Next Talk: A Royal Institute of Philosophy Public Lecture: 'Fake News! Language, Power and the Politics of Knowledge' by Dr Yasemin J. Erden, 13 February 2018
Next talk: 'The Idea of a Social Science: Winch, Weber and Wittgenstein' by Chris Bainbridge 09 January 2018
People who study social phenomena, - the economy, politics, art, religion, family life, with their competing world views, have looked with envy at the natural sciences and sought to become more like them, with their hard, undisputed empirical facts and uninterrupted progress. But natural science isn’t quite as simple as that, and thinkers such as Peter Winch and Max Weber have said the fact that we’re participants in social life gives us a big advantage which we throw away if we just look at society from an outsider’s point of view as we do with natural phenomena. I will look at various concepts of what philosophy is to see what light they can throw epistemology’s key question – how do we know things?
Next talk: 'Plato: Knowledge, Belief and Perception' a talk by Prof Sophie-Grace Chappell 14 November 2017
“What evidence is there to support our moral beliefs? We assume that it is (usually) wrong to tell big lies, to steal, etc., but many philosophers, and many non-philosophers, have despaired at giving convincing grounds for such beliefs. It is hard to say much beyond ‘Well, that is just obvious!’ or ‘Don’t hold inconsistent moral beliefs’. This predicament contrasts with the rigorous evidence we have for our beliefs about the physical world (climate-change denialists notwithstanding). The contrast has tempted some philosophers to argue that moral theories can rest on the same kind of evidence as scientific ones, or even that scientific and moral beliefs form part of a single coherent and well-evidenced picture of the world. I will describe these efforts before highlighting a problem: their threat to undermine scientific enquiry itself, which need to be (in a specific sense) value free.”
"There was of course progress in philosophy long before Hegel, particularly amongst the Ancient Greeks. But Hegel's study of the whole history of philosophy enabled him to blend the strong points of previous philosophers and produce what he considered to be a definitive account of progress in philosophy. To Hegel, this progress in philosophy ensures progress in history - not in a linear way, but in a teleological way. It was Hegel's immense faith in all this that enabled him to defend the French Revolution even after the Terror had left other intellectuals despairing of a way forward. Although there are unresolved problems, modern society owes an enormous debt to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. All this is up for discussion."