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  Home >  Staff Directory  > John Farnum  > Professional Vita

   John Carroll Farnum, Ph.D.

Portland Community College
Division of Social Sciences
12000 SW 49th Avenue
Portland, OR 97219
(503) 977-4574



Florida State University

Ph.D. in Philosophy, 2001.

San Diego State University

M.A. in Philosophy, 1995.

University of Oregon

B.S. in Philosophy, 1990.





Summer 2000-Present: Instructor of Philosophy

Taught Introduction to Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Existentialism, Political Philosophy, Business Ethics, Biomedical Ethics, Philosophy of Democracy and Introduction to Environmental Ethics.  These classes were organized to blend student discussion with organized lectures.


Spring 2001-Spring 2002: Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Taught Environmental Ethics, Habermas and Foucault in Dialogue, and Democracy and Conflict Resolution.  The Habermas/Foucault class was a senior/graduate level seminar that was team-taught with a professor from the Urban Studies Department at Portland State University.


Spring 2000-Spring 2002: Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Taught Philosophical Inquiry, Introduction to Philosophy, and Introduction to Ethics.  The Philosophical Inquiry class satisfies the philosophy requirement for transfer and engineering students.


Fall 1999-Summer 2002: Instructor of Philosophy

Taught Environmental Ethics, Professional Ethics, American Philosophy, and Social and Political Philosophy.  The students in these classes were nursing and nontraditional students fulfilling requirements through Linfield’s Division of Continuing Education.


Spring 1996-Summer 2002: Instructor of Philosophy

Taught Introduction to Philosophy distance learning class. Used written comments to help students improve writing and critical thinking skills.


Fall 1999-Spring 2001: Instructor of Philosophy

Taught Introduction to Philosophy and Introduction to Ethics.  These classes were organized to present the key philosophical topics from a historical perspective.


Fall 1999-Spring 2000: Instructor of Philosophy

Taught Fundamentals of Philosophy and Philosophy East and West.  Both classes partially satisfied the Ultimate Questions requirement for the Linfield Curriculum.


Spring 1998-Summer 1999: Instructor of Philosophy

Taught Introduction to Political Philosophy.  This course was designed for the cross-cultural and writing competency university requirements. In addition to the traditional Western texts, readings included Chinese, Native American, African, and Indian political philosophy.

Spring 1996-Fall 1997: Graduate Assistant of Philosophy

Classes included Ethical Issues and Life Choices, Introduction to Philosophy, and Introduction to Political Philosophy.


Spring 1993-Spring 1995: Graduate Assistant of Philosophy

Classes included Introduction to Ethics, Introduction to Philosophy, and Philosophy of Technology.



Winner, 1996 Graduate Student Paper Contest, “Mead’s Theory of Communication: A ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Philosophy,” Florida Philosophical Association, November 1996.



"Untangling Technology: A Summary of Andrew Feenberg's Heidegger and Marcuse" presented to the 102nd Annual American Philosophical Association meeting (group program--Society for Philosophy and Technology), New York, NY, December 2005.

"The Importance of 'Place' When Teaching Environmental Ethics" presented to the Community College Humanities Association meeting, Seattle, WA, November 2004.

"Problems of Application in Habermas's Political Theory" presented to the 99th Annual American Philosophical Association meeting (main program), Philadelphia, PA, December 2002.

“Deliberative Institutions and Environmental Consciousness” presented to the 19th Annual International Social Philosophy Conference, Eugene, OR, July 2002.

"Habermas, Feminism, and Social Inequality: Toward a Theory of Substantive Democracy" presented to the 52nd Annual Northwest Conference on Philosophy, Forest Grove, OR, November 2000.

“Hegelian Roots in Habermas’s Political Theory?” presented to the Western Canadian Philosophical Association, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, October 1999.

“Hegelian Roots in Habermas’s Political Theory?” presented to the Third Annual UF-FSU Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, Tallahassee, FL, February 1999

“The Rawls-Habermas Debate,” presented to The First UF-FSU Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, Tallahassee, FL, February 1997

“Mead’s Theory of Communication: A ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Philosophy,” presented to the Florida Philosophical Association, Ocala, FL, November 1996



Co-Director, Center for Civic Participation, Portland Community College, 2012-2016.

Co-Director, Teaching/Learning Center, Portland Community College, 2007-2009.

Member, Teaching/Learning Center Steering Committee, Portland Community College, 2003-2010.

Chair, Philosophy Subject Advisory Committee, Portland Community College, 2004-2005.

Paper Referee, Canadian Philosophical Association Congress, 2006.

Manuscript Review, Social Theory and Practice, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, 1999.

President, Student Advisory Committee, Department of Philosophy, Florida State University, 1996-98

Organizer and Founder, The First University of Florida-Florida State University Graduate Student Philosophy Conference, February 1997

Organizer and Founder, Philosophy Student Advisory Committee’s Readings in Philosophy, Florida State University, 1996-97



At Florida State University

The Problem of Free Will (D. Nelkin)

Modern Logic I (D. Jung)

Modern Logic II (D. Jung)

American Philosophy (E. Kaelin)

Contemporary Political Philosophy (A. Mabe)

Plato’s Republic (M. Morales)

Philosophy of Science (C. Gruender)

Classical Social Theory (H. Dahms, Sociology)

Contemporary Social Theory (H. Dahms, Sociology)

Dir. Study: Prob. in Soc. Theory (H. Dahms, Sociology)

Preliminary Exam Prep.: Epistemology (S. Rickless)

Dir. Study: Habermas’s Discourse Ethics (P. Dalton)

Aristotle’s Metaphysics (R. Dancy); audited


At San Diego State University:

Existentialism (A. Feenberg)

Seminar: Foucault (D. Chaffin)

20th Century Continental Philosophy (A. Feenberg)

Greek Political Philosophy (T. Warren)

Special Study: Virtue Ethics (D. Chaffin)

Seminar: Critical Theory (A. Feenberg)

Seminar: Nietzsche (D. Chaffin)

Seminar: Wittgenstein and Derrida (N. Garver)

Special Study: Marcuse (A. Feenberg)





Habermas and the American Context: Toward a Theory of Substantive Democracy


Peter Dalton


Recently a variety of commentators have criticized Habermas's deliberative democracy because 1) the theory is considered “utopian” because of the abstract ideals that provide its normative foundation, and 2) it is “incomplete” because it fails to include the relevant social and political obstacles facing marginalized groups in our society (e.g., women, racial minorities, and lower economic classes).  If 1) were true, Habermas’s theory would be at best inapplicable and at worst unintelligible.  If 2) were true, then an exclusion of such a significant portion of the population would violate not only the "principle of inclusion," found in Habermas’s ideal formulation of discourse ethics, but also the condition of social solidarity needed for political stability—both necessary aspects of Habermas’s validity/facticity distinction.  In this dissertation, I argue that Habermas’s philosophy is able to withstand these persistent criticisms and provides not only a defensible articulation of social freedom, but also a normatively superior conception of democracy than the one practiced in the United States today.  The key objective of my dissertation is two-fold: a) I advocate an interpretation of Habermas’s political theory that acknowledges its important contribution to the conversation of democratic reform, yet recognizes that certain modifications will be necessary to clarify the parameters of his project, and b) I examine the context of the U.S. political system in order to suggest possible institutional reforms that ensue from the modified Habermasian perspective I advocate.  My conceptualization of a “substantive democracy” corrects the abstract nature of Habermas’s theory and makes alterations to his model. The main alteration is the recognition of the “incompleteness” criticisms’ force and the incorporation of necessary topics of deliberation to combat the exclusionary tendencies of contemporary political arrangements.  Specifically, without addressing patriarchy and other social inequalities, Habermas’s theory would lack important elements of solidarity and would not be fully realized.  It is on these grounds that I claim it is a necessary condition of applying Habermas’s theory to incorporate these topics into “deliberative initiatives” and other alternative deliberative designs in order to raise the facticity of present social conditions closer to the ideal validity claims of discourse.


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