Eighth annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference begins Thursday

The philosophy department’s eighth annual student-led Undergraduate Philosophy Conference begins this week.

Senior philosophy major Robert Budron, also president of the philosophy undergraduate honor society Phi Sigma Tau, spearheaded organization of the event that takes place Thursday and Friday in the Morris University Center. Budron said he attended the conference as a sophomore and “liked the whole concept of undergrad student being able to come and share their own ideas.”

Philosophy professor Chris Pearson, also faculty adviser to the conference, said Budron has been “really active” in his role. Budron arranged for the conference’s keynote speaker, Lester Hunt of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to present, along with handling other logistical aspects of the conference.

As the lead organizer, Budron handled most of the work, but philosophy majors also contributed to reviewing submitted papers.

Pearson said this year there were roughly 30 papers submitted to the conference and 14 were selected. In selecting papers, the main point to consider, according to Pearson, is giving students the opportunity to practice philosophy. Unlike the sciences where students have labs and equipment to practice their skills, Pearson said presenting at conferences is how students gain experience.

“In philosophy, it’s so much idea-driven and writing that the hands on part is hard to figure out what it involves,” Pearson said, “and the fact of the matter is if you’re a professional philosopher what you do is you read and write and you present… and so this is our lab, effectively, and it’s really great that we get to get students from elsewhere, give them an opportunity to do this sort of thing but then our students get to be involved in the whole apparatus.”

Budron said as someone who has never submitted a paper to a conference, he felt “a little out of place” judging other papers, but with Pearson’s help the students reviewing submitted papers were “able to be very fair” in their decisions.

While Pearson said it is important to “participate in philosophical practice,” there must be a balance with “good quality, worthwhile papers.”

“I think the acceptance rate is a really good signal that we’re trying to balance opportunity, giving a lot of people opportunity with we don’t want just anything going on here,” Pearson said.

Pearson said this conference is one facet of SIUE’s philosophy department that he looks forward to.

“I’m always impressed with the papers that get presented. I’m always impressed with the organization of it by the students,” Pearson said. “It seems like it goes off really well year in year out. That’s really a tribute to the students who contribute to putting it on and along of course with the faculty too. I think it’s something that we really have a lot to be proud of as a department.”

For more information about the conference, visit http://www.siue.edu/artsandsciences/philosophy/upc/8th_annual_upc.shtml.

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