Monty Python’s Argument clinic

The boys from Monty Python do it again. In philosophy, an argument isn’t just contradiction, it’s “a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition”. The series of statements are called premises and the proposition they aim to support is the conclusion. If an argument is valid (a good argument), then the truth of […]

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Peter Singer on our obligation to alleviate suffering

Karl Marx stated, ‘the philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it’. Marx’s sentiment is, I think, shared by many; philosophy can be seen to be an abstract pursuit, and philosophers far-removed from everyday concerns. One philosopher who cannot, however, be accused of such abstraction is Peter Singer. Singer is rightly heralded as […]

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Political Philosophy

In 399 BC, when he was over seventy, Socrates was accused before the Athenian assembly of impiety and corrupting the young, and was sentenced to death.  Plato, in his Crito dialogue, presents a dramatic scene from the condemned cell; Socrates’ friends urge him to escape from prison, and avoid the unjust and vindictive sentence of the court. […]

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Aesthetics

Aesthetics is an area of philosophy sometimes taken to be synonymous with the philosophy of art.  This, however, is a mistake.  Although aesthetics is for the most part concerned with questions concerning the nature of art, it also addresses more general questions of beauty.  In this session we will look firstly at beauty before going […]

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What is Philosophy?

Philosophy begins with questions and, as such, a good place to start is with this often overlooked question concerning the nature of philosophy itself.  Strangely, for a discipline that places such great emphasis on defining and clarifying concepts, there is no unanimously agreed definition of what exactly philosophy is.  The term ‘philosophy’ in its literal […]

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