28th February: The Science Delusion

This week sees the return of Dr Neil Howard talking on this topic. He says:

“The science delusion is the delusion that science already understands the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in.”
So begins Rupert Sheldrake’s controversial 2013 TEDx talk based on his book ‘The Science Delusion’, which stands in sharp contrast to Richard Dawkins’s (‘God Delusion’) view of science. He continues: “There is a conflict at the heart of science”; Dawkins’s widely-held view “has come to inhibit and restrict the free enquiry which is the very lifeblood of the scientific endeavour.”
What does science actually tell us? Is science compatible with religion or not? Perhaps that conflict “at the heart of science” is key?

Come along this Friday evening to hear more about this ever-popular topic.

Change to schedule on 14 March: it will be “Whatever happened to democracy and freedom?”

Unfortunately the speaker who was due to speak about Kantian Libertarianism is unavailable until later in the year. We are trying to re-book her; in the meantime the topic for that date will now be:

Whatever happened to democracy and freedom?

21st February: How can you defend someone who is guilty?

This week, David Woolley QC comes to the Philosophical Society. Why the title? David will attempt to dispel this and other myths about the law, and advocacy in particular.
He will cover:
How the lawyers got their patron saint.
What can and cannot a barrister and a solicitor do?
The Bar Code of Conduct
The duty to the court
The duty to the client
Confidentiality and legal professional privilege
And an answer to the title question.

Do join us!

14th February: Can Robots Fall in Love?

Who said that philosophers aren’t romantic?
This Friday,Jeremy Holt, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Swindon Museum of Computing, will be speaking on this subject. Jeremy says:

“The idea of man-made robots has been around for the last couple of hundred years (“Frankenstein” etc). However, most people will think of the Hollywood ones such as HAL 9000, R2D2, C-3PO, Marvin and Sonny (from I- Robot). There has been a remarkable tendency to anthropomorphise such machines (as my Mother asked “Why do they build robots to look like people?).

The danger is perceived to be a bunch of out of control machines, banding together like a group of latter day Taliban, intent on the destruction of the human race . This is reinforced by some of Isaac Azimov’s writings on the subject.

The truth, of course, is more subtle. For various reasons we WILL have to rely on robots far more in future and so they will play a much greater part in our home and working lives. However, it is not the threat from mechanical robots that concerns me; it is the threat of identity theft and misrepresentation from “bots” that really keeps me awake at night (as well as the incredible and inhuman killing machines deployed upon the Korean border and the inappropriate use of drones).

Finally, the results of research into sex and robots will be examined and I will consider whether robots can fall in love…”

Jeremy will be bringing a number of (static) robots with him.

I hope to see you there.

7th February: “Educational Imposters: the rise of pseudoscience in UK Free Schools”

This week we welcome Andy Lewis, a new speaker to the Phil Soc.

He says: “Michael Gove has stated that Free Schools will not be allowed to teach pseudoscience. But can we trust some of the cult-like organisations running these schools to teach good science and to refrain from letting their own alternative reality influence classrooms?
Maharishi and Steiner schools both have occult and pseudoscientific beliefs at their core and so we should ask “What are they teaching children?”

Come along this Friday to find out more.