Green Bay Area

Philosophers’ Café

2017-2018 Schedule

Wednesday, September 20: Is there a single nature for humanity, and does it carry implications for morality?

  • Location: Aardvark Wine Lounge, 304 Pine St., Green Bay, WI
  • Moderator: Christopher Martin (Assoc. Professor in Humanities)

What is ‘human nature’, if there is such a thing? Does it incline toward good or bad behavior? Biologists and philosophers have wondered, explored, and met with frustrations for centuries over whether there really is some loose set of traits that collectively define a human being. Whether we do in fact share a single commonality, and whether this has anything to do with how we treat ourselves and one another is, then, a pressing yet difficult question.  Are bad people acting against the angels of their better nature, or are the rest of us suckers constantly falling prey to the machinations of conniving charlatans? At this year’s inaugural Philosophers Café we will decide—once and for all—whether there is a human nature and, if so, whether it inclines toward altruistic goodness or a struggle of all against that that renders life, as Thomas Hobbes once famously put it, ‘nasty, poor, brutish, and short’.

Wednesday, October 11: Will We Be Left Behind: The 4th Industrial Revolution, Millennials, & Conscious Capitalism

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at St. Brendan’s Inn, 234 S. Washington Street, Green Bay
  • Moderator: Susan Frost (Lecturer in Humanities)

Epochal change is afoot.Artificial Intelligence is bringing challenges to the concept of work, a super-sized generation with a new set of values is entering the workplace, and old capitalism may be on its way to being replaced by conscious capitalism.Is this a point of resistance, of fear, or an opportunity to rethink our values and, if we don't change, will we be left behind?

Wednesday, Nov. 8: Food, Politics, and Policy

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at 304 Pine St., Green Bay, WI
  • Moderator: Kris Coulter (Asst. Professor in Democracy and Justice Studies)

In the United States and around the world, people are increasingly interested in the politics and ethics of what we eat. Growing concerns about our food system, animal welfare, environment, public health, labor, food waste, and food insecurity raise a series of questions. Who is primarily responsible for addressing some of these concerns? To what extent, if any, should government intervene? We’ll discuss government and private efforts to tackle some of these concerns.

Wednesday, Dec. 13: Journeys

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at Titletown Brewery (2nd floor of original building), 200 Dousman St., Green Bay
  • Moderator: Stefan Hall (Assoc. Professor of Humanities)

People go on physical journeys and mental journeys, and we're all certainly on a journey we call life. Throughout history, human beings have recorded stories about our various journeys, at times heroic, at times fatal, at times perhaps even a bit mundane. One thing is clear: humans love stories about travelling to distant realms and encountering the exotic, the scary, the fascinating. Join Dr. Stefan Hall from the Humanities department at UW-Green Bay at the Philosopher's Cafe on December __ for a discussion of some of his favorite journey-tales from the ancient, medieval, and modern world such as Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Beowulf, Sir Gawain, Bilbo Baggins, et ecetera.

Wednesday, Jan. 17: Why you or I can't be real

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at Titletown Brewery (2nd floor of original building), 200 Dousman St., Green Bay
  • Moderator: Christopher Martin (Assoc. Professor in Humanities)

If I asked you for a list of what is really real, or most real, you could do worse than start by pointing to you or me. How else could we even question what is real or not, for instance, if we are not real enough to raise the questions!? I’d like to suggest that this cannot be the case—that things like your or me are not real. And I don’t mean that we are instead complex composites of real things and as such not ‘ourselves’ real … no, I mean, simply, that things like you and I, and even whatever we are composed of, cannot be real. Nothing that is finite, or temporal, can be real. Have no fear though, as I will then suggest that we are instead ‘shadows’ of real things—we are shadows. More big picture: only infinite and eternal entities can exist, but these entities (for reasons we’ll discuss) are compelled to cast finite and temporal reflections, or shadows of themselves. This all falls out of the rationalist approach to Philosophy I most subscribe to, and makes for what should be a pretty rockin’ Café discussion! Bring a fellow shadow, your rationalist or irrationalist leanings, and a thirst for a pint and conversation.

Wednesday, Feb. 14: Chinese Yin-Yang theory and its influence on Confucian view of conception and human relationship

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at St. Brendan’s Inn, 234 S. Washington Street, Green Bay
  • Moderator: Hye-kyung Kim (Assoc. Professor of Humanities)

Is gender socially constructed? That is, are the differences people attribute to men and women invented by society, the way that spelling is invented by society? Or is gender a part of the order of the universe? That is, are the differences people attribute to men and women based on the nature of the world, the cosmological order, the way the differences between salt and sugar are based on the nature of the world? If the differences are based on the cosmological order, do they in fact justify the oppressive norms on women---the oppressive rules respecting women’s conduct---that Confucianism has been associated with? We will examine the theory of yin-yang and its implications for gender theory. We will also discuss what it means to live as a man or a woman---a gendered person---in a Confucian society, and critically evaluate whether Confucian gender theory, based on the yin-yang principle, could support gender equality.

Wednesday, March 7: Are We Hoarding the American Dream? Illusions of Meritocracy, Obsessions with Smartness, and Higher Education in the U.S.

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at Titletown Brewery (2nd floor of original building), 200 Dousman St., Green Bay
  • Moderator: Denise Bartell (Director for Student Success and Engagement) and Caroline Boswell (Assoc. Professor of Humanities)

In this cafe we'll examine how our beliefs in the meritocratic and egalitarian nature of our society and about the nature of intellect may collide to impede access to higher education, widely believed the surest path to the American Dream. Exploring the premises of two recent books, Dream Hoarders and Are You Smart Enough, we will critically engage these ideas to examine the intended and unintended impacts on higher ed in the U.S.

Wednesday, April 11: Imagination as a Source of Knowledge

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at St. Brendan’s Inn, 234 S. Washington Street, Green Bay
  • Moderator: Emily Ransom (Asst. Professor of Humanities)

For ancient and medieval thinkers, imagination and theology went hand-in-hand as a way of understanding the world.  During the Reformation, however, imagination came under increasing suspicion as a source of knowledge as Catholics were accused of devising man-made inventions in the name of doctrine and deception, and Protestants were accused of following the individual imaginations of reformers over the long-established teachings of the church.  Yielding to reason and evidence, imagination took the back-seat.  Five hundred years later, we will take another look.  What role does imagination play in understanding the world, whether in theology, philosophy, politics, science, or society?  In addition to reason and imperial evidence, can we consider imagination as another source of knowledge?

Wednesday, May 9: Empathy and Morality

  • Location: 7:00-8:30 at Titletown Brewery* (2nd floor of original building), 200 Dousman St., Green Bay
  • Moderator: Jason Cowell (Asst. Professor of Human Development)

From politicians, to self-help gurus, the concept of empathy has become a plea that all too often is invoked. We are confronted with the notion that understanding the plight of others, or even feeling concern for the state of another will necessarily mean that we will act more morally or prosocially towards them. Recently, philosophers and psychologists alike have begun to debate this relation; does morality necessarily follow from empathy? In this discussion, we will talk about the current arguments from both sides of the debate; detailing what exactly empathy is, what it isn’t, and how it might relate to our behaviors towards others.