Archive for February, 2013

It seems as if there’s a new story in the media every week about how neuroscientists have discovered the exact location in the brain of complex phenomena such as love, sense of fairness, decision making etc.

Do these claims stand up to scrutiny, and how much is just ‘neuromania’? What do we actually know about consciousness, and how much can we ever know?   What can neuroscience tell us about free will?

This Friday, our Chairman Gerry Merrison will examine these topics and raise a number of questions. Come along to hear more, and to make your contribution.


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This week, Marina Strinkovsky returns to the PhilSoc  to discuss the patriarchal hegemony. She says:

“I will explore the idea that women are denied full human status & agency under a patriarchal hegemony. While we officially recognise that men and women belong to the same species, and by and large pay lip service to the idea that they should therefore have the same rights and obligations, when you look at how we run our world & our society – when you judge us by our deeds rather than our words – the picture that emerges is that we mostly deny women’s full humanity in word and deed. To stand helplessly before the prevalence & survival of misogyny is to forget that all systems of oppression, however entrenched, require constant vigilance & reinforcement from their parent hegemonies. There are elaborate mechanisms that break down bonds of trust, erect barriers and create prejudices between groups, the analysis of which can often show the way to dismantling or reforming them; the dehumanisation of women is just such a mechanism”.


See you Friday!





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This week, Jill Sharp will be talking on this topic. She says:

“Why is poetry the least popular of the arts? Does it still address the key questions that preoccupy us in the 21st century or is it a dying medium of human expression?

This talk will explore these questions by looking at six contemporary poems in English. We’ll discuss what a poem is, how literary traditions change and develop, and touch on what philosophy can contribute to the debate. As it takes place on the evening after Valentine’s Day, love will be one of the talk’s central themes.”

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This week, honorary President Chris Eddy will be talking about Ethics. He says:

I shall argue that ethics is a conversation, not a calculation, and that, if ethical questions are to apply, as they must, to even the most unsophisticated speakers, they must be clear and simple.   There are ethical absolutes, but they are all negative, in the sense that they do not direct us to act, but arise from the impossibility of meaningfully justifying certain types of action by giving reasons for consenting to them to those at whom they are directed.   This can be expressed as a version of the Golden Rule: “Never do to me what you could not justify to me”.   Simple, – but that’s not the same as easy.    As the Prussian military theorist, Clausewitz, famously remarked, “In war, everything is very simple, but even the simplest thing is very difficult.”   In ethical conversation, which is probably best understood as a substitute for war, the same is true, and I shall try to explain why.

Chris has also prepared a handout, which is available for download: see ‘Ethics made simple’ tab in the Pages section – scroll down on the right hand side of the page.

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