A Guide to Field Philosophy: Case Studies and Practical Strategies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Guide to Field Philosophy

Case Studies and Practical Strategies, 1st Edition

Edited by Evelyn Brister, Robert Frodeman


400 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-02-21
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Philosophers increasingly engage in practical work with other disciplines and the world at large. This volume draws together the lessons learned from this work--including philosophers’ contributions to scientific research projects, consultations on matters of policy, and expertise provided to government agencies and non-profits—as a new volume on how to effectively practice philosophy.  Its 22 case studies are organized into five sections:

I. Collaboration and Communication

II. Policymaking and the Public Sphere

III. Fieldwork in the Academy

IV. Fieldwork in the Professions

V. Changing Philosophical Practice

Together, they provide a practical, how-to guide for doing philosophy in the field – how to find problems that can benefit from philosophical contributions, effectively collaborate with other professionals and community members, make fieldwork a positive part of a philosophical career, and anticipate and negotiate the sorts of unanticipated problems that crop up in direct public engagement.

Key Features:

  • Uniquely, gives specific advice on how to integrate philosophy with outside groups
  • Offers examples from working with the public and private sectors, community organizations, and academic groups
  • Provides lessons learned, often summarized at the end of chapters for how to practice philosophy in the field


"Field philosophy’ promises – and delivers – nothing less than philosophy’s return to its pre-academic roots as reflective being in the world. What is most striking about the philosophers assembled in this volume is that they would probably be in violent disagreement over many purely technical philosophical issues, yet they are all capable of turning their philosophical skills to the greater common good."

--Steve Fuller, University of Warwick

"At least since the 1980s efforts have been made in various quarters of the English-speaking philosophical community to break free from the Western model of academic specialization and detachment. This volume adds new dimensions to the project, going deeper in conceptualization (the theory of field philosophy), broader in reach (from science and engineering to design, fracking, addiction, and human trafficking), and more expansive in participants (33 from North and South America and Europe)."

--Carl Mitcham, Renmin University of China

Table of Contents

Introduction: Digging, Sowing, Building: Philosophy as Activity Evelyn Brister and Robert Frodeman

Part I: Collaboration and Communication

1. Embedding ethics in neural engineering: An integrated transdisciplinary collaboration Sara Goering and Eran Klein

2. Lab Report: Lessons from a Multi-Year Collaboration Between Nanoscience and Philosophy of Science Julia R. S. Bursten

3. Philosophical Dialogue as Field Philosophy Michael O’Rourke, Stephanie E. Vasko, Chet McLeskey, and Marisa A. Rinkus

4. Ethics Lab: Harnessing design methodologies for translational ethics Margaret Little, Elizabeth Edenberg, Sydney Luken, and Jonathan Healey

Part II: Policymaking and the Public Sphere

5. Learning to Collaborate in Development Policy Ryan Muldoon

6. Philosophy in the IPCC John Broome

7. Philosophy and Science Policy: A Report from the Field J. Britt Holbrook

8. Philosophical Boundary Work for Wildlife Conservation: The Case of the Oostvaardersplassen Jozef Keulartz

9. Values-informed Decision Support: The Place of Philosophy Nancy Tuana

Part III: Fieldwork in the Academy

10. University Leadership as Philosophical Fieldwork Daniel Little

11. We Are Always Already Engaged: Epistemological Fieldwork in the Real World of the University Naomi Scheman

12. Promoting Ethics in STEM and Society Rachelle Hollander

13. A Philosopher’s Field Guide to Talking with Engineers Don Howard

14. Ecotourism with a Hand-Lens: A Field Environmental Philosophy Experience from the South of the World Ricardo Rozzi and Maria Teresa Lavalle

Part IV: Fieldwork in the Professions

15. Balancing Theoretical Autonomy and Practical Engagement Tsjalling Swierstra and Merel Noorman

16. The cutting edge: A surgical case study in field philosophy Jane Johnson

17. Advocating for Human Trafficking Victims Roksana Alavi

18. Field Philosophy in an Actual Field Paul B. Thompson

Part V: Changing Philosophical Practice

19. Grassroots Philosophy and Going Against the Grain Alisa Bierria

20. Philosophy and Addiction: Understanding and Transforming Suffering Peg O’Connor

21. Formal Epistemology in a Tropical Savanna Sahotra Sarkar

22. Learning from a Fracking Fracas Adam Briggle

Conclusion: Lessons Learned and Next Steps Adam Briggle, Evelyn Brister, Robert Frodeman

About the Editors

Evelyn Brister is Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Rochester Institute of Technology. She has a PhD in Philosophy and an MS in Environmental Science, and she has written articles on the philosophy of sustainability, environmental decision-making, interdisciplinary collaboration, and scientific objectivity.

Robert Frodeman has taught at the University of Colorado and the University of North Texas. He holds a PhD in Philosophy and an MS in Environmental Science, and his research ranges across environmental philosophy and public policy, the philosophy of science and technology, and the philosophy of interdisciplinarity. He is the author or editor of 16 books, including the Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity (2010 and 2017) and Transhumanism, Nature, and the Ends of Science (2019).

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