Wednesday, December 27, 2006

RPE Christmas Meal Pictures

The Christmas Meal Pictures are now in the RPE Photo Album. (more photos please if you have them)
(see the 'Links' section) - enjoy - Dave.

Or click:

Note: Due to a blog upgrade (like the new look?), you may need to re-register to leave comments.

Sorry about this - should only take you a moment...

While on the subject of Christmas, you may think there is little of philosophical interest in the holiday...

Well, not everyone agrees - I wish I had found it earlier, but see for details of a book about 'The Philosophy of Christmas' - I am not sure how serious it is - but hope to have read it by next Christmas...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Festive Greetings

Hope you all have a great Christmas, winterval, etc -

But if it is Christmas day - why are you on the internet?
See to ponder whether you ought to be...


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Convert or Die?

Thanks to Jason (level 2) for this link to a Christian computer game story - in which you have to convert or kill the heathens...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Flickr, etc

Hi - quick post: I am in the process of organising a Flickr book for the course: this is an on-line photo album for pics from various events, trips, etc..

I will put the images into folders, etc - once I have time. For now, you can see some pictures from the Hindu Temple visit at

Also after last night's student Christmas meal - I expect an influx of images from those with digital cameras - which I shall also upload..

Cheers, Dave

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Argument Panic?

As some of you are still frantic looking for examples of bad arguments - I thought a bit of compassion may be in order: take a look at for help: but be sure to properly reference any examples you use.

If people want to add to the comments sections (esp after today once the RPE101 notebook task is complete & handed in) any bad arguments they have either used in that task - or just come across and would like to share - that would be interesting...


Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas banned?

As the tabloid press starts its usual festive hysteria over the "PC brigade" banning Christmas (see ) - is this accurate?

- the Guardian offers another view - that this is a 'phoney war':,,1967368,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=11

The National Secular Scoiety says that: Claims That Christmas Has Been Banned by Employers are Exaggerated and Misleading.

How do you feel about this: do you feel that xmas is under pressure?

Or is there something else going on?

Looking forward to a festive response...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peter Singer / Animal Testing & Utilitarianism

Philosopher Peter Singer has been in the news again. While most well-known for his advocacy of animal rights, he has surprised many by claming that some animal testing may be justified. While some animals rights campaigners may be shocked - students may recongise the view that, as he is a utilitarian (of some kind), he would not have an in principle, objection - if the benefit can be said to outweigh the harm. Read here: about Singer's recent statements - and his seeming ability to upset just about everyone...

What is your view of animal testing? Is it justified in a consequentialist manner? On some other grounds? Or not at all?


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

See update at: as well... - esp for discussion of the story in more detail..

Note: If you are a student looking at this to help with a paper/essay on the Omelas short story - that is great, we hope something here helps - but be sure to give a reference - and send me and e-mail to let me know if you find the material useful..

Dave W:

In the RPE101 (Philosophical and Ethical Arguing) class today, we talked about the Ursula Le Guin short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - as a focus for concerns about Utilitarianism and responsibility...

There is a wikipedia piece at - which explains the story - but also see the essay at - whose conclusions I am not convinced by: but ask yourself the questions

1 - Would you stay in the city - knowing your happiness was at the expense of a suffering child?

2 - Do we not anyway enjoy an easy life at the direct expense of others in the developing world already? Are we not just at guilty as the Omelas-people who choose to stay?

responses welcome...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Meal...

NEWSFLASH: The Christmas RPE Student meal is booked: It will be at the Balti on the Bath Road at 6pm on Wednesday 13th December.

However - they do need some idea of numbers - so let the student reps know (I will e-mail the contact for the second years who have booked it to all current students on Tueday 5th December - let me know if you don't get that e-mail)

Or let me know - and I will pass on requests for details, etc...


Those of you doing RPE101 (Philosophical and Ethical Arguing) may enjoy the argument examples at - using the words of MTV's Beavis and Butthead (some of us are old enough to remember them)...


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Heirs to the slavers - Guardian

Today's Guardian has a piece entitled Heirs to the slavers - at,,1960629,00.html - which looks at those whose ancestors were slave traders - and asks the views of a range of others - including Dizzee Rascal, Trisha (!) and others - hope you find it interesting...


Buddhist 2

Celebrity Buddhist watch, pt2: THe e-magazine, Zen Unbound has a table of celebrity Buddhist practitioners - and an estimation of the extent to which Buddhism is part of their lives... It is at


Friday, December 01, 2006

Celebrity Buddhist Watch...

Okay - we talked about Richard Gere: I suggest we now collect examples of pop-stars and other celebs giving their views on Buddhism - and indeed other spiritual matters: I will start with Ricky Martin (remember him?) talking on Buddhist Philosophty, as reported in an Indian newspaper at:

more examples welcome (maybe we should have a prize for the best/worst?) - so use comments to nominate the naffest news story of Celebrity Buddhist matters - or equivalents...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another Philosophy Course Blog?

The Philosophy Dept at University of California, Santa Barbara has a course blog at: - they seem to really get stuck into the comments thing too.

I like their discussion of whether of not Unicorns exist at:

Maybe we should forge a cross-blog link with them?


Blog comment delay explanation...

You may be experiencing a delay between making your comments and them appearing on the site: this is due to new anti-spam measures (I have to check the comments) - but I try to check as often as possible - so delays should be kept to a minimum...


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Legal Pluralism

Should ethnic and religious minorities be allowed to use traditional or religious laws to settle civil disputes (not criminal)?

See for a discussion - but I would advise you to follow the links and listen to the associated programme first - I heard some of the speakers today - and some argue their case very well...

keep it going on the slavery debate also...


Slavery and Aplogy debate continued

Wikipedia has an article on proposals for Slavery reparations at - which may be helpful re the debate below - you may wish to use the comments on this post to carry on discussions - as they may be getting rather long on the post below.

[added a 'tag-cloud' to the base of the right-hand column - hope you like it...]


Monday, November 27, 2006

UPDATED: Creationism in Schools...

Thanks to one of the second years for this extra link on this story:

------------------ has a story about attempts to push ID / Creationism back into school science lessons...

Should we keep faith-based approaches in Religious Education lessons - or allow them to be taught as science? How do you answer the 'it is just another theory' approach?

keep going with the slave-trade debate - but hope some of you (esp RPE201: Philosophy, Science and Belief students) will comment on this...


Ethics, Apologies and the Slave Trade

The BBC is reporting that Tony Blair has expressed his 'sorrow' over Britain's role in the slave trade - but stopped short of a full apology - apparently because of fears that this may lead to demands for (financial) reparations.

You may wish to read what New Nation (the UK's best selling 'Black Newspaper') has to say on the matter - and they have the full text of Blair's speech.

The BBC's 10 Facts About British Slavery may also help inform your view.

What is your view?

Should nations / Governemnts apologise? Who to?

Are financial reparations appropriate?

I look forward to your comments - -


Friday, November 24, 2006

Christmas Meal

Hi. Some of the Student Reps wanted to know how much interest there was - as they are planning an RPE Xmas event...

A meal is the plan - venue suggestions welcome - and a final annoucement will go on the blog once it is settled...

The date will be the 13th of December - to avoid putting the student rep e-mail on the blog (i.e. the web) and them being bombarded with junk e-mail, send e-mail to me with the subject line 'xmas meal' and I will get my e-mail to auto-forward them...


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sartre and Gandhi...

The Ethical Traditions students have been asked to read Sarte's Existentialism is a Humanism - enjoy!

Also, the Hinduism class needs to review material on Gandhi - this is the Wiki link, but also see, and the BBC site at

Glad to see some of the Second years getting stuck in with making comments on the blog - hope some of you first years will join in to stop them feeling lonely...


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Question Time Report

Many thanks to Jason Chambers (RPE, Level 2) for report the below of his trip - along with 2 fellow RPE students, to a recording of the BBC's Question Time - thanks Jason - and others are welcome to send material they think would be of interest to fellow students to me - and I will blog it!


Question Time:
So, here’s my short report on our adventure into the world of BBC political programming for the masses – in short, Question time!
Held at Cheltenham racecourse (not on the actual track, too dark..) we were greeted with metal detectors and body searches, I assume to make sure we were not carrying any heavy artillery or explosives. Once we passed the military inspection, we sat down for a while, waiting for the first person to dig into the free tea and biscuits. Everyone was looking at the table, keen to finally get something for free from the BBC. I missed the actual moment of the first ‘taker’ but it was impossible to miss the swarm of people heading for PG tips and custard creams once the Taboo of ‘ we can’t be the first’ was broken. We were given some card on which to write two questions we would like asked.
Shortly after we had our biscuits (some more than others, Francis…) David Dimbleby appeared and gave a little talk. He thanked us all for coming, asked the non-men contingent in the audience if they preferred to be called women or ladies (apparently it’s a sore point for the female population all over the country) and then told us how to put our hands up to ask a question. Once that was clear, he disappeared into the ‘studio’ and we all waited with baited breath to be called in. Once called, we made our way down some stairs, eager to get into the studio. Katie, Francis and I were among the first in, but being students chose to sit towards the back in the middle (of course). A guy appeared, I believe he was the director or producer or something or other, and we played make-believe question time for a while, so that the sound engineers could make sure our voices could be heard loud and proud. The audience were asked to put their hands up (they could use their recently learned skill for this part) and express to everyone what they hate the most. But it mustn’t be anything that could come up in the show, so saying Tony Blair or ‘Immigrants’ was out!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the largely middle aged white audience expressed their disdain for the usage of the word ‘Kids’, the admittedly dire BBC coverage of the weather (more specifically, the new high tech 3D map) and ‘bad manners’. I realised how privileged some people must be….
Next, those lucky individuals whose questions had been chosen were told – most appeared to have double barrel surnames strangely – and were whisked away somewhere us mere mortals will never be able to see or know.
On to the show! Well, we greeted all the guests we loud and long clapping (that was another skill the BBC kindly taught us) and Mr Dimbleby began. I wont go into the actual questions, as anyone interested enough can still see the show on the BBC website, but to summarise, Kilroy Silk protested his innocence against the ‘monkey’ court of the BBC who fired him some 67 years ago, Boris Johnson struggled to grasp the fact he was actually awake and in a studio filming a TV show, McNulty spoke like a true Labour Robot – he clearly had his own answers and the questions were largely irrelevant. Baroness Bonham-Carter and Shappi Khorsandi were largely anonymous, Khorsandi’s moment in the bright lights was a long lingering facial expression when Kilroy-Silk proclaimed he was not a racist.
All in all, a fun experience I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to do in the future. I’m disappointed I didn’t get asked to speak, and I’m even more disappointed I didn’t get to respond to Boris Johnsons ramblings on the Koran (I tried, but luck wasn’t on my side) but nonetheless, I did learn how to raise my hand to ask a question, and clap – two valuable life skills.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Religious symbols and Dress Codes at Work

From the BBC:

'Should there be a right to wear a cross at work?

Does the Christian cross have a place in the workplace?

A British Airways (BA) employee has lost her fight to openly wear a cross necklace at work at Heathrow.Nadia Eweida, 55, of Twickenham, has been on unpaid leave since her bosses told her she could not visibly wear her cross at the check-in counter.

BA denied it had banned the wearing of crosses and said such items could be worn if concealed'

They are debating it at: - or leave a comment below...


Friday, November 17, 2006

Visit to the Hindu Temple

On Thursday, the RPE102 class went to the Cheltenham Hindu Temple...

If any of those who went want to write a short summary for the blog - it would be nice to have your impressions here - either use the 'comments' option -or send me something by e-mail...

I hope you enoyed it - and are looking forward to next week's Mosque visit to Gloucester...


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Draw Your Soul? is a website (in conjunction with the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland - where they also have a rather cool flip-book festival) which asks you to 'draw a picture of your soul'...

This picture is by Espen Fribery - a 25 year old from Norway. You can join in - and a set of winning images will be illuminated and used as projections in Sunderland City Centre during the 2006 SHINE Winter Festival - go to click here to see how to enter - good luck!

Question Time

Hi. As some of you will know - a small number of RPE students have got their grubbly hands on tickets to attend the BBC Question Time programme being recorded in Cheltenham this thursday (tonight) - broadcast at 10.35pm I think...

The guests include Boris Johnson MP,Tony McNulty MP, Baroness Bonham-Carter, Shappi Khorsandi and Robert Kilroy Silk.

I shall be asking those attending for feedback - and any volunteers to write a short report to go on this blog will be very welcome...


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Avatars of Lord Vishnu

For a full list of the Avatars of Vishnu, see which gives a certain amount of detail re each one - and pictures...


(picture below is of the Avatars of Visnu)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Philosophy of Science Video-POdcasts

San Jose State University has a whole series of lectures on Kuhn and the philosophy of science at - worth a look...

Philosophy Movie

Two American students made this video to explain how Berkeley uses Locke's ideas to get rid of the material world...

Reminded me of Beavis and Butthead - but less stupid...

Enjoy - Dave


Religion of VEDAs - Paper On Hinduism (Part I)
Desc : In this piece of speech on "Paper on Hinduism", Swami Vivekananda gives a brief introduction on Hinduism

This is from the 1893 Parliament of Religons - hope it is of interest..

Monday, November 06, 2006

Children's Literature and the Fantastic Imagination

For any Religion, Philosophy & Ethics (RPE) students looking for an interesting Semester Two (level 2) module, Dr Debby Thacker will be running a new course - EX250 - Children's Literature and the Fantastic Imagination - which you can sign up for on-line (it is not an RPE module, buyt if you check, many of you will be able to still do it). Debby can send you the full module descriptor - but here is a taster:

This module considers children’s literature in the context of notions of childhood in which children are considered to have particular spiritual qualities. Students will be able to consider a range of texts whose authors use fantasy to address moral and religious issues, as well as to consider the idea of the child as both subject and reader.


Gloucestershire Philosophical Society

Just to remind you that Gloucestershire Philosophical Society has regular meetings on campus - the next on the 15th of November - see their website - or contact Harry Cowen for details...

Sunday, November 05, 2006


If you were wondering where all the staff were last Friday - we were up at Cheltenham racecourse for the Graduation ceremony...

If you work really hard, maybe one day you too can get to wear a silly hat with a gold tassle (I am hiding at the back somewhere...)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Hi -- just a link for students on the RPE203 - Hinduism - module. If you want to read a full, free, on-line version of the Ramayana - the Sacred-Texts website (a useful site) has one at - enjoy...

The image is the cover of one of the many very popular series of Ramayana comics which tell the story...


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Buddhist Ethics - and other matters...

OK - first some course matters - a link for those doing the Ethical Traditions module - if you want to read a range of articles on Buddhsit Ethics, I would recommend you take a look at the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.

For those struggling after Monday's RPE201 [Philosophy, Science & Belief] session (by me) in which we struggled together in relation to Wittgenstein, the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy's entry on him has amazing detail - I shall try to read before I see you again - and hope you get chance to take a look.

I will get the rest of the e-learn 2006 report up soon - once this marking is done...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Philosophy of Religion Resources is a page with some useful Philosophy of Religion resources for writing essays, etc...


Friday, October 27, 2006

Free Philosophy lecture Podcasts from the University of Sydney -has great mp3 downloads on Locke, Kant, Plato and others.

It is part of The Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. If you like what you find - let me know, and I will pass on our thanks - some great stuff on this site...


God Creation Game?

Just found a Do-it-yourself-Deity game at - part of the Philosophers Magazine - which has some serious and some more lighthearted resources for philosophy students....

Let me know how you get on (use the comments button below - or my normal e-mail - Dave)

I can see FCH from space! has great satellite images of FCH - even if they are a little old (look at all the car parking we used to have, and no CEAL building..)

Thought it was cool - so thought you might also think so...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Episode 2 - E-Learn2006

Friday the 13th (Oct '06) - Day 1 of the E-Learn conference in Hawaii...

This day was dominated by two long (3 and a half-hour each) workshops. In the morning I attended a session by Anthony Klejna of Daemen College. This gave a lot of detail of the development of technologies for e-learning (video codecs and the like). His blog, and links to his talk's contents are available on his web-site... let me know if any of this is useful.

[Hard to concentrate when this (see image) is the view out of the conference room door...]

After lunch - we headed for the enthusiastic, fancy-dress infused world of Professor Curtis Bonk. His blog covers this event - and links to lots of e-learning resources...

His talk is summarised thus:

'Podcasts and Wikis and Blogs, Oh My!: Online Learning is Not in Kansas Anymore...

[Picture was taken at this actual session... Professor Bonk is on the far-left]

The continued emergence of new online technologies (e.g., podcasts and wikis and blogs, oh my!) has pushed us into strange lands not previously visited. One need not be a scarecrow or a cowardly lion, however. After participants click their heels three times, this fun packed session will travel to Oz for a look at how online learning can be made intellectually and pedagogically rich. It will provide ways to address the learning preferences or styles of diverse learners, including millennial and Generation X and Y learners as well as that of the munchkins. Bonk will try to show participants the yellow brick road to follow in negotiating emerging technologies and pedagogies. Then, if the Wicked Witches of the East and West do not show up, they will turn these ideas into visions of where we should go next-back to Kansas perhaps. Finally, in this session, participants will think about building their ultimate online learning environment (i.e., their own emerald city). '

I found the singing and the costumes rather unlike our usual, more reserved, approach - but then again - here I am typing into a blog - so it must be having an effect...

Radio 4 - Moral Maze on Religion

In case you missed the edition of the Moral Maze debate programme about Religious issues - go to for details - and to listen again, or contribute to their discussion board on the topic.

Please feel free to post comments here on the programme - and your view of it...
Cheers, Dave

Open for Learning...

Just a quick report - on Saturday 21st October we invited guests in for our annual Open for Learning event. FCH had something in the region of 850 visitors - who ate apples (it ws National Apple Day) and attended workshops..

Here staff can be seen hard at work engaging the public...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Well – I promised a fuller report on E-Learn2006, and here is at least the first portion of it.

E-Learn 2006 – Report – First Part

The goal seemed worthwhile – to travel to Hawaii – and learn about E-Learning projects that might benefit students at the University of Gloucestershire, as well as giving a paper about how we might use technology to allow wider communities access to University expertise.

After dragging myself up in the middle of the night and travelling to Heathrow to be poked with sticks, told to dispense with all gels and liquids and generally security-ised, I was able to able to relax on the plane to San Francisco – where a five hour wait awaited me…

Like a very sad, nerdy, type I spent most of these hours feeding single dollar bills into an internet terminal in the departure lounge – answering e-mails from students worrying over critical reviews for RPE101 and RPE160.

[This picture is all I saw of San Francisco - the view from the departue lounge...]

Finally a flight to paradise awaited me – I was tired and ready to dream of sandy shores and the mighty pacific. All I got was the mighty roar of a cacophony of crying babies – and a couple in front of me engaging in a ritual cycle of bickering (mainly over legroom, and who had brought the largest collection of pointless items in the carry-on luggage) and noisy, rather unpleasant making-up.

Nevertheless, finally we arrrived - after around 20 hours on the go - and it was evening.

I checked into the hotel and crashed - rather excited that in the morning I had the pleasure of various workshops - including Professor Curtis Bonk's session on Wiki, Podcasts and Blogs - which assured us that On-Line Learning was not in Kansas Anymore - no wonder I had trouble sleeping...

[To the right - Professor Bonk]

Episode 2 to follow...

Hawaii Conference

In case you were not sure of what the trip - mentioned below - was: I was at ELearn2006 to research e-learning - and present a paper..

As you can imagine, it was work, work work (and earthquake) all the way - however I did manage to sneak out to take the picture here though...

The earthquake was a 6.7 - and gave me quite a shock as I drank coffee on my balcony - and the whole hotel began to wobble - a lot! But - even with a day-long power cut, the conference went on - and I gave my paper (in the dark - with no powerpoint!)



Hi - just a quick first post. Check back shortly for an update on my Hawaii trip - and links to some intriguing web-sites...