What we're about

This group will meet one Sunday per month. Participants will discuss a philosophical issue/problem at each meeting, and the discussion will be moderated by a philosophy scholar. No prior experience with philosophy is required or expected.

Upcoming events (4)

Meeting 73: Is wealth redistribution justified? - ON ZOOM

Online event


PhD candidate Liam Ryan will lead us. Many of us may have the intuition that a just society is synonymous with adherence to principles of equality. This may include some degree of wealth distribution. Robert Nozick in his famous Anarchy, State, and Utopia, examines alleged tensions between principles of individual liberty and wealth equality. He aims to show that entitlement theory (rights to acquire property through creation and trade) and egalitarian theory (fair redistribution) are incompatible; one cannot reconcile the principles of property, fair trade, and redistribution. In this class we will analyze his arguments and discuss whether wealth redistribution can be justified and achieved, and if it is compatible with individual liberty, and if so, how. Reading is a selection from Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3080r49mwfgxq7f/Nozick_Justice.pdf?dl=0

Meeting 74: Does our psychology determine our politics? - ON ZOOM

PhD candidate Liam Ryan will lead us. Many topics in philosophy are concerned with the issue of free will. For example, how can one choose to act freely if they cannot control their own emotions, addictions, circumstances, or education? Political psychology has similar concerns: it analyses the role of our individual and shared psychology in informing our political beliefs. Jonathan Haidt is a famous proponent of this field. He claims that our individual dispositions determine our ethics and political beliefs/ He claims that political conflict can be understood as tensions between, for instance, those who prefer stability over liberty, or cleanliness over messiness. Today we will discuss Haidt's (and others') methodologies for reaching these conclusions, whether or not their arguments are convincing, and the implications of their research. Reading is Haidt's "Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations": https://www.dropbox.com/s/blkzjzhqbj6rmxj/Haidt-2009-Moral-Foundations.pdf?dl=0

Meeting 75: Should we have children? - ON ZOOM

Online event


PhD candidate Liam Ryan will lead us. Human beings, at a bare minimum, are designed to reproduce. Without creating more humans, how could we continue to engage in interesting philosophical discussions? Of course, such an important action, and in many cases conscious decision, is rife with moral conjecture. How do we know when it is morally permissible to have children or not? What kinds of considerations should influence our choices? Today we will begin by engaging literature on the metaphysics of personhood, followed by a discussion of the moral implications of reproduction and non-reproduction. We will critically discuss prominent anti-natalist arguments against having children, and the consequences of such claims. The reading is Shiffrin's "Wrongful Life, Creative Responsibility, and the Significance of Harm": https://www.dropbox.com/s/nf1q3581oppyek2/Schiffrin%20Wrongful%20Life.pdf?dl=0

Meeting 76: Abortion - ON ZOOM

Online event


PhD candidate Liam Ryan will lead. It is no overstatement to say there are few topics more contentious than abortion. Standard arguments for and against the moral permissibility of abortion centre on claims about personhood and rights: when does a foetus become a person with the same moral value as as post-birth people? Today we will put aside these traditional arguments about abortion and look at Thomson's famously vigorous paper A Defense of Abortion. Thomson claims that even if one concedes that foetuses are persons deserving of the same moral rights as the rest of us, abortion (i.e. killing), is still morally justifiable, for similar reasons that self-defence can be justified. We will examine Thomson's imaginative and original arguments and debate whether or not they constitute a persuasive defence of abortion. The reading is Thomson's "A Defense of Abortion": https://www.dropbox.com/s/1skjd7ip1rfwcra/thomson_abortion.pdf?dl=0

Past events (85)

Meeting 72: Existentialism - ON ZOOM

Justine's apartment


Photos (3)