We are pleased to share volume 2, issue 1, of the Public Philosophy Journal. First presented at the 2018 Public Philosophy Network Conference in Boulder, Colorado, the majority of the essays in this issue were developed at the 2018 PPJ Collaborative Writing Workshop at Michigan State University. These essays have also completed the PPJ’s Formative Peer Review process, which aims to encourage generosity and collegiality among composers and review teams. Using the Journal’s primary style criteria, composers and reviewers craft publicly engaged scholarship that is relevant and accessible to the publics it seeks to serve. The essays in this issue address a wide range of pressing concerns: gun control, migration, Islamophobia, climate change, community-university collaboration, and building publics of philosophical conversation. Together with the composers, we hope these essays help advance ongoing discussions among key stakeholder communities and a broad readership. We hope you enjoy engaging with their work and that you will consider contributing work of your own.

Teaching Transgression

Damián Bravo Zamora, Carmen Maria Marcous

We argue that philosophers are competent to facilitate public discussion concerning restrictions on human migration across political borders. We also argue that presenting public audiences with a prima facie case for open borders offers a unique opportunity to elucidate important aspects of philosophical reasoning. Finally, we share resources and a lesson plan for those keen to examine the case for open borders with students, or to facilitate public discussion on these issues.

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Alice Fleerackers, Carina Albrecht

Initiatives, such as Open Access, citizen science, and publicly-engaged scholarship, are changing the nature of academic life, pushing university faculty to reconsider their relationship to the community(ies) within which they live and work. But in the conversation about public scholarship, who represents the voice of the public? Are those outside of the university satisfied with how higher education institutions engage their communities? Do they feel they can access and contribute to the knowledge produced at universities? And how do their expectations about university-community collaboration align with those of faculty members? We explore these questions and others through two surveys—one directed at faculty, one at members of the public—to better understand how these distinct groups view the changing role of the university in public life. We find evidence that members of both university faculty and the public support the idea of university-community collaboration in theory—with both groups acknowledging numerous potential benefits for society and for academia—but struggle when putting it into practice. We conclude by discussing some of the potential barriers that prevent successful community-university engagement.

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Toward an Operational Definition of Islamophobia

Amin Asfari, Ron Hirschbein, George Larkin

Abstract concepts such as Islamophobia invite operational definitions that prescribe courses of inquiry that eschew the abstract in favor of the concrete. Ideally, such inquiry renders a concept more intelligible by providing conceptual clarity and by prescribing a research agenda. In our view, inquiries regarding Islamophobia should confront 1) how Muslims are identified, or misidentified, 2) whether Islamophobia is a phobia, prejudice, or both, and 3) how Islamophobia must be narrated.

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The Path to Gun Control in America Goes through Political Philosophy

Thomas Wells

This essay argues that gun control in America is a philosophical as well as a policy debate. This explains the depth of acrimony it causes. It also explains why the technocratic public health argument favored by the gun control movement has been so unsuccessful in persuading opponents and motivating supporters. My analysis also yields some positive advice for advocates of gun control: take the political philosophy of the gun rights movement seriously and take up the challenge of showing that a society without guns is a better society, not merely a safer one.

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Donald Trump, Global Warming, and Public Philosophy of Science

James Marcum, Yunus Prasetya

Global warming is at best a controversial contemporary scientific, economic, social, and political issue, at least from the perspective of public media and persona. In other words, it is a wicked problem, which requires public attention and response. Unfortunately, the public’s perspective of the controversy is often (mis)informed through the media and its star persona.

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Foundations for Communities of Philosophical Conversation

Andrea Christelle, Sergia Hay, James William Lincoln, Eric Thomas Weber

In this paper, four leaders of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) argue that there are public, shared needs and benefits for people to develop communities of philosophical conversation. We believe that there are seeds for philosophical community that need space to grow. We offer a plan and resources for starting, building, and maintaining such communities.

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