Monthly Lectures

Monthly lectures are usually held on the third Saturday of each month (except in the summer and December), at 2:00 PM at the Community College of Philadelphia's Main campus in Center City Philadelphia, PA. Exceptions are noted below.

Free parking is available in the college parking lot on 17th St, across the street from the parking garage. The lot is open from 1 to 6 PM.
Click here for a campus map.

PhACT thanks Dr. David Cattell and the Philadelphia Community College for providing us with an excellent meeting space.

The general public is more than welcome to attend our lectures. You do not need to be a PhACT member to attend.
For more information, contact Bob Glickman at president@phact.org
Executive meetings are held prior to the monthly lectures, at 1:00 p.m. Any member may attend.

Upcoming Meetings

Saturday, November 15, 2014 - Neuroethics: the Perils and Potential of Brain Science

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Community College of Philadelphia, Room C2-28 Details
Speaker: Ted Schick
Advances in neuroscience, biochemistry, and genetics have brought a new set of ethical questions to the fore. We now have the ability to not only monitor brain functioning in real time (through such devices as PET scanners and MRIs) but also to alter the structure of the brain (through drugs, surgery, implants, genetic engineering, etc.).

But the brain is the seat of the mind; it directly affects how we think, feel, and act. Any change in brain structure can have a profound effect on the self. So what constitutes ethical uses of these technologies?

For example:
  • If we could identify people with brain structures that are highly correlated with criminal behavior, should we give people with those structures reduced sentences? Should we force them to undergo treatment?

  • If we could use brain scans to reliably tell whether someone witnessed a crime or is lying, should we be able to force them to be scanned? Would that be like forcing someone to testify against themselves or like forcing them to give a DNA sample?

  • If brain-altering procedures existed to erase memories, make people less shy or more intelligent, etc., should they be made available on the open market?
Dr. Ted Schick is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Muhlenberg Scholars Program at Muhlenberg College. Born in Davenport, Iowa, he received his B.A. from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Brown University. He has received the Lindback award for Distinguished Teaching as well as a Hoffman Research Fellowship. In addition to creating the Muhlenberg Scholars Program, he also created and directed Muhlenberg's First Year Seminar Program and served as the Director of Academic Computing. He has authored three texts: How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age (with Lewis Vaughn), Doing Philosophy: An Introduction Through Thought Experiments (with Lewis Vaughn), and Readings in the Philosophy of Science: from Positivism to Postmodernism. He serves on the editorial board of Philo and has published numerous articles on the nature of knowledge, reality, and value. His work also appears in a number of volumes of Open Court's Philosophy and Popular Culture series including: Seinfeld and Philosophy, The Matrix and Philosophy, The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy , More Matrix and Philosophy, Star Trek and Philosophy, Led Zeppelin and Philosophy as well as Blackwell's Beer and Philosophy. His articles have been reprinted in a number of publications including: Toward a New Political Humanism, edited by Barry Seidman and Neil Murphy; God edited by Timothy Robinson; The Improbability of God, edited by Michael Martin, Science, Religion, and Society: an Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Controversy, edited by Arri Eisen and Gary Laderman, The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience edited by Michael Shermer; Culture Wars, edited by Mary E. Williams, Philosophy and Contemporary Issues, edited by Burr and Goldinger, and Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge, God, Mind, Morality, edited by David Ohreen. His current teaching interests include philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, and biomedical ethics.

Saturday, May 16, 2015 - PhACT Expedition to the Mullica River

Time: 10:00 AM
Location: On site Details
Speaker:
James F. McCloy and Ray Miller, Jr in Phantom of the Pines (1998) wrote that in 1928 not far from Batsto “William Bozarth encounters the Jersey Devil along the Mullica River”. And in 1936 at Batsto he “sees the Jersey Devil again.” Henry Charlton Beck in Jersey Geneses: The Story of the Mullica River (1945) had noted that the obituary for Fire Warden Bozarth stated that he “was the last man known to have seen The Jersey Devil.’’

Our guide, Don Nigroni, will trace two folkloric traditions concerning the Jersey Devil, namely, the witch tradition, dating back to at least 1859, and the curse tradition, from at least 1887, to the present day. Accompanying the expedition will be Robb Kerr and Jeff Cooney, who will be providing zoological and botanical information about the Pine Barrens, and professional photographer Ned Levi, who will be photo-documenting the day's activities. We will meet at the Visitor Center at Historic Batsto Village (http://www.batstovillage.org/) at 10:00 AM. After walking through the village, where scenes for 13th Child: Legend of the Jersey Devil (2002) were filmed, we will hike the Tom’s Pond Trail (1.8 miles) which proceeds over the Mullica River. After lunch, participants can take a self-guided tour of Batsto Village.

Although we may not find any monsters, we will learn about the history of the bog iron era in the 18th and 19th centuries in the Pine Barrens and see pink lady’s slippers and carnivorous plants like sundews and pitcher plants. Bring insect repellent, sturdy shoes, lunch, and a camera. The event is free and open to the public.


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