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VU philosophers Nina de Groot & Merel Talbi at The Amsterdam Night of Philosophy

19 March 2024
On April 20, 2024, The Amsterdam Night of Philosophy will take place at the Public Library Oosterdok.

The Amsterdam Night of Philosophy offers a wide selection of lectures, debates, and music, this time featuring participation from VU philosophers Nina de Groot (photo on the right) and Merel Talbi (photo on the left). Other speakers at this edition include Arnon Grunberg, Paul Verhaeghe, Dilara BilgiƧ on compartmentalized thinking, horror professor Dimitri Goossens, Hanno Sauer on morality, Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht on his 'symbiocene', radically different thinking with Karim Benammer, philosophical bike rides, speed dates, office hours, and much more.

Nina de Groot will discuss the philosophy of artificial intelligence, and Merel Talbi will talk about rogue politics. Saturday, April 20, OBA Oosterdok near Amsterdam CS. More information and tickets.

Whose DNA is it? - Nina de Groot
In the Netherlands, there is a DNA database currently storing profiles of about 400,000 victims, suspects, and convicts. Should there also be a database with profiles of all Dutch citizens? There is discussion about this, but in practice, it seems this question is catching up. Because if only 2% of the Dutch population gives permission to store their DNA in a commercially accessible database for the police, 99% of all Dutch people can be traced through genealogical research.

And the developments go even further: it is becoming increasingly easy to analyze 'environmental DNA'. You leave small DNA traces everywhere you go in the air of the spaces you inhabit or on objects you touch. According to Nina de Groot, developments in DNA analysis techniques are advancing so rapidly that we may wonder whether we can still leave decisions about it to the individual citizen. What rules should be imposed on tracking via DNA testing companies? What is the relevance of the consent of a small group of people when we are all traceable? And if our DNA floats all around us in the air, whose DNA is it then? Nina de Groot is a medical doctor and a PhD student in bioethics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Rogue Politics - Merel Talbi
Visions in politics sometimes clash hard, but compromises must still be made with respect for each other's worldview. Recently, however, political debate seems to be hardening. How can we break this trend? The role of the 'rogue' may provide a solution. For centuries, various cultures have known the figure of the rogue, such as the spider Anansi or Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods. This rogue evades normal codes, plays with truth and lies, creates chaos with irony, and thus creates space. In Dutch culture, we have known the fox Reinaert since the Middle Ages, and recently, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science even appointed a 'court jester' to critically question power.

Merel Talbi explores whether we need more rogues in politics, media, and public debate to shake up our entrenched positions and learn to listen to each other again. In the rogue, she sees an example of parrhesia, Michel Foucault's concept for speaking truth to power. By challenging social conventions and authorities, the parrhesiastic rogue reveals our assumptions and hypocrisy, showing that we can relate to each other in a different way. Does rogue politics bring us closer together in these turbulent times? Merel Talbi is a PhD student at the Faculty of Philosophy of the VU, where she researches (political) deliberation and dialogue. She is also a lecturer at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of the UvA.