Soapbox Special 2017

August’s speaker event is our increasingly annual Soapbox Special.

Instead of one speaker, we’ll give some of our members the chance to talk about whatever is getting to them. The Soapbox event is a reliably interesting night — which is why we’ve gone back to it year after year. Not bad for a format invented from whole cloth when a speaker dropped out at the last minute several years ago.

This year, we have:

Resident political cartoonist Polyp, on Geoengineering: the coming controversy

Some climate change predictions scream ‘we’re doomed!’ Coupled with the rise to power of science deniers like Trump, the cry of ‘too little sustainable power, too late,’ may be right.

Geoengineering proposes a hotly disputed safety net, in which we mitigate global warming via industrial scale climate altering interventions. How realistic are the various proposals, and is even contemplating such a move just handing the carbon lobby a stick with which to beat us?

And what has all this got to do with the ‘chemtrails’ conspiracy theory?

Matthew Riddle – A Quick, Provisional Model Unifying Materialism & Solipsism

I’m going to try and reconcile solipsism and materialism. I would argue both these philosophies are both irrefutable and unprovable, though I appreciate that from within each philosophy, each appears self evident.

I’m going to try and resolve the transporter paradox. If we had the technology to make an exact copy of you and destroyed the original, would you still be yourself? How would that feel subjectively? How can we make sense of that? I’m going to try.

In the process of doing this, we’re going to get close to making sense of both theism and atheism. Rationally explain ethical and moral behaviour without reverting to inner conscience or outsourcing to any external authority and while we’re at it, why not try and answer the question posed by the esteemed philosopher, Haddawy: what is love?

Kathleen Gray – Occupational Health Hazards

A referral to Occupational Health can be nerve-wracking, but our employers are duty-bound to ensure our wellbeing and safety in the workplace.

Many firms offer their staff private healthcare insurance – it’s clear that they want their workers to be as healthy and productive as possible. In most cases, the recommended treatment is useful and evidence-based. But independent providers of healthcare services are subject to different regulations than state-provided ones, and some treatments aren’t subject to any regulation.

Another concern is that the UK as a whole is moving towards a private system, subject to similar flaws and some “optional extras”. A free-market system offers choice, but can it deliver on quality and effectiveness?

George Jacobs – What we talk about when we talk about… anything

Wittgenstein’s private language argument looks at the assumptions we make, in any analytical argument, before we even start to make assumptions: the universal act of faith which we internalise as infants – our agreement that concepts exist and that we can rely on more than coincidence in order to talk about the same concepts at the same time.