Articles on Philosophy

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Mad Men has jumped the shark, people! Mad Men has jumped the shark. Tim Bradshaw

Oh, you have an opinion? Are you sure about that?

Tell us what you think about police brutality, organ donation, Obamacare, private schools, zoos, breast implants and stew. Tweet your instant reaction, share your perspective on anything on Formspring…
Believers in alien abduction do not have a right to be taken seriously, and nor do those who simply reject the evidence of climate change. Photobank gallery/Shutterstock

Brandis confuses right to be heard with right to be taken seriously

In a recent interview, federal attorney-general George Brandis laments that deniers of climate science are being “excluded” from the debate. On the surface this seems a justifiable complaint, but the point…
‘An unexamined life is not worthy of a human being’: Socrates. Shutterstock

Why study humanities?

This is a revised excerpt of a talk given to students at the Inaugural Australian Youth Humanities Forum, hosted at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus. After two days at this fine conference…
http://www.flickr.com/photos/national_museum_of_australia/5056220012/

Racism of rigid legalism greets asylum seekers and their kind

We rightly celebrate living in a society where law and order prevail. Being able to follow established rules allows for the smooth operation of the many necessary transactions of everyday life. Yet it…
Dangerous thinking. dreamerve

Can kids do Kant?

Philosophy was always dangerous, as the life and death of Socrates taught us. He was, need I remind you, executed not by an authoritarian regime but by a caring democracy. Times have changed however, and…
Media studies? Another great idea! Photo by Chris Boland / www.bolandactorheadshots.co.uk

Where would we be without Alain de Botton?

On Wednesday evening, after an afternoon of lecture preparation to teach my Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies class “Doing Media Research”, I settled down to watch Newsnight. Alain de Botton, “philosopher…
The country Richard ruled was very different from the one that exists today. University of Leicester

Consent and discontent: what will become of Richard III’s bones?

Richard III’s skeleton, dug up from a carpark in Leicester in 2012, is currently the subject of a legal dispute about where he should be buried. In one corner is the University of Leicester, whose archaeologists…
Russian forces detained all those aboard Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise after activists tried to hang a banner from an oil platform. EPA/Igor Podgorny/Greenpeace

Greenpeace’s Arctic 30 act on idea of a community of nations

Should the Australian government require Colin Russell to repay at least some of its costs for acting on his behalf when the Russians imprisoned him and 29 other Greenpeace activists and journalists, known…
Tony Abbott argues his first duty is to advance the national interest, without telling us why acting in our own interests is always right or even permissible. AAP/Daniel Munoz

The spying game: what a 15th-century Irish warlord can teach today’s politicians

Irish philosopher Richard Kearney visited Melbourne last year and, being the fine raconteur he is, told a great tale from his nation’s past. In 1492, Black James, nephew of the Earl of Ormond, and a group…
Any resemblance to actual people – living or dead – is coincidental. Troy/jacqueline poggi

When Tony Abbott met Socrates

The Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned and put to death for “corrupting the youth” of Athens. The same fate is unlikely to meet contemporary philosophers. Indeed, it is much more likely for…
Who owns the 1,400 ‘degenerate’ works found in the Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt? Marc Mueller/EPA

Art seized by the Nazis should go to Holocaust victims’ families

The large collection of paintings and drawings found in the Munich flat of the 80-year-old recluse, Cornelius Gurlitt, which came to wide public attention earlier this month, raises serious moral and legal…
Man and superman. Wikimedia Commons

Becksistentialism: because man is a goal-seeking animal

A student came up to me after class the other day and said, “So what is this ‘Becksistentialism’ all about then?” I want to begin to answer that question by defining the negative: Sir Alex Ferguson is…
Coalition MP Jamie Briggs doesn’t want the ARC funding ‘interesting thought bubbles’. AAP/Alan Porritt

A farewell to arts: on philosophy, ARC funding and ‘waste’

The Coalition - among others - have been recently taking aim at the worth of certain Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded projects. Verbal jousting around the value of philosophy as a humanities discipline…
Australia has a form of compulsory voting. But why should we even bother? AAP/Julian Smith

Election 2013 Essays: The philosophy of voting

Election 2013 Essays: As the federal election campaign draws to a close, The Conversation asked eminent thinkers to reflect on the state of the nation and the challenges Australia – and whichever party…
What place for The Thinker will there be in an Australia under an Abbott government? Steven Fettig

Waste not, want not – the politics of why philosophy matters

And so now we officially know: philosophy is a waste. How can we be sure? Because Coalition spokesman for scrutiny of government waste Jamie Briggs has promised an Abbott government would get rid of “those…
Where does the Australian ‘fear’ of asylum seekers arriving by boat come from? AAP/Scott Fisher

Drowning mercy: why we fear the boats

There’s a Latin word: misericordia. It’s usually translated “mercy” or “pity”. Thomas Aquinas took misericordia to be a kind of grief at the suffering of others as if that suffering were our own. Alasdair…
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…

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