PULLMAN, WASH. — The philosophy departments at Washington State University and the University of Idaho are gearing up for the annual spring Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference “Explanation and Causation” May 2-4.

A free public forum, “Explain This!,” will discuss making current philosophical thinking accessible to a broader university audience and residents of the Palouse. It will be from 7:30-9 p.m. May 2 at Moscow’s University Inn in the Silver and Gold rooms. The keynote address will be presented by Nancy Cartwright, professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics, from 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. May 3 at the UI Law School Courtroom.

The INPC conference encourages interdisciplinary cooperation and communication on philosophical topics that relate to research in a variety of domains, attracting philosophers from all over the world. In special sessions, students get the opportunity to present their research to an audience that includes peers and professional philosophers working on the topic.

“It is arguable,” said Joseph Keim Campbell, philosophy professor at WSU and conference co-director, “that the concepts of explanation and causation are central to our view of the world, regardless of our cultural or our individual perspective.” According to Campbell, 150-200 people generally attend the public lecture. “It is an opportunity for the Palouse community to learn more about the subjects of explanation and causation as well as the discipline of philosophy. It is also an opportunity for world-class philosophers to interact with the rich intellectual life of the Palouse community,” he said.

The conference attracts international attention among the philosophy community with articles in The Philosopher’s Magazine, a publication from England. Universities represented in the program this spring include University of California at Los Angeles, Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Columbia. Represented countries include the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium and the United States.

INPC funding is made possible by grants from the Idaho Humanities Council, the WSU College of Liberal Arts and the UI College of Letters and Sciences. WSU and UI philosophy departments and research, provosts’ and president’s offices are also contributors.