Practicing Public Philosophy

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“Practicing Public Scholarship.” Public Philosophy Journal 1, no. 1 (2018).

Situating the Public Philosophy Journal at the intersection of philosophy and questions of public concern, this essay articulates how the journal hopes to practice public scholarship through a formative review process designed to create communities capable of enriching public life.

This is the inaugural essay in the inaugural issue of the Public Philosophy Journal. 

Public Philosophy and Philosophical Publics

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de Avlillez, André Rosenbaum, Mark Fisher, Kris Klotz, and Christopher P. Long. “Public Philosophy and Philosophical Publics: Performative Publishing and the Cultivation of Community.” The Good Society 24, no. 2 (2015): 118–45.

The emergence of new platforms for public communication, public deliberation, and public action presents new possibilities for forming, organizing, and mobilizing public bodies, which invite philosophical reflection concerning the standards we currently look to for coordinating public movements and for evaluating their effects. Developing a broad understanding of public philosophy, this article begins with the view of philosophy and intellectual freedom articulated in Kant’s publicly oriented writings. We then focus on the power of philosophical discourse to form and further articulate public bodies. Drawing on Dewey’s work, we discuss the role of philosophical discourse in the articulation of publics into self-regulated, sovereign entities. We conclude with an account of how publishing itself might come to play an important role in the practice of public philosophy in a digital age. Read More

Toward an Ethics of Philosophy in a Digital Age

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To honor the work of Richard Bernstein and specifically his influence as a teacher at the New School for Social Research, Marcia Morgan and Jonathan Pickle invited a group of his former students to write essays for a volume entitled The Philosophical Spirit of the New School: A Festschrift in Honor of Richard J. Bernstein. I am making a draft of my contribution available here for comment in an attempt to live out the argument I make in it about the ethics of philosophy as a practice of public communication.

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Public Digital Scholarship: The @PubPhilJ at the #APAEastern

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This presentation on the Public Philosophy Journal, invited by the APA Committee on Public Philosophy, provides an update on the status of the development of the open access, open peer review journal.

However difficult it is to create an open access, open peer review site of excellent digital scholarship, the Public Philosophy Journal includes a yet more ambitious performative dimension: the PPJ seeks to perform, as its very mode of scholarly publication, the sort of public philosophy it hopes to cultivate and amplify.

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Accountability and Public Scholarship

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With the announcement that Mellon has funded the first year of the Public Philosophy Journal, I have been thinking more reflectively on what it means to do public scholarship. Receiving the grant is, however, only one of a confluence of recent experiences that have forced me to consider how best to cultivate habits of excellent public scholarship in digital contexts.

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The End of the Beginning and the Path Ahead for @PubPhilJ

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On Friday, October 4th, we received the good news that the Mellon Foundation’s Scholarly Communications and Information Technology program will provide $236K to support the development of the Public Philosophy Journal (PPJ, aka @PubPhilJ).

The grant marks the end of the beginning for the Public Philosophy Journal, a collaborative endeavor between the Department of Philosophy at Penn State and Matrix at Michigan State, to create an open access, open peer review digital publication intent on performing public philosophy as its mode of publication.

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Digital Dialogue 51: Digital Public

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Episode 51 of the Digital Dialogue was recorded in Washington, D.C. at the Advancing Public Philosophy conference. Joining me are: Mark Fisher, Assistant Director of the Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State, Ronald Sundstrom, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of San Francisco, Cori Wong, PhD Candidate, Penn State, Jessica Harper, Partner at Bodker, Ramsey, Andrews, Winograd, and Wildstein in Atlanta, and Vance Ricks, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Guilford College.

We focus our discussion on two workshops that focused on social media and public philosophy. The first, facilitated by Vance Ricks and Mark Fisher, focused on Social Media Ethics; the second, facilitated by me and Cori Wong, focused on Philosophy and the Digital Public.


Philosophy and the Digital Public

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Rembrandt’s Philosopher in Meditation

WASHINGTON, DC – Today at the Advancing Public Philosophy Conference hosted by the Public Philosophy Network, Cori Wong, a graduate student in the Philosophy Department at Penn State, and I are holding a workshop entitled Philosophy and the Digital Public.

Rembrandt’s image, Philosopher in Meditation, presents a vision of the philosopher as isolated from the world. The Public Philosophy Network and the Advancing Public Philosophy Conference challenges this image by advocating for a vision of the philosopher as deeply engaged with the public and philosophy as a fundamentally human way of being with others in the world.
As part of the larger effort to advance publicly engaged philosophy, our Philosophy and the Digital Public workshop is designed to open a sustained dialogue about the relationship between philosophy and the digital public.
The workshop is divided into three parts. The first part, which I lead, focuses on the transformation of literacy through which we are currently living as we move from print to digital culture. It then turns to concrete examples of how I have used my Digital Dialogue podcast, and other modes of collaborative research to do philosophy publicly in ways that enrich my scholarship. The model here involves the attempt to do philosophy more publicly.
The second part, which is led by Cori, focuses on doing philosophy with and for the public. She has used social media, such as Youtube and her personal blog, to present philosophy to wider public audiences in ways that seek to cultivate and enhance public discourse on issues like racism and homophobia. The goal of making philosophical reflection relevant and accessible to general audiences has required her to develop different pedagogical skills, which are in many ways beneficial for her as an instructor, but this public work on the Internet is also seemingly in tension with the sort of scholarship that is viewed as legitimate, credible, and more valuable when establishing oneself as a rigorous scholar. Furthermore, despite her own skepticism about the pedagogical promise of teaching to the public through social media versus teaching in residence to students in a classroom, a number of “viewers” have urged her to continue this public work and stress that it is important for them and others.
The third part of the workshop will involve the creation of a collaborate digital artifact that captures something of the spirit and nature of the discussion we had and establishes a basis for ongoing dialogue concerning the nature of public philosophy in a digital age.

Digital Dialogue 46: Public Philosophy

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Cori Wong who is a graduate student in the department of Philosophy here at Penn State working on affective embodiment and oppression.

I invited her to the Digital Dialogue because she and I have been been involved with a very interesting initiative designed to cultivate the public practice of philosophy.
This endeavor centers around the Public Philosophy Network website designed to cultivate, sustain and develop the practice of public philosophy.
Cori herself has been doing some very interesting work with YouTube that has recently received a great deal of popular success.  In response to the YouTube video from a young women at UCLA who posted an anti-Asian racist rant about people talking in the library. Cori’s video, embedded below, has received almost 10,000 views at the time of this posting.

Digital Dialogue 18: Political Unconscious

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Noëlle McAfee, Research Professor at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, joins me for episode 18 of the Digital Dialogue which is another special SPEP edition. Noëlle has numerous publications in the area of democratic political theory, social/political philosophy, feminist theory and American pragmatism including three books, Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship by Cornell University Press, 2000, Julia Kristeva, publish by Routledge in 2003, and a text that Shannon Sullivan and I discussed in episode 8 of the Digital Dialogue entitled Democracy and the Political Unconsious. She is here today to talk further about her book and to explore the transformative possibilities digital media opens for politics.

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