Archive for March, 2015

This week we have election candidates Russell Holland (Conservative) and Mark Dempsey (Labour ) joining us at the Phil Soc for a pre-election debate.

We have asked each candidate to speak for 20 minutes on what each of them see as the ‘3 big issues’ in the election.  They will then have 10 minutes each to respond to the other  candidate, followed by the usual  one hour for questions and discussion from the audience.

Do come along at 7.40pm, to the Friends Meeting House, to hear what the candidates have to say, and ask them about the issues that are important for you…. and hopefully emerge with a better understanding of where to place your cross in May!


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This week we welcome the return of Ned Peglar to the Phil Soc, speaking on this subject. He says:

“Collapse is more than just twenty years of destructive warfare or swapping one empire for another. It takes hundreds of years, turning what was once the safe, sophisticated bustle of linked cities into backward, dangerous and largely empty landscapes. This kind of collapse is so against the modern expectation of progress as to cause wonder whenever a ruined city is found a wasteland.

Historians have tended to poetical analogy when faced with this devastation, comparing it to the arc of a man’s life, the change of seasons, or the Darwinian struggle for survival. Scientists blame what they can study, often either human induced or natural environmental change. The conclusion is almost always the same. Civilisations are fragile, born to die. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

Using Egypt, the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean, The Roman Empire, Early Southeast Asia, the Classic Maya, Medieval Europe and the modern world as talking points, I want to discuss how factors such as bad management, war, climate change, trade, religion, epidemics and barbarian invasion have influenced the collapse, or otherwise, of past civilisations.

Based on this I’d like to make a case that perhaps what we understand about collapse is wrong: that maybe the bigger a civilisation is the stronger it is. If this is true then our big, ugly, environmentally disastrous civilisation may have its ups and downs but it’s probably here on Earth to stay… at least until that asteroid strikes.”


Do come along this Friday to hear more, and to make your contribution.


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This week’s talk is by Peter von Lany. He says:

“Michael Sandel (the American political philosopher and Harvard University professor) argued, in his 2009 BBC Reith Lectures, that the purpose of government is much more than just to correct market failures (with a narrow focus on protecting consumer rights). Government’s aim alongside promoting public welfare and distributive justice, should, he contends, be to strengthen democratic institutions and cultivate in citizens those attitudes, dispositions and civic virtues on which democracy depends. This implies that we need to think of ourselves more as citizens and less as consumers. My talk will consider this in the context of some of the issues surrounding shale gas development in the UK; and explore whether we need a more inclusive, evidence-based, public debate on the contentious issues associated with shale gas development in order to help inform government policy on unconventional gas development.”


Do come along this week to hear more.

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This week at the Phil Soc,  Prof Havi Carel will explore issues around death, contrasting Epicurus’ views on death with those of Heidegger. He says:

‘ “Where death is, I am no longer, where I am death is not”. This is the argument Epicurus uses in order to rationally convince us that we shouldn’t fear our death. But is death entirely foreign to life and are the two mutually exclusive.’

Do come along this Friday to hear more.

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Tomorrow (Wednesday 4th March) at the University of Gloucestershire, Dr Elizabeth Frazer (University of Oxford) will talk on ‘What politics ought to be’.

The event description says:

“What’s wrong with politics? –it’s hard to find a good word to say about it. And this is true, also, interestingly throughout the history of political thought which has more often been dedicated to the avoidance or evasion of politics rather than its realisation. In this presentation, Dr Frazer finds the elusive commitments to the political way that are articulated, albeit ambiguously, by political thinkers.”

Dr Frazer is Head of Department, Associate Professor of Politics, and Official Fellow of New College, Oxford. Her teaching and research lies in the area of political theory. She is working on a series of papers on ‘what politics ought to be’ and ‘political virtue’, and writing a series of articles and papers (with Kim Hutchings) on ‘political violence and its justification. She is also carrying out a study of political virtue as envisioned in Shakespeare’s dramas.
Elizabeth has produced many articles for a host of journals. Her recent book publication is ‘Power and Violence’ in Patrick Hayden (ed.) ‘Hannah Arendt: Key Concepts’, Routledge, 2014. She has taken part in discussions on BBC Radio 4 on the value of public consultation, and ‘The World This Weekend’ articulating the direction of democracy as a liberal ideal



All events take place at the Francis Close campus from 7.30 to 9 pm in room HC203 and full details can be found here http://www.glosphilsoc.co.uk/



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