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October 4, 2012 / steppsmsu

Philosophy and Science Symposium at MSU

Symposium on Philosophy and Science:
9 Examples of How the Philosophy of Science Is Relevant to Social Issues Friday, October 19th, Snyder Hall C302, 10am-2:30pm

Speakers: Carla Fehr and Katie Plaisance (Waterloo University); Sandra Harding (UCLA); Nancy Tuana (Penn State); Paul Thompson, Michael O’Rourke, Daniel Steel, Sean Valles and Kyle Whyte (MSU).

Scientific research and expertise play important roles in the framing and public understanding of social issues, from public health to climate change. Science can also be implicated in oppressions like colonialism, racial and gender prejudices, and harmful discourses of normalcy. Philosophers of science can impact how science is related to social issues, from identifying how values influence scientific judgments to addressing issues of ethics and trust regarding the authority of scientific experts in public policy-making to formulating methodologies and epistemologies that members of vulnerable groups can use to guide their research and justify their practices. Philosophers of science are often at the forefront of changes in scientific standards and practice, having impacts on issues like animal rights and experimentation, and challenging standards for good research and practices that are Eurocentric, male-supremacist, supportive of white privilege and ableist. The kinds of work just described contribute to philosophical inquiries into social issues in bioethics, ethics and development, feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, environmental and agricultural philosophy, social epistemology, American Indian and Indigenous philosophy, and philosophy and law, among others.

Socially relevant philosophy of science presents significant opportunities for philosophers to increase their integration within colleges and universities, influence regional, national and global social issues, and engage in innovative teaching. It also provides intellectual frameworks for students pursuing masters and doctoral research in philosophy as well as in other fields such as education, social science and environmental science. Science and engineering intensive universities like University of Waterloo, Penn State and Michigan State house philosophers who are seeking to promote a strong research community of socially relevant philosophers of science.
Important questions remain about the nature of this emerging field and how scholars and students who are attracted to it can take advantage of its current literatures and intellectual frameworks.

What are the intellectual frameworks of socially-relevant philosophy of science?

What sorts of projects characterize it?

What are the strategies for advancing socially progressive philosophy of science?

Is there a “canon” that can guide doctoral studies in philosophy and other disciplines?

How should it be related to other areas in social philosophy (e.g.
bioethics, environmental ethics, etc.)?

The MSU Department of Philosophy will host a symposium on these questions on October 19th. Each speaker will make a brief presentation aimed to foster conversation among everyone in attendance. We intend this symposium to be conversational. We welcome members of the MSU community and institutions in the region. Lunch is included and will be served across the parking lot in S. Kedzie Hall (5th floor) at 12:20pm. Please RSVP to Kyle Whyte at as there is limited room.


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