What should we do about climate change? This article examines the ethical problems that arise from climate change, and considers our obligations and responsibilities to one another, other species and the planet because of global warming.
Monarchy is a form of government that, roughly, dictates that the right to rule is inherited by birth by a single ruler. But monarchy (absolute or constitutional) breaches fundamental moral principles that undergird representative democracy, such as basic moral equality, dignity and desert. Simply put, the monarchs (and their family) are treated as morally superior to ordinary citizens and as a result ordinary citizens are treated in an unfair and undignified manner. For example, monarchs are respected, enjoy dignity, income, opportunity, (...) public office and exalted social status just because of their inherited office, which is due to the mere historical accident of family lineage. Hence, we have good moral reason to abolish monarchy. Finally, I briefly reply to the pragmatic argument for constitutional monarchy, namely, the argument that monarchy can be allowed to play a largely ceremonial role in the context of democracy because it is beneficial for the function of society. As I argue, societies run by presidential democracies can function equally well and, what is more, no matter what the pragmatic reasons for constitutional monarchy are, we still have stronger moral reasons against it. Therefore, it should be abolished. (shrink)
Here's an overview of one of the more ingenious attempts to criticize religious belief. Antony Flew argues that if the religious won't allow anything to count as evidence against what they believe, then they don't actually believe anything. The religious aren't making false claims; rather, they're not making any claims at all.
Jordan Peterson is a darling among conservatives and religious people alike. In defending religious belief as the only bulwark against a return to the dark ages, it becomes obvious that Peterson himself doesn't believe in what he preaches. People, he insists, should believe in the archetypal symbolism that is only revealed through a close reading of the Bible. If atheists would only read scripture with more sophistication they wouldn't so embarrassingly reject religion, and simultaneously threaten the very foundations of Western (...) Civilization. It turns out that it's Peterson who comprehensively ignores symbolism. A simple Sunday school lesson shows this. (shrink)
Now that the opportunity to build back from COVID in an intelligent and thoughtful way has largely passed us by, how do we cope with the existential threat of ecological collapse? We posit that economic concerns have been granted undeserved weight in conversations around climate policy, while the role of philosophy has thus far been an untapped resource of potentially liberating knowledge that can inspire action and a deliberative, collective reconsideration of what parts of society should be valued.
Jacques Derrida is one of the most controversial philosophers of the twentieth century, who is hailed by his followers as a genius, derided by his detractors as a charlatan. His work continues to be a source of often inordinate praise and blame. How does Derrida provoke such violent reactions? What is ‘deconstruction’, his most famous technique? And is there something in his work that can be useful to even the most hostile of his critics?
Do we have free will? In this interview, Helen Steward explains part of her very distinctive approach to the philosophical puzzle concerning free will vs determinism. Steward rejects determinism, but not because she denies that we are not material beings (because, for example, we have Cartesian, immaterial souls that have physical effects). Her reasons for rejecting determinism are very different.
When, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York more than two decades ago, the late Queen Elizabeth II expressed her sentiments with the words: ‘Grief is the price we pay for love’, she was making a reference to British psychiatrist Dr Colin Murray Parkes's book Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life. In the book, Dr Parkes states an obvious, albeit often ignored, fact that the pain of grief is just (...) as much part of life as the joy of love. Following the death of the Queen in September 2022, Joe Biden, the current president of the US, used the same quote as an opportunity to express his own personal sadness about her passing. It was also an opportunity to participate in public grief about the loss of a popular leader, and of innocent lives. It is not uncommon for leaders, religious ones including, to speak of love, especially during such poignant moments. But it is somewhat less common for public figures to bring to our attention the close connection between grief and love. Even when they do, grief is commonly seen in a negative light. Philosophers provide another example of what is, I shall argue, a mischaracterization of grief. (shrink)
Some people have engaged in acts of civil disobedience to protest against the climate policies of their governments and corporations. This article argues that these disobedient actions are justified at present since governments fail to do all they reasonably can to respond to this pressing issue.
Since Plato philosophers have struggled to understand the nature of ethics. It seems different from understanding the world around us, which we do by means of our senses and our sciences. Like mathematics ethics seems different. My brief dialogue seeks to unravel its mystery, and may tell you all you need to know about it.
Several lines of argument are presented to support the notion that hooved animal rescue is justified, however expensive and controversial. The work of Singer and McNamee is discussed. The article concludes that various breeds have distinct arguments in their favour when it comes to rescue.
Our conventional wisdom about animal ethics, as embodied in the animal welfare position, is that animals are not things to whom we can have no moral obligations. Animals who are sentient, or subjectively aware, have a morally significant interest in not suffering. But, because they are not self-aware, they do not as an empirical matter have an interest in continuing to live. So we may use and kill animals as long as we do so ‘humanely’ and do not impose ‘unnecessary’ (...) suffering on them. There are at least two serious problems with our conventional wisdom in this regard. First, because animals are chattel property, we undervalue or ignore their interests in not suffering. Second, we cannot justify the view that animals who are sentient do not have a morally significant interest in continuing to live. If animals are not things and matter morally, our institutionalized exploitation of them cannot be justified, and veganism is a moral imperative. (shrink)
Over the centuries, many philosophers have written about injustice. More recently, attention has turned to a previously little-recognized form of injustice – epistemic injustice. The philosopher Miranda Fricker coined the phrase ‘epistemic injustice’ – an example being when your credibility as a source of knowledge is unjustly downgraded (perhaps because you are ‘just a woman’ of the ‘wrong’ race). This interview with Miranda explores what epistemic injustice is, and why it is important.
I'd rather not be an idiot and neither would you. One useful tool in avoid idiocy and figuring out what's true is to be aware of logical fallacies. Some errors in thinking are so common that they have been named in infamy. This article is an anti-idiocy vaccine to immunize you to common fallacies such as poisoning the well, begging the question, false dichotomy, and others, in order to give you a better shot at avoiding fallacy and finding out what's (...) true. (shrink)
In this article I challenge the standard view that clarity and coherence in moral philosophy and ethics are always good and obscurity necessarily bad. The appraisal of clarity, I argue, entails a risk of reducing and misrepresenting the complex and multifaceted nature of good, productive and true thinking and communication. Uncertainty and obscurity do not necessarily lead to vagueness, imprecision or meaning-obstruction. There are productive forms of uncertainty and there are unproductive forms. Indeed, to be precise, lucid and truthful sometimes (...) requires respecting and linguistically and conceptually reproducing the incoherence, obscurity and uncertainty of reality. (shrink)
Plato is often regarded as a founding figure for Western philosophy, and specifically as the inventor of a way of doing philosophy grounded in critical, argumentative reason. This article asks whether Plato's practice of writing myths in his dialogues comes into tension with his canonical reputation. I suggest that resolving this tension may require us to revise our standing ideas about the nature of philosophy and its relationship to myth. Against interpretations that minimize the significance of Plato's myths to his (...) philosophy, I argue that he may have constructed them deliberately as a form of philosophical discourse in their own right. (shrink)
We often describe actions as good, bad, right, wrong, fair, unkind, deserved, disrespectful, a bit much, and so on. This article asks: Do these terms describe facts about our actions? And do those facts tell us to perform certain actions and refrain from performing others? If so, what exactly does that mean? And, if not, what are we doing when we describe actions in these various ways?
That the world we seem to experience around us might be nothing but a simulation – perhaps generated by a demon or super-computer – is a perennial theme in science fiction movies. Muriel Leuenberger explores a recent example.
Ancient India is famous as a home for the ethical concept of ahimsa, meaning ‘non-violence’. Among other things, this moral principle demanded avoiding cruelty towards animals and led to the widespread adoption of vegetarianism. In this article, it is argued that the reasoning which led the ancient Indians to avoid violence towards animals might actually provide a more powerful rationale for vegetarianism than the utilitarian rationale that is more prevalent among animal rights activists nowadays.
Are human beings irredeemably irrational? If so, why? In this article, I suggest that we need a broader appreciation of thought and reasoning to understand why people get things wrong. Although we can never escape cognitive bias, learning to recognize and understand it can help us push back against its dangers – and in particular to do so collectively and collaboratively.
Narcissistic personality disorder describes people who demonstrate an exaggerated sense of entitlement, lack empathy and crave admiration. But philosopher Simone de Beauvoir argued that, even if a person isn't a pathological narcissist, narcissism can be a strategy that some people use to help them cope with being undervalued. Through examples such as singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, I show how Beauvoir's philosophy gives us a framework to understand some narcissistic behaviour and possibilities for more authentic ways of being in the world.
This piece explores the origins of science fiction in philosophical speculation about the size of the universe, the existence of other solar systems and other galaxies, and the possibility of alien life. Science fiction helps us to grapple with the dizzying possibilities that a vast universe affords, by allowing our imagination to fill in the details.
This article is about nothing. Does that mean it is about something, namely, ‘nothing’? Or is there quite literally no thing that this article is about? Follow the dialogue between characters discussing the nature of non-existence and absences to find out! Along the way there will be tongue twisters, contradictions, paradoxes and riddles, ready to challenge our preconceptions of reality as we embark into the mysterious realm of nothingness.
Here is a brief introduction to Ayer's radical criticism of religious belief. According to Ayer, a sentence like ‘God exists’ doesn't assert something false; rather, it fails to assert anything at all.
Is ethics all about rights and duties, or is it about living a happy, flourishing life? For millennia in the West, ethics was about the way to flourish as an individual and a community. The qualities that enable people to live that way are the virtues, and that style of ethics is called Virtue Ethics. In the early modern period, Virtue Ethics went out of fashion and ethics began to focus on right and duties, where rights and duties are demands (...) made against others. In this article I argue that the language of rights and duties has made it almost impossible for people on opposing sides of public policy issues to come to agreement. I defend the return of Virtue Ethics in philosophy, and propose that if it can be adopted by ordinary people, we will have a better chance at overcoming our deep divisions. (shrink)