Skip to main content
Philosophy
Philosophy Program

The Philosophy Club

Butler University's Philosophy Club is a student-run organization meant to encourage philosophical discussion outside the classroom and to reflect the genuine interest of our Philosophy majors and minors, and Ethics minors (as well as of many other members of the Butler community) in a wide range of philosophical problems. There are roughly three meetings every semester and discussion is held in a generally lively and informal atmosphere.

Our meetings have focused on topics as diverse as justice understood as fairness, Buddhism—between philosophy and religion, philosophy as a lifestyle, and the nature of political freedom. Occasionally the Philosophy Club holds its meetings jointly with similar organizations (e.g., when focusing on debates about political theories or religious issues) or cosponsors talks given by various philosophers.

James Weislogel (jweislog@butler.edu), is the Philosophy Club President for 2017–2018. Dr. Kaitlyn Creasy (kcreasy@butler.edu) is the faculty advisor of the Philosophy Club.

Some of our recent meetings were devoted to discussing philosophical aspects of parenthood, the aesthetics of jokes, the ethical implications of the Occupy movement, the(im)possibility of amoralism etc. Announcements about the Club's meetings are posted online on the Butler Connection and in other physical and virtual venues. Students are encouraged to suggest topics for the upcoming meetings of the club.

For more information, contact Claudia Johnson (ckjohns1@butler.edu), Administrative Specialist in the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Classics, or the Department Head, Chad Bauman (cbauman@butler.edu).

 

Philosophy Club Meetings 2017-2018 

12:15 - 1:00 pm Tuesday, February 20 , 2018 (Jordan Hall 203)

Language, Truth, and Power’

Catchphrases, slogans, and buzzwords are circulated in media, entertainment, and everyday conversation. What is the relation between a society, its catchphrases, and the way the world shows up to members of that society? Think, for example, of the origins and effects of the catchphrase “fake news”.

For a bit of background on the topic, please feel free to read the selection below.

“Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint.  And it induces regular effects of power.  Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true…” (Foucault, Truth and Method) 

 

12:00 - 1:00 pm Wednesday, October 4 , 2017 (Jordan Hall 225)

‘The Relationship Between Philosophy and Religion?’

What do they share, what distinguishes them? Our discussion will benefit greatly from a variety of perspectives, so please come and provide yours. Please feel free to check out the following articles for some background information on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9j7g1dfxIo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxsrB6pLhVc

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicholas-liusuwan/is-buddhism-a-philosophy...

 

Philosophy Club Meetings 2016-2017 

12:15 - 1:15 pm Wednesday, April 17 , 2017 (Jordan Hall 335-B)

‘What Is a Person?’

“Personhood” is, among other things, an ethical category referring to beings that have certain inalienable rights that cannot be abused or taken away. Determining who or what is a “person” may seem very simple, but a closer look brings to light a host of issues that complicate the matter. For example, is this concept applicable only to humans? If so, what about nonhuman animals who exhibit levels of intelligence higher than certain kinds of humans (for example, humans with severe mental disabilities)? Should factors other than intelligence be taken into account? How does artificial intelligence factor into this? Some even argue that ecological features – such as rivers, glaciers, and masses of land – deserve the legal status of “personhood.”

Please feel free to check out the following articles for some background information on the topic:

Nonhuman animals: https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/when-is-a-person-not-a-hum...

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/do-apes-deserve-personhood-rights-la...

Artificial intelligence: https://www.forbes.com/sites/federicoguerrini/2017/01/16/by-giving-robot...

Lands and rivers: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/14/world/what-in-the-world/in-new-zealan...

Abortion and humanity in general: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/opinion/gorsuch-abortion-and-the-conc...

***

6 - 7 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017 (Jordan Hall 205)

'Automation in the Working World'

The current mainstream narrative of American industry job loss over the past several generations – one that places primary blame on outsourcing and global competition – ignores the reality that technological automation of manufacturing is most accountable for this downward trend. Wealth from manufacturing in the U.S. has not decreased, but rather the opposite, as increasingly complex machines have rendered millions of expensive, risk-prone jobs obsolete. National economic growth, however, does not necessarily lead to higher quality of life, and currently there is little hope in the prospect of market solutions to the overwhelming anxiety felt by many people in this country and elsewhere. What should be done, then, for the growing number of workers who lose their primary means of subsistence due to advances in technology? What moral obligations do governments hold to the people in regards to alleviating both poverty and mass unemployment?

Please feel free to check out the following articles for some background information on the topic:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/265cd8fb02fb44a69cf0eaa2063e11d9/mexico-t...

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21700758-will-smarter-machi...

***

12 - 1 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2016 (Jordan Hall 203)

What Is Democracy?’

With Election Day upon us and in an era of politics and social action as hectic as the one we currently live in, we often find ourselves grappling with this and related questions in the hope of ending up in a better world than the one in which we started.

What are the necessary conditions for a democracy to exist and thrive, and what are the most significant threats to it? Why exactly is democracy preferable to other forms of governance? What nonpolitical features of a society should be in place alongside a democracy, and what should the goal of a democracy be?

If you have time, you can check out some excerpts from the short essay “On Democracy” by famous philosopher and social reformer John Dewey:

http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/lafer/dewey%20dewey.htm

***

12 - 1pm Wednesday, October 5, 2016 (Jordan Hall 203)

‘Truth and the Media’s Ethical Responsibilities’

With the rise of the Internet and, thus, a seemingly limitless supply of sources one can cite in defense of whatever beliefs they may hold, how does one discern between cases of bias and cases where the truth of a matter supports a particular viewpoint? What is the media’s ethical obligation in regards to this, and how can they go about enacting it? This is obviously a potentially polarizing issue, as one’s political views undoubtedly influence their perceptions of particular media outlets, but, of course, there will be no discrimination of discussion participants based on their views.

Here are a few short articles attempting to address the topic, as well as a podcast episode relating to it that features commentators on differing ends of the political spectrum:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-saldana/the-news-about-the-truth-_b_1203347.html

http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/should-the-times-be-a-truth-vigilante/?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/podcasts/media-truth-charlie-sykes.html?_r=0