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Philosophy @ Rock Bottom

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope your 2013 was a good one. 2014 is sure to be just as full of wars, state surveillance, religious tension, global power games, political shenanigans, corporate tomfoolery, society-altering technological innovation, and issues which give rise to exceptionally complex questions about gender, sexuality, race, and class - so a good year for those of us who like to argue about what's wrong with the world and how it could be different!

Speaking of different, I'm going to try something out this year (or at least for the first few months of this year, or until I decide it's a bad idea). In addition to the usual free-form discussions, I would like to have one table which is devoted to a specific topic/question. As usual, anyone is welcome to join in (or bow out) whenever they want, and there won't be any assigned readings or other formalities (although there might be a moderator of some kind), but the issue being discussed will remain somewhere within a certain ballpark.

For this upcoming event, I'd like to discuss the question of punishment. Why are people punished? What does it mean to deserve punishment? Who decides which punishments are appropriate, and who carries out the punishment? If you're interested in talking about this, come join me when I show up (I might be a little late).

Boilerplate: For anyone totally new - For the most part the group doesn't have any specific topic or moderation, it's just a bunch of drunk, very smart people talking about random philosophical stuff, so it basically runs itself. Just show up, sit down wherever there's a free seat, and join in (Also, feel free to move around over the course of the evening. There tend to be five or six different conversations going on at once, and it can often be interesting to see what other people are talking about). I made a reservation under the name Michael S, as usual. Just ask the waitstaff to direct you to us.

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  • Bryan

    Speaking of prisons and punishment, here is a recent article on an alternative to public education, which (public ed) is probably the most pervasive form of punishment I know of.
    See: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116015/sudbury-valley-school-alternative-education-right-my-kids .
    I expect all anarchists to vow on everything they hold good and true to send their children to Sudbury schools.

    January 11, 2014

    • rebekah

      FWIW bryan, I don't know a single anarchist who supports sending their kids to public schools. I know a lot who unschool or advocate for unschooling, which is a fairly close model to what the sudbury schools do. I also know that there is a pretty large segment of anarchist parents who send their kids to more traditional private schools mostly out of an inability to find a better alternative in their area. I think the sudbury model of education is excellent, it is just rare to find them.

      January 11, 2014

    • Bryan

      Indeed. We'll "send" the corrupt society to THEM!

      January 12, 2014

  • Bryan

    Great time. Maybe .5 drink too many, but I still managed to catch the bus home even if I did have to jaywalk in the tunnel. Since I hadn't rsvp'd, it seems meetup won't let me send all the little e-perks like "Good to See You!", so y'all will just have to take it on .... faith?

    January 11, 2014

    • Michael

      Bribing me with french-kisses isn't going to keep me from demanding that your claims meet a higher standard of verifiability.

      January 11, 2014

    • Bryan

      "Is that a higher standard of verifiability in your pocket, or..."

      January 12, 2014

  • Richard C.

    I was happy to be there. Among other suggestions at our table with regard to the topic of punishment, one was to further develop prisons as art studio-like facilities so as to promote the creative world in the mind of the inmate, and therefore, because it is the fundamental desire within the particular person to live creatively, this might possibly reduce recidivism. Like everything else though, there are unintended consequences - like the inmates maybe not wanting to get out of "prison" when their sentence is up, and the cost of such a speculative project, which like so many others might be doomed to failure. But hey, the imaginatively conceived question likely opens more pathways than the hard-and-fast answer...

    Thank you for coordinating the meet-up.

    January 11, 2014

  • Tom

    Nuts...thought this was the Rock Bottom in Bellevue! Catch ya next time!

    January 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry but can't make it. Have another conflict. Maybe the next one.

    January 10, 2014

  • Terra L.

    Just to reinforce what Michael said above, there aren't any "readings" on the specific topic — in this case punishment — but because I'm a compulsive reader, I poked around a bit. In case anyone's interested...

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on Punishment: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/punishment/
    I haven't actually finished it yet, and I'm unimpressed by the apparent lack of a decent critique, but there's a whole entry here.

    And then:
    SEP on Justice as a Virtue:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/justice-virtue/#3
    I'm particularly interested in Carol Gilligan's ideas about masculine versus feminine ethics (though I admit I haven't read her book yet). This article doesn't focus on her theories, and I'm not really an "If only women ran the world, everything would be warm and fuzzy," type of feminist (neither is Gilligan). But just in case folks are interested in looking at Gilligan's ideas...

    http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/02/books/women-and-men-and-morality.html

    1 · January 9, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      I always love reading recommendations. Discipline and Punish by Foucault is a really interesting book on this topic! I read it years ago so I'd need to brush up.

      January 10, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Oh shoot, this is tomorrow? So much for brushing up. I'll be at work all day before I go to this. :)

      January 10, 2014

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