Articles on Philosophy

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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…
You want the truth? You can’t handle the … wait: it’s actually quite simple. Daveblog

The truth, the whole truth and … wait, how many truths are there?

Calling something a “scientific truth” is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it carries a kind of epistemic (how we know) credibility, a quality assurance that a truth has been arrived at in an understandable…
There are many different religions, but are there different types of atheism? EPA/Andy Rain

Mad, glad or sad: what type of atheist are you?

This weekend thousands of so-called “New Atheists” will converge on Melbourne for the second Global Atheist Convention. Last month Alain de Botton, a European popular philosopher, received copious coverage…
Universities are centres of research… but what kind of research? flickr/pcgn

A question universities need to answer: why do we research?

Fundamentally, there are two big motives for research. On the on hand there is intellectual ambition: the desire to know and understand the word, to appreciate the best that has been said and thought on…
The ins and outs of the parliamentary day are often nothing more than a distraction. AAP/Alan Porritt

Why I’m giving up daily politics for a grander vision

Some people worry that we are, collectively, indifferent to politics. I am beginning to worry that I have not been indifferent enough. It’s a frightening idea: maybe politics matters far less than I thought…

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