November 2018 Philosophy Think & Drink

After three summer sessions exploring and discussing the moral dimensions of homelessness, our November Think & Drink marked a return to our normal gathering structure and dialogic style.  After a discussion about civil discourse and conversational style — including some of the methodologies involved in Socratic dialogue — our group posed four possible questions. Check out what we landed upon and some of the philosophical things involved here!

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November 2018 Philosophy Walk: The Environment, Ethics & Stewardship (Part 2)

Part 2 of our 3-Part Fall Philosophy Walk Series on the environment, ethics & stewardship took place on Saturday, November 10th on Merlin Nature Preserve & Little Falcon Farm. The weather was cooperative, overcast with spells of sun (save a fast-moving temperature drop near the close of our gathering)! Sponsored in part by grants from The Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization & Humanities Montana, our group shared dialogue about philosophical and other perspectives related to landowner-steward & wildlife-habitat relationships, and featured special guest speakers Christopher Preston, PhD and Jim Williams, MA.

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Merlin Philosophy Program Selected by Humanities Montana for 2019 “Montana Conversations”

We are thrilled to announce that our program, “Philosophy:  What Is It Good For?”, has been selected as a Montana Conversations program by Humanities Montana for 2019. 

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2018-2019 Philosophy Symposium – “The Environment, Ethics & Stewardship” (Part 1)

Our 2018-2019 Philosophy Symposium Series “The Environment, Ethics & Stewardship” looked at numerous philosophical issues & perspectives related to ethics, the environment, and conservation stewardship, ranging from public vs. private land (including individual rights, collective rights, indigenous rights, other); landowner/steward-wildlife and habitat relationships, and; current & future environmental/conservation challenges. At this symposium, six panelists from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds focused on the first of these three areas of discussion and spoke for 7-10 minutes each. Then the forum was opened up to free-flowing audience-panelist Q & A. Access audio-video, photos & more here!

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October 2018 Kid’s Halloween Hayride-Philosophy Walk (“What is it Like to Be a Bat?”)

We had a marvelous time on our annual Halloween Hayride-Philosophy Walk for kids! And this year we were granted fantastic weather by Mother Nature. Inspired by philosopher Thomas Nagel’s famous “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” (and Halloween, of course), this year we explored the world through the eyes of four different creatures: a bat, a dinosaur, a bird, and an octopus! Check out pictures & all the things we explored here!

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Frankenstein: Evil, Morality & Phronesis

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a ubiquitous feature of popular culture, continuously adapted and revisited. Dr. Raymond Boisvert, Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, argues that Frankenstein endures because of its sophisticated treatment of morality. Victor, a brilliant thinker who sees science as a means of transcending natural limits, creates life (Frankenstein’s “monster”) only to demean and abandon his creation. But Boisvert argues that Victor is a complex figure — neither inherently evil, nor the product of a corrupt or evil society. Instead Victor’s failings can better be understood by examining two different ethical models: Evil as Absence & Evil as Banal.

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Thought Experiments & Change: Is Abandoning Utopia a Mistake?

Can utopianism be salvaged? Should it be? For many, the answer is no. But there are reasons to suggest, claims philosopher Espen Hammer, that a fully modern society cannot live without a utopian consciousness. But even if we were to adopt this stance, we must do this with caution. What preoccupies our utopian imagination is of utmost importance.

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October 2018 Philosophy Think & Drink: Moral Dimensions of Homelessness (Special Topic – Part 3)

In this month’s think & drink, we assessed our current belief systems and city structure, and then looked at numerous local grassroots solutions to help address some of the challenges of homelessness based on these. We also considered some causal factors of homelessness (relative to larger scale responses) and some of the ethical dilemmas surrounding the policing of homelessness by asking what the role of police is/ought to be and what sorts of things cities can do to be of help. Below are some of the questions we asked, as well as examples of multi-functional grassroots ideas that other cities have implemented as one part (of a larger set) of responses to homelessness. Learn more about what we discussed and access resources here!

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