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2013-2014 Schedule

Thursday, September 12: What is it? The illusion of gender

Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Dan Meinhardt

What is it? That was likely the first question ever asked about you, so it's no surprise that a person's gender plays a large role in their identity. However, despite the fact that we think of human sex (and thus gender) as a dimorphic feature (either male or female), the biological reality is much more complex. Human sexual anatomy takes many more forms than the two common ones with which we are all familiar. When we consider the highly plastic nature of anatomy, and even more variable traits associated with gender, the idea that humans come in two forms becomes rather absurd.

Thursday, October 10: In Progress

Location: Harmony Café (1660 W Mason St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: John Holder

In progress.

Thursday, November 14: Food Waste and Food Insecurity

Location: Kavarna (143 North Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Sarah Himmelheber

According the USDA, one out of every six people living in the United States currently experiences food insecurity. Consequently, food pantries continue to report increased overall demand, as well as a shift from emergency to regular use by clients. With so many community members struggling to meet their own food needs, the levels of tolerated food waste become even more shocking. The amount of waste inherent in the dominant, industrial food system has gained agenda status over the last decade. Could the answer—or part of the answer— be as simple as harnessing what would be wasted and directing it towards those in need? Or, as some anti-hunger advocates have argued, is this just a “band-aid” approach that masks issues of power and control in the food system? These issues will be explored at this month’s Philosophers Café.

Thursday, December 12: Men are gigolos, women are gold diggers

Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Christine Smith

According to Sexual Strategies Theory of evolutionary psychology, women and men have developed divergent mating strategies because of reproductive differences. This has resulted in sex differences in commitment seeking, parental investment, desire for sexual variety, qualities preferred in short-term and long-term mates, and causes of sexual conflict between men and women. In this month’s Philosopher’s Café, we will address such issues as: Is anatomy destiny? Is rape an evolutionary adaptation? Are women and men fundamentally different in what they desire in romantic partners and in their sexual motivations?

Thursday, January 9: Social Capital and Civic Engagement in Brown County

Location: Harmony Café (1660 W Mason St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Lora Warner

In 2000, in his book, Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam famously described the decline in social capital in the U.S.. Social capital is defined as the networks of relationships we build by being out and involved in our communities. Communities that have high rates of social capital and civic engagement are able to solve problems together and improve quality of life; it is also important for our democratic form of government. Where does the Green Bay area stand with regard to social capital, as measured by rates of volunteerism, voting, philanthropy, and other forms of involvement? What are the implications? After describing the concept of social capital and its importance, we'll look over some recent data about our area (including the LIFE Study), talk about what you've observed, and what we might do about it.

Thursday, February 13: The Illusion of Free Will

Location: Kavarna (143 North Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Christopher Martin

Each of us are experientially convinced that we are the sole determinants of many of our actions, that we often choose our behavior ourselves. But we are also somewhat aware of the massive influence that our early-life environments, education and upbringing, physical and psychological states, character and social pressures have on our behaviors. Is there room amidst this massive set of controlling influences for the individual to sometimes choose for him/herself how they will act? Can we justify the deep feeling that we are sometimes genuinely free? If not, how might this impact our conception of morality, who we choose to love and to marry, etc… We’ll explore these and related issues at this month’s Philosophers Café.

Thursday, March 13: Political Relevance

Location: St. Brendan’s Inn (234 S. Washington St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Caroline Boswell

Do your political ideals match your own behavior towards your fellow peers, co-workers, family members, students/professors? Do you think political and social values should be relative to given contexts and circumstances? Should, for example, university students be able to vote on major curricular and university reforms just as they can vote in major political elections? Should bosses be liable to votes of no confidence or recalls by her or his workers, or answerable to superiors alone? Are their situations in which elitism is the best of all possible options, and others where democracy or even autocracy should be guiding ideologies?

Thursday, April 10: The Ethics of Non-native species

Location: Harmony Café (1660 W Mason St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Mike Draney

Biologists often separate the species living in an area into two categories: Native species (those that arrived at the area without the intentional or unintentional assistance of humans and their technology) and non-native species (those that arrived at an area where they probably or certainly could not have arrived without human transportation). Most ecologists believe the distinction is critical in managing ecosystems, because the rate of new species arriving at many ecosystems is orders of magnitude higher than the pre-human “background” rate, and because species often have large ecological effects on their new homes, often even leading to the extinction of native forms. Others have stated that human transportation is “natural” and that there is no a priori reason why immigrant species are intrinsically less valuable than the natives. They ask why species can’t be considered to be “naturalized” after a period of time. So…do natives deserve special status, should non-native species ever be given higher status as naturalized members of ecosystems? Or should it “depend” on the situation?

Thursday, May 8: The ‘What if…?’ Question in History

Location: Kavarna (143 North Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
Moderator: Vince Lowery

Why do we think of history in such counterfactual terms? Taking the issue in a slightly different direction, why are we obsessed with the idea of time travel and, on the one hand, the possibilities it might hold to change the past and, on the other, the dangers such action might pose? We consume ourselves with the way we might correct past mistakes or learn from them to avoid repeating them. Yet the study of the past is so much more, compelling us to move beyond the facts to a study of cause and effect and the complex motivations and actions of historical actors. And while the events of the past may seem similar, we lose sight of context and difference by suggesting that the past repeats itself. At the core of this is the idea of history and our relationship to it, our dissatisfaction with events, and our desire to somehow seem in control and able to dictate the course of events. We’ll explore these issues at this month’s Cafe.