Articles on Philosophy

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Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas or the ethical underpinning of self-regulation. AAP/RSPCA

Ethics is a jealous God: self-regulation vs self-sacrifice

Late one night recently I got a very frustrated email from a close friend. He’d just spent the evening arguing with investors about whether they needed to take ethics into account in their investment decisions…
Education used to be about striving towards the light of knowledge but this is increasingly less important. Cave image from www.shutterstock.com

Out from the cave: have we lost the purpose of education?

It’s nothing new to say we have a problem in education. But I’m not here to discuss the usual gripes with teachers and test scores. I believe we have a more fundamental problem with defining what we want…
Demonstrations over the death of Margaret Thatcher have raised questions about the morality of celebrating death. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga

Burying Thatcher: why celebrating death is still wrong

A funeral ceremony will take place for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. Outside, protesters will be turning their backs on the coffin as it passes through…
Does your Twitter account have to die with you? Image via www.shutterstock.com

I tweet dead people: can the internet help you cheat your maker?

Can you believe it’s been a year already? I’m sure we all remember where we were when we heard the terrible news we’d lost Gregg Jevin. You know, Gregg Jevin? The Gregg Jevin? Don’t worry if the name doesn’t…
Scientist Laurence Krauss has said the philosophy of science is hard to justify. World Economic Forum/Flickr

Philosophy under attack: Lawrence Krauss and the new denialism

I really shouldn’t let myself watch Q&A. Don’t get me wrong, the ABC’s flagship weekly panel show is usually compelling viewing. But after just a few minutes I end up with the systolic blood pressure…
We’re happy to kill individual creatures in large numbers - what’s stopping us wiping out the biosphere? Darren Harmon

Is an ethic of biodiversity enough?

The environmental crisis has never loomed so large nor been so extensively debated as in the last few years. But at the same time we have never heard less about environmental ethics - the bio-inclusive…
Our impact on the earth has brought on a new geographical epoch – The Age of Humans. AAP/Damien Shaw

Climate change signals the end of the social sciences

In response to the heatwave that set a new Australia-wide record on 7 January, when the national average maximum reached 40.33°C, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a statement that, on reflection, sounds…
Starlings were introduced to Australia by humans, but does that matter? Simon Evans

In defence of invasive alien species

My cat caught a starling this week. By the time I intervened, the poor bird’s leg was broken, the kitchen floor was strewn with feathers, and I had to make one of those awful decisions. Was I to leave…
We need to change the moral system that lets us off the hook for species extinction. Kelly Garbato

Threatened species: we’re failing on morality and policy

Extinction is a diminution of the natural legacy that we have inherited. It is a breach of the duty we have for inter-generational equity – that we should pass to our descendants a world as rich, intact…
How does Australia measure up morally? Are we in a moral decline? Compass image from www.shutterstock.com

Moral compass: is Australia a kind nation?

We’re in a state of moral decline in the West – or so we’re told. From sky-rocketing divorce rates and the shrinking of life-long commitments to an excessive concern with self and consumerism. Morality…
We can learn to use our minds better by becoming more familiar with how they work. JohnGreenaway

Good reasoning needn’t make you an unfeeling robot

Some interesting recent research using neuroimaging gives us evidence that different brain systems activate in different reasoning situations. But before we get to that, try the following puzzles: Puzzle…
Students’ opinions should matter to their teachers. Jeremy Wilburn

Yes, you are entitled to your opinion … and I want to hear it

Every semester, I enter my classroom with almost zero knowledge of my students’ interests. So as a rhetoric and writing teacher, I ask them to employ that which is most beneficial to them in their lives…
That’s me: Scientists agree animals are conscious, but public attitudes still lag behind. flickmor/Flickr

About time: science and a declaration of animal consciousness

Are animals conscious? Notoriously, the famous 17th century philosopher René Descartes thought they were not. He believed that possession of a soul was necessary for rational thought and for consciousness…
Peter Singer is awarded for ideas for which we shun others. Joel Travis Sage

Cory Bernardi is right, in Peter Singer’s anti-human world

Senator Cory Bernardi has been reviled for associating homosexuality with something repugnant, bestiality. Yet Australia has just awarded its highest civilian honour to a philosopher who provides a moral…
Since 1739, David Hume has been telling us to take a look at our decision-making processes. Oscar Palmer

Don’t wait for science to ‘settle’; decide what society needs

If you listen to the debate between science and society in most of the West, you get one version or another of the linear model. Science comes first. When it is “settled”, society will know what to do…
Could you survive if the world was overrun by undead? DayZ

Surviving the zombie apocalypse: the DayZ experiment

Amid the resurgent popularity of zombies in recent years – think The Walking Dead, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Shaun of the Dead and so on – the 2011 publication of Dan Drezner’s Theories of International…
The environment isn’t “out there”; it’s in us, and we’re part of it. Forest Wander/Flickr

Why we need to forget about the environment

Calls to “protect the environment” ring out across issues as diverse as climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water conservation and chemical contamination. I believe it is time to abandon…
The dead soldier’s funeral holds an important place in our society. (AAP Image/Australian Department of Defence, LS Andrew Dakin)

From religion to patriotism: how we see the death of a soldier

Another Australian soldier has tragically lost his life while on his seventh tour in Afghanistan. The 40 year-old special forces soldier from Perth was shot while on a counter-insurgency operation in the…

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