philosophy

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We all know that flying leaves a huge carbon footprint – but is that OK if we pay for carbon-offsetting each time we get on a plane? Philosophy Lecturer Luke Elson grapples with the morality of air travel in a new post for The Conversation

I recently flew to Florida to visit family. My round-trip economy seat emitted roughly two tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to one carbon offsetting website. By contrast, the average person in Britain is responsible for roughly seven tonnes for the entire year, already quite high by global standards.

This makes me a climate change villain. Dumping such huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere seems clearly morally wrong, because of the harm this will cause others. But carbon offsets let me fly with a clear conscience – for now.

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Reading Emotions

Pain is a complex cognitive and emotional experience, which means that understanding the structure of our pain experience is far from easy. Our beliefs and expectations about pain alter perceptual, emotional and behavioural responses and, as such, can play a critical role in adapting to long term pain conditions. The symposium will consider pain’s meaning, how this shapes the experience of the individual in pain and how this, in turn, shapes their interactions with the environment. We will take an inter-disciplinary approach to these questions, drawing from Philosophy, Anthropology, Psychology and Neuroscience. We will also attempt to translate these perspectives into the clinical domain. The second day will be organised as an interactive discussion led by Dr. Salomons, Dr. Ravindran, and Dr. Thacker, examining how our understanding of pain-related beliefs and expectations might be integrated into clinical practice.

Audience:

The symposium is designed to bring together people interested in the philosophical, neuroscientific, and clinical examination of the elements which structure pain experiences, asking how propositional and affective states (e.g. beliefs and feelings) alter the pain experience and how such knowledge should properly inform clinical practice.
You can book tickets here or find out more information about the event on the website, including a full schedule and list of speakers here.

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In a new post for The Conversation, John Preston looks at how the work of 20th century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was shaped by his love for a young mathematician, who died in an air crash a century ago.

Ludwig Wittgenstein (Wikimedia commons

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This seminar will be given by Tim Mulgan from St Andrew’s. Topic TBC.

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‘Experimental argument analysis’ – a seminar by Eugen Fischer (UEA)

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‘The Appropriateness of Pride’ – a seminar by Michael Brady (Glasgow)

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‘Epicurus on Pleasure, a Complete Life, and Death: A Defence’ – a seminar by Alex Voorhoeve (LSE)

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‘Names for ‘merely statistical people’’ –  a seminar by Anna Mahtani (LSE)

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‘In Defence of Presupposition Moral Error Theory’ – a seminar by Wouter Kalf (Utrecht)

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By Professor Catriona McKinnon (Director, Leverhulme Programme in Climate Justice)

Later this week, a climate denier will become the President of the United States. Donald Trump claims that ‘nobody really knows’ whether climate change is happening, and has asserted in the past that climate change is a hoax. To make things worse, Trump has filled his cabinet with several climate deniers, and his transition team have raised fears of a ‘witch hunt’ of climate experts in the Department for Energy.

170116 MCKINNON Trump CNN

Today, a letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May, signed by leading figures in the UK climate research community – including some at the University of Reading – expressed fears about what this could do to the evidence base for global climate policy making. If the new Trump administration follows up on his campaign pledges to tear up existing US climate policies, the future could be bleak for the Paris Agreement, which may be the best and last hope for global action on climate change.

Many people in the climate research community are appalled by the climate denial of Trump and his incoming cabinet. But what, exactly, is wrong with it?

The climate denial of Trump and his cabinet is not bad science: it is not science at all

One thought might be that Trump’s climate denial is outrageously bad science. The essence of science is contestation and disagreement, and science in a state of health makes space for mavericks who strike out with bold new hypotheses, sometimes enabling great leaps forward. Should we be horrified by Trump’s denial because he does not fit this mould? This would be a serious mistake. The climate denial of Trump and his cabinet is not bad science: it is not science at all.

Such views  have grown from a set of organised, well-funded, strategic, deceptive, ideological practices undertaken by a range of conservative think tanks in the US, funded by those with fossil fuel interests, and which have perverted climate legislation in America. The tactics these deniers employ include claims of conspiracy among climate scientists, appeal to fake experts, cherry-picking data, and outright deception.

High stakes of climate risks

So he says he doesn’t believe the experts. So what? To understand why Trump’s climate denial is so heinous we must be alive to the severity of the climate crisis and how little time is left to take meaningful action to contain it.

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