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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780198754565

Why Christmas should matter to us whether we are ‘religious’ or not

There are many aspects of Christmas that, on reflection, make little sense. We are supposed to be secular-minded, rational and grown up in the way we apprehend the world around us. Richard Dawkins speaks for many when he draws a distinction between the ‘truth’ of scientific discourse and the ‘falsehoods’ perpetuated by religion which, as he tells us in The God Delusion, “teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding” (Dawkins 2006).

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Cook_Yablo Paradox

Paradoxes logical and literary

For many months now this column has been examining logical/mathematical paradoxes. Strictly speaking, a paradox is a kind of argument. In literary theory, some sentences are also called paradoxes, but the meaning of the term is significantly different.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

How much do you know about René Descartes? [quiz]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honors René Descartes (1596–1650) as their Philosopher of the Month. Called “The Father of Modern Philosophy” by Hegel, Descartes led the seventeenth-century European intellectual revolution which laid down the philosophical foundations for the modern scientific age.

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9780190270193

Let’s tank tanking

“Tanking,” or deliberately trying to lose an athletic contest to gain a future competitive advantage, such as earning higher draft pick of prospective players, became the talk of the town or at least of many fans, in many US cities saddled with losing teams in such sports as hockey, basketball, and baseball. If actually practiced, however, tanking would exploit spectator, players, and coaches alike.

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Ethics of Sport by Arthur Caplan and Brendan Parent

Should we watch the Olympics?

We used to have to take time off from work –or at least leave work early– to watch the Olympics on TV. Now we can thank the engineering marvels of DVR and web replay for protecting our love affair with the Games from our evil work schedules. We are, rightly, mesmerized by the combination of talent, discipline, skill, and genetics embodied by the world’s greatest athletes.

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9780199596775

How fast can you think?

A call comes through to the triage desk of a large hospital in the New York City metropolitan area: a pregnant woman with multiple abdominal gunshot wounds is due to arrive in three minutes. Activating a trauma alert, the head nurse on duty, Denise, requests intubation, scans, anesthesia, surgery, and, due to the special circumstances, sonography and labor and delivery. How is it possible to think about so much so quickly?

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OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: René Descartes

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honors René Descartes (1596–1650) as their Philosopher of the Month. Called “The Father of Modern Philosophy” by Hegel, Descartes led the seventeenth-century European intellectual revolution which laid down the philosophical foundations for the modern scientific age. His philosophical masterpiece, the Meditations on First Philosophy, appeared in Latin in 1641, and his Principles of Philosophy, a comprehensive statement of his philosophical and scientific theories, also in Latin, in 1644.

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9780198748946

Is it possible to experience time passing?

Suppose you had to explain to someone, who did not already know, what it means to say that time passes. What might you say? Perhaps you would explain that different times are arranged in an ordered series with a direction: Monday precedes Tuesday, Tuesday precedes Wednesday, and so on.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

How much do you know about Hypatia? [quiz]

An astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and active public figure, Hypatia played a leading role in Alexandrian civic affairs. Her public lectures were popular, and her technical contributions to geometry, astronomy, number theory, and philosophy made Hypatia a highly regarded teacher and scholar.

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Colombia: the embattled road to peace

Is absolute peace throughout a nation ever truly attainable and sustainable? Can a country ever unite as one entity in the face of extreme opposing views and ideals throughout the land, its people unable to achieve the plurality of a single bilateral, collective human interest legislative mandate?

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9780198767121

Ethical change in the Catholic Church

In just a little more than three years as the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis appears to have disrupted what many thought was a straight and unchangeable course of moral teaching in the Catholic Church. Some of the more conservative members of the church are worried that the fundamentals of that teaching are being ignored, or worse, thrown overboard. Francis’s call for a ‘poorer’ church and a world that cares about the environment displays a significant turn in Catholic politics.

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9780198779674

The obscure objects of mass production

The objects of mass production – screws, nails, cell phones, cars – are everywhere. They are, for the most part, humdrum and insignificant and beneath the notice of philosophers. But in fact, I shall suggest, they are deeply mysterious from an ontological point of view.

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9780729409209

The Enlightenment and visual impairment

Blindness is a recurrent image in Enlightenment rhetoric. It is used in a political context to indicate a lack of awareness, seen in a letter from Edmund Burke to the chevalier de La Bintinnaye, in poetic rhetoric, with the stories of the blind poets Milton, Homer, and Ossian circulating among the intelligentsia of the time, or simply as a physical irritation, when writers with long lives and extensive correspondences frequently complained of their eyesight deteriorating.

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9780191816802

The enduring evolution of logic

Logic is a deep subject, at the core of much work in philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. In very general terms, it is the study of what (conclusions) follows from what (premises)—logical consequence. The Early Modern philosopher, Immanuel Kant, held that Aristotle invented logic, and at his hands it was complete. There was nothing left to be done. He was notoriously wrong.

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9780198732716

Does death rob our lives of meaning?

I fear death, you might think, because the fact that I will die robs the things I do in my life of their meaning or their value or their worth. This, if it were true, would justify the feeling of vertigo and emptiness that comes when we reflect that we will die.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: Hypatia

An astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, and active public figure, Hypatia played a leading role in Alexandrian civic affairs. Her public lectures were popular, and her technical contributions to geometry, astronomy, number theory, and philosophy made Hypatia a highly regarded teacher and scholar.

Read More