The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Club Spotlight: Philosophy Forum


Each Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m., philosophically inclined Batesies make their way up to the Philosophy Lounge in Hedge for an informal discussion about a wide array of topics including thought experiments, metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, and other topics they discuss in class. This week, The Bates Student went to investigate a typical Philosophy Forum meeting.

The Bates Student (BS): What’s your favorite part about Philosophy club?

Abraham Brownell (AB): I like talking about philosophy with people.

BS: Is there anything special about this club that is different than going to a philosophy class?

AB: It’s less formal.

BS: Do you feel like you get more into depth?

AB: No.

BS: What is usually your favorite discussion topic in philosophy forum?

Ben Klafter (BK): I am more of an ethics person than a metaphysics person, so I like whenever the conversation comes to morality, any kind of animal or bioethics, AI and the ethical problems with that. The metaphysics I can’t keep up with as well, but I try my best.

BS: And what has been your favorite experience this year?

BK: Probably the one to four times when I’ve actually made a dent in Abe’s position.

BS: Can you tell me more about that?

BK: For example, there was a time in which we were arguing about animal ethics and how humans and animals suffer differently, and Abe used the fallacy of equivocation, in which you falsely equate a dog showing sadness or loneliness or friendship with the way that human shows those emotions, and I pointed out to Abe that he was using the fallacy of equivocation, and he didn’t have a very good response to that and it was one of the best moments of anyone’s life.

BS: Can you tell me more about that one time… your idea about grilled cheese and Christians?

BK: I sent in a question which I kind of plagiarized from a Socratic dialogue. The question is kind of a classic religious philosophy one, which is “is the just just because God declares it to be just?” Or does God declare certain things to be just and certain things to be unjust because they already are that way? And kind of the central problem there is that if the just is just only because God says it’s just, then that seems unsatisfactory for our understanding of morality. There has to be a reason why murder is wrong more than just God says it’s wrong. But if murder is already wrong and God just says that, then there must be a morality that is superior to God. And if God is supremely perfect and powerful, how can there be any kind of force superior to God? So I asked that to the Bates Christian Fellowship person, and she gave me her take on it and a Nutella sandwich, and it was a good time.

BS: Alex, why is Philosophy important to you as a STEM major?

Alex Jiang (AJ): Because I think though STEM solves a lot of problems, philosophy is what in the end guide us to do decisions, as its nature, and I think philosophy’s that part of us that makes us human as opposed to just problem solving machines.

BS: Why do you come to this club?

AJ: At first I joined the club because I’m just interested in philosophy in general, and I thought it would just be interesting talks. I stayed because we were always off topics and the off topics were really interesting. It’s a really relaxing time.

BS: What do you think about the philosophy department at Bates?

AJ: I think it’s probably one of the strongest departments in the school.



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