Philosophy

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Seeking constant distractions and identifying with brands and status symbols, we struggle to escape the superficial self. Shutterstock/Sean De Burca

The lies of happiness: living with affluenza but without fulfilment

In the first of our series, On Happiness, the question is whether unsustainable consumption and debt can ever bring us happiness. The global financial question was a chance to take stock, yet did we learn anything?
Under certain conditions, war may be morally permissible, or even necessary. EPA/Said Yusuf Warsame

How should we think about war? Understanding Just War Theory

Political leaders frequently invoke Just War Theory to ground their explanations of why they are waging war against another state and how they plan to do so. What are the key components of this moral position?
There is precious little dignity available for those Australians who are in the last stages of their lives. shutterstock

The slow politics of dignity for the aged and dying in Australia

The contrast between rights with dignity and rights without is increasingly apparent with regard to two groups of Australians: retirees and those in aged-care facilities.
Perth City.

Philosophy for the people: commencing a dialogue

I have always been interested in how we try to understand the world in which we live, and artworks provide us with a great stimulus for such discussions. My research focuses on aesthetics, ethics and education…
Former SS member Oskar Groening, 93, is on trial, charged with accessory in the murder of about 300,000 people at Auschwitz. EPA/AXEL HEIMKEN / POOL

Oskar Groening and our own guilt for crimes committed collectively

Oskar Groening has declared his moral guilt as an Auschwitz accountant. His trial, currently underway, points to difficult questions about the implications of our own participation in collective activities.
Memory makes us human but also sometimes inhumane. Trung Bui Viet

What Ishiguro’s Buried Giant tells us about memory

Though Kazuo Ishiguro makes us wonder whether remembering is really better than forgetting, he also makes it clear that the answer is irrelevant. Remembering is our fate.
Australia’s politicians were unable to save Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan from a firing squad in Indonesia. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Chan and Sukumaran are victims of the futile war on drugs

Australia's politicians were unable to make the most persuasive argument for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran because Australia is also a combatant in the misguided war on drugs.
Not the aisle for happiness. consumer via www shutterstock com

Consumed: why more stuff does not mean more happiness

A lifestyle based on aggressive consumption stresses the Earth's resources and, beyond a certain point of comfort, does not actually foster human fulfillment or happiness.
The institute of marriage can only be made stronger by recognising all marriages. Danielle

An ethical case for marriage equality in Australia

Little progress has been made on debates about marriage equality in Australia – even though a majority of the population is in favour of it. How might ethical frameworks help us better understand the issues?
The capacity for compassion is with us from birth, but as a community we have lost sight of the value of treating all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. AAP/Julian Smith

Australia, a nation in need of compassion-focused therapy

A global movement aims to let compassion guide political and community life. This has obvious relevance for a competition-driven nation with a troubling capacity for harsh attitudes and policy.
The FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile is the sort of ‘lethal defensive weapon’ the US may consider supplying to Ukraine. Wikimedia Commons/US Army

Purely ‘defensive weapons’? There’s no such thing for Ukraine or anywhere else

Barack Obama is considering supplying "lethal defensive weapons" to Ukraine. But how meaningful is that description? There are simply "weapons", all of which can be used for defence or for aggression.
The Allied bombing of Dresden, which killed 25,000 civilians, during the Second World War is but one example of state terrorism. German Federal Archive

When talking about terrorism, let’s not forget the other kind

To overcome the kind of relativism captured by the cliché “one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”, we need to define terrorism independently of who is employing it. Here is the definition…
The tragedies of ancient Greece underpin Nietzsche’s understanding of what it means to be an artist. Hans Runge/Flickr

Living life as an artist: Nietzsche on creativity

Love or loathe him, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) offered a unique way of considering creativity in his first major work, The Birth of Tragedy, published in 1872. Competing creative energies…
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…
Stéphane Charbonnier’s Charlie Hebdo offended people of all religions, but when does causing offence become unethical? EPA/Yoan Valat

How do we decide if offending someone is unethical or not?

Causing offence to others often causes hurt. Such actions have been condemned as unethical, even immoral behaviour in a civilised society. There have been many examples. The Bill Henson photographs of…

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