Philosophy in a Multicultural Context

The Philosophy in a Multicultural Context research cluster investigates how diverse cultural traditions and academic contexts relate to core philosophical methods of analysis including conceptual analysis, reflective equilibrium, and logical inference. In other words, this research cluster explores both the impact of multiculturalism on philosophical methodology and the use of philosophical tools for understanding the promises and challenges of multiculturalism.


The main product of the research cluster in its first year (2012-13) was a successful public conference, “Free to Universalize or Bound by Culture? Philosophy in a Multicultural Context.” Videos of the conference can be found here. The conference website can be found here.


As one case study within this research cluster, the focus of the second year (2013-14) was “Genomics and Philosophy of Race.” Two workshops (Stanford in the Fall, UC Davis in the Winter) and one public conference (UCSC in the Spring) were held. The project’s participants were drawn from four UC campuses (Berkeley, Davis, San Diego, and Santa Cruz) as well as Stanford University, the University of San Francisco, and Google. A summary of activities can be found here. Videos of the Spring 2014 conference can be found here. The conference website can be found here.

Questions addressed by our interdisciplinary team during the 2013-14 academic year included: Does contemporary genomics inform and shift our conceptualizations or consciousness of race? Do technologies, mathematical models, and data from genomics refine and potentially entrench—or pre-assume— certain understandings of the concept(s) of “race” through concepts such as “ancestry,” “clade,” “cluster,” “ethnicity,” “group,” “population,” and “subspecies”? Why, how, and for whom does it matter? Who has power? How do values, ethics, language, and politics inflect theories of race stemming from biological work and disseminating throughout the social landscape? How do the diverse global and multicultural contexts of Asia, Latin America, North America, and Europe (and the complexities of their respective indigenous and immigrant populations) alter and respond to biological research on race?


During the 2014-2015 academic the participants listed below will engage in entangled conversation, with members from the UNAM, Notre Dame, and Oregon State University visiting various Bay Area universities. We wish to have an ongoing, but less demanding, set of voluntary interactions, including an online (e.g., Skype, Google+) reading group among cluster members, designed specifically for graduate students, and occasional general online “lab meetings,” in order also to plan extramural grant proposals. This year’s co-PIs are James R. Griesemer (UC Davis), Scott Lokey (UC Santa Cruz), Helen Longino (Stanford), and Rasmus Nielsen (UC Berkeley).

This year our endeavor is an exploratory one, thinking about and challenging questions and framings of values, contexts, and powers in various biological sciences including “geno” (e.g., genomics and race, systems biology, synthetic biology, epigenetics), “neuro” (neuroscience, cognition, consciousness), “eco” (e.g., ecology, environmental sciences, sustainability, climate change), and “etho” (e.g., sexuality, autism, behavior, social cognition), and vis-à-vis bio-behavioral scientific methodologies broadly, including mathematical analytic modeling and statistical data analysis. For instance, in the context of biomedicine and pharmaceuticals, how might genetic data be used to assign individuals to risk categories (e.g., BRCA1 and risk of breast cancer; HPC1 and the risk of prostate cancer), and is this akin to classifying people, using other metrics and properties? Are personalized genomics and personalized medicine mirages or Shangri-la’s? How complex (or simple) do mathematical models have to be to be useful in pharmaceutical and medical applications, and should/could they include prescriptive components such as various forms of risk?

More generally, how do values, contexts, and/or powers—framed in particular ways—affect, if at all, both scientific activity and our understanding of science? Does attention to values, contexts, and/or powers make for a more epistemically and/or ethically productive science? Can we simply afford to ignore any one of these, or even all of them, if we care to understand the impact of science on society, and vice-versa (provided that a science vs. society distinction can even be framed)? In all of this, we are scientists and/or friends of science.

Feel free to contact the PI, Associate Professor Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther ( with any questions or suggestions.

Mar 5, 2015: Fabrizzio McManus Guerrero: “From Queer Theory to Teoria Cuir: Latinamerican appropriations of Gay Identities”, “Neuro-Biological Explanations of Sexual Orientation and Their Counter-explanations”, UC Santa Cruz

Mar 3, 2015: “Will the Robots Win? Promises and Perils of Technology in Society”, UC Santa Cruz

Mar 3, 2015: Octavio Valadez: “Co-Teaching and Revolutionary Teaching”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 26, 2015: Brian Cantwell Smith: “The Three R\’s: Representation, Registration, and Reality”, “The Couch or the Bottle: Levels of Abstraction and the Anxious Mind”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 24, 2015: Doc Edge: “Talking about Race: Geneticists, Philosophers, the Media, and the People”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 24, 2015: Natalia Carrillo: “A History of the Action Potential”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 19, 2015: Dada Nabhaniilananda: “Dragon Taming for Smart People”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 19, 2015: John Brown Childs: “Transcommunality”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 17, 2015: Craig Schindler: “Enduring Wisdom, Mindfulness & Emerging Neuroscience”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 12, 2015: Ray Gibbs: “Embodied Meaning, Thinking, and Communication”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 12, 2015: Janette Dinishak: “Autism & Neurodiversity”, UC Santa Cruz

Feb 3, 2015: Nicolas Davidenko: “The Suggestible Nature of Motion Perception”, UC Santa Cruz

Jan 29, 2015: Michael Anderson: “Neural Reuse and Hebbian Learning: Two Kinds of Neuroplasticity in the Brain”, UC Santa Cruz

Jan 27, 2015: Robin Dunkin: “Building Blocks of the Brain: Neuron and Glia Form & Function”, UC Santa Cruz

Apr 12-13, 2014: “Genomics and Philosophy of Race” Conference, UC Santa Cruz

Mar 10, 2014: Genomics and the Philosophy of Race Workshop, UC Davis

Oct 25, 2013: The Stanford School of Philosophy of Science, Stanford University

Oct 20, 2012: Philosophy in a Multicultural Context, UC Santa Cruz

University of California:
Nathaniel Deutsch, Professor of History, Santa Cruz
Janette Dinishak, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Santa Cruz
Minghui Hu, Associate Professor of History, Santa Cruz
Linda Kealey, Philosophy PhD Student, Santa Cruz
Scott Lokey, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Santa Cruz
Alexis Mourenza, Philosophy PhD Student, Santa Cruz
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Santa Cruz

John Huelsenbeck, Professor of Integrative Biology, Berkeley
Ryan Giordano, Statistics PhD Student, Berkeley
Michael Landis, Integrative Biology PhD Student, Berkeley
Rasmus Nielsen, Professor of Integrative Biology, Berkeley
Rori Rohlfs, Post-Doc in Biological Infrastructure, Berkeley
Melinda A. Yang, Integrative Biology PhD Student, Berkeley
Dora Zhang, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Berkeley

Carlos Andrés Barragán, Anthropology PhD Student, Davis
James R. Griesemer, Professor of Philosophy, Davis
Michael Hunter, Philosophy PhD Student, Davis
Roberta L. Millstein, Professor of Philosophy, Davis

Michael O. Hardimon, Associate Professor of Philosophy, San Diego

Anthony Hunt, Professor of Bioengineering, San Francisco
Elad Ziv, Professor in the Department of Medicine, San Francisco

National Autonomous University of Mexico:
Kirareset Barrera García, Lecturer, Psychology
María Haydeé García Bravo, Interdisciplinary Studies PhD Student
Carlos López Beltrán, Professor of Philosophy
Paula López Caballero, Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
Sergio Martínez Muñoz, Professor of Philosophy
Fabrizzio McManus Guerrero, Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
Abigail Nieves Delgado, Philosophy PhD Student
Octavio Valadez Blanco, Philosophy PhD Student

Notre Dame University:
Agustín Fuentes, Chair of Anthropology

Oregon State University:
Jonathan Michael Kaplan, Professor of Philosophy

San Francisco State University:
Carlos Montemayor, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Ásta Sveinsdóttir, Associate Professor of Philosophy

San Jose State University:
Janet Stemwedel, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Sassari University, Italy:
Fabio Bacchini, Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science
Ludovica Lorusso, Philosophy Research Fellow

Stanford University:
Mildred Cho, Research Professor of Pediatrics, the Center for Biomedical Ethics
Brian Matthew Donovan, Graduate School of Education PhD Student
Doc Edge, Biology PhD Student
Hank Greely, Professor of Law
Marcus Feldman, Professor of Biology
Helen Longino, Professor of Philosophy
Paula Moya, Associate Professor of English
Noah Rosenberg, Associate Professor of Biology

University of San Francisco:
Quayshawn Spencer, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Ronald Sundstrom, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Amir Najmi, Search Ads
Ryan Giordano, Search Ads

Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics, Stanford University
Office of the Dean of Social Sciences, College of Letters and Science, UC Davis
Herbert A. Young Society Dean’s Fellowship, UC Davis
Philosophy Department, UC Davis
Science and Technology Studies, UC Davis
Department of Philosophy, UC Santa Cruz
Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, UC Santa Cruz

Composite Programs Report

Genomics & Philosophy of Race 2013-2014

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