Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University
9/11 ‘Truthers’ at a protest in Los Angeles. Damon D'Amato

Why Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Harmless Fun

We’ve just seen another mass shooting in the US. This time it was a church, and race hate was the cause. Other times it’s a school, or a cinema, or a university, or a shopping mall. By now, the script…
News of Tanveer Ahmed’s dismissal from The Australian has put plagiarism back in the headlines. Bart

Feeding the beast: why plagiarism rips off readers too

By now you’ve likely heard about psychiatrist and columnist Tanveer Ahmed’s recent opinion piece in The Australian in which he effectively blamed radical feminism for domestic violence. Others have explained…
Australians don’t like the death penalty – we just don’t want the discomfort of having to care about the people it’s applied to. EPA/Made Nagi

The Bali Nine, and how not to argue for the death penalty

Barring some sort of last-minute miracle, two relatively young Australian men, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, are going to be killed by the Indonesian state. They will not be the first to die this way…
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…
Philip Nitschke and David Leyonhjelm have appealed libertarian ideals in their arguments for euthanasia and same-sex marriage respectively. Joe Castro & Luca Koch/AAP

Strange bedfellows: euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and libertarianism

The suspension of Philip Nitschke’s medical registration, and the events leading up to it, has sparked one of the most heated discussions about euthanasia in Australia for some time. What’s surprising…
Most of us would react to a title like Honour Killings are Morally Justified that with immediate revulsion. Rehan Khan/EPA

Dangerous ideas, honour killings and moral seriousness

Last night, after a public outcry, the Sydney Opera House’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas pulled a presentation from its upcoming program. The talk in August by Sydney writer and Hizb ut-Tahrir representative…
Thousands of bodies remain buried under Melbourne’s Queen Vic Market carpark. Koppenbadger

Should the dead roll over to make room for real estate?

As a general rule, one place you really don’t want to find yourself is in-between a Melburnian and a piece of real estate. But one group of long-term city residents has been getting in the way of developers…
The Biennale’s severing of ties with Transfield won’t change anything for those suffering on Manus Island right now. But gestures matter. Department of Immigration and Citizenship/AAP

The Biennale, Transfield, and the value of boycott

In July 1846, the American writer Henry David Thoreau went to prison for refusing to pay his poll tax. He couldn’t abide the thought that his money would be used, however indirectly, to perpetuate the…
John Jarratt as Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek 2 … so what’s the problem? Courtesy of Roadshow Films

Margaret, David, Wolf Creek 2 and, oh … torture porn

Well, I’m outraged, I tells ya. Outraged! This is such a shameful snub. Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, beloved hosts of ABC’s At the Movies, have apparently refused to review a major new Aussie…
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…
We need to think about an ethic of eggs. Flickr/Petarrr!

Free range ‘debate’ puts the egg before the chicken

Today’s announcement that Woolworths will phase out the selling of cage eggs seems like pretty good news. But let’s not get carried away. The “free range” label on a carton of eggs can mean densities of…
A vote for Clive Palmer is a vote for giant, animatronic dinosaurs. AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia: land of eccentric election candidates

Here’s a sentence you probably won’t hear again for a while: when I lived in the UK, I couldn’t get over how constructive and intelligent British politics was. Having come from Australia, where Question…
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…
If you treat smoking as a purely personal choice you’re not giving enough weight to the impact of dying young. stolenscript/Flickr

Fuming with outrage: Nazis, nannies and smoking

A few years ago I saw a poster stuck to the wall of a train station in Copenhagen. The poster was a protest paid for by a prominent Danish musician against new regulations against smoking in public. At…
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…
The Church of Conscious Living, which offers ‘believers’ with a religious exemption from vaccination is engaging in astroturfing. Stefani/Flickr

Divine astroturf: should anti-vaccinationists get their own church?

The akedah narrative – the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command – is one that has long inspired and haunted Jews, Christians and Muslims. In being prepared to kill…
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

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…

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