PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, May 29, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: did you receive this week’s email?

Dear Friends,

Just in case you did not get this week's email here is a censor-friendly
link to the post:

If you did get the original email, then apologies

Best Lawrence

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: did you receive
this week's email?

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is sex more than a massage? + News

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Is sex more than a massage?

This seeming direct title for a philosophy topic betrays a key
fundamental philosophical question of causality: does a chain of causal
events actually require physical contact? In my very short essay I will
argue that sex as practised by animals including human beings, is a very
primitive and backward form of reproduction. Other biological entities
have developed more advanced forms of reproduction that are more
successful than that performed by humans.

In the meantime Ruel has sent us a link to his essay, details below, but
first news about a book presentation today Friday at the Centro
Segoviano Cronicas de un Real Sitio by Eduardo Juarez more details at
this link:

Hello Lawrence,
Here is the link to the very short essay I wrote on Sunday's topic:


Is sex more than a massage?

Today we all know that the function of sex is to facilitate
reproduction. And the functional objective is to keep a balance between
attracting non gene related mates and selecting the best possible mate
to create a healthy progeny. In other words sex should be an activity to
attract a selection of mate/mates who are not related to one but not too
scare making one to opt for the first mate that present themselves.
Nature solves this problem in many ways, but two general broad options
which I will call: the competitive outcome or the intelligent strategy.
I'm not going to go into other forms of procreating such as the dividing
cell organisms, or creatures who can change gender depending on

But what about the meaning of "massage", what do we mean by this? In our
context the literal meaning would be to use gentle physical contact to
arouse one partner or one's self. Usually for sex to happen there must
be some form of physical contact; this is a necessary condition if there
is to be a causal chain of events to bring about the desired effect. Of
course, as I shall argue later on, today we do not need the sex act for
the purposes of procreation. A more valid meaning for us would be
whether sex is more than just a carnal physical act; something more
profound besides being a special type of physical perception?

Animals, including human beings, belong to the competitive outcome
group. The peculiarity of this method is that although males and females
tend to equal out in a population, the supply of "willing" females (i.e.
saying "yes" to a mate) is much, much, lower than males willing to mate
with females. And this is understandable since the risks involved for
the female are much higher than the risks the male faces. Hence, a
competitive race begins to qualify for consent by a female. Basically
there is a typical arms race process that can lead to serious problems
in a social gathering or society many times based on aggression and
display of force.

For example, in humans, such an arms race might lead to rape or
manipulation of females not to mention aggression by males towards each
other. We know the issues. However, what seems to be a key difference,
although this scenario is also present in animals, is that in most
species of animals rape (maybe a surreptitious sexual act when the alpha
male is not looking) is usually committed for the purpose of
reproduction. Whereas in humans it seems that rape is for sexual
gratification and is the predominant reason for rape.

Having said that, during times of war, especially during ethnic wars, it
is very common for one group to use rape to increase their ethnic
presence in the enemy group. No doubt this behaviour is considered as
war crimes and crimes against humanity. In human beings, therefore, what
started as a biological function has gathered the mantel of morality and
ethical principles even though the lofty ethical principles are not
always reflected in practice.

What is clear though is that in humans sex is both a means to access
reproduction and a means for pleasurable gratification. And over time
the intellect in humans has become stronger and more important than just
only mechanical force; meaning that we gain more pleasure from sex as an
arousal than for reproduction. Today with technology we can even bypass
the sexual act for procreation. And moreover sexual gratification can be
enjoyed without the risks of child bearing. Indeed today we are prepared
to let others take care of our reproductive needs, but not yet our
sexual needs (remember you've seen this new business idea here first!)
hence the quest for safe sex.

And childbearing is a huge risk. The modern equivalent of child bearing
risks is that females today are evolving in such a way that natural
child birth would be impossible for many (see for example: Women risk
losing ability to give birth naturally article from the Telegraph link

On the other hand, by being more promiscuous we have created an even
more frantic arms race in sexually transmitted diseases; thus creating a
different set of problems. It is also true that separating the pleasure
side from the reproduction sex has become a very powerful commodity
which today involves billions and billions of Euros and many thousands
of people working in the industry.

For human beings sex has become more than just a massage, but the
original problems have not gone away; demand is still much higher than
supply, risks are no less serious today than in the past, and ethics is
not always present in reality. The evolutionary processes has now
reached the stage where the perfunctory function of sex is being made
easier with technology and the gratification function of sex has replace
the importance of sex as a means to reproduction.

Having said that, the competitive outcome method of sexual reproduction
is still primitive by comparison to the intelligent strategy of sex.
Apart from actively having to seek a partner, the sex act under the
competitive outcome strategy requires that both parties to the act be
present at the same time.

The second group based on an intelligent strategy seems to me, at least
at face value, to be more successful, and the intellectual part is
sophisticated enough that there are hardly any moral issues involved.
But as I said before there are many variations of the sex act for
reproductive purposes, and one of the most successful, if not the most
successful, is the reproductive sex practiced by plants. Plants must
surely head the category of intelligent strategy form of sex, with
flowering plants being at the top of the list. By intellectual strategy
I mean using "rational" strategies and methods to minimise risk and
maximise reproductive chances. Of course, we do not really know whether
plants engage in arousal sex, but we do know that they engage in
reproductive sex.

Flowering plants have practically achieved the impossible in sex. First,
unlike humans, who have to go and seek a mate when they are ready for
sex, flowering plants just have to advertise the fact that they are
ready for sex and their collaborators will come willingly; no rejections
here. Even more importantly, they make the collaborators do the hard
work of the sex act, whilst they enjoy their surroundings and their
procreation they get insects and birds and humans to do the sweating
part of the job. For example they press gang other creatures to do the
intercourse part for them by attaching their pollen to their fur, or
trousers or skirts and pollinate other plants somewhere else. This
guarantees non-shared genes reproduction.

Today flowering plants are so successful at reproduction that they have
enticed human beings to dedicated their labour and large swaths of
fertile land for the sole purpose of plant reproduction.

And now, flowering plants have a more developed sense of morality than
humans. For example, if someone damages, destroys or takes flowering
plants from someone's garden, a nursery or a public garden they are
liable to be prosecuted as a criminal. Orchids have got this moral game
right down to a tee; forests have even press ganged large numbers of
people to fight for them and their survival. How many people do you
(metaphorically) know and are working on your behalf to protect your
right to have sex and procreate; indeed how many people are
(metaphorically) working on your behalf so that you have a sexual enounter?

Moreover, flowering plants have no moral qualms of displaying their
sexual organs for everyone to admire and touch (even dogs are not as
advanced as this); no burning in hell sort of preaching here, unlike
human beings. By comparison, human beings are still a far distance away
from reaching the equivalent of "cave dwelling civilization" for plants.
Basically plants advertise their sexual organs for all to see and to
attract possible collaborators; so called "civilized" human beings
punish and disapprove the exposure of genitalia in public. Basically
human beings are supposed to make life and death decisions without first
seeing what they are getting entangled with.

For flowering plants, sex is very much more than just a massage; for
flowering plants sex is an art form by creating some of the most visual
and olfactory amazing organs imaginable. This is demonstrated in the
numerous paintings in museums, private collections and images in the
public domain; people just love flowers. But flowering plants go beyond
our imagination of what is success in sex. Flowering plants have managed
to mesmerise human beings and to make them offer their (i.e. plants')
sexual organs (the flower) as a form of appreciation to other human
beings and as adulation and reverence to the gods at high altars in
temples of worship. And what's more successful than having one's sexual
organs revered even by the gods?

Women risk losing ability to give birth naturally

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Is sex more than a
massage? + News

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cronicas de un Real Sitio by Eduardo Juarez

Centro Segoviano  Cronicas de un Real Sitio by Eduardo Juarez 

Friday  29th May 2015 at 7:30pm

Friday, May 22, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The perversion of democracy + News

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The perversion of democracy

Given than many of us will be exercising our right to vote at the local
elections our topic on Sunday cannot be more relevant. In my essay I
look at the very fabric of democracy and what I discover is not that
healthy. But as I argue, healthy or not, this is what we have, and by
default we have to deal with it.

Ruel has kindly sent us the link to his essay (this week it is the right
link!!!), but first news about a Maths tertulia by Miguel:

Dear tertuliano,
You are cordially invited to the lecture (in English) and tertulia de
Matemáticas next Tuesday 26th May 19:00 at Centro Segoviano de Madrid:
Formal Logic: Thematizing the Rational Foundations of Mathematics,
( by Ruel
F. Pepa, PhD

Best regards,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

Estimado tertuliano,
Te invitamos a asistir a la conferencia (en inglés) y tertulia de
Matemáticas el próximo Martes 26 de Mayo a las 19:00h en El Centro
Segoviano de Madrid: Formal Logic: Thematizing the Rational Foundations
of Mathematics
(, por el
Profesor Ruel F. Pepa

Saludos cordiales,
Tertulia de Matemáticas

Hello Lawrence,
The link to my essay on the perversion of democracy is:
Thanks and see you on Sunday.
All the best,


The perversion of democracy

It is a pity that Plato was wrong about the theory of forms and
Philosopher Kings. I grant you that democracy is not a substance, but
rather a social dynamic, still it would have been nice if there was an
ideal form for democracy. At least we could aspire that one day we have
access to the true form of what is democracy and ought to be. Likewise,
philosopher kings might teach us what makes a true democracy and how to
practice it.

In the meantime what we think is democracy is not what we have in
reality, and what we think is good for us might not be what we need. For
the purpose of this essay I will mean with democracy two basic
principles: The process of electing members of society to parliament and
hence government. In a more succinct way, electing people to power.
Secondly, the process of exercising power and holding those with power
accountable. This second idea would include the separations of powers
and the economic structure of the land.

In the meantime when we use the word to pervert we mean the corruption
or distortion of something. Hence, the perversion of democracy would in
normal language use be to distort or corrupt the true function of
democracy. Except, of course, that even by Plato's fanciful standards
democracy is not a thing, but as I have said a dynamic amongst people.
So in reality the perversion of democracy is indeed the perversion of
players who are engaged in the process of democracy. At the heart of
this democratic dynamic is cooperation, democracy is first and foremost
a dynamic in cooperation amongst members of a society.

Even without appealing to such principles as the Nash equilibrium we
still understand that cooperation is the best form of coexistence.
However, there is a very fatal flaw in this cooperation game which is
basically that although the win-win strategy guarantees a fair outcome,
there is nothing in this game to compel people to engage in it.
Especially those people who have an unfair advantage before the game
starts. Even people who are at the same advantage as there peers have no
real incentive to engage in a cooperation game on the grounds that by
definition if they have an unfair advantage they stand to lose something
in the game.

And it is this flaw in the win-win strategy that weakens the value of
democracy. Maybe the real value of democracy is not that it creates a
fair and just dynamic amongst people but that democracy has a semblance
of bestowing dignity on the people; at least those who hold power have
to pay lip service to the principles of democracy.

In other words, the perversion of democracy is not just the corruption
of politicians in some banana republic or a theocracy: the perversion of
democracy starts with the structural flaws of what we think democracy is
and what democracy is in reality. Hence, the first two flaws are that
democracy is about relationships amongst people and not about some
metaphysical entity that is based on the idea of what is "good" and
fair". Secondly, there is no compelling reason why those who already
hold power to engage in a cooperative strategy that forms the basis of
democracy. At the very least democracy is to be measured by deeds and
actions and not by poetic philosophical and political argument; show me
the colour of your money; where is the beef?

A third fatal flaw of democracy is our wrongly held belief that we act
in our interest about what we think is good for us. This is a big
question in philosophy so we shouldn't be surprised that the
subjective-objective issue is also found in democracy. We can start by
looking at classical economics that holds that people are rational agent
trying to maximise their satisfaction or happiness. We are asked to
assume that when someone acts in certain way (buys a sandwich, votes in
a certain way, hold a particular job) they do so because they honestly
believe it is good for them. This is translated into more common
language such as "look after number one" (i.e. oneself) or "charity
begins at home" and even "God helps those who help themselves."

The idea that we are somehow responsible for our fate is well ingrained
in our "democratic" society usually involving some Christian belief or
concepts such as the parable of the prodigal son. Economic choice in
particular but also an ability to choose one's affairs and movements in
general are closely linked with the free market principles that is also
linked to political democracy. The problem for us is that we believe
that we are well qualified to know what we want and by implication what
is good for us. There is no logical reason to suppose that what we want
is also what is good for us. But this does not mean that we should not
be allowed to choose or to decide for ourselves, but rather we should be
more careful what we want. And in some cases we really do not know what
we need; for example how can we know what is good for us when it comes
to medical treatment? In a nutshell, consent is not the same as informed
consent. When we vote do we just consent or are we genuinely giving our
informed consent?

But if subjective arrogance is not always good for us, so is objective
arrogance. Sometimes even professional people get it wrong. But just
because someone has moral or legal authority over others it does not
mean that they are also morally right or factually correct. Argument
from authority is not a reasonable philosophical argument or righteousness.

Therefore, since democracy is founded on the personal choice of who to
elect into power democracy is by de facto tainted with this subjective
uncertainty; who we want in power might not be who we need in power. Our
choice might be wrong.

Indeed the subjective uncertainty principle coupled with the paradox of
choice (strictly speaking the more we have to choose from the less we
are satisfied) is a problem about knowledge and knowing the facts and
about knowing what we really want. Basically the majority of the
electorate have no idea about what the facts are about how the
government are exercising their power or the implications of economic
policies. Let's face it, even constitutional lawyers have difficulty
keeping up to date. But as recent election results in some European
countries have show (e.g.the UK), some people are still none the wiser
even after the evidence is available. Indeed, we have this capacity of
still pursuing what is not good for us despite the fact that we know
that it is not good for us: drink and drive, smoking, eating an
unbalanced diet, etc.

To put it crudely, we pervert democracy by continuing to vote for people
into power knowing they are corrupt, inefficient or useless. Or on a
good day we elect people because they are tall or short, thin or fat,
nice or ugly or whatever, but never about what they can really do.

In a way we do not need to pervert democracy through corruption or
immoral acts. The democratic process is quite flawed in itself that we
have many opportunities to unintentionally pervert democracy. We can now
go a step further and identify some opportunities that people can use to
pervert democracy intentionally without resorting to crude corruption.

In the election process part of the democracy formula we come across
electoral systems that can pervert democracy. I have chosen to mention
the electoral system as a man made opportunity to pervert democracy
because these systems are there because someone or some people once
decided to adopt a certain system for the country instead of alternatives.

Without going into great detail or a sophisticated discussion, for our
purpose it is enough to mention the two broad types of electoral
systems: the first past the post (FPTP) and proportional representation
(PR). And because of our special situation I will also include the Party
List PR system and you can find the arguments pros and cons at this
link: Party List PR - Electoral Reform Society -

Indeed the pros and cons of these systems are a balance between what is
fair and what is democratically safe. And by safe I mean preventing
another Hitler being elected for life, that sort of thing. In a modern
society the first past the post system (simple majority for a candidate
to win) tends to play against parties and especially small parties.
However, this system makes the individual more accountable to the voters
since the candidate represents all the people in the constituency. On
the other hand, Proportional Representation distributes votes and seats
more fairly amongst parties and groups. But the down side is that this
might create unstable governments; too many weak parties in parliament.
The closed list system is even more extreme of PR since voters just
choose a list drawn up by a party and those that are elected own their
allegiance to the party and not the voter. The benefit of List-PR is
that parties are strong and hence guarantee plurality in a country that
might be susceptible to undemocratic rule. The negative side is that the
voters tend to be seen as only relevant to elect the parties otherwise
they have no other access to the function of democracy; what matters are
the parties and not individuals. In contrast, the first past the post
system tends to create very powerful governments and as John Dlberg
Acton pointed out "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts

Hence the more unstable a government is or the less influence the voters
have in the democratic dynamic, apart from the election process, the
more susceptible is the democratic system to undemocratic influences.
Take the state of political corruption for example in India, Italy,
Spain, Venezuela, the UK and USA.

A more direct form of perversion in the electoral system is
gerrymandering: the practice of arranging constituency boundaries in
such a way that the votes might be balanced towards one party instead of
another thus giving the winning party an electoral advantage.

Another form of deprivation of democracy is to disfranchise a section of
the population from the electoral system thus not giving them a voice in
the exercise of power. One way of doing this is by forcing people to
regularly having to change accommodation and therefore they constantly
have to reregister on the elector roll. This can be disheartening and
the stress might make people unmotivated and therefore not register. For
example, the present high property and renting costs in the UK might
have put some people in this situation because they constantly depend on
social housing or moving from town to town. It is claimed that the so
called Poll Tax in the UK in the 1980s resulted in millions of people
being lost (drop out) from the electoral roll because they could not or
would not pay this tax and people liable for the tax were identified
from the electoral roll. Today, the so called Bedroom Tax (taxing unused
rooms in a home) is creating a similar exclusion of people in the lower
social classes because they have to constantly move residence.

If we accept democracy as a two pronged political philosophy
institution, 1) the electoral system and process and 2) the exercise of
power and authority, then as I have argued, there are many flaws that
could lead to the perversion of democracy. And given that democracy is
usually associated with the separation of powers (legislative, judiciary
and administrative powers) a perversion in one of these powers will no
doubt affect the other two powers.

There are two issues here:

The first is what aspects of democracy are necessary and sufficient
conditions to safe guard the integrity of democracy? And which of these
conditions can we universalise? For example, open and transparent
government and a guaranteed freedom to gather and publish information
(not only freedom of the press) can go a long way to protect democracy.
I call this the Philosopher Kings argument since knowledge is what
changes an ordinary person into a Philosopher King.

The second issue is what I call the Churchill argument, "Democracy is
the worst form of government, except for all the others." We have no
choice but democracy, so much we agree upon, the devil is how to protect
democracy and how to eliminate any perversion. That democracy is the
best form of government, until a better system is discovered, is a
universalizable truth; disagreeing amongst each other is just being human.

In the meantime, the perversion of democracy in the UK, and by suspicion
and association in many other countries, has reached such a level that
newspapers have had to invent a new word for it; this word is so new
that it is still not found in all the main reference dictionaries. And
that word is: chumocracy!!

Chumocracy: a derogatory term for a ruling elite that is made up of
people from the same social background who went to the same schools and
universities and know each other socially (Macmillan Publishers Limited

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
From: January 15 at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: The perversion of
democracy + News

Thursday, May 14, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: How fundamental is mathematics?

Dear Friends,

I hope that after a long weekend holiday you have time to come to the
meeting this Sunday to discuss: How fundamental is mathematics?

I know it is not an easy subject but don't forget we are doing
philosophy and not mathematics; hence the issues are quite different. So
Sunday's meeting is not a maths tertulia for that you need to follow
Miguel's postings.

For us, as I have outlined in my few ideas below, what is important is
why do we find it so difficult to define mathematics and yet it is so
fundamental in our lives. And secondly, can mathematics show us what is
ethical like it can show us a lot about other things in the universe? I
argue that philosophy has already solved the first problem, but the second?

In the meantime Ruel has sent us a link to his essay and the photos from
the meeting of two weeks ago.

----from Ruel


Hello Lawrence,
Here's the link to the short article I wrote on Sunday's topic:
Thanks. See you on Sunday.
All the best,
How fundamental is mathematics?

This question needs further clarification; indeed it needs a context.

For our purpose we can provide three possible contexts: the social
context, the individual context and the natural context, whether human
or everything else.

It is evident that a society, by which we can mean people today living
together, or a primitive tribe, do require mathematics and mathematics
is fundamental for the function of a society. Of course, the maths
required by a 60 odd member tribe in a tropical jungle, might be very
different from the maths in a mega big city such as Vienna, Paris or New
York. For society I would say that mathematics and knowledge of
mathematics are necessary conditions for a society to survive.

Individual knowledge of mathematics might be very useful and desirable
in city but I would not describe it as fundamental. Some knowledge of
maths, or arithmetic, would be sufficient to operate in a city and in
the jungle as long as someone can count the number of lions in the
distance and navigate by the stars that would be enough.

Nature by contrast, does not need mathematics and mathematics is neither
a necessary nor sufficient condition for nature. I know, this looks like
blasphemy for some, but it's not. Despite the chaotic impression of the
world or even universe around us, nature is a well ordered well balanced
place. But nature, although this should be the universe, as a whole does
not need to understand itself, it only needs to exist. Only we, as a
subset of this universe need to understand our parent set, i.e. the

So far I have made many statements about mathematics without defining
what mathematics is. This is the problem, no one really knows what
mathematics is, or rather there are so many definitions of mathematics
that your guess is as good as mine. But for a philosopher, when a
definition of something is elusive and imprecise alarm bells start
ringing in our head.

Our philosophical instinct will tell us that the problem is either a
language problem or a concept problem. I would argue that the reason why
a definition of mathematics is so elusive is because of a two step flaw
in our thinking. First, our brains, having been born and survived the
devastation of Cartesian dualism, are now infected with this meme that
creates the perception that the world is made up of two things. The
intelligent part, for example in our case mathematics, and the physical
part of the universe, for example the Fibonacci pattern distribution of
the seeds in a sunflower.

So the first philosophical flaw is that we assume that there are two
necessary conditions for the existence of something we perceive when in
reality there is only one thing, i.e. the sunflower. In other words, we
commit a naturalistic type of fallacy that was identified by GE Moore
with the word "good", by ascribing some extra property to the sunflower,
such as a mathematical property, when in reality there is only an
efficient distribution of seeds on a sunflower. There isn't this
ingredient called mathematics that makes part of the sunflower.

The second step is a form of the "Ghost in the machine argument" put
forward by G Ryle against Cartesian dualism as well. Our brain, having
been tainted by Cartesian dualism and having identified a mathematical
pattern, say in the distribution of sunflower seeds, ascribes
mathematics as a necessary property for the existence of the sunflower.

So we first identify the property of mathematics in the pattern of seeds
in a sunflower and then we ascribe this property of mathematics as a
necessary conditions for the existence of the sunflower. However, I hear
you say, but the seeds of the sunflower do flow in a Fibonacci series
therefore mathematics is found in the flower. Yes, but the Fibonacci
series is our way of understanding the distribution of the sunflower
seeds but maths is not a plan the flower follows. The sunflower does
not look up in some big maths reference book as decide to distribute its
seeds in a Fibonacci series, we do that. What has happened is that this
particular plant has evolved with its seeds being distributed in a
Fibonacci patter because it is more efficient for it to evolve this
way. The Fibonacci series of seed distribution is not an ingredient in
making of a sunflower.

So the word and concept of mathematics seems to be elusive to define
because we make the same linguistic and conceptual mistake we commit
with "good" and "mind". Having said that, definitions that define
mathematics is terms of "quantity" or "measurement" (see Wikipedia) seem
to be on the right tracks since this ascribes maths to our ability and
need to understand and not some property in the universe. Sure we are a
subset of the universe, but that won't help us much if what we want to
know is whether the roof of our house is strong enough to protect us
during the night or not.

So as long as we are still around or there are people like us
mathematics is fundamental because we will always need to understand our
environment, interact with it or just simply curious. My bottom line
argument is that mathematics is a function of our brain and not an
ingredient nature mixes to create things in the universe; mathematics is
not like the plum in a plum cake. This means that mathematics is not out
there in the universe but in here in our brain.

It should not come as surprise that mathematics is so useful and
fundamental for our needs and survival. The stability of the universe is
a fine balance of equilibrium and existence on the one hand and
who-knows-what-the-universe-would-be-like if that equilibrium never
happened. Mathematics helps us to understand this universe around and
more importantly make predictions about it. But our ability to represent
the universe in terms of mathematics is no different than bats making
sense of their universe using ultrasound or butterflies using ultra
violet light.

It is no wonder that scientists justifiably believe that our first
contact with other sentient beings in our galaxy would be through
mathematical exchanges. While this assumption is reasonable to make it
does not follow that alien life, even carbon based, must be familiar
with mathematics.

But if mathematics can give us access to the universe and other beings
can it also give us access to what is ethical and moral for rational
beings to follow? I think that maths can take us a long way to establish
what is ethical and what is moral; for example by being able to
mathematically model a healthy and happy human being we can say what is
or isn't ethical to do to human beings. The scientific method is based
on mathematical modelling of our universe including medicine and human
interactions. Therefore, we already know a lot about what it ethical to
do to other human beings but what is ethical and what is political might
not always coincide.

To answer our question mathematics is fundamental for us because it
opens the doors to the truth about the universe, but it is also true that
it is our task to consult the books given that neither mathematics nor
the truth grow on trees.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
From: January 15 at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: How fundamental is


Friday, May 08, 2015

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Modern feminism

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Modern feminism.

In my very few words on the topic I question whether the feminist
movement in their justifiable pursuit of high profile victories in
women's rights, are failing to address the key philosophical issues in
women's rights. In the meantime Ruel has sent us the link to his essay:

Hello Lawrence,
Here's the link to the short essay I wrote on Sunday's topic:
Can't say a lot on the issue coz I'm no expert at all on its most
current developments.

All the best,


Modern feminism

We have to be clear between feminism as a collection of movements
advocating and promoting equal rights for women and feminism as a
concept that women shouldn't be discriminated in society. I am more
inclined to think in terms of the concept rather than the movements. We
can disagree about the means to achieve equal rights for women but we
must agree that discrimination on gender grounds is unacceptable.

The reality is that the majority of women today still live in societies
who by default or by design practice discrimination against women. We
can demonstrate and prove this by taking any yardstick or data available
from around the world, but for me the situation is best established, for
none other reason that it's a few days old, by these words (published 28
April 2015) from the National Women's Law Center report in the US about
the state of health cover by insurance companies there:

"Denying Women This Coverage Has a Very Real Impact
These violations mean that women enrolled in these plans may pay more
than they should for covered services, may be without coverage for
health needs that issuers are required to cover by law, and may end up
going without the care they need, even though they have health
insurance." (28 April 2015

Apart from the absurdity of covering health care with an insurance,
health care is the single most important characteristic that identifies
women as a unique patient with unique health care needs. Many of the
violations mentioned in the report have to do with child bearing and
child caring needs of women. What matters is that there is a set of
health care needs that are specific to women and therefore failure to
provide this care is straight forward discrimination.

And the reason, in my opinion, for the mentioned violations is because
the relevant legislation is its self biased; no doubt women probably
hardly had a say it creating the act. For example the legislation
instead of stipulating that certain care is free it could have mandated
insurance companies to provide this care for free when needed otherwise
the licence to offer health insurance will be revoked. It's not a
question of being free but failure to provide this care for free means
you are not a health care insurance company.

And part of the problem must be the feminist movement for giving the
impression that they are pushing an agenda that keeps a score on public
image victories. What do I mean by this? What matters for female
equality is not so much how many female board members are women nor
maternity leave per se but rather equal pay for equal work, child care
programmes where women can incorporate their maternal duties with their
career instead of maternity leave which is today, with the exception of
a minority cases, used to downgrade the career prospects of a women
rather than promote them. Aspects regarding education are also relevant
here since the achievements and progress made by women in education
tends to grind down to a halt in their career because of the family
penalty I mentioned above.

It's all well and good to have women as CEO or front line fighter pilots
but these people are by definition some of the smartest people in our
society and that they can achieve anything under any adverse conditions;
and they have. The problem is that not everyone can be a fighter pilot
or CEO. Who is fighting the fight for the average mother to have a real
flexi timetable at work to enable to look after her family; and ditto
for her partner if she has one?

The other biggest problem for women's rights is that even their male
partners (unless she has a female partner which would make a difficult
life even worse) are being discriminated against in society and the work
place. The man must put in the time at work and be one of lads otherwise
they are not a team player and hence not leadership material. Men are
expected to have a wife and kids and provide for the family, whereas
women are expected to get married and have children. What on Earth is it
anyone's business whether someone gets married or not?

And although there are many women who work hard to fight against this
discrimination the problem is an uphill task for the simple reason that
people mistakenly speak of women's rights rather than a person's rights.
A woman is a person first. Women's rights are person's rights first and
no one can object against this moreover we can universalize this principle.

Hence if a woman goes home and tells her husband that she was not
promoted because she did not have the length of time in the job, thanks
to the maternity stop gap, that is no less discrimination against the
woman as it is against her partner be it a male or female partner.
Discrimination against women is also discrimination against their
partners, their family, their community, and humanity in general.

What modern feminism needs to consider today is whether they are engaged
in a public relations campaign and counting victories that feel good or
are they perusing what it takes to address the real needs of half of the
population for them to be treated as a human being? Women's rights, like
any other rights, are not a gift but a human characteristic.

Maybe we can describe women's rights as a balance sheet account of
whether half the members of the population of the world have what they
need to be a human being.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813 <>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every
From: January 15 at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Modern feminism


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