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“This conference, which will be held at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on June 21-22, 2013, is part of the Intellectual Virtues and Education Project, which is devoted to developing and implementing an approach to education that is aimed at fostering growth in intellectual character virtues like curiosity, open-mindedness, attentiveness, intellectual courage, and intellectual rigor. At the most general level, this is a project in “applied virtue epistemology.”

The conference will bring together top scholars from philosophy, education, and psychology to give papers on the importance of intellectual virtues to educational theory and practice. You can learn more about the conference here.

Keynote speakers are Linda Zagzebski (Oklahoma), Harvey Siegel (Miami), Shari Tishman (Harvard), and Marvin Berkowitz (Missouri, St. Louis).

Deadline for submissions (full papers or longish abstracts) is February 15, 2013. Papers should be submitted to jbaehr@lmu.edu.

If you’re interested in what it might look like to educate for intellectual virtues or in the importance of intellectual virtues to the proper aims of education, I hope you’ll consider submitting a paper or attending. And if you have colleagues in other departments (e.g. education or psychology) who might have an interest in the conference, please spread the word!

The conference, and the broader project of which it is a part, are sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.”

(originally posted at Certain Doubts)

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Puzzle Piece, by Wikimedia Commons user Crazy-phunk

Puzzle piece, via Wikimedia Commons

Don Lazere’s short but punchy piece in the Chronicle on the beleaguered state of critical thinking education in the American academy is well worth a read.

While I find myself agreeing with much of what he says, I think he misses one of the principal actors in the play: the increasing role of corporate influence in and on the structure and culture of American higher education.  Increasingly, administrators and board members are not professional academics but professional bureaucrats and managers who see their primary task as generating revenue.  This leads to a mentality that sees terms like ‘critical thinking’ as buzzwords, bogus assessment exercises, fodder for mission statements or worse, “branding” campaigns.  The perils therein are familiar enough and rants plentiful enough that I’ll leave it there.

What interests me the most about Lazere’s short piece is how it fits with what has really been an explosion of formal methods in the last thirty or so years.  Indeed, formal logic has changed so much that it is now virtually unrecognizable to those of us who remember the time when advances in modal logic were considered “cutting edge” to most in philosophy. From today’s perspective, the basic course in predicate calculus looks a lot like “baby logic”. ‘Critical thinking’, as Lazere points out, doesn’t seem to have much real purchase at all anymore:

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