Foundations in Philosophy

Next Programme

Next Programme

Please note that this programme has been postponed. New details to be confirmed.

Foundations in Philosophy March - April, 2020

Theme: Culture

Session 1: Can cruelty to animals be defended by appealing to cultural practices?

Dr. Elisa Galgut

Cultural practices that cause harm to humans - such as slavery and the oppression of women - cannot be defended by appealing to culture. So can we appeal to culture to defend harming non-human? I'll argue that we cannot: in this talk, I'll critique some of the arguments that are put forward in defence of cultural practices that harm animals. Tradition cannot justify cruelty, no matter who the victim. 

Session 2: Culture and borders

Dr. George Hull

Nation states have geographical borders which they control with border checks, barriers and patrols. Is it justifiable for them to restrict who is allowed to cross their borders and become resident for reasons of culture? Can a state implement a restrictive immigration policy in order to preserve its national culture, or would this violate fundamental human rights, such as freedom of movement? Sometimes cultural groups within an existing state want to splinter off and be self-determining. Is it acceptable for groups to secede from an existing state for reasons of culture?

Session 3: Can culture explain human evolution?
Dr. Ryan Nefdt

On the one end of the spectrum, you often hear things like "culture holds people back from advancement", "traditions are irrational", "people, politics, and policy should be more secular". On the other end, culture is linked to identity, community, and the entrenchment of positive value systems, especially in our African context. 

In this talk, we will address the set of questions related to how humans have evolved and adapted to become as dominant as we are in this planet. We will specifically look at how culture has played a central role in our evolutionary progress in shaping who we are. The aim is to take a larger perspective in the hope of finding a reasonable middle ground between the two extremes mentioned above.