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Apeiron Society for the Practice of Philosophy

Tuesday February 24th, 2015 at 7:30 pm
in the Valhalla Room of the Scandinavian Centre,

739 – 20th Ave N.W. Calgary.
Topic: “Misery and Help”
Speaker: Trudy Govier, Department of Philosophy (emerita), University of Lethbridge

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The Talk:

In this philosophical dialogue, three characters explore issues about charitable giving. Their discussion arises after a dinner presented to raise funds for the hungry. At that event, structured to mirror global inequality, all pay equally for a meal, while some are given a fancy dinner and others only watery soup. In their conversation, Allen favours a libertarian stance, starting from the ideas of Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged. He explores issues with Emma, a UNICEF worker striving for the world’s vulnerable people and advocating charitable giving in response to extreme need. Emma explains and defends the view of the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer.

Do those who are well-off have an obligation to give to support those in need? Does supporting the needy make us better people? Happier people? Can governments rightly tax earnings to fund programs for needy people at home and abroad? What about contexts in which charitable giving turns out to be counter-productive? If waste and abuse can be found in some charitable programs, does that mean charitable giving is futile? These and related issues are explored in a balanced three-way discussion.

The dialogue will be read by Lynda Cherry, David Boutland, and Richard Farrand. Trudy Govier will lead a discussion afterward.

Biographical Notes:

Trudy Govier taught philosophy at Trent University and the University of Lethbridge. She is the author of several books including A Practical Study of Argument, God the Devil and the Perfect Pizza, and Socrates’ Children. Now retired from the University of Lethbridge, Trudy is Vice President of the Apeiron Society and active with several other community groups in Calgary.