosophical problems and theories become intuitively accessible through a variety of games, activities, experiments, aesthetic experiences, and other such things. Easier to say than to do, no doubt. It’s an ambitious project, and to put it into action we had to proceed gradually. We started with a temporary exhibition, which took place in our University from November 5th to 21st. There, we created the first two actual halls of what we hope will soon become a permanent museum, together with a third ‘programmatic’ hall where we presented the plan for what still needs to be done. Thanks to a generous funding awarded to our Department as a [More]

Course to Teach University Students to Engage Philosophically with High Schoolers

The University of Pennsylvania is offering a course that will teach undergraduates how to teach philosophy to high school students. The course, “Public Philosophy & Civic Engagement,” is one of the university’s “Academically Based Community Service” courses. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the course will be taught by Michael Vazquez, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy who is also a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Project for Philosophy for the Young. In his course, students will spend a part of each class figuring out how to distill complex philosophical ideas to high school students in an exciting way, and they will then go to teach philosophy in a Philadelphia high school once a week. According to the course syllabus, students will learn and teach topics from moral and political philosophy that relate to living in a democratic society, such as civic duties and obligations, patriotism, propaganda, and civil disobedience.  “We’re going to let the high school students dictate the sort of questions we want them to ask,” Vazquez said, adding that the Penn students will develop lesson plans that are shaped by high school students’ interests. By the end of the semester, Vazquez added, the high school students will write philosophical op-eds based on what they learned from the Penn students, and they will hopefully be able to publish these op-eds and present them at Penn.  In the Daily Pennsylvanian article, [More]

Free Philosophy Book for Swedish Students

All third-year high school students in Sweden can claim a free copy of Alternative facts: On Knowledge and Its Enemies, by Stockholm University philosophy professor Åsa Wikforss. The book (in Swedish: Alternativa fakta. Om kunskapen och dess fiender) was published in 2017, and addresses questions in epistemology with an eye towards critical thinking, knowledge resistance, the media, disinformation, and propaganda. The publisher, Fri Tanke, explains why it is offering students free copies of the book: Threats to knowledge are a growing problem in large parts of the world, even in Sweden. After the 2016 US presidential election, many caught the eye of how dangerous and effective it can be to use fake news and to highlight “alternative facts”. To base our perception of reality on facts is crucial and when knowledge is threatened it has consequences. We see how the measles spread again as a result of vaccine resistance, how climate deniers delay important efforts to counter global warming, and how the new technology is used to spread propaganda and undermine democratic society. The book, Alternative Facts, can be a tool for tackling development and helping students discern lies from truth.  The book is not party-political at all. It takes a stand for knowledge, facts and objective truth. It takes a stand against post-truth, ignorance, disinformation and propaganda. The initiative is funded by the publisher along with two of its executives, banker Sven Hagströmer [More]

World Philosophy Day Is November 21

This is just a heads-up that World Philosophy Day this year falls on Thursday, November 21st. Created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2002, World Philosophy Day is celebrated annually on the third Thursday of November. According to the United Nations, the aims of World Philosophy Day are to to renew the national, subregional, regional and international commitment to philosophy; to foster philosophical analysis, research and studies on major contemporary issues, so as to respond more effectively to the challenges that are confronting humanity today; to raise public awareness of the importance of philosophy and its critical use in the choices arising for many societies from the effects of globalization or entry into modernity; to appraise the state of philosophy teaching throughout the world, with special emphasis on unequal access; to underline the importance of the universalization of philosophy teaching for future generations. If you or your department have plans related to World Philosophy Day, or if you have ideas for celebrating the day, please share them in the comments. And if you don’t yet, it’s not too late to start planning something. Related posts: “What You’d Share to Show Non-Philosophers the Value of Philosophy“, “What Philosophers Are Asking Today“, “Why Did You Go Into Philosophy?” The post World Philosophy Day Is November 21 appeared first on Daily [More]

Philosophical Apps: How To Popularize Philosophy (guest post by Caleb Ontiveros)

The following is a guest post* by Caleb Ontiveros, a former philosophy Ph.D. student who now works as a software engineer. Philosophical Apps: How To Popularize Philosophy by Caleb Ontiveros The mediums available for popularizing philosophy are underexplored. If you want to share philosophical thought and techniques with non-academic philosophers and such, the medium matters. Why should philosophy’s would-be popularizers care about the medium? Historically, philosophers have not been the best at identifying how to bring their thought to the masses. “Non-philosophers” tend to get a lot more exposure. If you ask an ordinary person who their favorite contemporary philosopher is, there’s a decent chance that they’ll name someone like Jordan Peterson or Nassim Taleb, and possibly then Peter Singer and maybe Slavoj Žižek. This may or may not be bad, but it’s relevant if you care about popularizing. The typical model for popularizing philosophy has been to write popular books, publish at popular websites or in well-known publications, and basically go on speaking tours. For many academic philosophers, the model of popularization hasn’t advanced much further. But given the diverse forms of communication and interaction available to people today, we must recognize that the strategy of “share ideas with enough readers of the New York Times, lecture enough, and publish a few books” is limited in its effectiveness and reach. Fortunately, there has been some [More]

2019 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest Results

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has announced the winners of its 2019 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest. The contest, run by the APA’s Committee on Public Philosophy, aims to recognize “up to five standout pieces that successfully blend philosophical argumentation with an op-ed writing style. Winning submissions will call public attention, either directly or indirectly, to the value of philosophical thinking. The pieces will be judged in terms of their success as examples of public philosophy, and should be accessible to the general public, focused on important topics of public concern, and characterized by sound reasoning,” according to the APA. The winners this year are: Brendan de Kenessey (University of Toronto) for “People are dying because we misunderstand how those with addiction think” at Vox.com. Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin (Sam Houston State University) for “The Mirror Test and the Problem of Understanding Other Minds” at Psychology Today Amia Srinivasan (St. John’s College, Oxford) for “Does anyone have the right to sex?” at The London Review of Books Bryan Van Norden (Vassar College) for “The Ignorant Do Not Have a Right to an Audience” at The Stone (The New York Times) Karina Vold (University of Cambridge) for “Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?” at Aeon Magazine You can learn more about the prize and see the list of previous winners here. The post 2019 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest Results appeared [More]

Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch (guest post by Jennifer Morton)

“What I’m suggesting here is… doing philosophy with the public not just because of what we think we can offer with our expertise, but because of what we think the public can offer philosophy.” The following is a guest post* by Jennifer Morton, associate professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center. Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch by Jennifer Morton A few weeks into teaching a philosophy of action course at the City College of New York, one of my students exclaimed in exasperation something along the lines of, “We are just talking about the problems of privileged, white people here!” Several other students concurred. I urged them to say more. The examples, one of them explained, were disconnected from their experience of making choices. She didn’t have a second-order desire that her desire to go to her job as a cashier at Walgreens be effective over her desire to stay in bed in the morning. She had to work. Her job sucked, but she did it. Their critique resonated with me. I too had had the experience of reading philosophy and thinking that it wasn’t about people like me. Now, after years as a professional philosopher with a decent salary, I have come to see more of my life reflected in the literature—decisions about whether to agree to referee a paper or where to go on vacation seem relevant rather than fanciful. But the complaint my student lodged raises a serious worry for our profession. Philosophers tend [More]

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