Public Philosophy in Madison

Public Philosophy in Madison is an interactive dramatization of Peter Singer's​ ​famous​ ​drowning child thought experiment​.​ ​Suppose that you have just come across a child drowning in a pond. You can rescue her, but at a cost: your expensive shoes will be ruined.​ ​Intuitively, it seems morally right to prioritize the child's life over your shoes. If you are unable to see the child, but still know that she is there, does that change your obligation to her? What if she is hundreds of miles away or surrounded by others who have refused to offer aid?​ ​Is each of us, in some way, a bystander​ ​with both the ability and an obligation to save a real-life drowning child? Through the dramatization, and an ensuing discussion, we will explore these questions and more. After the discussion, audience members will have the opportunity to determine, via voting, how $500 (generously donated by The Life You Can Save) will be distributed among a group of innovative charities that help individuals throughout our global community. 

Aaron Yarmel philosopher

Aaron Yarmel is a PhD student at UW-Madison where he works on applied ethics and philosophy of science. His current research interests concern the ethics of revolution and resistance, utilitarian social welfare functions, and musical understanding. He also holds an MSc from the London School of Economics and a BM from the Eastman School of Music. 

Brett Bertucio University of Wisconsin Madison School of Education

Brett Bertucio is a Ph.D. student in the School of Education at UW-Madison.  He works in the areas of history and philosophy of education and researches the role of religious communities in democratic education.  Brett is a former high school and middle school teacher and is excited to accompany students as they ask foundational questions about education.

Tanner Bowen Wisconsin philosopher

Tanner Bowen is a fourth-year student studying philosophy and neuroscience. When he's not thinking about those things he's usually either writing or listening to music... and even then he's usually thinking about philosophy and neuroscience. He enjoys discussing and teaching philosophy with his younger brothers and sister and hopes to extend that same enthusiasm and energy for thought and creativity to the world. 

Johanna Dolle philosopher

Johanna Dolle has a master's degree in Public Affairs and an undergraduate degree in economics. She enjoys thinking about the welfare consequences of social programs and figuring out how to measure them. Her primary interests are in education and healthcare policy. 


Emily Hamer journalist

Emily Hamer is a junior studying journalism and philosophy. She has experience in Journalism working as the State News Associate Editor and Print News Editor at The Badger Herald newspaper. Though she most likely sees herself having a career in journalism, she is incredibly interested in philosophy. She's excited for the opportunity to share her passion for philosophy with the community. 

Dorothy Wu philosopher

Dorothy Wu is a Junior studying philosophy, psychology, and sociology. She will enroll in a sociology doctoral program after graduating from UW-Madison. Dorothy's research interests are inter-ethnic relationships, cultural sociology, and ethics. She will be the president of the philosophy club at UW-Madison for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Ready to Visit?

Arts + Literature Laboratory is located in Madison’s Schenk-Atwood neighborhood at 2021 Winnebago Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53704.

Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11am-3pm during exhibitions or by appointment. Please check the exhibitions calendar before planning your visit, as the gallery is closed between exhibitions and other schedule changes are posted here.


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