Wed, 9th Jan 2013
Liz Rowley – Who Owns Children ?
The relationship between children, parents and the state seem to be frequently in the news. Issues such as state education, child abuse and protection, tax and child benefit, abortion limits, costs of higher education, adoption, circumcision, forced marriage, ‘honour’ killing, are the subject of media and political discussion. Clarity over responsibilities – moral and legal – is not always obvious. What does it mean to promote the ‘best interests of the child’?

Plato proposed to remove the role of the family to achieve a just state. Aristotle compared the sovereignty of a man over his chattels to that of a father over his child. Locke thought that fathers had only limited rights over their children, and these diminished as the child grew to be more capable. Kant believed that those who have brought a child into the world thereby ‘incur an obligation to make the child content with his condition so far as they can’. Some contemporary philosophers have characterised children as, if not exactly things to be owned, then certainly mere extensions of their parents.

 We will consider some of the issues and some ideas from philosophy and ethics which could help us to understand them better.

 Sat, 26th Jan 2013
Sam Fremantle (LSP)John Stewart Mill’s Theory of Justice

‘It is often taken to be a defining feature of the notion of justice, that it requires respect for individual rights that are more or less inviolable. Political philosophers who take this view tend to regard utilitarianism as incompatible with justice, since justice would require society to put individual rights before the goal of maximising the aggregate welfare of society, and utilitarianism simply says that society’s goal should be to maximise the aggregate welfare of society, so can find no space for rights that would interfere with that goal. This posed a particular problem for John Stuart Mill who was a utilitarian who nevertheless accepted that justice was concerned primarily with the respecting of rights, and was acutely aware that our natural sentiments pointed to a clash between what is ‘just’ and what is ‘expedient’. His attempted solution was to justify rights in terms of moral rules that it was especially important to enforce for the long term utility of society. My talk will attempt to explain and evaluate his approach.’ 

Sat, 9th Feb 9th 2013
Jane O’Grady (LSP)The Philosophy of Romantic Love (Part 3)
Part 3 of The Philosophy of (Romantic) Love will continue the history of romantic love — from the Renaissance, via Hume, Schopenhauer, the Romantics, Sartre and others, to the present day. Once again the theme of how romantic love somehow combines transcendence and animality, fidelity and promiscuity, wildness and civilisation, will be examined through its history, alongside the changing ideas of what we are as humans, and as men and women.

Tue, Mar 12th 2013
Ben Basing – “Post Modernism. That’s Two Words!”

Postmodernism is a difficult term to define uncontroversially, so I intend to discuss what
Modernism was, why it ended and therefore imply what Post Modernism might involve.  I will stick firmly to the arts rather than political ideas. Starting from Kant there are hints of Hegel, even Heidegger, and ideas stolen from people writing about twentieth century painting and music

Sat, Mar 23rd 2013
John Clarke & Bob Clarke – Wittgenstein, Vienna and the Birth of Modernism”
Wittgenstein’s philosophy is usually tied to the British tradition of philosophy which began in Cambridge with Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore, but there is another story to tell which focuses on Wittgenstein’s part in the extraordinary cultural revolution that was taking place in Vienna where he grew up at the turn of the century, a revolution which had a major impact on the modern movement in literature and the arts as well as in philosophy.

Tue, Apr 9th 2013
Peter Bowman –A philosophical critique of money,
and credit”

Since the financial crisis the mystery of how the money and banking system works has
been more in the public eye and there is a growing suspicion that the underlying reality is not the same as the appearance. This critique looks carefully at the way certain key terms such as “deposit” “loan” “credit” are used to try to bring some clarity as to what actually goes on.

Sat, Apr 27th 2013
Shahrar Ali (LSP) –  What happens when I die? Leaving the world behind.
I shall challenge the notion that when the biological functions standardly identified
with physical well-being cease then death of the person follows. There are three
strands to this argument. Firstly, our ideas about the cessation of another
person cannot be translated into a conception of our own death. Secondly, our
lived experience is not wholly causally explained by appeal to bodily integrity,
or a manifestation of it, but does enjoy conceptual autonomy. Third, the idea of
non-existence is not as scientific as its proponents would like to believe.

Tue, May 14th 2013
Sarah Reilly & Bob Clarke – ‘Unpacking the Metaphor!’ A Performance
In a hybrid of philosophy and performance Bob Clarke and Sarah Reilly will present the case for the metaphor. Exploring contemporary concepts of embodiment and the centrality of metaphor in language, meaning and mind, against a background of traditional analytic philosophy. Come and see the metaphor unpacked.

Tue, Jun 11th 2013
Jeremy Rodell – Essential Features of Humanism
Jeremy Rodell, Chair of SW London Humanists, will discuss the essential features of Humanism and the arguments that support them, including the case for Atheism and the origins of morality in the absence of God. He will also touch on their practical implications.

Sat, Jun 29th 2013
Mark Fielding – What makes one man want to dance may make another want to cry:  Philosophy and  the Art of Memory

Philosophy has been at its most insightful when considering the human mind. This talk considers one faculty which has received less attention — the nature of memory. Beginning from a historical perspective, we ask what place memory has in our philosophical picture of ourselves.

Tue, Sep 10th 2013
Heward Wilkinson – Kant’s World Creating Ghost in the Machine: The Implications of Kant’s Discovery of Transcendental Self-Consciousness’
The talk will focus on Kant’s account of transcendental self-consciousness and its (half realised) appeal to time and historicity. I shall challenge the ‘commonsense’ analysis of Kant’s account offered by Strawson in particular, in The Bounds of Sense. At the same time, Strawson gives a really superb introduction to these issues. I shall mainly concentrate on ‘The Transcendental Deduction of the Categories’, as Strawson does. Therefore I invite anyone interested to read the following:

1. Strawson The Bounds of Sense Part 2, II, Chapters 6 ‘Synthesis, self-consciousness, and Nature as made by the mind’, and Chapter 7, ‘Unity and Objectivity’. The very dedicated can also read Part III on the Analogies of Experience! 

2. Kant’s Critique (trans. Kemp Smith)

Transcendental Analytic – Book One Analytic of Concepts

Chapter 2, The Deduction of the Pure Concepts of Understanding, including the Transcendental Deduction in both the 1781 and the 1787 editions (A and B).

Again, for the bold: From the Analytic of Principles The Three ‘Analogies of Experience’

Looking forward to wrestling with Kant in your company.

Sat, Sep 21st 2013
Gary Retallick Are rumours of the demise of philosophy premature ?
Some scientists, and perhaps even some philosophers, now consider that science is capable of answering all the genuinely important questions which confront human beings. Is there any purpose in the continued pursuit of philosophy therefore? Or does the scientific approach fail on some fundamental level to provide us with genuine insight into our existence?

Tue, Oct 8th 2013
What is Science ? An open-ended Discussion

The use of the word “science” has become ubiquitous in the media and in everyday conversation. But the use itself often seems to be somewhat broad and somewhat vague. 

Several speakers will offer their views on what science is and what it is not.

Tue, Nov 12th 2013
Iain Orr – “Mirror Images and Incongruent Counterparts – Shallow Illusion or Deep Problem ?”
I will argue that it is quite tricky to describe what is problematic about mirror images and handedness; that many of the familiar examples chosen by Kant and others have been presented in ways that create misunderstandings; and that while there are important scientific, mathematical and psychological aspects to mirror images, the key paradoxes or illusions to which they give rise are not optical but ontological. I will then make some suggestions about the unavoidably metaphorical aspects of the language we use to unravel (or, indeed, ravel) the phenomena of mirror images and incongruent objects; and ask whether these phenomena also provide evidence that one does not need to have language (or even be human) to have a metaphysics

Sat, Nov 16th 2013
Selina O’Grady – Why states need religion and religion needs the state: The political and religious world at the time of Jesus
Has there ever been a society without a religion? Despite all predictions to the contrary, religion has not died away in the 21st century, and is as intimately involved in shaping society today as it was at the time of Jesus. Why does religion play such an essential role in society and how does it do so?

Tue, Dec 10th 2013
David Williams – Cosmology: Then and Now’

The talk covers a short history of human thought on the Earth’s place in the Cosmos, then it will focus on the 30 years of astronomical discoveries.

David was the Planetarium director of St Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota, for five years. During this time he created planetarium programmes for the public, illustrating and educating on various topics in astronomy. In addition to his post as director he taught numerous courses in astronomy, his favourite being ‘Stars and Galaxies’, of which cosmology is a part. He has taught astronomy at various levels for over 40 years. He retired 4 years ago since when he has been teaching part-time.