Talks & Lectures

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Talks & Lectures

Bring Back Capital Punishment?

Sun 11 Jan 2015, 11.00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Barbara Smoker & Prof. Evan Parker

This will be a lively but serious discussion event to kick-off 2015, exploring whether there is now a case to re-introduce the death sentence.

Barbara Smoker, who is adamantly opposed to such a notion, will explain why this “barbaric" practice - outlawed across the European Union, was abandoned as a form of retribution in the UK in 1963. Indeed the Conway Hall Ethical Society (and Barbara) were at the vanguard of this campaign, viewing this form of punishment as unethical. Members generally continue to hold this view to this day.

Evan Parker will set out why we should now reconsider our thinking on this very emotive issue. He will present arguments as to why inconsistent, outdated and non-democratic thought processes have prevailed in determining the ultimate sanction, and that it is timely to revisit. He will describe how capital punishment could now be viewed as appropriate retribution, bringing potential benefits to our society and interpreted as an ethical practice.

Evan Parker held the Chair in Semiconductor Physics for 25 years at the University of Warwick. He continues to do research in nanotechnology and has strong interests in climate change, including geo-engineering. He has published widely, spun-out several companies including one in 2014. He is a Trustee of Conway Hall Ethical Society. 

Barbara Smoker was born in London in 1923 into a Roman Catholic family. She served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service from 1942-45, mainly in south-east Asia. In 1949 she became an atheist. In 1951 she joined the South Place Ethical Society, in the course of time taking on all the major roles in the Society, becoming in1986 the Society’s only female Appointed Lecturer.
 
She was elected President of the National Secular Society in 1971 until 1996, representing the atheist viewpoint in print, on lecture platforms, speaking tours and on radio and television.  A forceful debater, she was active in many social campaigns including  abolition of the death penalty, prison reform, CND, the legalisation of abortion and for voluntary euthanasia. 
 
Barbara was an early officiant at non-religious funerals, wedding ceremonies, and gay and lesbian commitments. In 2005, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Her publications include Humanism (6th edition 2014), an introduction for secondary pupils, and Freethoughts (2002), being selections of her contributions to The Freethinker journal. 
 

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.


Image of The Ethics of Gambling

Talks & Lectures

The Ethics of Gambling

Sun 18 Jan 2015, 11.00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Chris Bratcher

Given that most people who gamble lose most of the time, why on Earth do they do it? 

Chris Bratcher, who has been a regular casino-goer and occasional punter elsewhere for many years, as well as a former Treasurer and Chairman of Conway Hall Ethical Society, examines the reasons for doing it, and losing at it.  Risk - and the judgement of risk - is part of life, and can be life-enhancing.  The mushrooming variety of forms of gambling and places to do it, with attendant social evils, give gambling a bad name, as the ‘opium of the people’.  Chris will attempt to rehabilitate some forms, whilst condemning others, by examining the plethora of gambles on offer that have come to dominate the lives of many.  Is it immoral?   If so, where does the immorality lie: with the industry, the Government, or the punters?  What joy do they get out of it?  Is there a pleasure to be safely had?  Chris presents a personal ‘safe sex’ guide to gambling.       . 

Chris Bratcher is a former Chair and Treasurer of Conway Hall Ethical Society, and practised Sunday session talks giver and WEA/U3A lecturer on a wide range of topics born of his academic philosophical discipline of Ethics and the Philosophy of Mind, and from his studies in Literature and Fine Arts.  

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.


Image of The Ethical and Economic Case for Socialism

Talks & Lectures

The Ethical and Economic Case for Socialism

Sun 1 Feb 2015, 11.00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Jerry Jones

The concept of surplus labour – that is labour performed over and above that required to fulfil immediate consumption needs – will be used to explain: first, how economic development happens; second, why the current capitalist system, as a result of the appropriation of surplus labour, is both unethical and inefficient economically; and third, why a market system based on various forms of common ownership – which is identified as the underlying economic basis for socialism – is not only more efficient economically, but also more ethical because it is able to eliminate the appropriation of surplus labour.

Jerry was an academic at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and at King’s College London, specialising in the economic development of underdeveloped countries, and economic, social and agricultural policies related to food security and nutrition. His publications include, Resources and Industry in Tanzania: Use, Abuse and Misuse, academic papers on food policy, technology and economic development, as well as various pamphlets, and some 200 articles on economics as a columnist for the Morning Star. He is a member of the Left Economics Advisory Panel, the Economics Commission of the Communist Party, and Chair of the Labour Land Campaign.

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.


Image of Is Cameron more radical than Thatcher?

Special Events

Is Cameron more radical than Thatcher?

Mon 2 Feb 2014, 19:00

Guardian Live event: Is Cameron more radical than Thatcher?

In their new book "Cameron's Coup". Polly Toynbee and David Walker argue that Cameron is turning out to be more radical than Thatcher. In conversation with columnist and broadcaster Steve Richards, they will explain why they think the cuts are cover for an assault on the post-war social settlement and the government is creating a harsher, meaner Britain.

Running time: 90 minutes with no interval. The book 'Cameron's Coup' is available for purchasing on the order form.

Tickets: £16-£20

Start and End: 19:00-20:30


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