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June 27th, 2019 2:12:46 pm

PPJ 2018 Collaborative Writing Workshop

Agenda and Participant Abstracts

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The agenda and list of abstracts for the PPJ's 2018 Collaborative Writing Workshop, May 16-18 in Hickory Corners, MI.

MSU-W.K. Kellogg Biological Station

Conference Center and Manor House

3700 East Gull Lake Drive

Hickory Corners, MI 49060

Ph: (269) 671-2400

May 16th 

Transportation from Lansing and Grand Rapids airports provided

Check-in at McCrary Hall (KBS Conference Center)*



May 17th




Introduction: The PPJ Mission and Formative Peer Review Process: Chris Long, Dean Rehberger, Kurt Milberger, Andrea Walsh


Workshop: The PPJ Style Criteria: Facilitated by Chris Long, Andrea Walsh


Goal Setting


Collaborative Writing




Collaborative Writing


Report-out and Check-in: Facilitated by Chris Long, Andrea Walsh



May 18th




Goal Setting and Updates: Facilitated by Chris Long, Andrea Walsh


Collaborative Writing




Collaborative Writing


Report-out, Discussion of the PPJ Process + Next Steps: Facilitated by Chris Long, Andrea Walsh



May 19th





Transportation to Lansing and Grand Rapids airports provided

Meeting Locations (KBS Center)

Reception: Manor Hall

Breakfast and lunch: McCrary Dining Hall

Dinner: The Terrace Room

Full group meetings: The Terrace Room


James A. Marcum and Yunus Prasetya

“Donald Trump, Climate Change, and Public Philosophy of Science”

Climate change is at best a controversial contemporary social issue. As is well known, Donald Trump participated vigorously in the controversy prior to his presidency. For example, he tweeted in September 2014, “Great article on so-called climate change, formerly known as global warming.” The article he cited was published several days earlier in the New York Post. The article’s authors claimed, “There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change.” Trump later tweeted in January 2015, “It’s record cold all over the country and world - where the hell is global warming, we need some fast!” Trump’s tweets belie fundamental misunderstandings of science, which have serious implications for the public discussion of climate change.

Philosophers of science have an opportunity to clarify such misunderstandings of science in order to facilitate informed public discussions. To that end, a public philosophy of science is proposed that evaluates the rhetoric associated with controversies over social issues, such as climate change. Specifically, this philosophy provides the public with the resources to navigate the metaphysical and epistemological nuances surrounding global warming. As illustrated in Trump’s 2014 tweet, the climate change controversy often hinges on the causal relationship between CO2 emission and global warming. Philosophers of science can clarify for the public what scientists mean when they claim that convincing evidence is available for justifying the causal relationship and thereby explain why climate change is occurring. And, as illustrated in Trump’s 2015 tweet, they can also clarify why a temporary record cold spell does not necessarily falsify the consensus theoretical explanation for global warming.

In sum, philosophers of science can serve the public good by clarifying metaphysical and epistemological misunderstandings often infecting public discussion of important social issues like climate change.

Link for Trump tweets:

Ivette Bayo Urban and Ashley Walker

"Triangulating Care: Developing a Framework for Ethical Sociotechnical Research"

Building an understanding of how the effects of technological change ripple through a society requires careful, dedicated inquiry. Conducting this work around the intersection between people, information, and technology requires researchers to move into more diverse contexts. With this expansion comes the increased possibility of harm for everyone involved in the process. However, much of the existing training around research ethics is limited to standard IRB training. Building on feminist philosophical traditions, including ethics of care, postcolonial approaches to research practice, and connecting to relational philosophies, including contractualism, we propose a framework for addressing the ethical considerations associated with technological research projects. In developing this framework, we hope to make more visible the articulation work necessary to be intentionally ethical in sociotechnical research, while also grounding researchers in deliberate attention to seamfulnness throughout the research process.

Damián Bravo Zamora and Hugh Reginald

"Philosophy, Cosmopolitanism, and the Problematization of Borders"

In this paper, we argue that philosophy, as an activity that has always been concerned with different sorts of boundaries, is particularly suited for asking the question of whether the contemporary international system –and, in particular, its assumption that sovereign states should have discretionary control over the borders that delineate the space occupied by our political communities– is justified or not. We also argue that a Cosmopolitan conception of humanity strongly suggests that this assumption about the sovereign states' discretionary control over territorial borders has to be revised.

Amin Asfari, Ron Hirschbein, and Richard Larkin

“Toward an Integrated Theory of Islamophobia”

Research on Islamophobia describes prejudice against Muslims—or anyone taken for Muslim—in considerable detail. This will not suffice. We want to understand and explain Islamophobia. Accounting for the prejudice—bigotry covering the spectrum from covert discrimination to overt violence—is to say the least, problematic. This paper confronts the problematic. What are reasonable expectations; what do we hope to accomplish? Aware of the contesting definitions of Islamophobia we posit a nominal, working definition, a definition we believe many authorities would find congenial.

We locate our efforts within a spectrum. At one end is what Rorty would call a “final vocabulary”: The last word on a concept; a final answer that “gets it right.” Given the limitations of social inquiry and the volatile, historic nature of such prejudice, we’re suspicious of those who claim to have the final answer—a universal, policy-relevant explanation of Islamophobia. We also eschew the opposite end of the spectrum that traffics in local knowledge: individual accounts of Islamophobia. To be sure, such accounts are not irrelevant; that said merely relying upon anecdotes will not suffice.

Locating ourselves at an admittedly, ambiguous midway point on the spectrum, we assume that an account of Islamophobia must be concatenated and historicized. Islamophobia is not sui generis: It shares features of other prejudices, and we draw from these general theories. Moving in for a closer look, we examine specific accounts of Islamophobia and find they are resonant and interrelated: but no final answer. These heuristic accounts include studies of intergroup conflict in heterogeneous societies; psychoanalysis (especially Freudian group psychology); and, or more broadly, critiques of American, and Western, hegemony and colonization. The popular media play a formative role: colonizing popular consciousness by constructing, mass producing, and broadcasting images of the Muslim—a monolithic depiction of the evil ‘other.’

Any account of Islamophobia must be historically situated. Our irony-assisted recall explicates a long ago benign Orientalism: Disney cartoons once portrayed magical Arabs—aloft on flying carpets conjuring genies. 9/11, to have a flair for the obvious, transformed the Arab from magician to monster. Since 9/11 the domestic threat posed by Arab jihadists is, to understate the case, minimal. Nevertheless, at this moment in history opportunistic politicians along with the popular media find it in their interest to mass produce Islamophobia.

Stephanie Jenkins and Kelly D. Morris

“Chalkdust without the Torture: Making Philosophy Rock” (documentary video and essay)

The Philosophy School of Phish is a multilayered public philosophy project that launched in 2014. (Phish, founded in Vermont in 1983, is an improvisational rock band-- commonly referred to as a “jamband”-- with a large, dedicated fan base.) The Philosophy School of Phish, strives to integrate philosophical dialogue into Oregon State University Philosophy students’ and Phish fans’ experiences of live concerts and interactions on social media. During the 2018 Summer term, Dr. Jenkins’ PHL 360 (Philosophy and the Arts) will participate in a field trip to attend Phish’s three night run at the Gorge Amphitheater from July 20-22. Students will camp together at the venue over the weekend. In addition to attending the concerts, students will participate in a “Phish Studies” colloquium, which will feature guest lectures from interdisciplinary scholars researching the band at other academic institutions. Over the course of the weekend, the students will film their experiences. They will later use this video footage to complete the “Concert Field Notes” assignment requirement for PHL 360. Dr. Jenkins and filmmaker Kelly Morris will collaborate with the students to edit their video submissions into a film about Phish and Philosophy, to be published in the Public Philosophy Journal and circulated throughout the Phish “phan” community. A philosophical essay describing the project’s methodology will accompany the video publication.

Shane Epting, David Beisecker, and Glenn Nowak

Multi-dimensional Feasibility of Infrastructure: The Case of Las Vegas”

This paper employs a multidisciplinary framework to examine the feasibility of building an elevated path for pedestrians and bicyclists in the Las Vegas metropolitan region. Through brining researchers together who have training in philosophy, engineering, architecture, public health, and public policy, the goal is to identify the benefits and challenges to this project, along with the ethical considerations that would guide its development.  Some of the advantages to undertaking this initiative include mitigating environmental harm, bolstering the use of current transportation infrastructure, promoting public health, and improving local economies and cultures.  Some of the inherent difficulties of this project include developing meaningful ways to include the participation of stakeholders, determining structural and cultural viability, and charting and debating public policy decisions, and, ultimately, a way forward to determine if this kind of infrastructure would be a worthwhile consideration for southern Nevada.

John Altmann and Angel Gonzalez

 "Combating Moral Luck with Adapative Pragmatism"

We're taking a classic thought experiment and expanding it into a fully fledged out story. The thought experiment we're broadening is the drunk driver experiment dedicated to addressing the nature of moral luck. Our story will follow both the drunk driver that got home safely as well as the one that hit and killed a child. What will follow is a sketch of their moral psychologies that prompted them to take the actions they did and how they navigate the consequences in the aftermath. Besides moral psychologies, our story will also look at the vehicles, with one of the men needing the brakes changed on his car but never having them done. Essentially, we believe the old thought experiment, while significant in detailing what moral luck is, is lacking when it comes to providing an answer, which our story hopes to put forth. Our answer amounts to taking a Pragmatic approach to moral luck, by examining the virtues of both Deweyan social psychology, and William James' soft determinism. By synthesizing the two approaches, we get what Angel terms adaptable pragmatism, which looks at moral events on a case by case basis to determine the ratio of luck and responsibility.

Teresa Moss, Michele Birmingham, Dustan Compton, and Stephanie Zavala

 "Understanding Impact: The Role of Riversphere Community Action Centers in the Revolution of Urban Water Systems"

A new cultural imagination of water is needed to discover a path to a sustainable relationship to water. Contemporary water policy and management is dominated by a 20th century mindset of expertise focused on engineering feats of moving water from one place to another. This movement of water includes the process of damming rivers and building reservoirs in one area and piping the water to another area, as well as constructing infrastructure to move storm water out of the urban environment as quickly as possible.

In this paper, we argue that this 20th century mindset needs to be replaced by a 21st century mindset that embraces a community-based approach to decentralizing water planning and management and re-imagines the relationship between people, rivers, cities, urban storm water, and reservoirs. Uncertainty of a changing climate and urban population growth necessitate a revolution in the management and design of water systems in the twenty-first century. This revolution is not likely to take place without a change in attitude toward the value of water.

Public philosophy can facilitate such a change in attitude by posing a new set of philosophical questions to be answered through public dialogue. How does a city become a source of water? How can water be viewed as part of the experience of a city? How can a community be invited to have an embodied and emotional relationship with water and water infrastructure? Who participates in water supply and management decisions? To catalyze a new cultural imagination and relationship with water, we propose the creation of Riverspherian Community Action Centers that facilitate a holistic understanding of the water issues within a local river watershed, as well as bridge the gap between all stakeholders through the creation of heterotopic (i.e., non-hegemonic) space manifested by participatory decision making concerning local water issues.

Julia Uhr, David Ortolano, and Craig Schwartz

“Karen and Georgia Versus the Metagame”

The question ‘What is a game?’ used to be an innocuous philosophical question garnering little interest from either academia or the public. But in 2014, disagreements over the necessary and sufficient conditions for being a game kindled the alt-right internet troll dumpster fire known as #Gamergate, and defining ‘game’ remains a contentious issue. To examine the question ‘What is a game?’ we developed a computer game called Karen and Georgia Versus the Metagame (KGVM). KGVM is not winnable as we coded it, so to solve puzzles and win the game, the player must rewrite the code of the game. KGVM contributes to the debate over defining ‘game,’ first by acting as a potential counterexample to part of Bernard Suits’s definition of ‘game,’ which requires the rules of a game to enforce inefficiency in achieving the goal, and second, by presenting philosophical arguments about games through dialogues between characters. In contributing to the debate about games, KGVM also implicitly answers the question of whether games can do philosophy.


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