2nd Philosophical Activism workshop

CFP: Philosophical Activism – Expressing discontent: appropriate or not? And if so, when, where, and how? Ghent (Belgium) – October 25, 2013

The ‘Philosophical Activism’ initiative comprises a series of one-day workshops that focus on the depths and widths of what it means to be philosophically active.

In our second workshop, i.e., Expressing discontent: appropriate or not? And if so, when, where, and how? we welcome papers that

(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

For more on the focus of this workshop and the initiative, please see below.

The ‘Philosophical Activism’- Workshops seek to be an inclusive space of debate, welcoming dialogue and vigorous debate, but not sectarianism. We will consider paper proposals from a wide array of disciplinary fields as long as they raise and discuss issues that are relevant for philosophical reflection. The word limit for abstracts is 250 words.

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

Important dates

1 July 2013: Submission deadline

15 July 2013: Notification of acceptance

22 July 2013: Program online

25 October 2013: Conference

‘Philosophical Activism’ – Project Overview

What is philosophical activism? What makes philosophy into philosophical activism and how does it relate to the widely accepted notion of philosophy as first and foremost a reflective endeavor? If the 'love of wisdom' motivates, as it is said, a critical systematic approach and a reliance on rational argument, under what conditions then can this critical stance become an activist stance? How does such an activist stance affect the rationality and credibility of philosophical arguments?  And why, in general, should philosophy (not) be considered activism as such?

Answering these questions implies not only reflecting on what philosophy is, can be and perhaps should (not) be, but also on the motivations we might have to engage in philosophy and on the character of the fields and places where the philosopher seeks rapprochement as well as confrontation. 

Thinking through the question what philosophical activism could or should (not) be, is a self-reflective philosophical quest. At the same time, it is also an activist intervention in the positioning of philosophy in the real world.

'Philosophical Activism' comprises a series of one-day workshops that focus on the depths and widths of what it means to be philosophically active.

The workshops are co-organized by the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science (CLPS) and the Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry (CEVI), both at Ghent University, Belgium.

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.