PHILOMADRID

PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Thursday, March 31, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Refugee Rights + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Refugee Rights.

This is a very important topic today but unfortunately for the wrong
reasons. It is not that there are no refugees today but rather because
extremist political interests have hijacked this topic to advance their
inequitable agenda. Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Right in
1948 was the product of inequitable extremist politics in Germany and
some commentators are arguing that the outcome of the referendum in
Britain to stay in the EU hinges on immigration. In my short essay I
basically address the following question: what's the scope of philosophy
in all this?

In the meantime, and quite by accident than by design, we have been sent
by David the forthcoming programme for the visits to the British
Cemetery in Madrid. This is quite telling because the British Cemetery
is a monument in Madrid for some very interesting and exclusive refugees
who sought protection in Madrid and given to them very generously.

-----visits
Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el
objeto de comunicarles el programa de visitas guiadas, todos con su
comentario en español.

El punto de encuentro, la entrada del Cementerio, y la hora, las 11.00 horas
sábado, día 16 de abril
sábado, día 21 de mayo
sábado, día 2 de julio

Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada y siempre que
formen un grupo de un mínimo de 8 personas, avíseme a <please contact me
Lawrence>
TOMEN NOTA DE NUESTRA PÁGINA WEB CON DETALLES DE LA UBICACIÓN <
http://www.britishcemeterymadrid.com >
*****************************************************
I am writing this note in both Spanish and in English to provide you
with the programme of guided visits, all with the commentary in Spanish,
to open the new season.

We will meet at 11.00 a.m at the Cemetery entrance
Saturday, 16th April
Saturday, 21st May
Saturday, 2nd July

If you would like a visit on a different date and you can form a group
of 8 persons or more, let me know at <please contact me Lawrence>

PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF OUR WEBSITE, INCLUDING DETAILS OF THE LOCATION
< http://www.britishcemeterymadrid.com >
David Butler


----- Lawrence
Refugee rights

At the populist level of politics the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (10 December 1948) is no less a wonderful propaganda document
than the propaganda documents so beloved by the NAZI regime in Germany
before the end of the Second World War. This is quite a big statement to
make given that the UDHR is a direct consequence of what was the product
of a savage war. But the UDHR does make us feel good, even the
declaration itself does not do good nor does it pretend to do good.

Firstly, the UDHR tells us what we already know and what we believe to
be our relationship with the state. Indeed refugees are the first people
to know that they have a right to life and to be protected by their
government (state) but they are also the ones who suffer from the
consequences of a failure and collapse of this citizen-state relationship.

And secondly, and most important failure of such documents, and with
this we can include constitutions, is that it does not make any
automatic provision to reinstate these recognised rights of the
individual and for the individual to enjoy once again. Nor does it
establish an objective test to determine independently whether someone's
rights have been breached.

In principle and a priori "Refugee Rights" are a consequence of the
failure and abuse of people's human rights by governments and states.
Even the website of the UNHCR agency recognises so much: "People become
refugees because one or more of their basic human rights have been
violated or threatened." (http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4ab388876.html)

To be fair, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
(http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html pdf file) does address in the
detail: Who is a refugee? And more importantly this and subsequent
documents do address in detail practical rights such as the conditions
afforded to refugees. Given that refugee rights are one of the political
consequences of the Second World War, and a subject that is well and
truly analysed and examined in depth by most decent nations, what can
philosophy contribute to the debate?

These documents are quite clear about the duties of countries receiving
refugees, but from what I can make out there are no provision of any
duties countries have at preventing the abuse of human rights in other
countries in the first place. There does not seem to be a clear cut duty
for other countries to help and assist people whose rights are in
jeopardy. This is ironic given that the majority of the countries who
oversaw these documents were European many of whom have in their statue
books the duty to help others in need; for example road victims.

So maybe this would be a valid philosophical question for philosophy:
given that refugees and refugee rights are a consequence of abuse of
human rights by states and governments, do other countries have a duty
to intervene against offending governments? And even if we do agree that
there is such a duty, what would be an objective test to establish that
there are grounds to intervene? This is not a legal question and not
even a political question but rather what would be the necessary and
sufficient conditions to establish such duties? And what methodologies
should be used to verify such duties and such beaches?

It is true that today this dubious duty to decide on breaches of human
rights is left to the United Nations and the International Court of
Justice, but the former is hardly a council of philosopher kings and the
latter is not exactly a hand out to a starving parent.

In effect what I am asking is whether a human life is more important
than the sovereignty of a state? The irony to this question is that it
was the Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher, who in the 80s
advocated the doctrine that there is no such thing as a society but only
individuals. I say irony because the consequences of her neoliberal
policies have culminated into the erosion certain human rights in
Britain e.g. the worst labour rights protection within the EU (and the
rest of the world) that might be interpreted as a situation for other
states to intervene on behalf of British workers!

As always, one of the key concerns of philosophy is indeed to clear the
fog of language. Today the lexicon for this subject has evolved to
include: economic migrants, illegal immigrants, refugees, trafficked
people, undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers, sham marriages, aliens,
undocumented aliens, and so on.

The UDHR was mainly addressing victims of war, but today we don't have
wars at the world level, and civil wars and local conflicts are more
prevalent than all out wars between nations. The refugees arriving in
Europe from Syria today are more victims of a civil war and an invasion
of lawless tribes from neighbouring countries than a war with another state.

So maybe today we need to revisit the language that describes this topic
of rights and refugees. Should people escaping abysmal economic
conditions in their country be afforded the same rights as political
refugees?

Today, many illegal immigrants, are mainly looking for a better future
for themselves and their family, and are escaping economic conditions
than political persecution.

And this is confirmed by the political capital certain fringe extremist
parties are enjoying at the expense of refugees and illegal immigrants.
At least these extremists do not seem to distinguish between refugees in
the spirit of the original declaration and people just taking advantage
of a generous social security system.

It can always be argued that many economic refugees/immigrants are the
consequence of globalisation. After a few decades of this doctrine
gaining currency in economic relationship amongst countries, we can
safely conclude that globalisation has only benefited a small proportion
of people compared to the turmoil and negative consequences many people
have suffered in their life.

In view of a much closer global economic relationship amongst countries,
are economic migrants replacing political refugees? And, indeed, should
there be a charter or declaration for economic migrants? And what will
happen to refugees of global warming, desertification and water
shortages? I know of no one who has left their country for not having
oil, but we can be sure many will move if they have no water.

Traditionally, political philosophy did not discuss international
relationships, apart for going to war with one's neighbour, nor
individual rights, apart from the issue of whether the king had the
right to kill someone without the due process of the law. These issues
have not gone away from the scope of philosophy but rather the
perspective has changed completely. Today's war need not necessarily
include exploding bombs but more likely to include collapsed of economic
stability or ransom of a population because of international debt.

But the fact that in the 21st century we still have refugees and
economic immigrants suggests that the work of philosophy is not yet
done. Maybe this does not tell us how important philosophy is, but
rather how empirical philosophy ought to be. Philosophical issues of
today, such as refugee rights, are by definition empirical issues.

Best Lawrence


tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------



from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Refugee Rights + News

Thursday, March 24, 2016

from Lawrence, PhiloMadrid: no meeting Easter Sunday + next topic

Dear friends,

Don't forget that this Easter Sunday we do not have a meeting, but we'll
be back as usual on the 3rd April. In the meantime our next topic is:
Refugee Rights.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------



from Lawrence, PhiloMadrid: no meeting Easter Sunday + next topic

Thursday, March 17, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Moral Behaviour

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Moral Behaviour.

In my few paragraphs below, I try to tease out a few issues that might
help us with our discussion. But as we know talking about morality is
not an easy matter, and the problem is not morality itself but, of
course, us. There is a saying in English that states, he/she who tries
to teach himself has a fool for a master. Are we fools for trying to
teach ourselves human morality?

----Moral Behaviour
At a certain level, we interchange morality and ethics to mean the same.
Both are about that part of our life that deals with what is good or
bad, right or wrong. But since our topic is about behaviour and the
qualifier adjective is morality we can agree to discuss that aspect of
morality that deals with intentions, volition, instinct and subconscious
acts. This issue goes beyond the question of free will and determinism.

The question for us would therefore be one of intention and its opposite
acting from a subconscious impulse. But an impulsive act need not be an
amoral act or even an immoral act. An impulsive act might be at the time
automatic and seemingly instinctive, but it can also be a subconscious
reaction based on training and practice. This is very useful in sports
and other professions that rely on split second timing, the sort of
thing lawyers, soldiers, pilots, photojournalists and others depend on.

As we can see, we do not really need a free will at the time we act, but
it is relevant at the time we choose the body of "ethics" we decide to
follow. We can define moral behaviour as the way we act to achieve a
morally good (or bad) outcome in a given situation or context.

But for something to be good or bad it must be a value judgement as
opposed to something being causally linked to an outcome. That gravity
pulls liquids (such as water) downhill is a matter of physics, but
blocking the water supply to thousand villages to build a dam up stream
to generate electricity is the product of a moral act by someone or a
group of people.

But are value judgements an act to "achieve" a desired outcome? Sure, we
can argue that value judgements are meant to change behaviour or some
other psychological mental state in others, but that's changing us not
the situation. Judging that the poor should be helped and proclaiming
that oppressing the poor is evil or bad does very little to improve the
situation of the poor. Of course, language utterances are a sort of
behaviour, but it hardly fixes the "poor" and "oppression" part of the
utterance.

However, we do feel that moral behaviour is more than just an opinion
and that moral behaviour can and, many times, does bring about the
desired effect. So how should we understand moral behaviour?

The mechanics of moral behaviour has a lot in common with the mechanics
of language. Both morality and language have a code of regularities (I
don't want to say rules or laws) that give predictive meaning to moral
or linguistic behaviour. We all know the ethical meaning of "help the
poor" in the same way that we all know the linguistic meaning of "put
the kettle on." In a way we respect a language and amoral system as long
as they bring about the desired effects.

But we do seem to assume that language has a precise and defined meaning
and moral behaviour is always an act to achieve what is good. In reality
people sometimes misinterpret linguistic utterances and moral behaviour
might do more harm than good. In cases, language and morality, we are
the driving force, and nothing else.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------



from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Moral Behaviour

Thursday, March 10, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Can we mould society?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Can we mould society?

The idea of a social contract suggests that society ought to be moulded
into something to benefit all; maybe, even moulded into a moral rational
organisation. This would be very desirable since it would solve the
problem of the lawlessness and chaos that is supposed to be found in the
jungle. So far, so good.

But then we have to ask, who is doing the moulding? And what's the mould
like? Those who are brought up in western Christian culture are taught
that we are made in the image of God (whatever that may mean). However,
we immediately notice that those who do this teaching do not want that
become like them, but rather we are like something or someone else who
maybe or may not exist and who we may or may not know what that "other
person" (in this case God) is like. But what is important is this
historical context is that those who are doing the moulding although one
of us they are somehow different from us and made so by some higher
authority. We are left in no doubt that those who are doing the
moulding, and can do the moulding, are somehow in a different category
from us.

This state of affairs has not been lost on those who inherited power and
authority today, even though all sense of spiritual morality has been
stripped clean of any exercise of power. Today we don't even see any
pretence to exercise power with a semblance of moral virtue. Today
morality seems to be what those in power say it is.

Thus, those who pretend to be the rightful practitioners of power do not
want to mould society in their image but rather in the image of their
dogma. In other words, we are supposed to be moulded into what we are
told to be and not in the image of those who exercise power. No moulding
by example here.

But even if we can proceed beyond these two questions we have to explain
how a collection of individuals can be moulded into a conforming unit?
Fear has always been a motive to conformity and as we know fear can be
either physical or psychological, or both. This strategy and method has
also survived the test of time and the rigours of dogma. Fear is cheap
and effective.

Fear can mould our behaviour but can it also mould our individuality? If
our individuality can survive the rigours of dogma and fear then most
probably society cannot be moulded. Not forgetting that acquiescing out
of fear is itself a strategy, but this should not be mistaken to being
moulded. Behaving out of fear is not the same as being afraid. And those
who are blinded by power can easily miss this subtle distinction; and in
many cases to their unhappy demise.

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------



from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Can we mould society?

Friday, March 04, 2016

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Hunches + News

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Hunches.

An issue for us would be to disentangle the meaning of a hunch from gut
feeling, educated guess, in my opinion, I suspect, I'm sure, I might be
wrong but, if you ask me, and similar expressions. And then move on to
examine whether this is a peculiar expression/word in English or whether
there really are these different shades of opinions.

I am inclined to argue that the fact we have so many expressions
reflects how fine tuned we are with our feelings and beliefs. But more
than anything else these expression betray how powerless and limited we
are at predicting the future. And at predicting facts when we do not
have sufficient knowledge about the issue at hand.

In the meantime Gloria has sent me details about her book:
…..te envío la invitación
de mi tercer libro llamado Concierto para Äcaros y Otras
Mentiras Literarias.

You can find more information here:
http://philomadrid.blogspot.com/2016/03/concierto-para-acaros-y-otras-mentiras.html


Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
<http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/>
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
914457935
Metro: Bilbao
-----------Ignacio------------
Open Tertulia in English every
Thursdays at Triskel in c/San Vicente Ferrer 3.
Time: from 19:30 to 21h
http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/
<http://sites.google.com/site/tertuliainenglishmadrid/>
----------------------------



from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Hunches + News

Concierto para Äcaros y Otras Mentiras Literarias.






Gloria has sent me details about her book:
…..te envío la invitación
de mi tercer libro llamado Concierto para Äcaros y Otras 
Mentiras Literarias. 






Credits

© of the respective authors,
™ of the respective owners,
® of the respective registered owners.



Philosophy, Social Issues, Classical Philosophy, Citizen Philosophy, Applied Philosophy, Non-Political Meeting, Non-Religious Meeting,