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2015-2016 Schedule

Wednesday, September 16: To Regulate or Not Regulate: We tell you!

  • Location: Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: David Helpap, Ph.D., UW Green Bay (Public and Environmental Affairs, Political Science)

What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word regulations? For most people, the thought isn’t positive. Unnecessary, burdensome, and costly are among the broad adjectives commonly offered in current rhetoric. For others, however, opinions are much more favorable and additional regulations, often related to the environment, consumer safety, finance, or energy are encouraged. In reality, regardless of a person’s opinion, regulations impact our lives on a daily basis. From the quality of our food, consumer goods, and environment to the safety of our workplaces, vehicles, and medications, regulations represent an incredibly important, yet controversial, part of our political system and the impact it has on citizens. In this month’s Philosopher’s Café, regulations and the rulemaking process will be explored and several questions will be considered. For example, are regulations necessary? If so, which institutions should regulate? Is the current process appropriate? Furthermore, what should be regulated? Is the current level of regulation too high, too low, about right?

Wednesday, October 14: Can God exist in a World where Evil deeds occur?

  • Location: Kavarna Coffeehouse (143 N. Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Brian Sutton, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Humanistic Studies (English)

Brian Sutton will raise the age-old question of how God could be perfect yet created a world where so many evil things happen. We will consider different permutations of this argument as well as different permutations of a response. Bring a good nature and an open mind to what will be a great discussion.

Wednesday, November 11: Does Art Tell the Truth?

  • Location: Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Carol Emmons, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Art and Design

Our culture tends to privilege the visual as a source of veracity (“seeing is believing”). But if “a picture is worth a thousand words,” what is actually being said, and how? Much of our knowledge of the past is based on evidence from visual culture, ranging from prehistoric cave paintings to burial goods to illuminated manuscripts. How do such things speak and what can they tell us? Do they convey the same message to everyone? Are media like photographs, film, and video inherently more truthful? If art doesn’t tell a truth, why are there storms of controversy about certain artworks? Can we really trust our eyes when it comes to art?

Wednesday, December 9: The Perception of Risk

  • Location: Kavarna Coffeehouse (143 N. Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Sue Mattison, UW Green Bay, Dean of Professional Studies (Epidemiology)

Do we overestimate our risk of certain outcomes, like plane crashes, cancer, or terrorist attacks? How is our perception sometimes guided by fear, and how difficult it is to change these perceptions? Just how much data do we need to refute fear?

Wednesday, January 13: Metaphor

  • Location: Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Cliff Abbott, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Information Sciences

We use language as a weapon, as a creative medium, as a vehicle fo expressing truth, as a social bond, and as a way to think. Much of the flexibility and power of language comes from figurative language, particularly devices such as metaphor, simile, analogy, allegory, and others that allow us to see one thing as if it were another. Some argue that, beyond a very elementary level, learning anything new must involve comparison with something already known and so metaphoric thinking is inescapable. Is there harm in seeing disease in militaristic terms, in personifying nations as having personalities, in seeing emotions and ideas as objects we get into or under or go through, in seeing elections as races, or in seeing education and health as purchasable products? Most of our vocabulary has metaphoric senses. Is it impossible to speak literally? How do we use this powerful tool responsibly? …

Wednesday, February 10: Just how corrupt is the Nonprofit sector if the NFL is Tax Exempt?

  • Location: Kavarna Coffeehouse (143 N. Broadway, Green Bay), 7:00-8:30
  • Moderator: Lora Warner, Ph.D., UW Green Bay (Public Administration)

Nonprofit organizations impact US society in many ways – of course, they do good and address important needs here and afar. They deal with issues that are neglected by the free market and beyond the scope of government. They are vital to our quality of life. Yet should US society provide tax-exempt status for lucrative nonprofits such as the NFL? For PACs and other political organizations that spend billions for political causes? Or for mega-churches with wealthy, extravagant spokespeople? We’ll explore the important roles of nonprofit organizations while delving into some (often surprising) ethical questions stemming from their protected status.

Wednesday, March 9: Obstacles to Ethical Decision Making at Work (and Elsewhere)

  • Moderator: Lucy Arendt, Ph.D., UW Green Bay, Business Administration (Management)
  • Location: Titletown Brewing Company, 200 Dousman St., Green Bay

Business ethics, or the apparent lack thereof, makes for good press. Insider trading, predatory pricing, manufacturing shortcuts, corporate influence on lawmakers, unjust human resource practices, environmental degradation, sex trafficking, rejecting liability, aiding genocide - let's face it, history is littered with examples of business organizations that have engaged in any number of these unethical and immoral practices - many without facing censure or any other apparent negative consequence. Rather than tackle the macro level issues associated with these breaches of ethical behavior, such as the structure and culture of organizations that serve to enable and encourage unethical decision making writ large, we'll discuss the micro level enablers and rationalizations that everyday people use to excuse their bad choices at work. Classic examples of these rationalizations include, "Everyone's doing it," "It doesn't hurt anyone," and "I've got it coming." We'll examine why people use these oh-so-comfortable rationalizations and how we might alter people's perceptions and values to facilitate more ethical decision making throughout all organizations, not simply those focused on commerce.

Wednesday, April 13: Freedom, Rights, and the Right to Freedom: How Expansive??

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

The issue of the right to freedom and current prominent claims about infringements on that right raise important questions about the scope of and limitations on rights. First, we might consider whether there are any absolute rights or whether rights are always circumscribed according to context and situation. Second, we can think about particular freedom rights, such as the right to conscience, the right to privacy, and the right to religious practice, and consider whether these rights justifiably can be limited depending on circumstances; for example, in view of requirements to fulfill public duties, especially when serving as a public official; or by government when it executes established law. Third, can there ever be an actual conflict between legitimate rights and freedoms, or must some of these that are claimed be only purported and apparent but not actually legitimate? One distinction that underlies these and other issues is the difference between positive rights and freedoms (entitlements "to" and permissions) and negative rights and freedoms (protections "from" and non-intrusion). Bring your favorite controversy from the news, or elsewhere, for discussion!

Wednesday, May 11: Can Creativity be Taught?

  • Moderator: Chris Style, Ph. D., UW Green Bay, Art
  • Location: Titletown Brewing Company (200 Dousman St., Green Bay), 7:00-8:30

Are museums and art centers the new churches? Churches are about conversion to an ideal (through books, prayers, song, architecture, propaganda, etc). Do artists want to convert the viewer? Looking into an artist’s soul, they do seem to want to convert views or at the very least offer a new way of looking at the world. Can creativity be taught? In today’s digital age, is art appreciation and practice taught much as it has been over the centuries? To what extent has our deeper understanding of things created been changed by new technologies?