What we're about

If you're new to the area or are looking to expand your social circle with like minded people who enjoy thinking about life a little more deeply, then this is the group for you.

Each week we choose a topic based on philosophy, psychology or sociology, to informally discuss and debate in a central Cambridge location (in summer by the river, and in winter in a coffee shop or pub). During the summer, the topic and venue are announced on Tues or Weds, once we have an idea of Sunday's weather forecast.

Example areas we discuss include:
How we construct our identity, consumerism, time, what is right or wrong, how to lead a good life, how society forces us to conform and 'fit in'

We're always looking for interesting subjects to discuss, so do make suggestions. You don't have to lead the discussion but you're welcome to if you'd like.

Upcoming events (1)

Is it immoral to buy a £10,000 handbag?

Near The Mill. On the grass by the river with our bovine friends


The weather forecast for Sunday is encouraging so the venue has been set as our riverside spot. But please look out for a comment on the meeting to be posted before 9 am on Sunday, either confirming that we shall be by the river or, if the weather has turned, saying we shall go back to Caffè Nero on Fitzroy Street. If you do not get a notification, please log in to check.

We meet by the river on Laundress Green, at the bottom of Mill Lane. Go down Mill Lane to the river end, then carry straight on, onto the bridge over the weir, just opposite and through the gate from The Mill pub and close to the punting station. When several of us have gathered on the bridge we shall walk across to the riverbank, continuing in the same straight line. If you arrive later, just wander across and join in.

As we shall be outside, there is no limit on attendee numbers. Bring a drink and something to eat, if you wish. Coffee options include the shop on the corner of Laundress Lane and Silver Street, Fitzbillies opposite the other end of Mill Lane, and Nero on King's Parade.

Our discussions are friendly and open. No special expertise is required. But it helps if we try to stay on topic, and if we all give space to one another to speak.


Is it immoral to buy a £10,000 handbag?

We took a question from the All Souls College examination two weeks ago. This one is from their general paper for 2008.

We may start with someone who bought just one bag. They might say that they needed one anyway, and an expensive one would consume no more physical resources than a cheap one, so it might as well be an expensive one. Are these arguments good ones?

Someone who bought lots of bags could not say those things, but there are other things that a buyer either of one bag or of lots of bags could say.
A buyer could say that each expensive bag would be a work of art, and that its manufacture would give work to skilled craftspeople. Moreover, having nice things might make the buyer feel good, and be a just reward for the hard work that had yielded their wealth. Again, we can debate whether these arguments are good ones.

On the other hand, the buyer could be challenged for not spending less on a bag (or bags) and giving the rest to charities.

But the buyer could argue that they were distributing their wealth widely, to the joy of the makers and sellers of bags.

They could also argue that it was far better for people to earn their money by making and selling things customers actually wanted to buy than it would be for them to receive charitable handouts. In particular, they might say this about people in less developed countries who had places in the supply chain.

Finally, we can ask about the character of the buyer. Is it a good or a bad character trait to want expensive accessories? Or to think that it is important to have them?

Handbags, tote bags and rucsacs of any price will be welcome on Sunday.

Past events (229)

A friend to all is a friend to none

Near The Mill. On the grass by the river with our bovine friends