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Archive for October, 2012

This Friday, 19th October 2012 from 7.40pm at the Friends Meeting House, Dr Andrew Pyle of Bristol University’s Philosophy Department, will be speaking on ‘The Ideas of the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury’.

Andrew says: Topics under discussion will include the relation between religion and morality, the belief in providence, and the supposed right claimed by freethinkers to subject religious doctrines to the test of ridicule. The 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury was a prominent thinker, widely read all over the continent, and as famous in the 18th century as John Stuart Mill was in the 19th. In his dialogue Alciphron, George Berkeley takes aim against a variety of freethinkers of his age. In the third dialogue, it it the views of Shaftesbury that come under attack.

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The Thinking Robot: Press headlines frequently refer to robots that think like humans, have feelings, or even behave ethically, but is there any basis of truth in such headlines, or are they simply sensationalist hype? Computer scientist EW Dijkstra famously wrote “the question of whether machines can think is about as relevant as the question of whether submarine can swim”, but the question of robot thought is one that cannot so easily be dismissed. In this talk, Alan Winfield will outline the current state-of-the-art in robot intelligence, and attempt to answer the question “how intelligent are present day intelligent robots?” and describe efforts to design robots that are not only more intelligent but also have a sense of self. But if we should be successful in designing such robots, would they think like animals, or even humans? And are there risks, or ethical issues, in attempting to design robots that think?

Come along on the 12th to find out more.

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Malmesbury’s 5th PhilosophyTown Festival is being held jointly with The Philosophical Society of England, celebrating its centenary.

Dates: Friday 19th, Saturday 20th, Sunday 21st October
Venues: Old Bell Hotel and Abbey House Gardens Library

Speakers and subjects include:
Dr Angie Hobbs: “Ancient Greece and the Future of Philosophy”
Jonathan Ree: “Power to the People – Philosophical Societies & Social Change”
Martin Cohen: “Thought Experiments – Science and Philosophy”

Tickets: £22 weekend; £18 Saturday only; Friday £3 and Sunday £5

For further details: www.philosophytown.co.uk or telephone Ian on 01666 826051

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This week, Trystan Swale returns to the Phil Soc., to talk about beliefs, drawing on the subject of crop circles. Even though two men confessed in 1991 to beginning the modern crop circle phenomenon, it has remained a lively subject. Trystan explores the history, questionable science, bad logic and allegations that still accompany it today.

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