KAREN J. WARREN, Ph.D.

I am a professor in the Philosophy Department at Macalester College, St. Paul, MN. My main scholarly interests are in feminist philosophy, particularly ecofeminist philosophy, and environmental ethics; I also teach, write, and give presentations in critical thinking, ethics, social and political philosophy, peace studies, the history of women philosophers, and philosophy for children. One of the wonderful aspects of my professional life is the opportunities it provides to give keynote speeches at regional, national, and international conferences (Buenos Aires, Gothenberg (Sweden), Helsinki, Oslo, Manitoba, Melbourne, Moscow, Perth (Australia), Rio de Janeiro (at the U.N. Earth Summit in 1972), and San Jose (Costa Rica)). A New England transplant who now considers Minnesota her home, I have lived in Norway and Australia (as Ecofeminist Scholar-in-Residence at Murdoch University in 1995), and spent a semester as the Woman's Chair in Humanistic Studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. If you are interested in learning more about my professional interests and activities, please visit other sites linked to this introductory page (e.g., my academic vita (C.V.) and brief biography).

Welcome to my web page!

I describe myself as a "street philosopher." This is because I believe philosophy is relevant to people of all ages, in all cultural, geographical, and socioeconomic contexts. This commitment to the value of philosophy has led me to teach philosophy to diverse populations. For more than 33 years, I have taught philosophy to children in grades K-12, as well as elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators. (To my knowledge I initiated the second High School Philosophy Program in the U.S., in 1972.). I have also taught philosophy in the Berkshire County House of Correction (MA), environmental organizations (e.g., The Wilderness Society, Eco-Education, Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Naturalists Association, various "nature centers"), civic groups (e.g., as critical thinking consultant to the Science Museum of Minnesota, facilitator of a Women's Issues Book Group at Barnes & Noble Booksellers) and in a variety of college and university settings. My commitment to "public philosophy" has also motivated me to write and speak for lay audiences in what I intend to be a non-technical but philosophically engaging manner.

On a more personal level, I have a variety of interests. Not surprising for an academic, I thoroughly enjoy leisure reading (especially mysteries), wrapped up with my feline companions on cold winter days in front of a blazing fire. I also am a sports enthusiastóboth observer and participantówho really enjoys "working out," especially swimming and strength (weight) training. For entertainment I enjoy theater of all types, traveling, drawing, needle pointing, and gardening, (especially wildflower gardening). 

Each day I enjoy the companionship of my two feline companions two seal point Siamese cats, Hypatia (forefront) and Colfax, enjoying the outside. Less often, but always meaningful, are the times I am able to be with my daughter, Cortney Warren.

   

It is a source of much pride that my daughter, Cortney Warren, has chosen a career in academia (and that there are two Dr. Warren's, both women, in our family home). Cortney is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Her area of specialization is multicultural psychology, with her research specialization on eating disorders, primarily among colleague age Mexican American, Hispanic American, African American, and Anglo-European women.


One of the most meaningful and philosophically informative experiences
of my life occurred when I experienced the joy of swimming with a pod of about twelve wild bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Key West, Florida. It was while swimming with these magnificent, intelligent, beautiful creatures that I came to understand and appreciate the importance of "emotional intelligence"
(in concert with "rational intelligence"). I began to think seriously about the cross-species communication that I experienced and the moral centrality of the notion of care, particularly the ability of humans to care about others (including dolphins other non-human animals and what Leopoldville called "the land." Reflection on that experience resulted in my articulation of a "care-sensitive ethic" as a possible, necessary, and (properly understood) "universal" ethic (and alternative to traditional normative ethical theories).

My defense of "care-sensitive ethics" is one chapter in my book, Eco feminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters (2000): Chapter 5. It also helped me to articulate limitations of traditional Western notions of justice as distributive justice, also discussed in Ecofeminist Philosophy (Chapter 8). In accordance with the metaphor of theorizing as quilting (Chapter 3) and my visual representation of ecofeminist philosophy as the center areas of overlap of three intersecting Venn circles, it is especially meaningful to me that the book cover is a photo of an 8 foot square quilt made for me by a local quilter, expressly designed to capture my understanding of "ecofeminist philosophy" (below, left). The oil painting (below, right) was done by one of my students in Western Australia, Christie Nelson, as a representation of what she learned about ecofeminism.

 


If you are interested in learning more about me or my courses,
click on one of the sites listed below.