In collaboration with the UNC Department of Philosophy and the Mystery Brewing Public House, a faculty member leads a short presentation on a philosophical topic or puzzle, followed by a small group discussion led by various philosophy professors and graduate students. Recent discussions centered on the nature of paradox, whether it’s rational to have children, and Aristotle’s views on slavery.

Fall 2017 there were two Philosophy Café meetings. First, Steve Swartzer hosted a discussion on November 16, called: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility? On the Challenges of Superhero Ethics”. Below is his brief description:

“Should you save that family teetering off the edge of the bridge and let the villain get away? Are superheroes morally responsible for the innocents they harm in their epic battles with evil? Can vigilante justice be just? Attendees will participate in a lively conversation about the rules superheroes should live by, and some of the special ethical challenges they face.”

Then, on November 30, Rob Willison spoke on “The Meaning of Life (and Meaning in Life)”. Here’s his brief description:

“In the mid-1960s, Nina Simone had a conflict with her husband and manager, Andrew Stroud, over the course of her musical career. As their daughter Lisa described the difference: “My father had a strategic plan in terms of how mom’s career was going to go. He wanted her to be able to win all the awards and to become the huge star that he knew she could be…But she wanted something more. There was something missing in her—some meaning.” Many of us aspire to lead meaningful lives, and many of us, like Simone, suffer recurrent bouts of anxiety about the meaning (or meaninglessness) of our lives. But what is it, exactly, that we hope for? What is it that we worry is missing?”