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Next Talk: 'Utopias and Medical Futures' A Royal Institute of Philosophy Talk by Prof Richard Ashcroft Tuesday 09 October 2018

Next Talk: 'Should we Want to Believe in God' by Dr Piers Benn on Tuesday 11 September - A Royal Institute of Philosophy talk at NEW VENUE Coach & Horses 7.30 pm- 9 pm

Dr Piers Benn

Debates about the existence of God are familiar in philosophy. But the question of whether it is a good thing that God exists (or would be a good thing if he did) is much less discussed. Perhaps this is because, to many people, it seems crazy to deny that it would be a superlatively good thing if the cosmos were ruled by ultimate love and justice, that goodness will ultimately prevail and the 'every tear shall be wiped away'. Atheists are sometimes accused of not wanting God to exist, because they do not want to surrender to the sovereignty of God or face judgement for their sins. I want to defend (some) atheists of the charge of not wanting God to exist. However, there is a serious question of whether - at least from the standpoint of atheism or agnosticism - it would be an entirely good thing, or a good thing all things considered, if God existed. This becomes especially apparent when we consider particular religions traditions, and wonder whether the conception of God that they advocate is a conception of a supremely good Being. For believers, the question is obviously settled. However, non-believers lack a decisive a priori reason to think it settled.

[Piers Benn is a Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London and an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University London Centre].


Next talk: 'The Promise and Challenge of Feminist Epistemology' by Billy Holzberg on Tuesday 12 June 2018

Feminist epistemology was born out of and continues to develop in close relationship with political struggles for gender equality, emancipation and feminist liberation by contesting the exclusion of women’s intellectual labour from the halls of philosophy. In doing so, however, feminist epistemology has not only challenged exclusions of gender, race, class and sexuality in the sites of knowledge production but it has also deconstructed fundamental assumptions about the objective nature of science and philosophy. In this lecture, I will focus on three key insights that feminist epistemology has brought to philosophical debate: positionality, subjectivity and interdisciplinarity. Going through these concepts, I will elaborate on the promises and challenges of situated knowledges that take subjectivity seriously, that draw from a variety of sources, and that highlight how power relations shape the way we understand and make sense of the world. 


Next Talk: A Royal Institute of Philosophy Talk by Dr Christian Piller - 'Beware of Safety'

Beware of Safety:
Philosophers have suggested that a belief has to be 'safe' in order to qualify as knowledge. This means that in order to know something, one's belief need not only be true it, furthermore, needs to remain true in 'close-by possible worlds'. In other words, a belief, if true, is safely true, if it could not have easily been wrong. In my talk I argue against such views. I ague that a concern for the safety of our beliefs would get things 'the wrong way round'. This talk is of interest to those who want to know more about knowledge and about why philosophers tend to make mistakes (myself, of course, excepted.)


Next talk: 'The Limits of Scepticism' by Grant Bartley (Editor, Philosophy Now) 10 April 2018 - 7.30 pm - 9 pm

The Limits of Scepticism
Just how useful is scepticism? Nowadays philosophers use the possibility of doubt to argue against everything from free will to morality, the self, even the existence of our own minds. But is this a good way of arguing? Does it prove anything? Or is scepticism instead about showing the absolute limits of our knowledge? In this talk I will be sceptical about scepticism itself, to try to see just how far it can get us.