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What is Public Philosophy?

Peter Adamson, Evelyn Brister, and Lucia Ziglioli with Peter West

As the success of event series such as this one – as well as myriad other philosophy-related events, books, and podcasts – suggests, there is a strong appetite beyond the academy for public philosophy. For academic philosophers, this has raised methodological and meta-philosophical questions like: “What is the best way to engage in public philosophy?” and “What are our aims when we engage in public philosophy?” But these are not just questions for university-based philosophers. Public philosophy is, as the name suggests, philosophy for the public. And it is worth considering what “the public” would like philosophy to do for them.

Tying into The Philosopher’s forthcoming issue on “Where is Public Philosophy Going?”, this event will consider the aims of public philosophy, what good public philosophy looks like, and the challenges and merits of taking philosophy to the public. This is a unique opportunity to engage in a public philosophy event about public philosophy.

The format will be conversational with a panel of three experts with a great deal of experience in public philosophy. Peter Adamson, Evelyn Brister, and Lucia Ziglioli will join Peter West for a discussion centring around the question: What is public philosophy?

Peter Adamson is Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy at the LMU in Munich. His two monographs deal with the Arabic version of Plotinus, the so-called "Theology of Aristotle," and with al-Kindi (d. after 870 AD), and he has edited or co-edited many books, including The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy and Interpreting Avicenna: Critical Essays. He is also the host of the “History of Philosophy without any Gaps” podcast, which also appears as a series of books with Oxford University Press.


Evelyn Brister is professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology. Her research interests include: environmental values, political theory in environmental policy, the epistemology of conservation science, and mobilizing philosophers to better address policy issues. Evelyn co-edited A Guide to Field Philosophy: Case Studies and Practical Strategies (with Robert Frodeman). She also contributed to the recent Blackwell Companion to Public Philosophy.

Lucia Ziglioli has a PhD in Philosophy, from the University of Pavia (Italy). She continued her work at Oxford (UK), and at the Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand (France). Today she curates and manages Filosoficamentelab, an initiative of public philosophy in Italy. Through that, she brings philosophy to children, the elderly, and prisoners. About these experiences and the reasons that motivates them she writes in different places. Her latest publication is Filosofi dentro. Un’esperienza di filosofia tra le mura (2023).
Public Writing:
Filosoficamente Lab:

Peter West is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy at Northeastern University London. His research focuses on Early Modern and Early Analytic Philosophy.

Monday 29th May

11am PDT/2pm EDT/7pm UK

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