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Archive for February, 2012

This week’s speaker is Juliet Platt. She says:

“In my 4th talk for the  Swindon Philosophical Society, I shall be tackling a topic that is very close to my heart, stimulates my mind and is very good for my soul – writing! A journal writer of some three decades, as well as a freelance writer, budding author and life-long student of literature, the practices of writing and reading have been central to my formative experience. In my talk I shall be getting curious about what writing does for us, how and why it began, and, most importantly, why it still endures above all other modes of communication, expression and interaction in our digital age. Fellow writers are particularly welcome to come along and share their experiences of writing in what should make for some stimulating discussion. Look forwards to seeing you there.”

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One of our regular presenters, Gerry Hannon, returns following his last outing in 2010 entitled “The End of Economic Growth?” That evening provoked much thought, debate not to mention despair, which ambivalently triumphed over the slashing of wrists! Gerry returns with a work in hand.

It started with the title of “Big Society = BS?” and has morphed into “Solidarity Today”. The presentation will range across the Left/Right political spectrum and will be followed by Gerry posing a proposition designed to provoke debate, if not uproar.

Come along and join in with either or both.

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Would you kill one person to save five others?  Do people’s instinctive reactions (or ‘moral intuitions’) to such questions indicate the existence of ‘moral absolutes’, which some philosophers claim transcend humans and their culture? Experimental philosophers use thought experiments to explore ethical dilemmas, exposing those instinctive reactions, and following their logic through to a sometimes unpalatable end.

In this talk, Gerry Merrison (that’s me) will revisit some of the more famous of these experiments and the issues they expose,  and will examine some insights that science apparently provides, leading to deliberations on instinctive morality and how we decide what is the ‘right thing’.

Come along this Friday and see how your own instinctive morality compares to others’, in what should be another thought-provoking meeting.

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This week’s speaker is our Treasurer John Little, who says this…….

“Here’s the paradox. Human beings have traditionally sought absolutely certain knowledge. Those who have claimed to have found it (most notably, but not exclusively, in the revealed truths of some religion) have proved a barrier to social and intellectual progress, and have often done much harm in defence of their dogmas. On the other hand a method which denies the very possibility of absolutely certain knowledge has made astonishing advances, both in technological progress and our understanding of the universe. But this universe seems to be a very strange place…                          Building on the ideas of Popper (Objective Knowledge) and Dennett (Kinds of Minds), I want to construct a picture, a single process with emergent levels, of how minds evolved and then networked to make this possible.

 But as for certain truth, no man has known it, Nor will he know it; neither of the gods, Nor yet of all things of which I speak. And even if by chance he were to utter The Perfect Truth, he would himself not know it- For all is a woven web of guesses.           Xenophenes

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