Philosophy Group Moves Meeting Out of Texas

August 3, 2017

Another academic association has dropped Texas as a location to host its conferences.

The Public Philosophy Network’s 2018 conference will take place in Boulder, Colo., in February, instead of Denton, Tex., where it was originally scheduled.

Texas, and whether to hold academic conferences there, has been a subject of debate in recent months. A recently passed law allows discrimination against LGBTQ people seeking to adopt children, and the state's strict immigration policies have drawn outcry from the American Civil Liberties Union. The Public Philosophy Network cited the adoption law as its reason to drop Texas as a venue.

“The basis of publicly engaged philosophy is the absence of barriers to participation,” Robert Frodeman, professor of philosophy at the University of North Texas and a co-director of the conference, said in a statement. “Every person should feel welcomed regardless of their place of origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Adding to the debate, California added Texas to its list of states to which state-funded travel is prohibited. That means drawing participants from public California colleges to Texas will be much harder if institutions can’t foot the bill themselves, which threatens to derail some conferences financially.

Many conferences have found themselves in a bind -- ethically and financially -- since the conferences are planned years in advance, and the Texas laws causing controversy were only recently enacted.

“Public philosophy is always about walking the talk, and this move signals that we in the Public Philosophy Network are committed to full participation, openness and justice,” Noëlle McAfee, a previous co-director of the Public Philosophy Network and a professor at Emory University said in the statement.

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