Back when I was working for Hypatia as a graduate student, I helped set up a digital archive for the journal’s own internal use. It was a huge project (one that has continued and morphed since my time with the journal), but it was also one that I really enjoyed working on, in no small part because of the crucial role that archives play in helping transmit knowledge about our past, our present, and our future possibilities. Such knowledge is especially valuable for historically marginalized communities.
On September 14th, I’ll be giving a talk with my co-author, Jeremy Fischer, at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario called “Justice in the Cafeteria.” Here’s the abstract:
School meal reform efforts generally center around health, financial accessibility, and environmental sustainability, all of which are important. However, key ethical and political aspects of school meal programs have not received adequate attention in public discussion. We argue that whether school meal programs provide animal-based foods is a matter of justice for kids and for the society in which they live. Our child-centered arguments against providing such foods offer animal advocates and others who have a stake in the school meal debates a motivationally potent resource for their advocacy—without presupposing any particular view about our duties to animals.
Since COVID isn’t over, I’m doing what I can to minimize the risks of the trip for everyone concerned, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to a bit of a philosophy road trip, spending some time in Canada, and the chance to meet some friends from the APPLE reading group in person!
If you want to check out the lecture that I gave to the Conceptual Engineering Network back in May, that video is now posted on YouTube!
The talk is called “Conceptual Engineering as Taking Responsibility for Concepts.” It builds on a pair of papers I published in the European Journal of Philosophy a few years back, in which I argued that we can be (backwards-looking) morally responsible for the concepts that we possess and use. In this lecture (a work in progress!), I argue that sometimes, doing conceptual engineering projects involves taking forwards-looking moral responsibility for concepts.
The key example that I talk about in the latter portion of the talk is the concept EMPLOYMENT, and the possible replacement concept HUMAN RENTALS. There, I draw on some fascinating work about workplace democracy by David Ellerman – you can download the whole book here!
While philosophers tend to talk about moral responsibility in its backward-looking form, moral responsibility also comes in a future-oriented form. In this talk, I’ll focus on the forward-looking kind of responsibility and make a case for the claim that when we undertake conceptual engineering projects for moral reasons, we are taking forward-looking moral responsibility for our conceptual repertoires. To illustrate my position, in the latter part of the talk, I’ll explore the moral reasons we have to do some conceptual engineering when it comes to the concept EMPLOYMENT.
You’re welcome to join us on Zoom for approximately an hour’s worth of lecture and an hour of Q & A. (But if you miss it, the lecture portion will be posted on the CEN YouTube channel after the fact.)
There are so many cool (free!) online workshops, reading groups, and lecture series nowadays! I’ve been taking part in more of them of late, and really getting a lot out of them, so I want to take a moment to say kudos to all the organizers and participants that I’ve been learning with and from (and to give other folks a nudge to join if they are so inclined)!
Check out the following links to some of my recommendations:
Jeremy Fischer and I have once again teamed up to co-write a paper, “Creating Carnists,” which is now forthcoming in Philosophers’ Imprint!
We’re so happy to have placed our second academic collaboration in another open access journal so that money won’t be a barrier for anyone who wants to read it. I’ll paste the abstract below, and if it sparks your interest, there’s no need to wait until the final, copy-edited version is published – feel free to take a look at our penultimate draft.
Abstract: We argue that individual and institutional caregivers have a defeasible moral duty to provide dependent children with plant-based diets and related education. Notably, our three arguments for this claim do not presuppose any general duty of veganism. Instead, they are grounded in widely shared intuitions about children’s interests and caregivers’ responsibilities, as well as recent empirical research relevant to children’s moral development, autonomy development, and physical health. Together, these arguments constitute a strong cumulative case against inculcating in children the dietary practice of regularly eating meat (and other animal products)—a practice we call “carnism.”
Many students and teachers interested in sustainability advocate divestment from fossil fuels as a way to defund unsustainable energy practices, take a symbolic stand, and help train new organizers. October’s Philosophers for Sustainability forum, which I’ll be co-leading, will involve thinking through some possibilities and strategies for divestment advocacy:
What strategies are in reach for overworked academics who endorse financial activism but work in settings where most people in power are (currently) indifferent or hostile to institutional divestment? In this forum, I’ll share some ideas from a recent mini-campaign and invite discussion about organizing. We’ll also have time to discuss other sustainability advocacy projects that may feel daunting in scope or low in likelihood of success.
The forum will be held by Zoom on Friday, October 7, 11am-noon ET (eastern USA and Canada time). Email me for the link. We look forward to seeing some of you there!
Yesterday was the first session in this spring’s Conceptual Engineering Online Seminar, and the first one that I’ve ever been able to attend live – though I’ve enjoyed watching all the older ones on their YouTube channel since liberating myself from my previous employer.
Thanks to Kwame Anthony Appiah for getting the spring series off to a great start!
The seminar meets every Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. Central time until June 28th and is open to all. (Thanks to the organizers in Europe for not making it any earlier!) See the poster below for the Zoom info.
In my book, philosophy isn’t something you have, but something you do. So philosophers aren’t just thinkers. We are doers.
And there is a lot that we can do, individually and collectively, by strategically using our particular skills, knowledge, and social locations, to help move humanity toward doing a better job of sustaining all the people, other living things, and ecosystems that can be found on this amazing and beautiful planet.
If you’ve already made a habit of choosing the relatively sustainable options in your personal life, one way to level up on your sustainability activism is to join the Philosophers for Sustainability. We’ve got various advocacy teams, workshops, and resources, and we welcome all comers, from casual participants to gung-ho experts and leaders.
Right now, our biggest area of momentum is the APA 2+1 campaign, a plan to shift 1 or 2 of the 3 divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association each year to an entirely online format, with the in-person meeting(s) rotating between divisions. Implementing this plan would dramatically cut our profession’s greenhouse gas emissions, save money, and make the meetings accessible to a wider range of philosophers.
Please consider signing and sharing the petition, if you aren’t already one of the 689 signatories so far!
Oh, wow – it is great to end the summer with a really spectacular novel. Everyone should go out and read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (and that goes double for any budding scholars interested in philosophy of mind and/or cognitive science).
Don’t read any blurbs or reviews first, just get straight into it!
Why? There is a significant surprise reveal midway through it, and it would be a real shame if you didn’t get the chance to figure things out on your own. This sometimes funny, often thought-provoking, and consistently well-written book starts out as just a regular story about growing up in a family of flawed people, but I’ll leave it for you to decide whether we can say that it ends that way …