The topic: Crime, Punishment, and Statistical Evidence
"Various real and imagined law cases provoke the intuition that there is something wanting with purely statistical evidence in the courtroom. But in the cases in question, the probabilities of guilt or culpability are very high—high enough to meet the relevant standard of evidence. This problem is known as the ‘proof paradox’. An oft-expressed position is that legal verdicts should be based on ‘specific’ rather than ‘general’ evidence of guilt. But it is unclear what this distinction amounts to. Moreover, we need to know what is supposed to be wrong with general evidence and why it is taken to be less compelling than specific evidence. I will present some examples of the proof paradox and outline the problems associated with purely statistical evidence. I will then argue that in some cases the statistical evidence is indeed wanting but this does not mean a wholesale rejection statistical evidence nor does it mean that statistical evidence is a second-rate form of evidence."
Sunday 22nd March 2020
Dr Chris Falzon is a Visiting Fellow in the School of Humanities and Languages (Philosophy) at the University of New South Wales. He received his PhD in Philosophy from the Australian National University in 1990, where he taught until 2000. From 2001 to 2018 he taught Philosophy at the University of Newcastle. He is the author of a number of books, including Philosophy Goes to the Movies (2013) and Ethics Goes to the Movies (2018). He has published widely on twentieth-century French philosophy, and philosophy and film.
The topic: Film, thought experiments and philosophical experiences
"Why might a philosopher want to go to the cinema? As a form of relief from philosophy, if you’re the famously tortured philosopher Wittgenstein. But, apart from offering a distraction, films can be effective in dramatizing philosophical problems. How do I know I’m not in The Matrix? Some would argue that films can even be said to ‘do’ philosophy. In this talk I will discuss one influential view on this, that films do philosophy by working like the thought experiments that can be found in written philosophical texts. I will argue that it is better to think of the film medium as making possible forms of experimentation that go beyond what can be done within written philosophical texts. Film as experimental in this sense enlarges the possibilities for thinking about what is presupposed or taken-for-granted in our thinking. I’ll suggest that this points to an expanded idea of what counts as philosophical reflection itself – to philosophy as a practice of thought that transforms the thinker, and not primarily through the force of better argument, but through experiences that change how one thinks. This in turn provides a way of thinking about the cinematic thought experiment as a form of philosophising. It is above all by portraying transformative ‘philosophical experiences’ that films can be said to do philosophy."
Sunday 19th April 2020
Gary Dowling is a mature age student at Macquarie University studying philosophy and politics. Gary has lectured at the Philosophy Forum and the University of the Third Age on philosophy and is a founding member of the Port Macquarie Philosophy Forum.
The topic: The Philosophy of Religion
This topic will examine how philosophical thought has developed over time regarding belief in God, the existence of God, and the shifting nature of belief due to the rise of secularism. Some of the issues that will be discussed include: Is there is a moral necessity for faith? Does secular humanism fill the faith gap? Why is religion so pervasive? The thoughts of philosophers of the Enlightenment start this journey from the early 17th century which progresses through to current times. Descartes, Leibniz, Paley, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Taylor are the key players in the development of western philosophical thought on religion. The presentation will conclude with the question “Will the religious inherit the earth?”