About

Since its inception in 1981, Concerned Philosophers for Peace [CPP] has become the largest, most active organization of professional philosophers in North America involved in the analysis of the causes of war and prospects for peace. The organization holds an annual conference as well as programs at each divisional meeting of the American Philosophical Association.

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A History of Concerned Philosophers For Peace

William C. Gay
UNC Charlotte
Feb. 2003

Concerned Philosophers For Peace (CPP) was initiated as a response to the increased militarism of the Reagan Administration, especially in relation its deployment of Euromissiles and policies on nuclear weapons. Subsequently, the organization progressed from a critique focused on nuclear war fighting strategies to the promotion of cooperative endeavors, first, with Soviet and, now, Russian philosophers.

Increasingly, the organization has offered criticism of other U.S. military actions, including the invasion of Panama, the conduct of the Persian Gulf War, the crises in Bosnia, Somalia, and Haiti, the threat posed by the India-Pakistan nuclear arms race, and the response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States.

In addition, on-going efforts have been made to link with other movements connected with the quest for peace, particularly within feminism.

Since its inception in 1981, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has become the largest and most active organization of professional philosophers in North America oriented to the critique of militarism and the search for a just and lasting peace. Currently, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has over 500 members in North America.

The organization conducts an annual conference, as well as programs at each of the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association. Since 1981, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has published a newsletter. In addition, since 1989, the organization has published eight anthologies of essays on issues of war and peace and one single authored book.

The first three anthologies were published by Longwood Academic. A fourth anthology was published by Rowman & Littlefield. Since 1995, four more anthologies and the single authored text have been published in the organization’s Special Series on “Philosophy of Peace” (POP) which is part of the Value Inquiry Book Series published by Rodopi. Joseph Kunkel has been the General Editor of POP Special Series; in 2002 William Gay became his co-editor and will continue as the General Editor upon Kunkel’s retirement.

In the Spring of 1981, a group of philosophers concerned about the acceleration of the nuclear arms race met at the Pacific divisional meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Under the leadership of Stephen Anderson, the group formed PANDORA (an acronym for Philosophers Against Nuclear Destruction of Rational Animals). Anderson was the first editor of the organization’s newsletter. Between September of 1981 and December of 1986, he published thirteen issues. The first three issues were released under the title of PANDORA. However, because of sexist and exclusionary aspects of the acronym, the next two issues were released under the title of Concerned Philosophers. Then, beginning in December 1983, the name of the newsletter was expanded to Concerned Philosophers For Peace, which has also been the name of the organization since that time.

Beginning in 1987, when William Gay became editor, the newsletter has been released semiannually under the title Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter (ISSN 1062-9114). For purposes of continuity, that initial issue in 1987 was designated as Volume 7, Number 1, and the issues that Anderson had previously released were redesignated as the first six volumes.

Throughout its history, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has had close relations with several others groups with similar concerns. For example, at the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in 1984, the organization conducted a joint meeting with the Gandhi-King Society, SWIP (Society of Women in Philosophy), and the Society for Radical Philosophy. In addition to a regular program, representatives from these organizations held a special meeting with Jonathan Schell in which he answered questions about his own work and about the arms race in general.

More regularly, however, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has worked with IPPNO, which originally was the acronym for International Philosophers For the Prevention of Nuclear Omnicide. This group was founded by John Somerville at the XVIIth World Congress of Philosophy in Montreal in 1983. Somerville had himself coined the term “omnicide” in 1979 to refer to what he saw as the prospect that the use of nuclear weapons could result in the extinction of all sentient life.

IPPNO has tried to function as an international organization, and international conferences have been held in the United States (1986 and 1999), England (1988), the USSR (1990), Costa Rico (1994), and India 92001). In 1984, based on a mail ballot sent to all its members, Concerned Philosophers For Peace became affiliated with IPPNO. A controversy emerged in 1987 over the status of this relation when IPPNO set up an independent U.S. Section. Some in Concerned Philosophers For Peace had understood that CPP was the U.S. affiliate of IPPNO. Somerville maintained that CPP was not its only U.S. affiliate. Although Concerned Philosophers For Peace formally broke from IPPNO at that time, the fact remains that many members of IPPNO are also members of Concerned Philosophers For Peace. In 1991, Howard Friedman spoke on behalf of IPPNO at the annual meeting of Concerned Philosophers For Peace and encouraged renewed cooperative efforts between the two groups. Beginning in 1992, he has published the IPPNO Newsletter. While the acronym IPPNO has been retained, it is now alternatively understood to refer to “an International Organization of Philosophers Working for World Peace and the Elimination of Nuclear and Other Threats to Global Existence.”

Central to the newsletters edited by Anderson was the effort to encourage a professional response to the nuclear threat. One major service provided by the newsletter during its initial years was the publication of syllabi of courses on various aspects of the nuclear arms race that were just then being developed and taught by members of the organization. Efforts were also made to cite the emerging philosophical bibliography on these topics. In addition, the newsletter included announcements of and reports on sessions by Concerned Philosophers For Peace at divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association.

One of the decisive developments in the history of the organization has been the effort to conduct conferences apart from the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association. At the urging of some of our Canadian members. these conferences are now termed annual meeting, rather than national conferences, since several of our members are from other countries than the United States. The impetus for annual meetings resulted from a caucus held by Concerned Philosophers For Peace at the 13th Annual University of Dayton Philosophy Colloquium which was held in November 3-5, 1983.

Concerned Philosophers For Peace had a meeting, now retrospectively termed its first annual meeting, on October 15-17, 1987 at a conference center of the University of Dayton. The papers presented were published in the first anthology of the group, Issues of War and Peace: Philosophical Inquiries, eds. Joseph Kunkel and Kenneth Klein (Wolfeboro, NH: Longwood Academic, 1989). Beginning in 1989, these meetings, in fact, became annual. CPP was hosted by Temple University in Philadelphia on October 13-15, 1989. At that meeting, the inaugural Presidential Address was delivered by Douglas Lackey, the first President of Concerned Philosophers For Peace. The book, In the Interest of Peace: A Spectrum of Philosophical Perspectives, eds. Kenneth H. Klein and Joseph C. Kunkel (Wakefield, NH: Longwood Academic, 1990), was based on papers from this meeting.

The third annual meeting was hosted by the University of Notre Dame on September 21-23, 1990, and James Sterba gave the Presidential Address. This meeting led to the book, Just War, Nonviolence and Nuclear Deterrence: Philosophers on War and Peace, eds. Duane Cady and Richard Werner (Wakefield, NH: Longwood Academic, 1991).

The fourth annual meeting was hosted in 1991 by the University of Tennessee, and Duane Cady gave the Presidential Address. The volume from this conference is From the Eye of the Storm: Philosophy of Peace and Regional Conflict, eds. Laurence F. Bove and Laura Duhan Kaplan (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1995). The fifth annual meeting was hosted in 1992 by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Robert Holmes gave the Presidential Address. The volume based on this conference is Philosophical Perspectives on Power and Domination: Theories and Practices, eds. Laura Duhan Kaplan and Laurence F. Bove (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997).

The sixth annual meeting in 1993 was hosted jointly by Hamline University and Macalester College, and William Gay gave the Presidential Address. The volume based on this conference is Institutional Violence, eds. Robert Litke and Deane Curtin (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999). The seventh annual meeting was hosted in 1994 by Villanova University, and Steven Lee gave the Presidential Address. The volume based on this conference is Peacemaking: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future, eds. Judith L. Presler and Sally J. Scholz (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000).

The eighth annual meeting was hosted in 1995 by University of Dayton, and Donald Wells gave the Presidential Address. The forthcoming volume based on this conference is Community, Diversity, and Difference: Implications for Peace, eds. Alison Bailey and Paula J. Smithka (Amsterdam: Rodopi). The ninth annual meeting was hosted in 1996 by University of Missouri, Columbia, and Ronald Santoni gave the Presidential Address. A volume based on the conference theme of “Problems for Democracy: Obstacles to Peace” is being edited by John Kultgen and Mary Lenzi. The tenth annual meeting was hosted in 1997 by California State University, Chico on the theme of “Peace and Justice: Paradoxes, Costs, Reconciliations,” and Joseph Kunkel gave the Presidential Address. The eleventh annual meeting was hosted in 1998 by George Washington University on the theme “Peace and Public Policy,” and Beth Singer gave the Presidential Address.

The twelfth annual meeting was hosted in 1999 by Radford University on the theme of “Peace and Global Issues,” and Laura Duhan Kaplan gave the Presidential Address. The thirteen annual meeting was hosted in 2000 at McMaster University on the theme of “Justice and Justification,” and Ron Hirschbein gave the Presidential Address. The fourteenth annual meeting was hosted in 2001 at St. Bonaventure University on the theme “The Political and Spiritual Dimensions of Nonviolence and Justice,” and Hirschbein in the second year of what is now a two-year Presidency, gave the Presidential Address.

The fifteenth annual meeting was hosted by Walsh University in 2002 on the theme “War and Peace in a Time of Terror and Terrorism,” and Larry Bove gave the Presidential Address. Volumes based on most of these recent meetings are in preparation.

Internationally, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has had extended contacts with philosophers at the Institute of Philosophy in Moscow. From 1929 through 1991, this Institute was part of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. Since 1992, it has been a part of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Members from the Institute participated in the CPP meetings in Philadelphia and in Notre Dame. These contacts were facilitated by SAVI (Soviet-American Visits and Interactions), organized by Paul Allen, III. Out of these contacts, a cooperative venture was undertaken that led to the publication of a joint volume by Concerned Philosophers For Peace and the Institute of Philosopher, under the title On the Eve of the 21st Century: Perspectives of Russian and American Philosophers, eds. William Gay and T.A. Alekseeva (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1994).

Concerned Philosophers For Peace has also worked closely with the Russian Philosophical Society. The two organizations held joint Round Tables sessions on “Russian and American Philosophers View One Another’s Philosophies” at the XXth World Congress of Philosophy in Boston (August 1998). The Co-Chairs of these Round Table sessions were William Gay (for Concerned Philosophers For Peace) and Alexander Chumakov (for the Russian Philosophical Society). The two organizations have proposed Round Table sessions on “Philosophy and Globalization Problems” at the XXIst World Congress of Philosophy in Istanbul (August 2003). Chumakov and Gay along with others, are also editing an International Global Studies Encyclopedia that is scheduled to be available at the XXIst World Congress. This encyclopedia will have Russian language and English language editions. Already, this encyclopedia has over 350 contributors from not only Russia and the United States, but also Canada, China, CIS, Europe, India, and Israel.

In addition to the anthologies published by Concerned Philosophers For Peace, it has published a single authored book by H.P.P. (Hennie) Lötter, Injustice, Violence, And Peace: The Case of South Africa (Rodopi, 1997) and six Special Issues of its newsletter on emerging threats to global peace. The first is “The War Against Iraq,” Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 11, n1 (Spring 1991). The second is “Bosnia and Somalia,” Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 13, n1 (Spring 1993). The third is “Haiti,” Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 14, n1 (Fall 1994). The fourth is “The India-Pakistan Nuclear Arms Race,” Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 18, n2 (Fall 1998). The fifth is “Special Double Issue on Peace, Justice, and Nonviolence,” Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 20, n1-2 (Spring & Fall 2000). The sixth is “Special Double Issue on Terrorism and War in the 21st Century.” Concerned Philosophers For Peace Newsletter 21, n1-2 (2001).

Through its meetings, newsletter, special book series, and various international affiliations, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has augmented the recognized scope of the profession. Peace Studies is now included among the areas of philosophical specialization. Concerned Philosophers For Peace has also helped improved international understanding. Finally, through their teaching, members of Concerned Philosophers for Peace have educated many students on issues of war, peace, and justice and, through their community service, have helped raise the level of public consciousness on these issues. In all these ways, Concerned Philosophers For Peace has helped with the critical examination of some of the most crucial issues facing humanity.