Skye & Massimo's Philosophy Cafe: What Is the Use of Thought Experiments in Moral Philosophy?

Monday, May 7, 2018 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm
Elliott Library, Room 507
$5 Nonmembers

The Café is run by philosophers Skye Cleary ( and Massimo Pigliucci ( It is based on the principle of the Socratic dialogue. Every meeting has a simple theme (e.g., should we be afraid of death? What's the ethics of eating?), which is introduced by Skye and Massimo on the basis of short, accessible, suggested (but not mandatory!) readings. The rest of the meeting then features an open discussion among participants, facilitated by Skye and Massimo, aiming at sharpening our thinking about whatever subject matter is being examined.

Topic: What Is the Use of Thought Experiments in Moral Philosophy?

Moral philosophy has indulged in convoluted hypothetical situations that seem to be designed more to show off the cleverness of the people working in the field than to actually help the rest of us live an ethical life. Engage in a discussion about what the practical lessons of the infamous “trolley problem” thought experiment might be, because, as the Stoic philosopher Epictetus put it 19 centuries ago: “If you didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did you learn them for?” (Discourses I, 29.35)

For more information, visit the Cafe's Meetup page:

Meeting dates subject to change.