16 Jan 2012
Bernard Hurley – Mind/Body Problem, What Mind/Body Problem ?
There are two ways to dispose of a philosophical problem. One is to solve the problem and the other is to dissolve it – i.e. to demonstrate why the problem did not exist in the first place. At the end of my talk I expect the mind/body problem to be well and truly dissolved.
For more information see:

 27 Feb 2012
Ronald Green – Why “Nothing” Matters
The Discussion will be on why“nothing” matters. Why, in fact, “nothing” is as important as something. Philosopher author Ronald Green will introduce the topic, and talk about “nothing” in history, the arts, religion and philosophy.”

 26 Mar 2012
Paul Healey – An Introduction to Hegel’s Science of Logic
I would like to introduce Hegel’s Science of Logic by setting out his idea of ‘The method or rule is to be regarded as the genuine universal; ….’, and its relation to earliest known form as envisaged by Socrates in the Phaedo.

 23 April 2012
Ben Basing – Virtue Ethics as an alternative to Utilitarianism or Kantian Deontology
When I first studied ethics in the 1980s the standard introduction was to compare Utilitarianism with Kant.Rosalind Hurtsthouse offered us an alternative Aristotelian approach which at the time, to a new student, felt like a post script “and there are other possibilities”. Nowadays Virtue Ethics, deriving from Aristotle’s approach is taken much more seriously- it convinced me and I shall try to explain why, but I’m happy to let you try to convince me of the virtues of Kant or Mill.

 22 May 2012
Bernard Hurley – Are Your Beliefs in Your Head ?
(No details)

 19 June 2012
Ben Basing – Was Bishop Berkeley Bonkers ?

Many people in their very first days tentatively trying philosophy encounter the ideas of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne (1685-1753) and laugh. Berkeley suggested that the whole world is in our heads. His head? My head? We will sort this out.Samuel Johnson famously ‘refuted’ Berkeley’s point by kicking a stone (thereby proving that he had, in fact, missed the point entirely), I’m sure twenty first century pub philosophers can do better, and I’ve got a twenty first century book to read before we do!Eventually the bishop gave up metaphysics to discuss the benefits of tar-water, a decision that convinced me that he really was barking. Until I met a pharmacologist in a pub one evening …

 24 July, 2012
Ben Basing – Rape !

For simplicity I would suggest restricting the discussion to heterosexual rape with no witnesses. Some Discussion Points :1. There is a clear need for a law to prevent or punish rape which is obviously an offence

2. For the sake of simplicity of this argument we can assume that the police (etc.) can identify physically what happened

3. It seems nonsense (to me) to make consensual acts illegal or to waste public funds preventing or prosecuting voluntary participation in a harmless activity where everyone is fully aware of what is happening. [I am aware that this is possibly contentious]

4. The law should not punish the innocent, except in cases of genuine error which should be rectified as effectively as possible. [We must acknowledge that the law is a human, hence fallible institution]

5. The difficult point about rape is the idea of consent, and it is unreasonable to expect any normal legal proof- signed documents or whatever- that consent has or has not occurred

6. (I think) the law should reduce the possibility of malicious rape claims as far as possible. [That is cases where a woman claims to have been rape when in fact she consented but changed her mind for whatever reason before getting to court]

7. (I think) if a woman ‘wants’ to be a prostitute [i.e. it seems her least bad option at the moment] it is not up to the law to prevent her. The prostitute, not her pimp, needs to consent, and not to consent under duress. [This sounds muddled, ‘duress’ might be hard to define.]

8. (This is the major problem) Given that consent is a mental state of the woman at the time of the offence relevant information is not available in court except through the possibly inaccurate recollection of the victim.

9. (I believe) what is actually required in order to secure a conviction is proof beyond all reasonable doubt that the man had insufficient grounds to assume consent- which involves more unprovable mental states.

The answer is a law that defines the offence … how?

I have had some experience of rape cases both whilst handling claims for compensation and as a juror. What prompted my real bewilderment was the meaning of ‘consent’ or ‘grounds for believing that she consented’ in cases where either party is drunk, drugged or mentally impaired. The law should surely not deny severely mentally ill people any chance of a sexual relationship.

 28th Aug 2012
Benjamin Hurley – What is a Person ?
The talk will focus on moral personhood – what features we should consider necessary for personhood and rights. Specifically, looking at the case of language trained great apes – do these projects provide convincing evidence for personhood in non-human great apes, and what the practical implications of great ape personhood might be ?More information on great ape personhood (the great ape project is an ongoing movement that aims to grant certain legal personhood rights to great apes, such as Right to life, liberty and prohibition from
torture) can be found on their website :http://www.greatapeproject.org/

Despite the niche nature of the subject area, the discussion itself need not be focused on great apes. Like the title, the discussion can focus on personhood in general – what constitutes a person and what rights are afforded to moral persons ? In other words, no knowledge of great ape psychology/behaviour is required to contribute.

 25th Sep 2012
Ben Basing – Scepticism
For the purposes of the discussion I will define this as the opposite to gullibility, a tendency to question facts before accepting them. This approach to knowledge comes from the ancient Greeks, who will doubtless be mentioned, and I guess Popper’s ideas about verification will crop up too.

 30th Oct 2012
Ben Basing – Philosphers Beginning with M
Let’s try a different approach to our normal format and discuss Philosphers beginning with M ! Such As MacIntyre and McDowell or maybe Mill and Moore or yet again Mersenne and Merleau-Ponty – I’m not professing to know about all of these Philosophers but I’ll kick off with a couple of my favourites and anyone is welcome to contribute to the discussion with their favourite Philosopher beginning with M.

 21st Nov 2012
Ben Basing – Free Will
(Meeting Abandoned)

 3rd Dec 2012
Ben Basing – Jimmy Savile’s attack on Utilitarianism
(Meeting Abandoned)