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2011-2012 Schedule

September 15, 2011: What's the Point? Death and a Meaningful Life

  • Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Tanya Randle, PhD. St. Norbert College, Philosophy

The knowledge that you are going to die is part of being human. After all, as everyone knows, the death rate is 100%! That knowledge shapes how we understand ourselves in our world, but it is it possible for me really to understand my own death or to prepare myself for it? And what meaning could my life, my projects, my accomplishments have in the face of my own inevitable death? If I and everyone I know and care for will cease to exist, what's the point of all this struggle, stress, joy, boredom, beauty, happiness, and pain we call life? Since I know that I am going to die, must I believe in some afterlife in order for this life in the here and now to have meaning? Or is this knowledge of my own death the very thing that makes life meaningful?

October 13, 2011: Coupling: The Nature of Romantic Relationships in Human Life

  • Location: Harmony Café (1660 W Mason St., Green Bay), Green Room, 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Denise Bartell, Ph.D., UWGB, Human Development

Why do couple bonds exist? How do they influence our lives? Why do we choose who we choose for these relationships? What is a “successful” relationship? Couple relationships are a core feature of most humans’ lives, and a quick review of the content of our literature, music and video media effectively illustrates the amount of cognitive and emotional energy that we, as a culture, expend in the exploration of these relationships. This Café will examine central questions about the nature of love, sex and couple relationships, drawing upon information from both the sciences and humanities.

November 10, 2011: Ethics of Food

  • Location: Kavarna (143 N Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Christopher Martin, PhD., UWGB, Philosophy

What is 'food'? What if any are the ethical dimensions of the way in which it is grown, harvested, transported and sold? In this cafe we will take a look at ways in which food and its production have been revolutionized in the last half century or so. We'll discuss the genetic modifications of 'food', how this affects their nutritional content, and what if anything might be worrisome about it. We will look at this issue from the perspective of food growers and companies, consumers and the environment.

December 8, 2011: Human Rights and Human Dignity

  • Location: Kavarna (143 N Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Robert Pyne, Th.D. St. Norbert College, Senior Director for Community Engagement

On what basis can we articulate and defend universal human rights in intercultural and pluralistic contexts? How do such claims relate to national autonomy and religious freedom?

January 12, 2012: The Morality (or otherwise) of the Free Market: Bernard de Mandeville v. Adam Smith

  • Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Paul Johnson, Ph.D., St. Norbert College, Philosophy

Adam Smith is frequently invoked as the uncritical and enthusiastic proponent of free market capitalism who might well espouse the doctrine "Greed is Good." This is a serious confusion. The uncritical and joyous embrace of even the most virulent forms of capitalist excess can, however, be imputed to Smith's early 18th century forebear, Bernard Mandeville. This Cafe session will discuss the moral orientation of these two authors for the purpose of raising for ourselves anew the problems and prospects for free market economics in our own troubled day.

February 9, 2012: What's Good about Religious Beliefs?

  • Location: Harmony Café (1660 W Mason St., Green Bay), Green Room, 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Mara Brecht, Ph.D., St. Norbert College, Religious Studies

Consider the following statements: "I believe God to be supremely good and loving." "I believe the fire hydrant to be around the block." People claim beliefs about God in the same way they claim beliefs about human nature, politics ordinary events, and even the weather. But are beliefs about God and ordinary beliefs about the world really alike? If they are, should religious beliefs be subject to the same kinds of assessments that we make about other, ordinary beliefs? If they are not like other types of belief, then should they be subject to other sets of tests and assessments? If so, what kinds? In short, what is the nature of religious belief? Can religious beliefs be considered to be 'real' beliefs in the same way our other beliefs are?

March 8, 2012: Just War Theory: Ethical Perspectives and Issues

  • Location: Kavarna (143 N Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: David Duquette, Ph.D. St. Norbert College, Philosophy

This café will focus on three central aspects of just war theory: 1. The distinction between jus ad bellum (having just cause to go to war) and jus in bello (waging war justly). I will lay out the basic considerations that fall under each and raise questions about whether these are necessary and/or sufficient conditions for a just war. 2. The rights or prerogatives of the military and individual soldiers in fighting justly. One salient question is whether, under what conditions, and to what extent military units and soldiers can forfeit their basic human rights in warfare. 3. The principle of non-combatant immunity. Is it a principle to be applied absolutely? If not, what is the extent of application, or under what conditions could it be overridden? Topical issues including terrorism, the use of torture, and indefinite detention may be considered in the context of Just War theory.

April 12, 2012: Harnessing the Adaptive Power of Anger

  • Location: Harmony Café (1660 W Mason St., Green Bay), Green Room, 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Ryan Martin, PhD., UWGB, Human Development

We can probably all remember a time when we were so angry that we did something we regret. Maybe it was embarrassing, maybe it was cruel, or maybe it was damaging to ourselves or someone we care about. In this way, our rage can harm us and interfere with our success. At the same, anger is inevitable and it fuels our behavior in meaningful and important ways so trying to eliminate it from our lives is both misguided and impossible. The question then becomes how can we use our anger in positive and prosocial ways. How can we feel it, listen to it, learn from it, and use it to make our lives better.

May 10, 2012: The Public Sphere, Popular Culture, and Political Discourse

  • Location: St. Brendan's Inn (234 South Washington Street Green Bay), by the fireplace, 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Timothy Dale, PhD. UWGB, Political Science

By definition, a democratic society requires active and engaged citizens. Despite the fact that America has notoriously low voter turnout, we have a dynamic and complex public sphere in which other kinds of political activities take place. In this session we will consider political participation from a philosophical perspective, with attention to the relationship between politics and popular culture. We will consider questions such as: What counts as political participation? What impact does popular culture have on political discourse? What kinds of messages are appearing in popular culture, and what impact do they have on the people who consume them? Can the production and consumption of popular culture count as political participation?