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Bill Puka

Professor
Cognitive Science
New York University
United States of America

Biography

Position:Professor of Philosophy and Psychology Classes: Anarchism, Democracy, Cognitive-Moral Development, Ethics, Wisdom, Love and Character, Cognitive Science and Education Background: My teaching, like my research, combines philosophy and psychology, usually related to ethical values and public policy. For two decades I worked at Harvard's Center for Moral Development and its related "Just Community" program in the Connecticut prison system. This mission continues through service on the executive board of the AME (The Association for Moral Education), and the Ark Community Charter School in Troy. My public policy work began in the US Senate where I was an APA/AAAS Congressional Fellow. There I worked for the Senate Small Business Committee and in Senator Hart's Office on issues of urban economic development, employee ownership, budget and taxation (including tax resistance). A few years ago I directed a Sloan Foundation grant for Troy and Capitol District socio-economic redevelopment. For many years before and after I have run two ongoing community programs: "Be Your Own Hero: Careers in Commitment" (a character education program for the public schools) and The Umuluwe Sister-City Program (partnering certain RPI faculty and students with villagers in Nigeria) Current focus: The guiding question: Can a full regimen be worked out for developing radical integrity and self-determination in ourselves, also for developing a full appreciation of what is valuable and democratic in our world? How can we become motivated and able to make a ruthlessly honest critical evaluation of our hypocrisies and rationalizations regarding injustice and dehumanization around us? And how can we nurture a powerful and unswerving passion for working against these intolerables while at the same time celebrating life? My current quartet of courses in ethics, moral psychology (development), the social entrepreneurship/civic engagement of anarchy and democracy, is designed to answer these questions and evolve such a regimen. On the conceptual or philosophical side of this quest, radical integrity implies non-ideological approaches to beliefs and viewpoints. Two models and methods are posed for doing so. The Savings Approach suggests that no current view is worth considering unless it at least encompasses the strengths of all major current views, including major rivals. It provides a model for integrating conflicting and complementary viewpoints. The Right Mix consists of various combinations of such views in theory and practice.(This includes accommodating dogmas and one-way ideologies that oppose to eclecticism.) Moral and politically speaking, to be less than a Kantian-Utilitarian-egoistic perfectionist, as well as a conservative-liberal-socialistic individualist libertarian is not to take views or one's comrades seriously enough.

Research Interest

Cognition, Cognitive Development, Moral Reasoning

Publications

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