2020 Andrew Light Award for Public Philosophy

Featured

The International Society for Environmental Ethics (ISEE) is pleased to announce publicly the winner and finalists for the Andrew Light Award for Public Philosophy.  ISEE established the award to promote work in public philosophy and honor contributions to the field by Dr. Andrew Light, who was recognized for his distinctive work in public environmental philosophy at ISEE’s 2017 annual summer meeting.

With this award, ISEE strives to recognize public philosophers working in environmental ethics and philosophy, broadly construed, and who bring unique insights or methods that broaden the reach, interaction, and engagement of philosophy with the wider public.  This may be exemplified in published work or engagement in environmental issues of public importance.

This year’s honorees have made important contributions and provide distinctive examples of the work in public environmental philosophy that is happening today.

This year’s winner is Professor Paul Thompson of Michigan State University.  Professor Thompson’s work in public philosophy spans multiple decades, and he has made distinctive contributions to agricultural and environmental ethics over the course of his career.  He began working collaboratively with farmers in the 1980s to develop industry reforms that benefited both animals and the environment.  Throughout his career, Professor Thompson’s research has informed and been informed by cross-disciplinary collaborations and community engagement.  He is the author of numerous books, including books aimed for broad audiences, such as From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).  Professor Thompson has served on National Resource Council committees and with the National Academy of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Ethics and Society, and he’s played a key role in developing ethical food standards such as American Humane Certified.  In addition, he has helped to build the field of public philosophy and has mentored others developing careers in this field.  As two of his colleagues wrote in their nomination letter, “Many environmental philosophers have come to value public engagement by observing how Paul Thompson incorporated insights from his public work into his more traditionally philosophical articles and books, and we have come to better understand how to become publicly engaged ourselves through his mentoring. Paul, we believe, is an exemplary public environmental philosopher who has made significant contributions at various levels and with various groups, from policymakers, researchers and academic colleagues, to farmers, consumers and environmentalists.”

This year’s finalists are Associate Professor Adam Briggle of University of North Texas, Professor Christopher Preston of University of Montana, and Dr. Gwynne Taraska, Climate Program Director at Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C.

Adam Briggle, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at University of North Texas, describes himself as a “field philosopher.”  In his book, A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking, he argues that “the role of a field philosopher is to excavate and examine the ethical, aesthetic, and even metaphysical presumptions that are inevitably packed into the black box of expert discourse and political messaging.”  Briggle has centered his career around publicly engaged philosophy.  In addition to his academic writing, he has published work in Slate, Salon, and The New York Times, and he is highly active in his community.  His work as founder and President of the Denton Drilling Advisory Group led to a successful campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing in Denton, Texas.  Professor Briggle also serves on the Governing Board for the Public Philosophy Network, and is a member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

Christopher Preston, Professor of Philosophy at University of Montana made a distinctive contribution to public philosophy with his recently published a book, The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World (MIT Press, 2018). The book, which won a 2019 Nautilus award, aims to spark discussion about the technologies that are reshaping human relations with the broader world.  Preston also runs a related blog – The Plastocene – that aims to generate broader public dialogue about “the big decisions about how to approach a world that has already been impacted so greatly,” because “[d]ecisions about the world we want to create belong to everyone.”  Professor Preston’s public philosophical work has included writing for the BBC, Aeon, The Conversation, and the Center for Humans and Nature, and he has been featured in interviews for numerous news sources, including the BBC, LA Times, and The Guardian.

Gwynne Taraska earned her PhD in philosophy at University of Washington, and shortly thereafter, began to apply her philosophical acumen in the policy arena.  She is currently Climate Program Director at Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Taraska previously served as Director of Policy and Research at Climate Advisers, and as Director of International Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress.  She has worked on a wide range of issues, including climate diplomacy, international climate finance, international ocean diplomacy, the Paris Agreement, and climate loss and damage.  Her work and expertise have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, The Hill, Vox, and Energy & Environment.  As one colleague noted: “Gwynne clearly represents the kind of pioneer that we need in public philosophy: someone who has used core philosophical skills to break new ground in the policy community.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

POSTPONED: International Society for Environmental Ethics 17th Annual Summer Meeting

The 17th Annual Summer Meeting will be postponed due to COVID-19 until October 15-18. More information to follow shortly

Call for papers on themes concerning

Action and the Climate Crisis

July 6-9, 2020
H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Blue River, Oregon

This call for papers solicits 500-word proposals for presentations on any topic in environmental philosophy. However, special attention will be given to proposals for talks concerning issues connected with first-order normative claims, initiatives, and action in response to the range of environmental threats connected to climate change, biodiversity loss, mass extinction, pollution, and ecosystem degradation.

An escalating rhetoric of a “crisis” or “emergency” has accompanied an increase of public awareness about harmful climate impacts and degraded environmental conditions. With some regularity, we hear that observed phenomena either meet or exceed the worst-case scenarios within a suite of possible trajectories. Predicted changes in the natural world are unfolding more rapidly than expected, e.g. loss of Arctic ice, and international pledges to act are simply not being met, as global GHG emissions continue to grow. Empirical studies reveal surprising and deeply troubling information about, for example, the collapse of insect and bird populations, while some powerful right-wing and authoritarian political leaders only exacerbate the problems, e.g. Trump’s withdraw from the Paris Agreement and Bolsonaro’s policies of deforestation and development in the Amazon.

In response, there has been growing youth-led, political engagement, exemplified by the international school strikes for climate action and the U.S. Sunrise Movement, as well as a return to non-violent direct action (e.g., by Extinction Rebellion in the UK). One widespread refrain asserts we have only 12 years to radically transform society, which calls for a mobilization equivalent to those made to fight world wars. How should we think about that? While environmental philosophy has traditionally focused on theory, concepts, and ideological frameworks (e.g. conceptions of intrinsic value, anthropocentrism, and environmental justice), the theme of this conference is to focus on praxis, conduct, behavior, and concrete action: How can philosophy help us understand and engage with conditions that call us to action? How can we do activism well in the climate arena, both strategically and ethically? What will future generations, in retrospect, think we should be doing today?

Proposals prepared for blind review should be submitted via email to Allen Thompson, <allen.thompson@oregonstate.edu> no later than March 1st, 2020. Decisions will be announced by April 15th.

ISEE Sessions at APA Central

ISEE will be hosting 2 affiliated group sessions at the 2020 Central Division Meeting of the APA:

Friday, February 28  7:00pm – 10:00pm

Climate Justice

Chair:

Ben Almassi

Speakers:

William Littlefield (Case Western Reserve University) – “Utility Gains in Climate Justice”

Marcus Hedahl (US Naval Academy) – “Climate Justice & Moral Psychology: Surprising Stoic Solutions”

Kizito Michael George (Kyambogo University) – “Linking Climate Change to Human Rights and Social Justice: A Critique of the Ethics and Epistemologies of Climate Change Science”

Rachel Fredericks (Ball State University) – “Climate Legacy: A New(ish) Concept for the Climate Crisis”

Saturday, February 29  2:00pm – 5:00pm

Understanding Community

Chair: Megs Gendreau (Centre College)

Speakers:

Connor Kianpour (Georgia State University) – “Dolphin Ownerhood: Nonhuman Persons and Habitative Noninterference”

Sade Hormio (UC Berkeley) – “Climate Change and Responsibility as Members of Collective Agents”

Justin Donhauser (Bowling Green State University) – “Robot Pollinator Ethics”

Zachary Vereb (University of South Florida) – “A Kantian Perspective on Climate Ethics: History and Global Community” 

ISEE Sessions at APA Pacific

The 2020 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association will be April 8th to 11th at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, CA. 

ISEE will be hosting two affiliated group sessions.

Session 1: Wednesday April 8th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Teaching Environmental Philosophy: Engaged and Inclusive Pedagogies

Chairs: Simona Capisani (University of California, Irvine)
Marion Hourdenquin (Colorado College)
Panelists: Chris Cuomo (University of Georgia)
Rebeka Ferreira (Green River College)
Benjamin Hole (Pacific University)
Clair Morrissey (Occidental College)

Session 2: Saturday April 11th from 6:00 to 8:00

Environmental Ethics: Ethics for a Changing World

Speakers:

Arthur Obst (University of Washington) – “Demandingness from Despair”

Daniel Callies (University of California, San Diego) and Yasha Rohwer (Oregon Institute of Technology) – “Intentionally Eradicating a Species: Examining the Case against and the Value of Anopheles Gambiae”

Blake Francis (University of Maryland Baltimore County) – “Middle Emissions: Climate Ethics and the Global Middle Class”