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February 2016

Does Science Have All the Answers? (the Forum)

15 February 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Modern science has provided answers to questions once thought impertinent for human beings to investigate. Among them, ‘What causes earthquakes and natural disasters?’, ‘Where does human life begin?’, and ‘Do we have free will?’. But when does the triumph of science become triumphalism? What are the limits of scientific inquiry, and does it leave any questions for non-scientists to answer?…

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Progress in Troubled Times: Learning from the ‘Age of Genius’ (the Forum @ LSE Literary Festival 2016)

24 February 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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How should we understand the intellectual changes that marked the turbulent seventeenth century in Europe? Fuelled by both original and orthodox thinking, this period witnessed perhaps the greatest shift in our outlook, from the alchemy and astrology of John Dee to the painstaking observations and astronomy of Galileo. Newton, the man who understood gravity and the laws of motion, remained…

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Ideals of Equality: Feminisms in the Twenty-First Century (the Forum @ LSE Literary Festival 2016)

27 February 2016, 11:00 am12:30 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What is the future for feminism? How does feminism interact with concerns about other forms of oppression, such as those based on race and class? Is there one feminist movement or many? If there are many, how should they relate to one another? In this panel, our speakers will discuss these questions and ask what the future holds for feminist…

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Darwinism and the Social Sciences (the Forum)

29 February 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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A growing number of researchers are applying Darwinian ideas to explain aspects of human society, but this work has long been controversial. Is a Darwinian theory of culture possible? If so, what should such a theory look like? In what ways should it differ from a theory of biological evolution? Does the ‘meme’ concept have any value? How should we…

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March 2016

The Right to be an Independent State? (the Forum)

8 March 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Recent years have seen numerous calls for independence: in Kosovo, South Sudan, Scotland, Catalonia, and in Eastern parts of Ukraine. Are all declarations of independence created equal, or are some more legitimate than others? What gives a territory the right to become an independent country, and under what conditions can a state prevent it from doing so? Speakers John Breuilly,…

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What Are Prisons For? (the Forum)

15 March 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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In this time of austerity, many of those who want a small state are also committed to a highly expensive criminal justice apparatus that has little demonstrable deterrent effect. But are there other, more direct arguments against the use of imprisonment as a dominant form of punishment? If so, what are they? Why do they so often fall on deaf…

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The Philosophy of Pregnancy and Birth (the Forum)

22 March 2016, 7:00 pm8:30 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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The relationship between mother and foetus during pregnancy has long challenged our sense of ourselves as distinct individuals, as well as our conceptions of legal and moral responsibility. Are the mother and foetus best understood as one organism or two? What are the implications of this special relationship for the mother’s moral duty towards her child? The speakers in this…

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April 2016

Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours (the Forum)

20 April 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Old Theatre, Old Building, London School of Economics, Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE United Kingdom
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Slavoj Žižek talks about his new book, Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror, and Other Troubles with the Neighbours. From within the safety of Europe, we face two versions of ideological blackmail—open-door solidarity with refugees and drawbridge-minded protectionism. Both prolong the problem—so, confronted with this double blackmail, we find ourselves back at the great question: what is to be done?…

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This House Believes We Should Leave the European Union (the Forum)

27 April 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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On 23 June, voters in the UK will make a decision regarding their willingness to share or pool some of the UK’s sovereignty with the twenty-seven other member states of the European Union. This special event, held as part of the Forum’s 20th anniversary, will consider a motion to change the status quo… #LSEFEP

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May 2016

Heidegger and Technology (the Forum)

5 May 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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For Heidegger, technology does not simply refer to the various tools we use to get along in the world, but also the tendency we have to view the world as nothing more than a resource for the purposes of production and consumption. After offering a brief overview of Heidegger’s thought as a whole, the panel will discuss what Heidegger can tell us about the nature of modern technology and the threat it posses to the world in which we live, as well as potential solutions to the dangers of reducing the world to resources for production and consumption. #LSEFEP

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A Right to Be Believed? Testimony in Sexual Abuse Cases (the Forum)

16 May 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Sexual offences have frequently gone unpunished because victims have not been believed. This stands in the way of justice and constitutes an additional wrong; according to one victim, not being believed by the police "was almost worse than the rape itself". In light of this, many have called for a "right to be believed". But how can this be reconciled with the principle of "innocent until proven guilty"? And when, if at all, do we have a right that someone should believe our testimony? Our panel – a philosopher, a barrister, and a legal theorist – will debate these questions. #LSEFEP

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Evolution and Moral Progress (the Forum)

24 May 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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It now seems hard to deny that at least some of our moral beliefs have been shaped by natural selection. What does this mean for the objectivity of ethics and the possibility of moral progress? Does evolution mean that morality is an illusion? Are we locked into ‘tribal’ ways of thinking, or is a more inclusive morality possible? Our panel will consider the philosophical implications of the evolution of morality. #LSEFEP

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September 2016

Women in Science: Past, Present, and Future Challenges (the Forum)

27 September 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Despite progress in recent decades, women remain under-represented in many areas of science. Why is this, and what can be done about it? How do the challenges faced by women in science today differ from those faced by previous generations? Does the neuroscience of sex differences show that science requires a "male brain", or does it debunk that idea? And how might the structure and culture of science be improved to help the next generation of female scientists?

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October 2016

The Worst Form of Government? (the Forum)

5 October 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Winston Churchill famously described democracy as "the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried". While not exactly a resounding endorsement, something like this sentiment is strongly held by most people in Western societies. Those who challenge it are branded "extremists" or "ideologues", with special suspicion reserved for those who incorporate unfamiliar cultural or religious beliefs. However, there have always been those who think alternatives to democracy are possible, and indeed preferable. So what are the philosophical arguments in favour of democracy, and do they stand up to scrutiny?

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Reason and Rhetoric: The Ethics of Public Discussion (the Forum)

10 October 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Even in so-called "mature" democracies, political discussion often turns ugly. Recently we have seen accusations of deception and name-calling in the EU referendum debate, of negative campaigning in the London mayoral election, and of unrestrained personal attacks in the US election. Does such behaviour fall short of an ethical standard for public discussion, or is it an essential feature of political life?

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Hive Minds: Collective Intelligence in Humans and Other Animals (the Forum)

19 October 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Swarms of bees make decisions as a "democratic" collective, voting on various possible nest sites through waggle dances. Does this phenomenon amount to a form of "collective intelligence"? Do we also find collective intelligence in humans? And what might humans be able to learn from bees about the best ways to act together and to make collective decisions?

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Can We Learn from Suffering? (the Forum)

24 October 2016, 6:30 pm8:30 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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The "most depressing lesson" of suffering, Slavoj Žižek writes, is that "there is nothing to be learned from it". Is Žižek’s bleak view convincing, or is there evidence to suggest that suffering can educate or even improve us? If so, do some types of physical or mental suffering have more value than others? What is it that we learn? Does suggesting that suffering has meaning or value validate or demean the experience of suffering?

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Future Sex: Technology, Desire, and the New Rules of Engagement (the Forum)

31 October 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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In a year of heated discussions about campus rape culture and street harassment, the merits of sex positivism, and the implications of trans-identity for feminism, we ask what is the future of sex and sexuality? Have the rules of sexual engagement changed in the twenty-first century and has the discipline of philosophy managed to keep up? How do we start to think afresh about desire, after Freud and into the future? And what is the future for sex as our conceptions of the body are reframed by culture, bionics, and even the law?

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November 2016

Brain in a Vat and Other Stories: A Celebration of Hilary Putnam (the Forum)

8 November 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Does perception give me any reason to believe in an external world, or could I be a "brain in a vat" that is fed information by a malicious (or benevolent) scientist? And if I were such a brain, could I ever say or think this? This is just one puzzle raised by the Harvard philosopher Hilary Putnam, who died last year. Though its origins are in Augustine and Descartes, Putnam revolutionised its implications for our understanding of knowledge, language, and the mind. We bring together a distinguished panel to discuss his life and work.

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Improv Your Mind: Philosophy, Music, and Making Things Up (the Forum)

16 November 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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From Nietzsche’s dalliances with tragic drama and Adorno’s adoration of Schoenberg to Badiou’s writing on dance, philosophy’s love affair with the performing arts has been long and thoughtful. In this debate, we discuss the ways philosophy thinks about performance.

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