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Schedule for the Spring 2006 Season:

January 10, 2006: Can philosophy overcome its current ancillary condition?
   Mihai Nadin, Ashbel Smith University Professor, University of Texas at Dallas
    Cancelled due to a power failure in the restuarant shopping center. Rescheduled for March 14, 2006. See below.

January 24, 2006: Frankena on Utilitarianism.
    Sid Chapman, Professor of Philosophy, Richland College
    It is said that in the 1936 presidential campaign Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "The greatest good for the greatest number is the American way." If indeed the president spoke the truth, then one could infer that we are utilitarians. Utilitarianism is generally recognized as an ethical theory which is based on the principle of utility. And the principle of utility holds that we ought to bring about the greatest possible balance of good over evil or the greatest good for the greatest number. But is the aforementioned principle a principle in the classical sense? Bentham and Mill say, "Yes" and William Frankena says,"No." The principle of utility is not a basic principle, but a derived principle. And since it is derived Frankena explains the source of its derivation. However, in explaining the basic principle I argue that Frankena overstates the case and thus may not have improved on the principle which Bentham gave us.

February 14, 2006: Taking Egoism Seriously.

    Keith Burgess-Jackson, J.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Arlington
    Egoism gets no respect from professional philosophers. Some philosophers define "moral theory" in such a way as to exclude egoism from consideration. But egoism is no less respectable a moral theory than utilitarianism, which is taken seriously even by those who reject it. I will show that every move made by utilitarians to counter criticism of utilitarianism can be made by egoists to counter criticism of egoism.

February 28, 2006: The New Argument From Evil.
   Jerrod Scott, Instructor of Philosophy, Brookhaven College
   Many philosophers argue that the "Argument from Evil," which is intended to prove the logical impossibility of the existence of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient being, fails. I contend that this position is premature. I will argue that the "refutation" of the Argument from Evil is misguided and fails to do what it needs to do to be successful. In addition, I will propose a new argument, on independent grounds, that proves the logical impossibility of the existence of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient being. I call this the "New Argument from Evil."

March 14, 2006: Can Philosophy Overcome its Current Ancillary Condition?
   Mihai Nadin, Ashbel Smith University Professor, University of Texas at Dallas
    This could as well be a lecture on philosophy's progressive lack of significance ever since the Cartesian revolution. As it uncritically embraced determinism and reductionism, philosophy became a mere interpretive endeavor. Even when it addresses its own condition, it does not escape the vicious cycle of explaining complexity away while dealing with complexity. In our days, the ancillarity of philosophy is extreme to the extent of making it a parasitic intellectual exercise. As vitalism was, for circumstantial reasons, purged from the scientific discourse, philosophy was assimilated in the products of the deterministic and reductionist natural sciences. As some of its failed practitioners see it, philosophy celebrated, without ever questioning the premises it adopted, a viewpoint that negates its necessity, or at least its raison d'étre. In acknowledging anticipation, and pursuing its own program of investigation, philosophy might challenge the deterministic and reductionist description of the physical world. This could lead to suggesting a view of complementarity, of dialectics (in the original sense of the term). In doing so, philosophy might be able to reinvent itself as an expression of love of wisdom at a fundamental level, that of thinking and expression. Failure to live up to this chance, brought about by the new focus of science on the living, could result in a course leading to oblivion.

Special Wednesday Lecture!
March 29, 2006: Cosmology: From Einstein to Now. A Talk Honoring 100 Years of Relativity.
   Wolfgang Rindler, Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Dallas
   Cosmology became a science (as opposed to pure speculation) only around 1920, when a new generation of giant telescopes opened up the cosmos, and Einstein's general relativity was able to supply the necessary theory. In the last twenty years new instruments led to a new spurt of progress, and some old questions have been answered. For example, our expansion seems to be accelerating and our geometry flat. Thus our universe seems to be destined for an ultimate cold death, and a finite universe, curved back on itself like the surface of a sphere, seems ruled out. The large-scale distribution of galaxies is far more "messy" than had previously been thought. Einstein's lambda term has made a come-back. Dark matter and dark energy are open puzzles. Inflation theory has made people think. And the Anthropic Principle has emerged as a fascinating and optimistic hypothesis.

April 11, 2006: Of Ghosts and Zombies: Are We Material or not?
    Clayton Littlejohn,
Lecturer of Philosophy, Southern Methodist University
    We have lived under a materialist regime for the past few decades, but substance dualism is enjoying a recent renaissance. We'll revisit Descartes' arguments for the immateriality of the mind and uncover a surprising epistemological problem. Descartes did not argue directly that a material being would be incapable of thought but instead argues that whatever we are, we are something that could possibly exist in the absence of material bodies. Consider three claims, none of which Descartes believes he can reject: I know that I am essentially immaterial, I do not know that there could be no material beings that think, and I know the former through introspective access to my thoughts and rational argument. I shall argue that these are inconsistent triad. It seems neither Descartes nor his contemporary defenders provide suitable defenses of the first or any arguments against the second. Materialism might be wrong but we'd never know it.

Special Wednesday Lecture!
April 26, 2006: Can Science Study the Supernatural?
    Vic Stenger, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii; Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, University of Colorado
    The National Academy of Sciences has stated that "science can say nothing abut the supernatural." According to the late Stephen J. Gould, science and religion are two "non-overlapping magisteria" (NOMA). In the recent Dover, PA court case, both sides testified that the ground rules of science would have to be broadened to allow for the consideration of supernatural forces. This plays right into the hands of those who accuse science of being dogmatically committed to a totally materialistic view of reality. In fact, science can and does study phenomena, such as intercessory prayer, which if empirically verified would be highly unlikely explainable naturally. Furthermore, the total absence of any scientific observations in support of supernatural forces can be taken as strong evidence that they do not exist. Scientists must stop giving religion a special dispensation from any critical analysis of religious claims.

May 9, 2006: God as the Perfect Creator: a Sustainable View?
    Roberta Ballarin,
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Southern Methodist University
    Philosophers have presented different arguments for the existence of God. In this lecture we will expound the traditional cosmological, teleological, and ontological arguments. According to the cosmological and teleological arguments, the sheer existence and apparent order of the world indicate that it has a Creator. According to the ontological argument, our understanding of the nature and perfection of God is sufficient to prove His existence. However, it may be argued that there is a tension between the idea of God as creator and the idea of God as perfect. Why and how would a perfect being create the world? And how could the creator of this world be perfect? We will explore these questions and consider whether our idea of God as a perfect creator is coherent.

May 23, 2006: Dallas Philosopher's Forum Young Thinkers Symposium.
    Several of the brightest students from around the Dallas Area.
    According to one dictionary, the word "Symposium" finds it's roots in a "convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion among the ancient Greeks." We will have no music, Greeks, or drinking (especially since our participants have not reached legal drinking age.) However, we will find out what some of our brightest young students think. We will discover their philosophical opinions on a great variety of things from knowledge, science, religion, ethics, and whatever else we can dish out. We will choose a diverse panel of the brightest students whom we think can challenge the audience and each other.

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Opinions given at scheduled lectures of the Dallas Philosopher's Forum are the solely the opinions of the speaker and do not the necessarily represent the opinions of the members of the The Dallas Philosophers Forum or its Board of Directors.