VIDEO – Trigger Warnings: Offense, Freedom, and Respect

Photo of SOPHIA's first online philosophical conversation, on trigger warnings.

Here below is the video of our first online symposium, which we organized on the topic of trigger warnings. Note that the audio in the first 8-10 minutes includes some background noise from participants getting set up. We eventually got those sounds under control and know now how to avoid such problems in future discussion. We hope that you enjoy this video and that you’ll join us in the future. Also, send us ideas about topics that you want to talk about. We are looking to put on regular discussions like this one on a variety of topics. We hope you enjoy:

If you haven’t already, you can “like” our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. You can also JOIN SOPHIA here.

A photo of a symbol that reads "Trigger Warning: Explicit Content," and which is made to look like the "Explicit Content" warnings used on mature media sold to the public in the United States.SOPHIA is holding our first online symposium, a conversational meeting open to all, on the subject of “trigger warnings,” the act of alerting students in advance about potentially offensive messages or images to be covered in an educational setting. Controversy arose in part in reaction to a letter from the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago, which you can find here, and which we ask that each participant in our conversation read prior to joining us (1 page).

Photo of the letter that the University of Chicago sent incoming students about "trigger warnings."Title: Trigger Warnings: Offense, Respect, and Freedom [Online Video Symposium]

Day and time: Wednesday, 10/19/16 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern.

Place: Online. In advance, click this link to download a small tool that will enable participation. If you have used Zoom online video conferencing before, you may not need to download the little app.

SPECIAL NOTE: This conversational meeting will be recorded and then posted on YouTube. You can participate either with video and audio or you can just watch the discussion and comment in the platform’s chat section. Those unable to participate at the time of the discussion can watch the video later on YouTube.

Photo of Dr. Bertha Manninen.Facilitators:

Dr. Bertha Manninen, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Arizona State University


Photo of Dr. Shane Courtland.Dr. Shane Courtland, Managing Director of the Center for Free Enterprise at West Virginia University.

In addition,

Dr. Eric Thomas Weber.Dr. Eric Thomas Weber, Executive Director of SOPHIA, will serve as the moderator of our online forum.

And featuring a special Guest:

We are also very fortunate to have a special guest joining us from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE):

Ari Cohn, J.D., Senior Program Office for Legal and Public Advocacy, F.I.R.E.Ari Cohn, J.D., Senior Program Officer for Legal and Public Advocacy for F.I.R.E.

We welcome and invite comments and questions in advance of the symposium. Please write to us at, post a comment on our Facebook page, or Tweet to us @SOPHIAchirp.

Finally, you can also call us and leave us a voicemail with a comment or question, by calling: 859.257.1849. Please introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from, and please limit your message length to 1 minute or less.

Date: October 19, 2016
Time: 02:00-03:30 p.m. Eastern
Event: Trigger Warnings: Offense, Respect, and Freedom [Online Video Symposium]
Topic: Education, Academic Freedom, Respect for Victims of Trauma
Venue: SOPHIA's Zoom Online Video Conferencing platform
Public: Public

Keep up to date on SOPHIA activities and get involved by joining SOPHIA!

“An Economy that Grows Anger,” SOPHIA Member on HuffPo

The Huffington Post
Septemer 24, 2016

Dr. Paul Croce, SOPHIA member and Huffington Post columnist.Dr. Paul Croce of Stetson University has long been a supporter and practitioner of publicly engaged philosophy. Academically, his work has focused especially on William James’s philosophy. It is our pleasure to welcome Paul into membership of SOPHIA and, as we do, to call attention to his latest oped published on the Huffington Post, on “An Economy that Grows Anger.” Check it out.

As we in SOPHIA prepare for an online philosophical discussion about “trigger warnings,” we thought some of you may enjoy hearing a talk by Dr. Shane Courtland, SOPHIA’s Communications Officer. He’ll be one of our facilitators for the conversation, along with Dr. Bertha Manninen. We are also working on possibilities for invited participants, and will share more information when it it available. This talk is Dr. Courtland’s “Last Lecture,” titled “The Importance of Tolerating Offense,” which he gave at the University of Minnesota Duluth before he moved from there to West Virginia University. If you get a chance, listen to his talk via YouTube (FYI, it is a sound recording only).

UPDATE: You can also follow along with Dr. Courtland’s slides for the talk here:

SOPHIA Business Meeting reminder: 9/9/16 @ 5pm Eastern

Photo of a person at a computer, whose screen reads "Meeting Agenda."Agenda:
1) SOPHIA panels – planned and future
2) radio show and podcast
3) chapter recognition and building needs
4) leveraging video: a) video conferencing business meetings? b) intro videos & other online community building; c) online video conference/symposium
5) funding opportunity and other $ plans
6) recognition/awards for engaged philosophers and community building?
7) Procedures for updates
8) Reminders
9) Other thoughts/needs?

If you are interested in joining the meeting but have not received detailed instructions for joining it, email us at

Date: September 9, 2016
Time: 05:00-05:45 p.m.
Event: SOPHIA Business Meeting
Topic: SOPHIA Business Meeting
Sponsor: SOPHIA
Venue: Zoom Online Video Conference
Location: Online
Public: Public

If you haven't already, register for membership and JOIN SOPHIA!

“Trigger Warnings” – Topic for a SOPHIA Symposium?

This is a photo of the letter that the University of Chicago sent to incoming students about 'trigger warnings.' Clicking the photo opens a printable PDF file of the letter, with optical character recognition applied.

Looking for info on the event? Click here.

A photo of a symbol that reads "Trigger Warning: Explicit Content," and which is made to look like the "Explicit Content" warnings used on mature media sold to the public in the United States.Two SOPHIA members have independently suggested that we hold a discussion on the topic of “trigger warnings.” Remember that SOPHIA discussions generally begin with a very short text (whether written, audio, or video), which can help spark the discussion. It also allows us all to be literally on the same page as we begin our discussions. Both Trustee Dr. Bertha Manninen and member Dr. Annie Davis Weber have suggested that we have a discussion on “trigger warnings,” and both of them independently suggested that we use the University of Chicago letter on the subject, which has been in the news recently.

If you would be interested in participating in an online video conference discussion on this topic, whether or not you’re a member of SOPHIA, and whether or not you’ve ever studied any philosophy, you can comment below, email us, or let us know on Facebook or on Twitter. In addition, reach out to us if you have ideas about other topics that you think would be rewarding to talk about in a SOPHIA group meeting, whether with a local group, at a national event, or via an online video conference call.

Of course, if you are interested and have not yet officially joined or renewed your membership in SOPHIA, you can do so here.

SOPHIA Trustee Emeritus Among 50 “Most Influential Living Philosophers”!

Professor John J. McDermott.

50 most influential philosophers.The Society of Philosophers in America is proud to celebrate our Trustee Emeritus, Dr. John J. McDermott, who has been named one of the 50 most influential living philosophers.

In recognizing Professor McDermott, the list’s authors wrote the following:

[Book Image]John McDermott received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University, in New York City, in 1959, and, though he is getting up in his years, is still teaching, holding the position of University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Texas A&M University. McDermott’s work is primarily focused on the philosophy ofculture, specifically American literature and philosophy, having written, compiled, or contributed to books on William James, Josiah Royce, and John Dewey, as well as being a former President of the William James Society. McDermott is most notable for, and has been most influential in exploring and advancing the ideas of James and Dewey in relation to American culture, as well as his examination of American culture through philosophy.

Congratulations, John! And thank you for all you’ve done for American philosophy and for SOPHIA!

2016 SOPHIA Panel Caught the Attention of Oxford U Press

December 5, 2015

Photo of the OUP blog. SOPHIA is excited to have the interest of The Public Philosophy Journal to consider publishing our 2016 panel members’ papers from our event held at the Eastern Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association. In reviewing some details about the panel, we found this link to the OUP blog, which was great to see. As the process progresses for submitting the papers to the PPJ, we will keep you posted.

The panel was titled: “The Obligations of Philosophers.”


Also, if you haven’t checked out The Public Philosophy Journal, what are you waiting for? Seriously, they’ve got an awesome logo & they are experimenting with tools and processes that may revolutionize the way scholars review work, publish, and engage the wider public.