About Philosophy in the Public Interest

"To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Philosophy in the Public Interest

The Department of Philosophy supports Philosophy in the Public Interest, an enterprise that creates opportunities for public deliberation and philosophical activity.

Deliberation, done as a community activity, makes democracy work. Philosophy—which is the intellectual discipline of careful and creative thought—makes community deliberation work. Philosophy in the Public Interest helps Arizonans achieve what they desire: to "empower citizens and increase civic involvement," and to "foster citizens' well-being and sense of connection."* Philosophy in the Public Interest creates opportunities for guided community conversations about topics as timeless as friendship and as pressing as U.S. immigration policy. These programs create opportunities to gather together, listen with care, speak thoughtfully and respectfully, and learn more about our world, about each other and about ourselves.

Philosophy, as it was practiced by Socrates, was a dialogic activity among friends and citizens. People came together to discuss life’s most interesting questions as they tried to gain a better understanding of themselves and the world they inhabited. Philosophy in the Public Interest creates opportunities for people to delve into these questions of perennial concern. Literally, philosophy is the love of wisdom (philo sophos). Those who love wisdom appreciate the opportunity to talk things over and think them through. They recognize the value of doing so over and again.

PPI has been named by the American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy Document Center as the 2013 winner of Excellence and Innovation in Philosophy Programs award.

Our Mission

The mission of Philosophy in the Public Interest is to create opportunities for deliberation and reflection that benefit the people and communities of northern Arizona.

Programs in the communities of northern Arizona

Philosophy in the Public Interest supports a number of activities in the communities of Flagstaff and Sedona. Philosophy in the Schools introduces northern Arizona high school students to philosophy through the Mentor Program and Environmental Ethics Outreach. We are currently developing a Moral Courage curriculum for at-risk high school students. Philosophy and Film creates an opportunity for people to discuss the underlying themes of foreign and independent films. Hot Topics Cafés take place in several venues, and creates an opportunity for civil, nonpartisan, reasoned reflection about timely political issues. We also work with community partners to sponsor a range of special events.

*Gallup Arizona Poll