Pub crawl with @QUBPPE and @QUBPolitics societies next Monday! £3, limited places. See FB for more info.

Pub crawl with @QUBPPE and @QUBPolitics societies next Monday! £3, limited places. See FB for more info.

New society poster design by Luke McClean.

New society poster design by Luke McClean.

QUBSU Officer Elections 2013: What we are endorsing

A statement regarding the Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union Officer Elections 2013 from the QUB Philosophy Society

To our members, the candidates and whoever is interested:

As a society, we will not be endorsing any candidates or tickets during the QUBSU Officer Elections, since we believe this to be beyond the explicit or implicit purposes of our society. We do, however, encourage the candidates to address certain concerns that we see affecting the well-being and operation of societies such as our own. These are:

  • Ensuring the prompt delivery of grant money for clubs and societies. The SU should accept grant applications in the summer and allocate grant money at the very beginning (or slightly ahead) of the autumn term, such that societies have no problem getting new and returning students involved in activities right away or getting basic resources for reaching out to students at the Freshers’ Fair and during Freshers’ Week. Shockingly, this academic year we only received our grant at the very end of February (and we know that some socities are still waiting)! As such, something of an organisational overhaul seems needed, and whoever is elected should ensure that new strategies are implemented to make sure clubs and societies can offer students the positive and helpful social and intellectual spaces that underpin a well-rounded student experience.

  • Developing more transparency, accountability and feedback in the operation of SU services for clubs and societies. We would like to see more feedback mechanisms where clubs and societies can evaluate the effectiveness of the services offered by the SU - e.g. the training sessions, the finance system, facilities, etc. We would particularly like to get a better indication of how grant allocation decisions are made, receiving feedback about why an amount other than what was requested was given.

  • Implementing more straightforward ways of accessing resources and knowledge. Hunting down the requiste documents, forms and know-how to run a society has generally meant looking in a variety of places, including the QUBSU website’s somewhat hodgepodge approach to making (sometimes out of date) documents available. Some way of improving this situation would be very helpful. We are aware that one of the candidates for VP Clubs and Societies, Jonny Gallagher, has proposed an Online Forum where committee members can share knowledge and resources amongst each other, as well as get (publicly visible) feedback from the VPCS themself. Something like this would be very helpful.

  • Practicing and exhibiting a holistic student ethos above and beyond the provision of goods and services. We believe that the value of the education, research, social experiences and extracurricular activities that make up the university experience are above and beyond the “market value” of one’s degree. We hope that whoever helps lead the Students’ Union on behalf of the student community will endeavor to preserve both the intrinsic and extrinsic values of the pursuit of wisdom, knowledge and community in the face of the greater managerialisation and marketisation of higher education (which is often apparent, for example, in the encroachment of management-speak as the understood vocabulary for evaluating university life). We appreciate that the SU is a nexus of fun, advice, representation and help, and so we hope SU officers will simultaneously demonstrate capability for administering an organisation that provides a variety of goods and services as well as presenting a clear vision for the SU’s role in furthering and defending society’s access to a holistic educational experience.

We encourage candidates to address these. Moreover, if voting or campaigning, we encourage our members to take into account these points when selecting whom to support.

In philosophy, anything is on the table for discussion, so it is unlikely that we endorse particular positions in student politics, especially ideological ones. Yet we are a political society insasmuch as we recognise that politics (also) happens between elections and in that we hope to participate in providing a space for people to explore new and old ideas and discuss them with their peers and members of the academy. In this sense, the issues outlined above may not seem very political concerns but they are important to the flourishing of the Philosophy Society and others like us.

In earnest,

On behalf of the Philosophy Society (Academia Philosophorum) at Queen’s, the 2012/13 committee:

Mikael Kristiansen, President
James McAlister, Secretary
Conor Heaney, Treasurer
Marina Heumann, Third Year Rep.
Luke McClean, First Year Rep.

Gaven Kerr on the Scholastic philosophical tradition (20 Feb. 2013)

Dr. Gaven Kerr delivers a talk entitled “The perennial significance of the scholastic philosophical tradition,” wherein he argues that scholastic philosophy has dealt with metaphysical, epistemological and philosophy of mind-related issues in particularly interesting ways, some of which anticipated recent development. He draws these points out in reference to the work of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Should the activities of honeybees commit us to mathematical Platonism?

Dr. Joe Morrison delivers an introduction to Alan Baker’s Enhanced Indispensability Argument, which says that honeybee hive-building activities, once properly understood and explained, should commit us to the existence of abstract mathematical objects (i.e. non-spatio-temporal objects, like numbers). After exploring and evaluating the argument, he wonders whether it can or should be nominalised in order to avoid mathematical Platonism.

Filmed at Queen’s University Belfast on 24 Oct. 2012. A 3 min. preview video can be viewed here).

(The articles by Dr. Baker in question can be found here)

We asked Dr. Joe Morrison to give us a little preview of his talk entitled: ‘The Ontological Extravagance of Honeybees and Other Insects’, wherein he will examine Alan Baker’s enhanced indispensability argument, which argues that the activities of honeybees should commit us to the existence of abstract mathematical objects (like numbers).

The full talk is now available to watch at http://youtu.be/tCnKV9FdFfI

Paddy McQueen on ‘Judith Butler: Feminism, Identity and Politics’ at our most recent event.

Paddy McQueen gives an introductory talk to Butler’s work on feminism, gender, identity and power at Queen’s University Belfast.

Judith Butler is perhaps one of the most well-known post-structuralist feminist philosophers in the Western world. She is associated with continental feminism, work in queer theory, gender identity, power and ethics, as well as being known for her political activism.

Paddy McQueen is (at time of writing) a PhD candidate at Queen’s University Belfast in Political Theory and the author of several articles on identity and recognition. His research profile is available here, and his personal website here.

The talk starts with a short introduction to feminism before turning most of its attention toward Judith Butler’s work. The Q&A session following this talk gets into more details: http://youtu.be/rSlHypW9NxU

Round up: blog posts from society members

Here’s a roundup of recent contributions by QUB Philosophy Society members (all students, two of them undergrads) to the QUB/NI community philosophy blog 'The Big Questions':

In any case, the QUB philosophy blog has tons of content from Queen’s University Belfast staff members, which may also be of interest. We’ll see if society members are interested in contributing next term.

Our first video. Subscribe, yo.

In this talk, Dr. Gaven Kerr argues that modern philosophy’s concern with how the mind can relate to the world is based on a concept of mindedness that needs replacing. To that end, he gives a historical account of how this concept emerged, touching on rationalism (Descartes), empiricism (Hume) and scholasticism.

This video was recorded on 29 Feb. 2012 as part of a Queen’s University Belfast Philosophy Society event.

Dr. Kerr’s areas of interest and history of publications can be viewed here.

Unfortunately, we experienced some technical difficulties during this video that resulted in a lower quality, as well as some strange colour issues in the last few minutes. This was our first video. Subsequent videos will be to a higher standard.

The philosophy society at Queen's University Belfast, formally known as Academia Philosophorum - founded and run by students, for anyone and everyone.

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