Summer 2013 schedule is now published

Please see the link titled (surprise) ‘Summer 2013 PhilSoc schedule’ under ‘pages’ over on the right hand side of the page.

22nd March: Values can be facts

For the final event of the Spring term, Larry Chase returns to the Phil Soc to talk on this subject.

He says: “The fact-value distinction remains central to the ways in which Philosophers structure the academic study of the arts and morals and is something that the Society’s Hon President is rightly suspicious of.

Sometimes, judgements are no more than a bleating of preferences and emotions but equally, experience teaches us that this needn’t be – that at other times, it is nothing less than a matter of fact that someone, something, some action is wicked, immoral, good, exquisite, etc.. . . . and that for philosophers  to deny in principle the rational basis of judgements, distorts and misrepresents how we can and must think.  The distinction might be one of “sophisticated irrationality” but I have a different take on how philosophy got into a tangle and put itself at odds with common sense.

In the second part of the talk, I’d like to use the debates regarding same-sex marriage as a starting point  for arguing that in moral debate, rationality matters and that there can be factual disputes which are not susceptible to being resolved . . . disputes where we can only agree to differ.

Come along for what should be a thought-provoking evening. And watch out for the soon-to-be- published programme for the summer term –  we’re back on 12th April.

15th March: the English and their identity

With UKIP well placed in the recent Eastleigh by-election, what could be a better – or worse – time to examine these issues?

 And who better to unpack them than Gerry Hannon, not only a long-standing member and contributor to the Society, but also Northern Irish, and so British, and so neutral on the subject, as he has no real hope of becoming English!

This Friday,  Gerry will reveal the conversation cum confrontation which gave rise to this most recent offering and will help us through “The English and their Identity” alphabet … A for Anglo Saxon … B for British … C for Celts … and ending up with … X for xenophobia … Y for Y chromosome and Z for Zeitgeist.

8th March: Intelligence and the Brain

This Friday, Neil Howard will talk at the Phil Soc again about this topic.

• What is ‘intelligence’?
• What is the brain actually doing?
• How is intelligence physically realised in the brain?

Quite how the brain manages to achieve what it does remains elusive. There are news stories almost every day that some link has been found between some behaviour and activity in some part of the brain or other. But it seems there is no ‘big idea’ of how the brain works, akin to Darwinian evolution with life for example – where all that’s needed is a fairly straightforward concept and a few billion years. This talk goes in search of such a ‘big idea’, looking, in particular, at one very promising recent theory.

Come along this Friday to hear (and contribute) more.