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Mar
21

Last Night’s Cafe- Ignorance and the Value of Knowledge

Human societies seem to revolve around the production, archiving and consumption of knowledge – from universities and scientific societies, to adult education to Wikipedia, we appear to prize knowledge highly. But why exactly is this? Dr Mona Simion (Cardiff Uni, Philosophy) invited us to consider several different – yet ultimately unsatisfying – answers to this [...]

Sep
20

Last Night’s Cafe: Ethics and the Laws of War

When war is unleashed, the philosopher John Locke observed, the combatants find themselves in a situation where no-one is judge or arbitrator, and all that is left is for the warring sides to ‘appeal to heaven’. In other words, the laws and rules that operate with a political community no longer hold, and all that’s [...]

Jan
19

Last Tuesday’s Cafe: How can we reduce health inequalities?

It’s become evident in recent years that, even within wealthy countries like the UK, there are wide disparities between different regions, cities and even within cities in levels of serious illness and premature deaths. The so-called ‘Glasgow effect’ has, for example, been much reported on. Within Cardiff, there is a documented difference in life expectancy [...]

Jun
22

Last Night’s Cafe: Sexism, Racism and Existentialism

Are sexist, racist, homophobic or other forms of widespread prejudice always a matter of conscious beliefs? In the UK, ever since the trial of the men suspected of killing Stephen Lawrence, the idea of ‘institutional racism’ has been part of public discourse. The idea that racism – the systematic disadvantaging of people based on the [...]

May
24

Last Tuesday’s Cafe: Genetically-modified food crops: scary monsters or helpful friends?

Here in the UK, it’s now 13 years since the GM Nation debate created a highly charged atmosphere around the use of genetic modification in food crops. Since then, the prospect of climate change coupled with its likely effect on food insecurity in many regions of the global South has placed questions about the social acceptability of GM [...]

Jan
20

Last Night’s Cafe: What Makes Us Human?

Does ‘being human’ rest on a particular set of capacities we possess but animals do not? And if it does, do this capacities somehow make us better – more valuable? – than non-human animals? These questions and others were discussed at last night’s CPC, led by Dr Chris Groves. The possession of language, the capacity [...]

Dec
16

Last Night’s Cafe: Life, Love & Theory – A Verse Chronicle

What is the relationship between philosophy and poetry? Philosophers have often taken inspiration for their analytic work from poetic language – as in the case of Martin Heidegger ‘s appreciation for Georg Trakl or Friedrich Hölderlin. Poets have sometimes returned the favour, as in the case of Coleridge’s reading of Friedrich Schelling. Sometimes, poets have [...]

Jun
17

Last Night’s Cafe: The Philosophy of Cycling

Asking whether it makes sense to talk of ‘the philosophy of…’ something is a question that immediately launches other ones. It makes sense to talk about ‘the philosophy of physics’ or ‘the philosophy of biology’, insofar as it’s possible to explore the fundamental presuppositions of a science (e.g. what kinds of things are there?) and [...]

Mar
18

Last Night’s Cafe: The Pursuit of Happiness

What is happiness? What produces it? These were two of the questions featured in last night’s Cafe talk by Chris Groves. Happiness may be considered, as it often has been from Epicurus all the way through to Jeremy Bentham and J. S. Mill, as a subjective state of mind, a feeling of pleasure or at [...]

Nov
06

Tuesday’s Cafe: Encounters with Energy

How much energy we use is, like how much and what kinds of food we eat, is an issue that has taken on, more and more, the characteristics of an intense moral debate. We are told again and again by policymakers to take responsibility for our energy consumption, just as we are for our intake [...]

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