Philosopher Lawrence Blum
Lawrence Blum (far left) and UMass Boston faculty colleague Jorgelina Abbate-Vaughn (far right) are pictured with 2006 honorary degree recipient Sylvia Poggioli (senior NPR European correspondent) and then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois)
Since his arrival at UMass Boston in 1973, Lawrence Blum proudly states: “All of my subsequent work in moral and social philosophy has been deeply influenced in subtle but unmistakable ways. The university’s emphasis on teaching and our diverse students who do not take the scholarly enterprise for granted has helped to keep my work more grounded in real life than most contemporary moral and social philosophy.”
Blum, professor of philosophy and distinguished professor of liberal arts and education, is internationally recognized for his contributions to the fields of moral philosophy, race theory, moral psychology and development, and multiculturalism. Most recently, Blum has been teaching a four-semester class, which he developed, in his hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to a very racially mixed group of seniors at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. He notes that UMass Boston has been particularly helpful in allowing and encouraging him to do this sort of teaching as part of the institution’s urban mission. As a result, he has published High Schools, Race, and America's Future: What Students Can Teach Us about Morality, Diversity, and Community (2012).
His 2002 book, I’m Not a Racist, But...: The Moral Quandary of Race, has received attention in the small-but-growing field of philosophy and race. In the same year, the book was selected as the best social philosophy book of the year by the North American Society for Social Philosophy.
In philosophy and the humanities more generally, the quantity of articles published is often not as extensive as in the sciences, natural or social. Nevertheless, Blum has published a prolific 62 articles, with seven more forthcoming, in recognized as well as top journals. He has also published two other books: Friendship, Altruism amd Morality (1980); and Moral Perception and Particularity (1994).
Blum’s passion for enagagement often takes him well beyond the Boston campus. “My work in race, culture and education has led to a modest amount of work outside academia in these areas. For example, I have been a consultant to Facing History and Ourselves, a national professional development organization specializing in critical thinking, anti-racism, and civic engagement.”
Thanks to grant support from the Spencer Foundation, Blum was one of a group of philosophers who organized three conferences from 2010 to 2012 aimed at raising the profile of philosophy of education in the broader world of philosophy.