What we're about
Philosophers are worm can openers!
Some of you may occasionally wonder about things. Philosophers do it non-stop. At their best, they make trouble in the world of ideas. Come, bring your can openers, and let's open some cans!
We have explored or will (or will again) explore age-old topics like God's existence, the nature of people and things, morality, free will, fatalism, birth, death, the right way to live or die... as well as theories in core areas of philosophical thinking such as logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics (which are central to understanding what is really going on in the more accessible topics). But we'll also cover more current and concrete controversies such as abortion, infanticide, capital punishment, suicide (physician-assisted and otherwise), equality, justice, criminality, genetic engineering, neuroscience, over-population, war, terrorism, racism, sexism, speciesism, human "rights," animal rights, the "rights" of (or to) anything whatsoever!,... as well as important issues in medical ethics; environmental ethics; bioethics; philosophy of law, of art, of literature, of religion, of science; artificial intelligence, scientific method; social and political philosophy... and topics as yet uninvented.
In fact, "inventing topics" is a side effect of asking hard questions, which inevitably lead to still harder questions. Often enough, "new" topics are not really "new" but old, even ancient, unsettled concerns resurfacing. And it is those unsettled issues that are the real philosophical problems. As one philosopher once said, "If it has a solution, it was probably just science anyway." Any important subject whose fundamental ideas invite critical examination is ripe for our can opener... eventually we may work our way up to the really big can: the point of it all! But don't expect pat answers—we don't do self-help.
This club is open to non-analytical approaches to philosophy, and if you have some knowledge outside that approach and are open to trying to convince us or having it tested or even finding (perish the thought) common ground, you are welcome! Come shake us up a bit!... Still, philosophy, in the Anglo-American world (for better or worse), is dominated by some form of conceptual analysis. What characterizes the analytical approach to philosophy is attention to clarity and as much rigor as we can muster in our concepts and arguments—while hopefully keeping one foot in reality. You may be plied with questions framed against such values. But you may know better! Philosophical traditions just as individual philosophical views are error prone. Any philosophy worthy of the name should be comfortable with that.
We will try to stay focused on the topics under discussion, realizing that this is difficult. We draw on the insights of some of the brightest thinkers we know, both living and dead. Being bright is no guarantee that any of these people are right. In fact, we already know at least half of them must be wrong because the other half disagrees with them. But which half? (Even to assume only half are wrong is being more than a little optimistic.)
Skepticism and disagreement are to be expected, even encouraged. We should try to make the best case we can for our side and attend to what others say. We should expect that expressions of conviction may be forceful and that’s fine, as long as they are respectful of others and rational, which, in the context of a philosophy club, means to offer reasons to believe—reasons that are not themselves more controversial than the claims they are meant to support.
Though we range widely in the topics we cover, we try not to let anything go in our discussion. The point is to rise above the level of BS that too often passes in informal discussions for philosophy. Beyond a certain respect for clarity and rigor, we do not have an axe to grind. You may bring your own axe, we may sharpen it for you... or we may grind it to a stump. We mostly open worm cans, remember? You decide what to do with the worms!
See the writeups for past philosophy meetups (https://www.meetup.com/The-Philosophy-Club/events/past) and archived writeups (https://www.meetup.com/The-Philosophy-Club/pages/?op=all) to get some perspective on the topics we have and may cover. See also Philosophical Resources Online (http://www.meetup.com/The-Philosophy-Club/pages/Philosophy_Resources).
Formal membership is not required to attend and participate in our meetups. Feel free to come and try it out. Our meetup times and locations are public as well as topic resources. In fact, you cannot become a formal member unless you either attend one of our meetups in person or live in the Puget Sound area and could plausibly attend one of them.
Comments on the Home page and meetup topic pages are restricted to organizers. Discussions on the message board (https://www.meetup.com/The-Philosophy-Club/messages/boards/) are open to anyone. Contact me (https://secure.meetup.com/messages/) with any questions, thank you.
A word about etiquette: philosophy, by its nature, is contentious. Expect disagreement and treat each other respectfully. Failure to do so may be cause for removal.
—Victor Muñoz, organizer
If you know something about a topic and would like us to address it or you would like to present it yourself, let us know. You don't have to be an expert. We will work with you. So long as we can tease out a philosophical theme, that is, it addresses fundamental questions about an important subject, we would love to consider it.