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March 2016

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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Does the Universe Have a Purpose? (the Forum)

21 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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The traditional answer to this question is that God has a plan for the universe and we are part of it. Almost as traditionally, atheists have countered that the universe has no purpose since a benevolent God does not exist. But what if the purpose of the universe does not involve us – or God – at all?

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December 2016

Monstrosity (the Forum)

6 December 2016, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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Why is art preoccupied with monsters? What can we learn about a society from the kinds of monsters it imagines? Today, when traditional ideas of the human cannot account for advances in biology and technology, can monstrous figures help us to better understand our changing sense of ourselves?

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January 2017

The Nature of Money (the Forum)

11 January 2017, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What is money, where does it come from, and why does it sometimes fail to make us better off? The banality of money makes it appear neutral with respect to political, religious, or moral values. Should we try to answer these questions in a value-neutral way, or does money shelter a value system hiding in plain sight?

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Work: The Digital Economy and the Labouring Body (the Forum)

17 January 2017, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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From the impact of de-industrialization to the emerging forms of labour generated by technological advances, we are witnessing a transformation of work. What impact does the digital economy have on our understanding of work? Does it alter our conception of the labouring body? Where should we look to make sense of work in the contemporary, globalized world?

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The Social Lives of Microbes (the Forum)

24 January 2017, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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What are microbial societies? In what ways do they resemble human societies and in what ways do they differ? Can the same ideas that explain cooperation in larger animals also explain cooperation in microbes? And what can we learn from microbes about what it is to be human? In this panel discussion, philosopher Maureen O’Malley and microbiologists Kevin Foster and Sara Mitri discuss the social lives of microbes.

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On Objects (the Forum)

31 January 2017, 6:30 pm8:00 pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, London School of Economics
London, WC2A 3LJ United Kingdom
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We tend to pay more attention to living beings than objects, failing to notice the complexities of the things that surround us, neglecting the differences between "the obsidian fragment, the gypsum crystal, the capsicum pepper, and the propane flame" (Ian Bogost). But what if we are wrong to think of objects as inert and unimportant? What if objects can act? What if objects can help us to bridge the perceived gap between ourselves and the world around us? Our panel will consider the significance of objects between the personal and philosophical.

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