2nd Philosophical activism workshop

Second Workshop theme – Expressing discontent: appropriate or not? And if so, when, where, and how?

In our second workshop, i.e., Expressing discontent: appropriate or not? And if so, when, where, and how?, we intend to (1) examine what the notion of discontent might entail from a philosophical perspective, and (2) elaborate on how discontent can and should be (philosophically) expressed on the border between science and society.

In this workshop we particularly welcome papers dealing with  two kinds of discontent: civil and scientific discontent.

Civil discontent we take to be the sum of civil initiatives, known as political activism, ethical activism, environmental activism, that originate from the ground up. These initiatives are often set in motion by a group of people who feel neglected when it comes to expressing their state of mind. Their goal is to spread their doubt, fear, worries with other people towards matters of public importance. In these initiatives activists sometimes resort to taking matters in their own hands by effectively engaging in protests and other kinds of actions. Examples in mind here are: anarchist movements, hacktivists, Occupy movements, indignados, et cetera.

Scientific discontent can be understood as the academic articulation of ones concerns. One of the issues at stake here is how dissent and consent govern contemporary scientific and societal discussions. In our society, there are these moments in which establishing a scientific consensus is imperative to solve urgent problems, for instance, as concerns climate change; achieving consensus on the causes and extent of global warming would facilitate policymaking and, moreover, send a convincing signal that doing nothing will have dire consequences. On the other hand, philosophers studying plurality and heterodoxy in science have raised questions concerning the ideal of the scientific consensus and the pernicious effects the consecration of scientific consensus might have.  When science meets society, the above dilemma is (regrettably) often the case.

The overall question, transcending both kinds, is to what extent can civil or scientific discontent have its place in a democratic or scientific framework? All submissions related to the topic of discontent will be considered for presentation.

Please send your abstract to: laszlo.kosolosky@ugent.be