PhiloMadrid - Pub Philosophy Meetings in Madrid

Friday, February 24, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Discrimination against men

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Discrimination against men

At face value we might think that this is not a subject worth discussing
maybe because men do all the discriminating in the world. The real
problem with this topic is that it is a high impact emotional content
but what makes this topic important is not the emotions it attracts. I
try to explain this in my short essay.

Discrimination against men

A topic about discrimination against men is first and foremost a topic
about discrimination. As a working definition of discrimination we can
use: an intentional act to disadvantage someone for no reason other than
some arbitrary characteristic of the victim.

There are many variations to this definition; for example an act need
not be intentional or maybe subconscious act; and the characteristic
need not necessarily be real, it is sufficient that the perpetrator
thinks that the victim has some characteristic. A more complicated issue
is when the perpetrator acts from peer pressure, or worse, family
pressure. Indeed we can go a step further and suggest that being brought
up in a group who are taught to hate people with a certain characteristic.

By definition, discrimination against others would convey an advantage
to us; or at the very best a perceived advantage. However, I am inclined
to think that discrimination need not confer a direct advantage from
discriminating against the victim. For example, discriminating against a
group might consolidate the coherence of the perpetrators rather than
obtain an advantage directly from the victim: compare this with stealing
someone's property. An example would be the murder of Jews and other
minority groups by the Nazis in Europe. Creating a network throughout
Europe simply to murder six million or more people created a liability
to the war efforts of the Nazis; although discrimination had nothing to
do with the war. And even more when many of those victims would have
easily contributed to the Nazi cause by virtue of national pride or
patriotism. After all, the treaty of Versailles affected everyone in

There is another angle to discrimination in the context that we think
that our survival endeavour in life is first and foremost a fight
against the environment such as wild animals, earthquakes, floods, the
cold etc. We also assume that other tribes and groups will also want to
hurt us or take what we have. In both categories we might perceive this
as a matter "of us" and "them".

But discrimination happens equally against people within the group as
much as "enemies of the group". The rhetoric of the Nazis was not only
against the Jews who were seeking refuge in Germany from the pogroms in
Russia but also to the Jews in Germany who had been there for
generations. The modern equivalent would today be European Citizens in
the United Kingdom or Muslims and citizens from Latin American countries
in the United States.

In other words, discrimination can also be a threat to people from
within the group or society of the victims; a sort of autoimmune disease
where the immune system hurts the body it is supposed to defend rather
than attack invading threats to the body. Indeed a good example of this
type of discrimination is discrimination against people because of their
gender: i.e. discrimination against women and men who are the basis of
any society. Discrimination against men (or women) in a society would be
discrimination against members of the same society.

At this point we are expected to qualify our topic, discrimination
against men, with two caveats. The first is that there is more gender
discrimination against women then there is against men. And secondly,
men are the main suspects of discrimination against women. But this begs
the questions: who discriminates against men and what kind of
discrimination do men suffer? For my arguments on the subject I do not
need these two questions as I will show below.

The answer to who discriminates against men is the same people who
discriminate against women. The stance by the present female Prime
Minister of the United Kingdom by refusing to guarantee the rights of EU
citizens in the UK is no less discriminatory against men as it is
against women. And the policy by the President of the United State,
today, to prevent people of a certain racial background from entering
the US, even though they have legally valid permits or citizens of the
country itself, is no less discriminatory against women as it is against

This means that the perpetrators of gender discrimination are not
necessarily carried out by members of one specific gender or other.
Discrimination is carried out by human beings against other human
beings. But this leaves us with the question of what kind of
discrimination can men suffer that would justify a whole discussion on
the topic.

At a certain philosophical level, discrimination against men or women
does not have any real significant import; although it makes good
headline copy. But on a more empirical level the most important and
serious discrimination against men is is also discrimination against
women (and vice versa). A woman is a man's mother, or sister or daughter
or even wife or partner. Thus wage discrimination against women is first
and foremost also discrimination against men because women with a family
or partner would have less money available for the family. Thus a woman
who is paid less than the norm for being a woman and who has a son, not
only is she being discriminated against, but also her son who is a male
is being discriminated against. And the son is being discriminated
against because his mother has less income to spend on him. We can
extend this argument to include women who do not have sons or male
partners; women who earn less than the norm has less spending power thus
contributing less to society.

So if women are discriminated in the work place, men are equally
discriminated against by have to succumb to peer pressure or "company
culture" to do what is the manly thing to do or at the very least follow
what is expected by those in authority. If it is expected of men that
they get involved in some sports activities and someone does not, this
would put that person at a disadvantage amongst his peers. Although men
don't have glass ceilings they still have to follow the "norms" to
success for example by being ruthless, competitive or more.

In reality serious companies today are more open and would judge someone
by their professional skills rather than past time activities. But I
would still argue it will be a brave man to suggest during work meetings
that he is more interested in the exploits of the Bolshoi Ballet Company
than say the Real Madrid or Manchester United. And likewise for a woman
if she plays in a forward position for her local rugby team!

But I also know of a case when a man was dismissed from a company
because he wanted to spend Saturdays with his family rather than go to
the office because the boss also worked on Saturdays! Of course, today
many companies are more enlightened than in the past; but this does not
negate the reality that many men are placed in positions they'd rather
not be in because of what is "expected" of men.

There is also the issue of discrimination against men when looking for a
partner. What "fat" is for women, "short and fat" is for men when
looking for a partner. But is there a difference between natural
selection choices and social discrimination? For example, at what point
would a man wearing glasses be seen as more attractive than one not
wearing glasses? But of course this question is more enforcing the
stereotype than reality. And we need not go any further than the
fictional characters of Clark Kent and Superman!

In reality, the single most important characteristic of a man that will
get him rejected by a potential partner is, of course, being a prat! And
this is valid for both biological and social reasons. But even then some
people can still make it! However, reality is such that most people
would find a partner if they looked carefully: but what we want and what
we get are two separate events.

And although there will always be an overlap between natural selection
discrimination (tall or short) and social discrimination (supporter of a
given football team) I am inclined to think that discrimination is first
and foremost social discrimination otherwise it makes no sense to
attribute moral condemnation if discrimination was purely biological.

This brings us back to the definition of discrimination. Are there any
cases when discrimination (against men for example) is justified? The
conditions for discrimination are: to disadvantage someone and
discrimination caused by some characteristic of the victim that in many
cases the victim has no control over. Being tall or short are
characteristics a person has no control over them; but what about
supporting a football team or being of a certain religion? But no one
will claim discrimination against men if a woman does not choose a
potential partners because they were fat, thin, short, and paid up
members of the worst football team in the country.

This suggests that a definition of discrimination must exclude matters
of taste or choice. If someone does not like plays, it cannot be
described as discrimination against men if they don't read the works of
Shakespeare. But most certainly it would be discrimination against
Shakespeare the man if people burned books of his plays because they
were not written by a woman.

And to compound the issue: how do we deal with discrimination based on
social class divisions or even castes? Just because we know what our
caste or class is and accept the attitudes of others towards our class,
does this mean that we are not being discriminated against? Is it OK to
discriminate against someone just because that person accepts that such
discrimination is natural or even does not perceive such behaviour as

To conclude I would argue that any form of discrimination is just
discrimination, and while we might feel to categorise discrimination
(sex, religious, race etc) at the philosophical this would have no real
import. And just because we perceive ourselves as not being affected by
the discrimination of others this is not a reasonable or logical
position to hold; certainly not a moral justification of justification.
But on the other hand we really need a robust definition of
discrimination to prevent us from mixing up choice with discrimination.

And maybe this is where and why our topic is relevant for us: even if it
is true that men tend to discriminate more against others (I am not
saying it is or isn't) and especially against women this does not give
us the grounds to claim (and act against) that all men discriminate. Or,
in our case, some men are discriminated against because they are men.
Philosophical robustness prevents us from accepting the argument that
because some members of a group behave in a certain way that all the
members of the group behave the same. After all discrimination, as
opposed to competition, is a social choice rather than a biological
trait and therefore always intentional or an intentional type of behaviour.

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: Discrimination
against men

Friday, February 17, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Our mission in life?

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Our mission in life?

We have two short essays, one by Alicia and shorter one by me:

---- Alicia -- HOW CAN I IDENTIFY MY PERSONAL MISSION ?. (Alicia del
Hierro Barcina).
The future depends on us: want is power. Everything in this life goes
through something and we have to adapt to the circumstances. We are
responsible for the decisions we make but not for chance. The family and
social environment will determine how our life will be in the short and
long term.
Alex Rovira in his story The Seven Powers, "If you think you cannot, you
cannot. If you think you dare not, you will not. If you think that you
are defeated, you are ... The battle of life is not always won by the
strongest man, the most agile or the fastest, but the one who believes
he can do it. "

Nietzsche had already said something similar: "Who has a reason to live
can withstand almost any how"
In order for your personal mission to be considered as such, you must
meet four requirements:
1st requirement
Our mission must be beneficial to society; it must have the character of
public service and brimming with generosity towards all those around us.

2nd requirement
Our personal mission has to cause our best personal abilities (skills
and talents) to emerge, not only to be put into practice, but to develop
and empower.

3rd requirement
Our mission must be based on integrity and ethical values that respect
your will and the freedom of those around you.

4th requirement
Our personal mission must balance our lives and not cause us to
destabilize ourselves and others on the way to its achievement.

Before we leave Earth, we will define our personal mission.
• When you are not, how would you like to be remembered? Why action or
work would you like to be remembered?
• What problem or aspect of the current society would you like to change?
• In what area or doing some activity you feel happier?
• What are you good at? What do you stand out for? What are your most
personal talents or abilities that make you different from others?
• If you had your life resolved and your basic and economic needs
covered, what would you like to dedicate your life to.
It is very important to visualize your goals and objectives.
Positively viewing our personal mission helps to create in our
subconscious the ideal conditions to behave and act directing all our
actions and initiatives in pursuit of our mission.
Visualization is also an effective means to avoid the fears and doubts
that in the route towards our goal and objectives can arise avoiding
that the most widespread disease currently in our society, the
"skephophrenia" in our society ... a disease that we all suffer in More
or less and that provokes in us that, every day and before any challenge
or simple activity, we emit the expression "I would do it, but esque now
I have much work", "it seems interesting what bad esque would not be able".

After You Have Reflected About This Issue You May Be Interested To Know
What Your Mission Is By Consulting The Numbers.

According to the number theory that guides our life, we have a definite
mission. Finding it will make us feel better, more fulfilled and
fulfilled. In addition, the professions that best suit each personality.
The numerological study is not only important to know our personality
but also allows us to obtain the key that brings us closer to the
knowledge of our mission in this world. The state of peace and harmony
is achieved only when we are absolutely certain that we are complying
with what is established.
The mission reflects where we are going, what it is that we come to
fulfil. Why did we come to this life? What did we learn? It is the route
to follow to realize spiritual and material fulfilment.
It marks the path to happiness because, in attuning ourselves to our
higher purpose, with what we came to learn, all roads automatically
begin to open up: the path of love, the road to prosperity, the road to
success in all its manifestations. In these cases, we find it much
easier to express satisfaction with life and there is a kind of
reconciliation with all that we have had to live before finding this
path of perfection that is the fulfilment of the mission. How to
recognize it?
To know our mission we must add our date of birth and reduce the result
to one digit. This number is calculated by adding each of the absolute
values of the full date of birth: day, month and year.
For example, if someone was born on July 6, 1982, you will add: 0 + 6 +
0 + 7 + 1 + 9 + 8 + 2 = 33, continue to reduce 3 + 3 = 6, the mission
for this person is to perform the Number 6 in its positive aspect.
Only the positive aspects of the number corresponding to the mission are
taken into account because precisely what we come to work, does not
affect the negative of the number (because, logically, we do not come to
learn anything negative).


--Lawrence -- Our mission in life?

We might group this question with a few other questions relating to
life. I am thinking of questions such as: what is the meaning of life?
What is the purpose of life? Where do we come from? What is our destiny?

"Our mission in life?" is a question that is slightly different from the
others, mainly by identifying ourselves as responsible for this so
called mission; we set the mission and we are responsible for the
success of our mission. And by mission we might mean objective or goal;
something we aspire to or wish for.

But how much are we responsible for what we want? There is no question
that we are quite responsible for what mission we set for ourselves. But
there is also a difference between wanting some kind of mission and
achieving that mission. There is no causal connection between wants and
wishes on the one hand and achieving what we perceive to be a clear

One of the reasons why the causal chain is weak or even nonexistent is
that sometimes we just don't know what it takes to bring about
something. And this can be because we know "What" we want and not "How"
to get what we want. And sometimes what we think is our mission or what
ought to be our mission is just something that is not practical.
Missions are more than just wishes, they need to have a realist chance
of do-ability.

An equally important reason why missions fail is that there are many
outside factors that influence and change the course of events that
would thwart us to achieve or fulfil our mission. Thus knowing how to
achieve what we wish for or knowing what it takes to achieve what we
want, can help up a lot to neutralise external influences.

And finally, we can stand a better chance of fulfilling our mission in
life if we were realistic and reasonable about what we want for a
missio. Although success flies on the wings of ambition, realism can
take us a long way indeed.

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: Our mission in life?

Friday, February 10, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Chaos

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Chaos.

This is an everyday term that we use to describe such ideas as disorder,
turmoil, confusion and any other event that does not fit to our sense of
order and regularity. Chaos gives us that feeling that we are not in
control of a situation and the situation itself does not seem to abide
to any form or rule or order.

From big natural events such as tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes and
snow on railway tracks to traffic jams or a teenager's bedroom chaos is
all around us. Some types of chaos we can cope with whilst others are
life threatening.

One form of social chaos is political turmoil. Although we can explain
earthquakes and tornadoes, how do we explain moral degeneration that
leads to war or famine? What are the necessary and sufficient conditions
that bring about moral turmoil?

Of course, we shouldn't confuse human created chaos with what is known
as mathematical chaos. In modern times the popular form of mathematical
chaos was brought to our attention by Benoit Mandelbrot the 1970s and
the 80s. Mathematical chaos has explained a number of natural phenomena
which in turn lead to new solutions to old problems.

From our perspective, does the idea of chaos and maybe randomness that
we seem to associate with it, absolve us from moral responsibility and
rational behaviour?

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: Chaos

Friday, February 03, 2017

from Lawrence, SUNDAY PhiloMadrid meeting at 6:30pm: Are we in control?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we discussing: Are we in control?

If by "are we in control?" we mean we are fully responsible for our
lives then surely the answer must be sometimes. Sometimes we can do
things which might not be too brilliant, and sometimes we decide to do
things that can cascade into better things.

Of course, we cannot go about our lives blaming everything and everyone
else for our failures, but always claim glory for our successes.
Sometimes, if not most times, we do mess up our life and sometimes we do
get it right. But to suggest that we are totally responsible for
everything that happens in our life is to show ignorance on how life
functions. So how does life function?

One way life functions is that the more we know about something and the
more informed we are about something the more likely we are able to take
the right decisions. For example, once we drop the charade that school
is about learning and education and accept that the formal educational
system (there are major changes today going on for the better) is about
conformity and passing exams then we can progress through the system.

Conformity and exams are not necessarily there for some malicious
project by those above us, but mainly to establish the demarcation lines
between those who have huge influence on our children and what our
children are supposed to achieve at a given age.

As every child, every parent and every teacher will attest, there is
nothing perfect about the system and that they are hardly in control of
the situation. On the one hand society accepts that some sort of
stability is better than the rule of disorder. But when it is made clear
to teachers and children alike that the purpose of school is indeed to
help children pass exams, children will pass exams with high colours,
even if they don't know how to do much else. Teachers will simply start
teaching how to pass exams; in the same way that if you want to build a
steam engine you'd better start learning about engineering and steam!!
This is evidenced by the top rate marks of children in Britain after the
introduction of the league tables. And this cannot be solely attributed
to the exams being made easier.

The problem is that not everyone can behave or does behave in the same
way to a given set of facts in a situation. It can always be argued that
it is impossible for two situations to have the same background facts
and the same circumstances. Indeed the law courts are adept at making
this distinction; so whilst this is a real valid objection and many
times it is true, it cannot be that there are never two cases that
cannot elicit the "same" reaction. All things being equal, stealing one
hundred Euros from Bank A and from Bank B both cases are cases of
stealing from the bank.

My point is that sometimes we are in control of the situation and
sometimes we are not, but some situations do require that we not only do
we take control but also react in the same manner.

The issues for us are for example; what conditions establish that we are
in control or not in control? What forms of action are acceptable when
we are in control and when we are not? This will determine issues about
morality and matters of responsibility.

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: Are we in control?


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