International Conference 2011

New Practices of Philosophy:
Taking Philosophy beyond Disciplinary Bounds

March 7-9, 2011, University of North Texas1


20th century philosophy took up the mantle of a discipline, embracing academic specialization; philosophy was written-by-and-for-professional philosophers. In the current age of accountability a disciplinary approach to philosophy faces a number of challenges. Philosophers (and others across the academy) are asked to justify their relevance to society—relevance that can perhaps be demonstrated by philosophers working across and beyond the disciplines: for instance, in partnership with other disciplines, especially scientists or engineers, or through working with policy makers. Does disciplinary philosophy need to be complemented by inter- and transdisciplinary philosophic work?

This conference seeks to attract philosophers who are developing new (often interdisciplinary) models for philosophic engagement, as well as scientists, policy makers, and others who are interested in the role that philosophy can or should play in collaborative situations. Our goal is to foster a community of practice for developing new approaches of engaged philosophy, a community that includes scientists, social scientists, and policy makers. Participation is sought in the following areas:

1. Philosophy in the Field: Science, Technology, Ethics, Policy

Here the focus is on philosophers, scientists, engineers, and policymakers working on questions at the intersection of science, philosophy, and policy, e.g., bioethics, nanotechnology, environmental ethics, military ethics, etc. Participants can offer theoretical accounts of this work or present case studies in engaged philosophy, participating in panel discussions on how such work can be improved in the future.

2. Theorizing the Institution and Practice of Philosophy

Participants will explore different institutional embodiments of philosophical practice such as: philosophers as synthesizers of disciplinary knowledge, participants in interdisciplinary collaborations; or as generalists who are able to translate the insights of the academy for the world at large. Presenters are welcome to propose to run a panel or a workshop format.

3. Training the Next Generation of Philosophers and Philosophical Thinking

Participants will describe actual or possible ways to train the next generation of philosophers (whether within philosophy or in other disciplines) in how to conduct engaged philosophy. Examples of such efforts could include experiences working with funding agencies, sponsoring internships, or other means of integrating interdisciplinarity into graduate or undergraduate education.

These areas are suggestions. We welcome contributions to other topic areas such as:

  • Philosophy of interdisciplinarity: themes, goals, requirements, and critiques
  • Questionson the nature of expertise
  • Are there types of knowledge production that require interdisciplinary approaches?
  • Questions of legitimation of new modes of philosophizing
  • Philosophical aspects and elements in global change studies, technology assessment, sustainability research, social-ecological research, engineering ethics and policy consultancy
  • Quality control and assessment of interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Critical thoughts on knowledge production and knowledge society
  • Neoliberal critiques of interdisciplinarity
  • Problems of interdisciplinary communication
  • Where is the philosopher’s home when he/she comes back from the field?

1 This conference is a joint effort of representatives from: Michigan State Philosophy; University of North Texas Philosophy; Philosophy of/as Interdisciplinarity Network; Georgia Tech Philosophy Program; Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute; University of South Carolina Philosophy; the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity, and the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (Unit of Social, Culture and Technology Studies), with the support of UNT Philosophy, CSID, the Udo Keller Stiftung Forum Humanum; and Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS) at the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT).


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Robert Frodeman & Adam Briggle

Welcome by Robert Frodeman & Adam Briggle

Fairlamb, Horace
University of Houston, Victoria

Schmidt, Jan
Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences Haardtring

Robert Frodeman
University of North Texas

Steve Fuller
Warwick University

Michael Hoffmann
Georgia Tech

Paul Thompson
Michigan State

Nancy Tuana
Penn State

Panel: The Future of Philosophy

Enteman, Willard
Rhode Island College

Schmid, Anne-Françoise
Ecole des Mines de Paris - MINES ParisTech

Thompson, Paul & Whyte, Kyle
Michigan State University

Hernandez, Jill
University of Texas, San Antonio

Culp, Clinton
University of Idaho

Jobe, Kevin
SUNY Stonybrook

Lyon, Pamela & Louise, Jennie
University of Adelaide

Holbrook, J. Britt
University of North Texas