Articles on Philosophy

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When violence erupts, we can be tempted to make judgements about collective responsibility based on our own allegiances, rather than consistent moral principles. EPA/Ian Langsdon

Charlie Hebdo attack: when should we hold a group responsible for a member’s evil?

When should we hold a group morally responsible for a member’s evil? In the wake of the Charlie Hedbo attacks, many will demand answers about Islam’s role in promoting violence. As we brace for the inevitable…
To Tolkien, the machine represents a means to attain power over others. His orcs – deformed and ugly creatures, whose hands are sometimes replaced with weapons – embody this lust for power. LOTR Wikia

Tolkien and the machine

My grandfather was a carpenter, and I don’t think he ever developed much of a sense of trust in machines. I remember him laboring away at our home one summer, transforming our screened-in porch into a…
Prepare children to think. mezzoblue

Why there should be a philosophy GCSE

Our world is built on ideas. We have ideas about how science should be conducted, how a liberal society should defend itself, how discussion is better than conflict, how far toleration should be extended…
It’s World Philosophy Day today, a good time to consider the tougher questions about our lives. Jef Safi/Flickr

Love, wisdom and wonder: three reasons to celebrate philosophy

Today is UNESCO World Philosophy Day, a day aimed to “underline the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual”. However, it was not so…
The dead can’t be insulted by our failure to honour them. Bob Prosser

It’s Remembrance Day, so what do we owe the dead?

Remembrance Day is an occasion when people are supposed to remember and honour those who died in their nation’s wars. But why should we believe that this obligation exists? The dead are dead. They can’t…
The shocking brutality of the first world war has had ongoing consequences. Archives New Zealand

Did ‘high ideals’ survive the first world war?

US philosopher William H.F. Altman will deliver the keynote address at Crisis and Reconfigurations: 100 years of European Thought Since 1914, a conference hosted by the European Philosophy and the History…
There are many different conceptions of God, and endless questions. Waiting For The Word

We don’t know if God exists, but we should keep asking

Disputes about the existence of God — like most disputes about religion, politics, and sex — almost always generate heat but not light. The question of the existence of God seems intractable. As with other…
Movies such as Matrix Revolutions are explicit about their desire to make us think. AAP Image/Warner Brothers/Village Roadshow Films

Thought experiments: the films that turn us into philosophers

Showbusiness is about entertainment, right? Film-going should be fun. We want to laugh or squeal or sigh as emotion arises in us when the music swells and the camera zooms in for an extreme close up…
Does an education in everyday ethics really require an understanding of moral philosophy? Jef Safi/Flickr

Why moral education should involve moral philosophy

Ethics are increasingly a part of the school curriculum, and practical introductory classes in applied ethics are part of the training that nurses, scientists and soldiers undergo. Ethical education is…
Philosophy begins, as Aristotle remarked, with curiosity and wonder. kozumel

Free your mind – but are there ideas we shouldn’t contemplate?

You’re a free thinker – congratulations – but does that mean you can, and should, approach everything with an open mind? Let me try to convince you you shouldn’t. I do not want to argue with him: he shows…
Good moral character comes from practice. Moyan Brenn

Happy days: virtue isn’t just for sanctimonious do-gooders

When we think of morally upright, virtuous citizens, do we imagine boring do-gooders? Is the idea of being virtuous out-dated and old-fashioned? Or is “being virtuous” still something we should aspire…
Is morality – and happiness – determined by how you affect the people around you? Shutterstock

Telling right from wrong: why is utilitarianism under attack?

It is a word we hear from time to time, but few of us know what it means. Utilitarianism is the method most people use to decide whether an action is right or wrong. We decide the moral merits of what…
In China, former basketball star Yao Ming takes the Ice Bucket Challenge at his NBA Yao School in Beijing. EPA/NBA Yao School

Critics pour cold water on the Ice Bucket Challenge: are they right?

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been called “one of the most viral philanthropic social media campaigns in history”. The campaign has raised the profile of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). But some…
YouTube footage of a man kicking a squirrel off a cliff has prompted outrage, yet we all need to stop and think about how we treat animals. YouTube

Outcry over squirrel kicker, yet disrespecting animals is the norm

An online video apparently showing a French tourist kicking a squirrel off a cliff in Grand Canyon National Park was greeted with horror and incredulity after being posted (and since removed) on YouTube…
This Vietnamese school girl is growing up in a new era: by the time she is middle-aged, 60% of the world’s children will be living in a tropical region. UN Photo/Mark Garten

How the world is turning tropical before our eyes

Our Tropical Future: A new report on the State of the Tropics has revealed rapid changes in human and environmental health in the Earth’s tropical regions. This is the first in a four-part series about…

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