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Philosophy Club

  • Sep 6, 2014 · 2:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

What: Philosophy Discussion Group

When: 1st Saturday of each month, from 2pm – 5pm
(3 hours, including a break)

Where: Justin & Tammy's house in Richardson [*BYOD&S]

How: Readings discussed in-depth amongst the group. No tests, no lecture… we help teach each other in a spirit of learning.

We will usually be reading from a book one will have to purchase, but sometimes there will be articles provided online.


 

Meeting Topic & Reading List

What does one mean when one talks about "free will"? Why would anyone doubt (or not doubt) that it is real?  Is the concept automatically falsified if it turns out we live in a deterministic universe, or are determinism and free will compatible? Should the concept of free will be regarded as meaningless in light of recent discoveries in neuroscience or is neuroscience irrelevant to the topic? 

These are some of the questions we will be discussing over the next few months.

As usual, we welcome all points of view provided they are articulated in a calm, respectable manner. Our goal is to learn from each other rather than to achieve universal agreement.


The book we will be reading is: A Dialogue on Free Will and Science   by Alfred R. Mele and can be found at this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Dialogue-Free-Will-Science/dp/019932929X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402168673&sr=1-1&keywords=dialogue+on+free+will

(Unfortunately, please note this is not available on Kindle.)

For September, we will be discussing Chapters 1, 2 and 3.  A scan of these chapters is available here (login is as philclub, password is the name of the street we'll be meeting on, all lowercase.)

Optional additional reading:  This paper by Peter van Inwagen strongly opposes the idea that there might multiple different sorts of free will, so provides a counterpoint to some of the stuff in the book.

Meeting Format

10 minute introduction to the material

Depending on attendence, we may split into smaller groups (4 - 8 people)

2 part group discussion of readings with a 10 minute break in between

Reconvene into large group to share highlights of small group discussions

 


 

Expectations

Readings are not neccessarily required, but we ask that you please stay on topic during the discussion.

We are teaching each other in a "spirit of learning": we should be humble (we do not know everything), eager to learn, and willing to challenge each other while being kind and considerate.

There will be people of various backgrounds in philosophy — you do not need to be an expert in philosophy to be in the group (e.g. I'm not; Justin is).  If a topic is new to you, here are some good resources, if you are interested:
Wikipedia
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

 

 

________________________________________________________

biggrin

[*BYOD&S] "Bring Your Own Drink & Snack".  You might get thirsty or hungry — feel free to bring whatever (non-alcoholic) drinks and snacks you'd like (preferably something shareable with the group).
— A note to those with cat-related allergies: Justin and Tammy have cats — one of whom will be rather happy to mingle with all the nice people who came to see him....
>^. . ^<

 


 

In a post on Common Sense Atheism, "How to Do Philosophy Better", Luke Muehlhauser summarizes an essay by Paul Graham. In that essay, Graham proposes the following:

 Here's an intriguing possibility. Perhaps we should do what Aristotle meant to do, instead of what he did. The goal he announces in the Metaphysics seems one worth pursuing: to discover the most general truths. That sounds good. But instead of trying to discover them because they're useless, let's try to discover them because they're useful.

— Paul Graham, "How to Do Philosophy"

 Given a lot of our common values, I think we can study philosophy in a way that helps us, that is useful to us, rather than as something that is considerably esoteric or futile.

 

Join or login to comment.

  • Rich P.

    I did so want to attend this,but as you know life has a way of interfering with our desired plans at times when we least expect it. LIfes' five Battles are usually at work in some fashion, I shall try to beat them to the punch next time around. Thanks, RICH

    September 7, 2014

  • Wonjae C.

    It was awesome!

    September 6, 2014

  • Keith K.

    Great as always plus good to see some new faces!

    September 6, 2014

  • Justin

    Also, if I scanned the chapters for this meeting, would that be helpful to people who are still waiting for the book to come in? (Sorry, it probably would have been more helpful to do that sooner too!)

    September 2, 2014

    • Wonjae C.

      Wow... thank you so much!! I guess it took quite some time for you to scan those pages. Much appreciated!!

      September 5, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Justin, I have a scanner with ADF, but I've been taking notes in my copy of the book. If you would like me to bulk scan it let me know.

      September 6, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hello All,

    Link to Montague article mentioned on page 25

    http://goo.gl/BGoiIE

    September 6, 2014

  • Justin

    I posted a link to an optional additional reading by Peter Van Inwagen. (http://andrewmbailey.com/pvi/How_to_Think_About_Free_Will.pdf). This provides a nice counterpoint to some of what Mele does in the first three chapters. Sorry I forgot to post that sooner.

    September 2, 2014

    • Justin

      Okay, there's a link to a scan of the chapters for this time up in the main description. (I won't be able to do this every month, but this may help some folks whose books haven't come in yet.)

      September 5, 2014

    • Justin

      Oops, I meant this in reply to your other message below.

      September 5, 2014

  • Shannon

    I am not sure I will be able to get the book. Justin: Were there any major research studies brought up in ch. 1,2,3 that could be looked up online prior to the mtg?

    September 5, 2014

  • Ryan

    My life is full of busy-ness. Would it be an issue to attend for part of the time and slip out, so long as I slip out quietly? I kind of miss going to these, but I think I just promised to help a local democratic party group host an event at 5pm.

    August 29, 2014

    • Gregg

      Not a problem at all. Please feel free to attend as long the time that works within your schedule.

      August 29, 2014

    • Justin

      I agree. Please come for whatever you can make it for. I like having you at these.

      1 · September 2, 2014

  • kim

    Good news- new book delivery date Sept. 4th. Original dates- ordered Aug.28th with delivery Sept.23rd

    September 2, 2014

  • Wonjae C.

    I am waiting for the book also, and found Alfred Mele's talks on youtube. Of course these short lectures cannot be a substitute for his books, but well at least they will give some overview on his ideas. Below is one of them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI3cXbIlA0g

    September 2, 2014

  • kim

    It also takes nearly a month to get it. I won't have a copy by first meeting.

    September 2, 2014

  • Shannon

    The book is a bit expensive and has to be ordered (I checked all my local libraries. Is anyone near Rowlett/Garland that will have the book to share? My degrees are mainly in psychology so I love this topic. It was actually brought up a couple times in classes.

    September 2, 2014

  • Jean W.

    Another good book: 'Free Will' by Sam Harris

    1 · July 6, 2014

    • Keith K.

      Read it in 2012 when it came out. Reread it yesterday (very short book) to prep for Saturday. Excellent book and "right on" in my extremely humble opinion.

      September 1, 2014

  • Wonjae C.

    Hi, I am a new member and wanted to check with existing members before I attend this event, because I want to bring my son (6th grader!!). My son used to be a Christian but now he is beginning to ask questions to which nobody at his Church can give satisfactory answer - such as, what is the meaning of life, are we small powerless puppets driven by destiny, is death something to fear or an escape from this seeming meaningless world? I am a skeptic myself so I always expected this would happen at some point in his life. I now find him watching Richard Dawkins' debates on YouTube, and I believe it may be the right time for him to meet 'freethinkers,' people who go whereever the evidence and reason lead to. But I understand it would be selfish if a young kid participates in this meeting and throws out his not-thought-through ideas too much, so if you allow us to attend, we will be more listening than speaking. FYI, I am a big fan of Dan Dennet and highly interested in this topic myself.

    August 30, 2014

    • Gregg

      Hi. Welcome to the group and thank you for your question. The Philosophy Club is a very welcoming group. And not everyone who attends this particular meet up is necessarily an agnostic or an atheist. We appreciate different perspectives so long as they are communicated in a a calm, respectable manner and are about the subject matter we are discussing. We did have one parent bring her child due to a childcare situation, but he just entertained himself in another room with what he brought from home.

      That said, I hope you don’t take offense, but I’m not sure a 6th grader would get a lot of our discussion; while I’m sure most of us would be happy to talk to him about his questions, he might become very board very quickly once the meeting got underway. As a suggestion, I would also consider the Free Thought Gathering which is held every month, because it has material specifically designed for children of different age groups.

      August 31, 2014

    • Wonjae C.

      Thank you for the reply :) No offense taken at all! I fully agree with you that my son is too young to understand much of adult discussions, and thus as the meeting goes underway he may struggle. I just thought he might still find the discussion inspiring, as he can see that i) he is not the only one wondering about such topics, ii) even adults continue to think/discuss about them, iii) these topics can be enjoyable instead of being a source of agony. Then... maybe he and I will attend this first session (we will be careful not to interrupt the meeting too much), and I'll see if he can follow the discussion at least a little bit. After that, we may continue or decide to come back several years later. If this sounds okay, we will see you on this Saturday. (And thank you for letting me know the other event. I'll check that out too)

      September 1, 2014

  • Keith K.

    At the Dallas Atheist Book Club meeting on 13 Aug the book was: The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku. The subject of Free Will came up and so i informed them of this meetup so we may have some newbees.

    August 14, 2014

    • Jean W.

      How is the Kaku book?

      August 14, 2014

    • Keith K.

      It was kind of a hodge-podge but worth reading.

      August 20, 2014

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