The American Philosophical Association presented a national honor to Professor Andrew Fiala, chair of the Department of Philosophy and director of the Ethics Center at Fresno State, for a column he wrote for The Fresno Bee.

“Dr. Fiala’s insight shows how our disciplines in the arts and humanities are the bedrock for leading a good life. This is a prime example of philosophy at work,” said Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “As a humanist, he proposes a dialogue based on the sound exchange of ideas and a discursive language that works for the common good.  We are proud of Dr. Fiala for having received such a prestigious recognition.”

Fiala wrote the winning op-ed as part of a weekly column he writes for The Bee on topics involving ethics, religion and politics. It publishes every Saturday.

“We are thrilled to be able to publish Dr. Fiala’s columns, and this national recognition of the quality of his columns is well-deserved,” said Bee Executive Editor Jim Boren. “His thoughtful columns provide an important perspective on public issues, and offer solutions and encouragement in these divisive times.”

In the award-winning column, titled “Without faith in humanity, cynicism grows and democracy becomes mob-rule,” Fiala writes about the level of distrust that Americans have for their political leaders and processes:

“In a healthy democracy, we seek to understand each other. We aim to reach consensus. We listen as much as we talk. We avoid insulting and disrespecting each other. And we believe that each of us is committed to the common good in our own way. Democratic societies fail when they are plagued by irrationality, rudeness, vulgarity, cruelty and violence. These social maladies cause further distrust and dysfunction, creating a vicious circle of cynicism.”

The American Philosophical Association recognized five essayists, including Fiala, with its 2017 Public Philosophy Op-Ed Contest. The other winners are:

  • Katalin Balog, “‘Son of Saul,’ Kierkegaard and the Holocaust,” The Stone (The New York Times)
  • David V. Johnson, “A Democracy Deficit Plagues the U.S. and the European Union,” Aeon
  • Ian Olasov, “How Did ‘All Lives Matter’ Come to Oppose ‘Black Lives Matter’? A Philosopher of Language Weighs In,” Slate
  • Michael Robillard and Bradley Strawser, “Are Soldiers Morally Exploited?” Ethical War Blog (Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace)

The APA committee on public philosophy sponsors this annual contest, which includes a $100 monetary award per essay, for the best opinion-editorials published by philosophers.

Fiala’s column in The Bee will take a break during the month of August, then will resume in September.