Autumn ’11 schedule is finalised; first meeting 16th September.

The timetable for the Autumn term is now set  – see the link in the ‘Pages’ section on the right. This year’s PhilSoc events will again be held in the Friends’ Meeting House, Eastcott Hill,  Swindon, at 7.40 on Friday evenings, and features new speakers, some different formats, and hopefully a sufficiently wide-ranging list of topics to satisfy the most discerning and demanding philosophers – kicking off with……….

The first meeting is on 16th September, and will be a double-hander by PhilSoc stalwarts John Little & Paul Archer – debating Sam Harris’s book ‘The Moral Landscape’.  In this, his latest book,  Harris argues that science can tell us what is morally good and bad, right and wrong. Stand aside, philosophy: science is here to save the day once again! Harris claims that: “…questions about values – about meaning, morality, and life’s larger purpose – are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures. Values, therefore, translate into facts that can be scientifically understood: regarding social emotions, retributive impulses, the effects of specific laws and social institutions on human relationships, the neurophysiology of happiness and suffering, etc.”  On the other hand, many moral philosophers would agree that if we define morality in terms of the “well-being of conscious creatures,” then obviously most of moral theory becomes a science. When you ask “What actions, desires, institutions, laws, cultures produce the most well-being in conscious creatures?” – well, that’s an empirical question! (Assuming you define “well-being” in terms of a certain brain state.) Perhaps the question is really this: Why should we define morality in terms of “the well-being of conscious creatures”?

Religion, morality, and ethics – what more could you ask to kick off the new Philosophical year?