Archive for September, 2012

This Friday, Neil McCallum asks why we are so much more keen than our European neighbours to lock our citizens up. Why do we send people to prison at all? How should a civilised society deal with persistent, dangerous offenders? Should international minimum standards apply to imprisonment globally? Big questions without easy answers!

 Neil has visited more than a dozen prisons in England and Wales, worked with prison heads from 30 countries, been present at the passing of death sentences in Botswana and worked for the past 6 years on human rights projects in prisons in Ethiopia.



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This Friday, PhilSoc Chairman Gerry Merrison will give a talk on ‘What happened to the Left?’  (or, ‘who stole my party?’).   Gerry says:  “Britain’s political landscape used to  include ‘left-wing’ parties. While party names are unchanged, the left-wing politics we used to see has all but disappeared. What happened to ‘The Left’ and it’s ideas? Where are they now?”

Gerry will look at these questions and offer some suggestions. Coma along for an evening of ideas and (maybe) controversy.



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… with many new speakers and topics. For full details please see the listing under ‘pages’ (scroll down to see the link on the right of the screen).

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This week sees the start of the new term, and a talk by John Little, winner of this year’s Swindon Philosophy Slam.

John says this: “Selfish and Nepotistic, a dash of Groupishness, forget about Altruism…… is that an accurate description of Human Nature ?  Following Richard Dawkins’  “The Selfish Gene”, evolutionary biologists  in the last quarter of the Twentieth century came to view humans as  fundamentally selfish and nepotistic, contributing to society only when  socially-imposed rewards and punishment render it in their  self-interest to do so.

The past few decades have seen the accumulation of evidence in  favor of the view that human beings are inherently moral creatures,  and that morality is not a simple cultural veneer. Humans are born  with a moral sense as well, with a predisposition to accept and  internalize the moral norms of their society, and often to act on these moral  precepts at personal cost.  However, the moral nature of human society, and the key role of  morality in our success as a species, can be accommodated without  requiring evolutionary biologists to abandon their emphasis on inclusive (genetic) fitness.

Or are we missing something?  Come along to the Friends’ Meeting House at 7.40 this Friday to find out.

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