7 Apr 2015 Dr Emily Ryall, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Department of Sport & Exercise, University of Gloucestershire Details Good sport is premised on the notion of fair competition that measures and ranks the ‘natural ability’ and performance of competing athletes. However, developments in biotechnology and prosthetics in particular have already forced sports governing bodies to address questions about how fair competition is conceived.
3 Mar 2015 Dr. Russell Re Manning Details In the course of the twentieth century a consensus became established that the tradition of natural theology had entered into terminal decline: killed off by the three-pronged fork of Hume's philosophical scepticism, Darwinian scientific naturalism, and Barth's theological positivism. This talk reconsiders this standard narrative of the rise and fall of natural theology and suggests an alternative intellectual history of natural theology - and its future prospects.
4 Nov 2014 19:30 Dr Michael Lewis - Philosophy, University of the West of England Details This paper explores the confrontation between Immanuel Kant and G.W.F. Hegel on the question of the nature of the human being. It is the hypothesis of this talk, that the way in which philosophy relates to and understands anthropology in these two thinkers might give us an essential clue regarding a number of crucial problems facing philosophy today, and in particular philosophy’s relation to the natural sciences.
7 Oct 2014 18:30 Dr Juliane Kaminski, University of Portsmouth Details Selection pressures during domestication not only shape animals' morphology, but also animals' behaviour and cognition. A highly interesting case is the domestic dog. One interesting question is to what extent, if at all, dogs have specially adapted to their new niche, namely the human environment. The so-called domestication hypothesis claims that dogs have evolved specialised social cognitive skills, as an adaptation to the human environment.
3 Jun 2014 Professor James Ladyman, Bristol University Details Much if not all of science sprang from philosophy, and science now seems to encompass much if not all of philosophy so is there anything left for philosophers to do? Metaphysicians try to answer fundamental questions about the nature of space and time and matter that overlap with physics, so is metaphysics redundant now that physics has become so successful? Recently some scientists have pronounced the end of philosophy while some philosophers believe that there will always be a role for philosophy in underpinning science.
4 Mar 2014 Richard Russell, BRLSI Member Details Is it possible to develop an idea of social justice that really does two vital things? Firstly, to honour the differentiated institutions of modern societies – marital, familial, educational, economic, political, media, religious and others – so that all freely flourish and are not dominated by others? Secondly, to treat with equality those holding a diversity of allegiances and worldviews (whether labeled secular or religious) enabling them to live out their commitments in public as well as private life i.e.
04 February 2014 Geoff Catchpole, BRLSI Member Detail Adam is Professor of Science Communication at the University, and is involved in a number of media-related projects, including presenting programmes for Radio 4 and BBC4. In 2010 he was the Society of Biology's Science Communicator of the Year. As well as his communication work, he is an active researcher with ongoing projects on citizen science, entomology and ecology.
7 Jan 2014 Dr Donald Cameron, BRLSI Convenor Details It is shown by a relatively crude computer simulation that a basic morality will evolve, given certain minimum cognitive abilities. Human intelligence and communication skills have caused the development of morality to a level beyond that of other species. Sadly these skills can also be used for cheating and deception; defenses against these have in turn evolved resulting in great complexity.
The Nature of Ethics NatEthic.doc
BRLSI – 7th January 2014
03 December 2013 Professor Adam Hart, University of Gloucestershire The human population faces many challenges in a changing and complex world. Of all the sciences, does biology provide the key to our future? In this talk, Professor Hart will consider the problems facing the world and the biological solutions that might help to solve them.
5 Nov 2013 Professor Kate Pickett, University of York & co-author of ‘The Spirit Level’ Details Comparing life expectancy, mental health, levels of violence, teenage birth rates, drug abuse, child well-being, obesity rates, levels of trust, the educational performance of school children, or the strength of community life among rich countries, it is clear that societies which tend to do well on one of these measures tend to do well on all of them, and the ones which do badly, do badly on all of them. The key is the amount of inequality in each society.
1 Oct 2013 Dr Christian Jarrett, British Psychological Society Research Digest Details The three pounds of thinking matter in our heads has never been subject to such intense interest. Barely a day passes that a brain scanning study isn't splashed across the newspapers, purporting to show the location of love, greed or some other emotion. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have just announced unprecedented investment in brain research.
2 Jul 2013 Professor Julian Vincent, Bath University & immediate Past Chair, BRLSI Trustees Details Art has always been an enigma. Perhaps we look too closely and let the detail obscure the reality. What can the animal world tell us about art? Can we see better where our art comes from if we view it from our prehistory?
4 Jun 2013 Christopher Gifford, University of Bristol Details Indeterminacy has been something of a hot topic in the last quarter of the 20th century in philosophy, having been emphasised by Quine and tackled by various theories of vagueness that attempt to resolve the sorites paradox. Two currently contenting theories of vagueness propose ways of understanding indeterminacy; as a linguistic phenomena and as a phenomena belonging to reality itself. However, both theories have some serious problems.
7 May 2013 18:30 Dr Finn Spicer. Details Traditional epistemology seeks to formulate rules of rationality in a way analogous to deontic approaches to ethics: by spelling out epistemic duties and permissions: you are rational if you reason the way the rules say you should. Dr Spicer draws on an approach to rationality more analogous to ethical consequentialism: you are rational if you reason in a way that leads to true beliefs in this environment.
2 Apr 2013 Professor Aaron Sloman, University of Birmingham Details The ambitious, multi-disciplinary Meta-Morphogenesis project, partly inspired by Turing's work on morphogenesis, seeks to identify the many transitions between diff erent types and mechanisms of biological information processing, including transitions that changed the mechanisms of change, altering forms of evolution, development, learning, culture and ecosystem dynamics.
5 Mar 2013 Richard Russell, BRLSI Member Details Our current intellectual, spiritual, cultural and educational malaise finds pointed expression in the deep conflict between broadly scientific naturalism and postmodernism. Both are emphatically atheist and post-Christian, regarding Christianity as a constraint on human reason and human freedom respectively. Modern philosophy of science - in the form of logical positivism - started as the fawning apologist for scientific naturalism and the dismissive critic of any alternative perspective, not just as false, but as cognitively meaningless.
5 Feb 2013 Dr. Havi Carel Senior Lecturer in Philosophy,University of the West of England The experience of illness is universal, intense and disorienting. Illness can change the ill person's relationship to her physical environment, social world, sense of self, and the future. It impacts on our understanding of space and time, the good life, and mortality. Although these are time-honoured philosophical concepts, illness has not received much philosophical att ention. Dr Havi Carel (author of ‘Illness’) argues that philosophy can shed useful light on the experience of illness.
8 Jan 2013 Chris Eddy (Swindon Philosophical Society) Details I want to propose a pragmatic conception of consciousness, i.e. that it is not a state, either spiritual or physical, but an activity, operation or way of functioning, so that one who engages in that activity can be said to be acting or operating or functioning 'consciously'. To accept this proposal is to entertain the notion that consciousness is a virtual attribute, i.e.
4 Dec 2012 Dr Donald Cameron Details It is extraordinary that we live our lives in great detail, yet we still have to ask what is its meaning. The religious say that it comes from God while the secular have trouble in defining it. Maybe the meaning of our lives eludes us because it does not exist, but we find that both emotionally unacceptable and a contradiction of our instincts. Science can throw some light on the question.
Tuesday 4th December 2012
THE MEANING OF LIFE
Dr Donald Cameron, BRLSI Convenor & Trustee
6 Nov 2012 Geoff Catchpole Details The physical sciences constantly revise our views on external reality and neuro-sciences dig ever deeper into internal reality. This review notes some philosophical issues considered by some BRLSI speakers and attempts to reach a considered position.
2 Oct 2012 Professor Luciano Floridi. Details We live an information-soaked existence - information pours into our lives through television, radio, books, and of course, the Internet. Some say we suffer from 'infoglut'. The concept of 'information' is a profound one, rooted in mathematics and semantics. It is central to any branch of science and any cognitive activity, and it has huge implications on every aspect of our everyday lives.
4 Sep 2012 Dr Alison Scott-Baumann. Details Ricoeur lectured for over twenty years on negation (‘do I understand something better if I know what it is not, and what is not-ness?’) but never published his writings on this subject. His work on negation creates deep subterranean springs that nourish his subsequent development of dialectics. Ricoeur also found his study of negation in Greek philosophy valuable for demonstrating his belief that much modern and postmodern philosophy and structuralism is shallow and dry.
5 Mar 2012 Ronald Green. Author of Nothing Matters: a book about nothing (iff-Books). Details Ronald Green will give a talk about the importance of NOTHING: the problems of coming to terms with ‘nothing’ in history and why the Church banned number systems containing zero, the contemporary influence of ‘nothing’ in the arts, science and religion, not to mention the questions as to what ‘nothing’ is and whether it exists.
The French philosopher Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) was a major influence on the renaissance of catholic philosophy before the second Vatican Council, yet do his arguements on the relation on faith and reason hold?