Speakers

Patrick Baert (Reader in Social Theory, Cambridge University): "Intellectuals interventions from the early 20th Century until now"

Tom Claes (CEVI, Ghent University): "Introduction - Philosophical activism: Charting the field"

Abstract: In these introductory remarks I will try to flesh out some of the possible meanings of ‘philosophical activism’ and chart an overview of possible and actual fields and methods. Needless to say all this will be anything but complete. Philosophically informed activism is not new – from cynics, over freethinkers and humanists, to feminists, anarchists and ecologists, to name but a few. The history of philosophy is replete with examples of philosophers who activate philosophy, be it in their own lives, via social action or both. But what happens, if anything, to philosophy when it is activated? Should philosophy be detached in its search for truth, good and beauty? Or can it only be legitimated as praxis? Or, to put it differently: What, on earth, can philosophy do?

   Slides: Philosophical_Activism.pdf

   Reports: http://publicphilosophynetwork.ning.com/

Laszlo Kosolosky (CLPS, Ghent University): "Peer review is melting our glaciers - Exploring how and why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) went astray"

Abstract: The apparent mistake in the Fourth Assessment Report (2007) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by the year 2035, fueled skeptical doubt on the authority, honesty and rigorousness of the IPCC as leading figure in climate science and, correspondingly, raised questions as to whether global warming is anything more than a hoax put forward by environmentalists. The late and confusing reaction of the IPCC to these allegations even worsened the matter. By comparing assessment reports issued by the IPCC and the societal response they received, the question comes to mind ‘How and why, despite extensive peer review, did the Himalayan glacier melting rate mistake get published?’ In this paper, I answer both parts of the question in detail and show how the answer requires us to rethink the concept of ‘peer review’ in scientific practice. I set out the future direction for peer review if it wants to stay ahead of the game. In general this will require us (1) to keep its restrictions in mind, i.e. dimension of uncertainty, a trade-off challenging open review and the dual impact of grey literature, (2) to make names of reviewers public and assign credit accordingly, and (3) to endorse a ‘filter-then-publish’ attitude towards research at the boundary between science and society.

   Slides: ppt_philosophical_activism_workshop.pdf

Gaston Meskens (CEVI, Ghent University): "When poetry becomes suspicious - On the need for philosophical activism for global governance"

Abstract: Activists react against dominant political, economic or social power structures they perceive unfair. They do so by denouncing, subverting, sabotaging or damaging public emergences or institutional representations of these power structures or, in less extreme modes, by occupying their symbolic places. In the perspective of this lecture, the focus of philosophical activism is not directed towards the tangible manifestations of presumed unjust power and profit structures but to the rationales they use to justify themselves. In this sense, philosophical activism inquires into how these rationales make use of knowledge and value references to validate their relevance to the general societal interest.  Looking back on (experiences from) the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, the lecture will identify and discuss apparent but questionable political and cultural ‘boundary conditions to sustainable development’ and argue that fair and effective global governance would require for every human the possibility to become a philosophical activist in his own sense, and this by providing him ‘the human right to be responsible’.

   Slides: Workshop_Philosophical_Activism_-_gaston_Meskens.pdf

Leida Rijnhout (ANPED - Northern Alliance for Sustainability, Executive Director): "Pragmatism or activism in civil society actions"

Abstract: Since the '70s we see a growing number of civil society organizations (CSO) in our countries. They focus on defending human rights, environmental issues, gender equality, labour rights, poverty and so on. We do not only see a huge variety in organizations and their issues, but also in their strategies. I will give a short overview of tendencies of those CSOs, related with environment and poverty (sustainable development). And using the experiences of the last World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) I will go more into depth on the Green Economy strategies of the CSO.