Better Living through Philosophy
Michael O'Rourke

In this presentation, I will discuss the use of philosophy as a means of bringing people together on common ground to discuss disciplinary, professional, and human differences. Specifically, I will describe a piece of philosophical technology, the "Toolbox", and its deployment to support dialogue in which collaborators articulate their ways of knowing about the common problem(s) on which they focus. This is the business of the Toolbox Project, a UI-based, NSF-sponsored project that aims to enhance communication across disciplinary and professional  boundaries. Our fundamental goal is to enable collaborators to see their common problem(s) through each others' eyes.

Michael O’Rourke is Professor of Philosophy, faculty in Neuroscience and Environmental Science at the University of Idaho. His research interests include the nature of epistemic integration and communication in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and the nature of linguistic communication between intelligent agents. He is PI on the NSF-funded project, "Improving Communication in Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration" (SES-0823058), which extends research into philosophical approaches to facilitating interdisciplinary research. He has also published extensively on the topic of communication, both within philosophy and within the field of robotic agent design. Since 2004, he has been a collaborator and co-PI on several funded projects involving autonomous underwater vehicles. Since 1998, he has served as co-director of the Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference, an interdisciplinary conference on philosophical themes held annually on the campuses of UI and WSU, and since 2000, as co-editor of the Topics in Contemporary Philosophy series published by the MIT Press.


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