Lectures start promptly at 7:30PM and are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month September through May
1-10-2017: What is the Source of Society's Problems?
Kenneth Sauter, BFA, MBA
What is the source of society's
problems? We can point to criminals, various groups with unhealthy
agendas, war, and any number of other problems that threaten our
civilization. I make the point that every societal problem begins with
a family problem. I will go over the history of families, how
civilization developed, how government developed, and how families
built civilization. I will show how lack of family support creates
criminals and other angry people who end up destroying society. I will
make the point that children are the most precious resource of any
civilization, and they must be protected and nurtured for civilization
to thrive. I argue that it is when children are abused and used for
someone else's purpose that dysfunctional families develop, bringing
about anger, criminal behavior, and ultimately the destruction of
society. I contend that there is a pattern that must be followed for
society to be healthy and develop a highly functioning civilization,
and will do my best to present that pattern.
1-24-2017: Welcome to The Post-Philosophy World
Andrew Laska, Past President, Dallas Philosophers Forum
American popular culture, at
present, has rarely been more concerned about Fact. Fake news, post-fact,
post-truth, scientific denial, fact checking, and other terms are used
frequently. Philosophy, among many other factors, is one of the defining
characteristics of Western Civilization. We will discuss how these phenomena
are rooted in a culture that has devalued Philosophy as both noun and verb and
how our prime concern ought to be Philosophy itself.
2-14-2017: Pleasure As An Attitude
Speaker: Brad Thompson
in recent years have tended to argue that pleasure is not a mere
feeling or sensation, but rather a kind of “pro-attitude” similar
to or even identical to desire. The primary motivation for this
view concerning pleasure has come from the observation that there are
many different types of pleasure, from the pleasure of eating chocolate
or listening to music to the pleasure of solving a puzzle or reading a
good book. In asking what it is that unites these different types
of pleasure, the attitude theorist claims that what they all have in
common is not a common phenomenology but rather that they are all
experiences that the subject likes or wants to be having. I argue
that this is not a good argument for the attitude theory if it requires
the denial that pleasure makes a contribution to the phenomenology of
experience, but that there are better reasons to endorse an attitude
theory. Pleasure, I will argue, is an attitude distinct from
desire and which contributes to the overall phenomenal character of the
subject’s experience. I end with a brief discussion about whether
the objects of this attitude—the objects of pleasure—are our own
experiences or are the external objects of perception, and why this
turns out to be an important question in thinking about the value of
pleasure and its contribution to wellbeing.
2-28-2017: The Art And Science Of Happiness
George Kimeldorf, Ph.D.
Learning to be happy is not mystical, mysterious, or
magical. Happiness is an ordinary skill that anyone can learn and master
through practice, like driving a car or playing the piano. The first step is to
discard our deeply ingrained, misguided beliefs that power, financial success,
material goods, or the approval of others can make us happy. Only then can we
learn to modify our habitual ways of thinking and experience love, joy, and
satisfaction regardless of the circumstances in our lives.
3-14-2017: Volney's Ruins of Empires is this: It's not about Yesterday. It's about Today. And Tomorrow
Speaker: Thomas Christian Williams
Chris' first novel, English Turn,
Napoleon Invades Louisiana, features Volney, a French philosopher and
politician. Volney's controversial book, Ruins of Empires, was the
number one Freethought book in the United States during the 19th
century. George Washington, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and
Walt Whitman are known to have read it. What no one knew, during all
that time, the most popular English language edition circulating in the
U.S. had been translated anonymously by Thomas Jefferson.
3-28-2017: Computational Models of Ethics TO BE RESCHEDULED. El Fenix will be remodeling on 3/28
Speaker: Chris Davis, PhD
self-driving cars on our city streets to drones and robots in the
battlefield, autonomous machines are becoming ubiquitous. As humans
increasingly interact with them, the ethical considerations of their
behavior become more significant. But how can machines act as moral
agents? This talk examines computational models of ethical reasoning
that are currently being explored in A.I. research. Examples of
programs using first-order logic will be demonstrated. A prior
knowledge of programming is not required.
4-11-2017: What Is Experimental Philosophy?
James R. Beebe,Ph.D.
philosophy is a new movement that uses the methods and tools of the cognitive
and social sciences to investigate topics of perennial philosophical debate.
Scientists have long addressed questions that have significant philosophical
implications, and philosophers have reflected upon such investigations for many
centuries. What is new about experimental philosophy is that philosophers are
collaborating with scientists, obtaining training in statistics and
experimental design, and becoming actively involved in gathering empirical data
that is relevant to their research questions. I will introduce experimental
philosophy by focusing on one interesting area of research within this movement
that seeks to investigate the extent to which the average person thinks that
moral judgments (e.g., "Stealing is wrong," "You should keep
your promises") are objective (like statements of physical fact) or are
more like subjective expressions of preference or emotion.
4-25-2017: Religion and Science
can you reconcile faith in God with appreciation for science, I was asked? To
me, these two loves come from the same source: my desire to understand the
nature of things, and to know what is true. I will talk about how I fell in
love with physics, how I came to a deep faith in Jesus Christ in His Church,
and how these two things are not only compatible, but reflect the same fundamental
human desire for connection, knowledge and understanding.
5-9-2017: Building an Inclusive Community Among Diverse Individuals
Karen Bradbury, Ph.D.