Green Bay Area

Philosophers’ Café

2014-2015 Schedule

Wednesday, September 3: The Past through Tomorrow: History, Science Fiction, and the Contemporary World

Location: Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Clifton Ganyard, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Humanistic Studies (History)

Historians think about the past. Science fiction writers think about the future. On the surface, the two fields seem diametrically opposed. Past and Future diverge from the Present and fade off in opposite directions. In reality, however, history and science fiction share much in common. Frequently, historians study the past in order to explain how the present world came to be. Likewise, science fiction share an interest in the present, using it as a base from which to extrapolate future possibilities. Historians and science fiction writers share an interest in explaining the contemporary world. And the intersection of history and science fiction goes even further than that. Science fiction itself has a history, and the examination of past histories of the future can reveal much about past values. Historians now write science fiction, as well, in the form of alternate histories, asking “what if…?” questions in order to explore the significance of historical events. The intersection of history and science fiction offers a fascinating mode with which to explore the present. What can science fiction tell us about the past? What can history reveal about the future? Come find out.

Wednesday, October 1: The Good Life? An exploration from the US to Ecuador

Location: Kavarna Coffeehouse (143 N. Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Adam Parrillo, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Urban and Regional Studies (Geography)

The post war boom in the US economy led to a general level of affluence that supported increasing expectations of middle class lifestyles. These lifestyles depend heavily upon a consumption patterns spurred by notions of the “Good Life” or “Living Easy,” patterns that are ingrained in the general well-being of the US. Recently, some South American countries, like Ecuador, have gone through political economic changes that have focused upon the philosophy of “Buen Vivir” (good living) that appear to counter models of wellbeing based on consumption. In comparing the notions of The Good Life, we want to examine questions of what is important in both individual and community lifestyles and how this coincides with the public sphere.

Wednesday, November 5: Is Democracy Good?

Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Alison Staudinger, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Democracy and Justice Studies (Political Science)

Is voting a democratic way of making a decision? If not, what are the alternatives and how might we enact them in our own communities? Aristotle says that democracy is like a potluck, where everyone can bring the dish they make best- but would you rather eat at a potluck or at the table of a Michelin star chef? If democracy is a good thing- either because it is just or because it helps us make good decisions- what should it look like? Is voting sufficient? Is representation problematic? What role should deliberation or civil discourse play? How about agonistic competition? Is consensus a democratic value? Can democratic debate be sensitive to the unequal social and material status of citizens? Among other issues, I’d like to discuss the last year’s debates in Green Bay over whether to rezone the Larsen Green Property so that Walmart could develop it. Was this decision democratic? Why or why not?

Wednesday, December 3: The Art of Reflective Discussion

Location: Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: David Voelker, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Humanistic Studies (History)

We live in a culture that is saturated with both information and polemic. With all of the “informing” and “debating” that goes on, deep reflection often falls by the wayside. This session offers not an argument or a predetermined main point but rather a process of reflective discussion focused on individual reflection and clarification, as well as on fostering the community-space to allow for this special kind of conversation. The discussion will center on a brief piece of writing that will be revealed and distributed as the session begins, along with a list of ground rules.

Wednesday, January 7: Historic Preservation, Green Bay Style

Location: Kavarna Coffeehouse (143 N. Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Mark Steuer

Oliver Wendell Holmes, who once said “When I want to understand what is happening today or try to decide what will happen tomorrow, I look back" and Clarence Darrow, who stated that “History repeats itself. That's one of the things wrong with [it]", raise important questions about the ethic of historic preservation. Do you wince when you see or hear of a valuable historic structure or artifact that seems to be destroyed needlessly? Within the borders of Brown County, only De Pere and Allouez have attained Certified Local Government (CLG) status, as well as having historic preservation ordinances on the books. What are the advantages of a CLG? Of a historic preservation ordinance? Do communities already have too many ordinances in place to clutter the lives of taxpayers? What are the economic advantages or disadvantages of historical preservation? Where does Green Bay stand on historic preservation or CLG status? Does history always have to repeat itself?

Wednesday, February 4: When the Wells Run Dry

Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Kevin Fermanich, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Natural and Applied Sciences

Join us for an in-depth discussion regarding the amount, quality, and access to fresh water and possible implications for a future with less of it – both globally and here at home.

Wednesday, March 4: Electrons are Fictional Entities: Anti-Realism in Science

Moderator: Christopher Martin, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Humanistic Studies (Philosophy)
Location: Titletown Brewing Company, 200 Dousman St., Green Bay

Ever since Isaac Newton’s counter-intuitive yet powerfully predictive theory of universal gravitation, scientists have had to grapple with the possibility that their theories may not explain the world, but only help us to make predictions about its future. Anti-Realism, one of the dominant views in the Philosophy of Science, maintains that scientific theories are nothing more than fictional constructs whose only aim is to make correct predictions. Asked whether electrons are real, the Anti-Realist will reply that the very question is nonsensical; because there is no way to visually verify the existence of an electron the question of its reality cannot be answered. In this month’s Philosophers’ Café we will delve into the murky waters of Anti-Realism in science.

Wednesday, April 1: Does Higher Education Continue to Reduce Social Inequality?

Moderator: Denise Bartell, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Human Development
Location: Titletown Brewing Company, 200 Dousman St., Green Bay

At a time when income inequality is rising to alarming levels in the U.S. and socio-economic mobility is significantly less likely than in previous generations, what is the role of institutions of higher education in redressing these problems? Are for profit and online institutions financially efficient solutions for those who have more difficulty accessing traditional colleges and universities? Or do they create a two-tiered system of higher education that may perpetuate and exacerbate social inequality? Public regional comprehensive universities have become ground zero in efforts to increase the percentage of college educated citizens in states around the country. But what responsibility do they hold for equitably serving those in their communities when public support declines to negligible levels? Can our public university system continue to fulfill the Wisconsin Idea in this environment? Should it? This café will examine current trends in higher education in the U.S., and in Wisconsin in particular, with a focus on higher education as a mechanism to reduce social and economic inequality.

Wednesday, May 6: Prolonged Adolescence, Emerging Adulthood, or Adult-Lite? Is There a New Phase of the Life Course?

Moderator: Joel Muraco, UW Green Bay, Human Development & Women’s and Gender Studies
Location: St. Brendan’s Inn, 234 S. Washington St., Green Bay

Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett argues that as a direct result of social changes a new phase of the life course has developed. Arnett believes this new phase of ‘emerging adulthood’ exists between adolescence and adulthood and allows individuals more independence and time to explore various life possibilities free of adult roles and responsibilities. The possibility of embracing ‘emerging adulthood’ as a new phase of the life course has sparked debate among developmental experts. Is this a new phase, or just a lengthening of adolescence? Is such a phase universal? Can it be a developmental phase of the lifespan if not universal? For that matter, when does adolescence end and adulthood even begin? What are some of the societal ramifications of the reality that many are delaying their entrance into full adulthood?

For more information, you may contact Christopher Martin at UW-Green Bay.