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Community Philosophy Institutes

Philosophy is an activity that arises naturally out of the questions concerning everyday life: what is the right thing to do, what does it mean to be healthy, what meaning does life provide given the inevitability of death, what is the relation of law to morality, do we have moral obligations to animals, plants, even eco-systems, what can the arts contribute to individual and collective identities, how can people best communicate and resolve conflicts across differences in cultural background, religious affiliation, racial and gender identification, and sexual orientation, and so forth.

The problems that arise in human life are legion, and thus, so are the problems of philosophy. But for a variety of reasons, the resources that philosophy might bring to a general public only circulate within the walls of the academy. This not only does a disservice to public life, but to philosophy as well. Public life suffers when it lacks exposure to the insights philosophers continue to articulate, and to the rigors and virtues of open reflection and debate that philosophy embodies. Philosophy suffers when it denies itself the kind of growth that only occurs in the heat of reflective exchange and dialogue within a diverse community of inquiry.

Our Community Philosophy Institutes aim to ameliorate this problem by facilitating public forums for discussion and debate engaging a wide range of issues challenging communities in Oregon and beyond. Our institutes bring philosophy into productive dialogue with people in the community and across the university, e.g. business leaders, activists, religious leaders, scientists, and health care professionals. Our aim is to create a space of public dialogue that facilitates the kind of sustained reflections that seem to have disappeared from public life.

For more information about our Community Philosophy Institutes, contact Department Head Dr. Daniela Vallega-Neu, at

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