The philosophy group meetings have always been stimulating, lively and well attended. To ensure that they continue Michael Stewart has volunteered to fill the vacancy for a group leader.
Michael says: I would like the 2020/21 session to concentrate on Applied Philosophy. Our world is changing rapidly offering both benefits and dangers for humanity and for the planet as a whole. There is no doubt that changes will occur, but who will benefit? Should our accepted ideas of fairness and morality change, and if so, how and why? It is my intention that group meetings be run democratically and, with that in mind, I hope members will bring forward ideas for discussion.
In the meantime, a few possible ideas could include:
1) Will our concept of a Human have to change in light of technological advances?
2) Can we determine an optimum population level which is seen to be fair?
3) Do we need to reconsider some long-established beliefs, as occurred when it was discovered that the world was not flat?
The motivation for this group was to examine contemporary issues from a philosophical perspective. In part to examine the issue but also to reflect on whether a more rigorous philosophical approach could add anything to understanding these issues. The session opened with an examination of whether there was any substance in President Putin’s assertion that Liberalism was obsolete. A wide ranging discussion followed in exploring what is meant by liberalism and whether the underlying principles of individual liberty and respect for diversity were past their sell by dates. The year continued with questions of political authority and legitimacy, whether political violence is ever justified and if cultural moral relativism can be justified. Topics also examined where what moral obligations we have towards the natural world and why. And also the rather strange ideas that emerge when examining the concept of personal identity. Unfortunately the year ended abruptly with a cancelled meeting due to Covid 19 and no chance to discuss the meaning of life and what such an idea can mean.