As an undergraduate philosophy student, one of my favorite things to do was to discuss difficult topics with likeminded people, whether it be fellow students, my professors, or random people at Starbucks. I can remember attending a conference at Arizona State University with Owen Anderson where Alvin Plantinga and Earnest Sosa were speaking. Owen and I, along with some other friends, discussed that conference for weeks afterward. The combination of friendship and philosophy was an early experience for us and continues today. We just thought attending lectures and conferences was normal, now we call them “co-curricular” events. Since our undergraduate days, I have been involved with numerous conferences and professional organizations.
As a graduate student and adjunct professor, I became the Philosophical Society faculty advisor for our campus club. I have been the advisor for about 15 years. We have had some really great discussions together. I wondered, why do these discussions only happen within the context of the campus? How can we take these discussions outside the walls of the academy?
I have been involved in thinking about public discourse of difficult topics for many years and wrote my dissertation intending to outline a model for how to discuss difficult topics such as metaphysical assumptions, ethics, religion, and politics. I spent a year revising the dissertation and shopping for a publisher. I didn’t find a publisher that I thought would be fitting for the kind of writing I wanted to do. I want to engage the public in philosophical topics, but what I found were academic publishers interested in marketing my book to other academics. After a lot of thinking and research, I started Public Philosophy Press, LLC. I didn’t want to merely self-publish, I wanted to create an opportunity for others with a desire to engage the broader educated public with philosophical topics to also publish. PPP has been up and running since July 2018, and we just released our third book and a fourth is soon to be published. We have several manuscripts that are being worked on in various stages of the process and hope to release more soon. I love books, and I love bringing books to life. So, keep an eye out for more.
Last year, in collaboration with other local philosophy professors, such as Dr. Anderson, we started hosting public philosophy lectures. I started a lecture series at my college. We have had eight talks so far, and they have all been well attended and of high quality. We built public-philosophy.com to advertise local events and to host video and audio recordings of those events. We have had excellent feedback. Out of the talks that have been given we have invited each speaker to submit a formal paper to be published this summer in the first annual Journal of Public Philosophy. The first edition of JPP will be released in Summer 2019 with a fine collection of essays.
The journal, publishing company, public lecture series, and involvement in campus clubs were the catalysts for a group of philosophy professors in the Phoenix area to create the Public Philosophy Society (PPS). The PPS is a professional organization that invites students, scholars, and members of the educated community to join in an ongoing philosophical dialogue. Details about membership dues and qualifications can be found at our Patreon page.
The PPS will host a monthly live virtual meeting using Zoom meeting technology open to all members. There will be a host for each meeting and a philosopher who will discuss a particular topic for the evening. The philosopher will present on a theme for about 20 minutes, and then those in attendance of the virtual meeting will have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the topic at hand. Members will have access to a private Facebook page where they may continue the discussion. In addition to the regular meetings and private Facebook page, the Scholar level membership will receive a digital copy of the Journal of Public Philosophy, and the Patron level will receive a print version of the journal. As we learn the ropes, we plan to also host special topic meetings, seminar discussions, and smaller group discussions open to select membership levels. We hope to host a conference in the future.
PPS membership is on a month to month basis rather than the yearly dues expected of other professional organizations. Monies collected from dues will be used for website hosting, audio and video production and equipment, stipends for guest speakers, the print version of the Journal of Public Philosophy, and in the future a conference.
If you love philosophy and enjoy public philosophical discourse, if you are committed to common ground, then we invite you to join us on this new and exciting adventure. Please help us to get the word out about the Public Philosophy Society. We can be found at public-philosophy.com; on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.