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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Epicureanism

Epicureanism: eat, drink, and be merry?

Most people have a good idea what it is to have a Stoical attitude to life, but what it means to have an Epicurean attitude is not so obvious. When attempting to decipher the true nature of Epicureanism it is first necessary to dispel the impression that fine dining is its central theme.

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9780198755333

When probability is not enough

While out driving one afternoon, I notice a bus speeding down the road towards me. As it approaches, the bus drifts into my lane, forcing me to swerve and strike a parked car. The bus doesn’t stop and, while I glimpse some corporate logo on the side, I’m shaken and I don’t manage to make it out.

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9780198739036

Bodies of breath, bodies of knowledge, and bodies of culture

Towards the end of his lecture on ‘techniques of the body’, delivered to a meeting of the Société Française de Psychologie in 1934, the sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss discussed the methods of breathing practiced by Daoist priests and Yogic mystics. Far from being instinctive, these techniques require a lengthy apprenticeship.

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9780198718062

Time and perception

The human brain is a most wonderful organ: it is our window on time. Our brains have specialized structures that work together to give us our human sense of time. The temporal lobe helps form long term memories, without which we would not be aware of the past, whilst the frontal lobe allows us to plan for the future.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

Test your knowledge of G.E.M. Anscombe

This January, the OUP Philosophy team has chosen Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret (G.E.M.) Anscombe as their Philosopher of the Month. G.E.M. Anscombe (1919 – 2001) was a British analytical philosopher best known for her contributions in the fields of philosophy of the mind, action, language, logic, and ethics. Test your knowledge of this famous female philosopher.

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9780199948901

No time to think

On leaving school, my advisor reminded me to always take time to think. That seemed like a reasonable suggestion, as I trudged off to teach, write, and, of course, think. But the modern academy doesn’t share this value; faculty are increasingly prodded to “produce” more articles, more presentations, more grant applications, and more PhD students.

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9780199669608

Lying, belief, and paradox

The Liar paradox is often informally described in terms of someone uttering the sentence: I am lying right now. If we equate lying with merely uttering a falsehood, then this is (roughly speaking) equivalent to a somewhat more formal, more precise version of the paradox that arises by considering a sentence like: “This sentence is false”.

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9780198749578

Religious belief, fundamentalism, and intolerance

Religious belief has been allied, for centuries, with fundamentalism and intolerance. It’s possible to have one without the other, but it requires a degree of self-criticism that is not easily acquired. When Calvin endorsed the execution of Michael Servetus in 1553, he justified his decision by appeal to the certainty of his own religious faith.

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9780192804242

10 surprising facts about atheism

Atheism is the absence of belief that God, and other deities, exist. How much do you know about this belief system? Julian Baggini, author of Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, tells us the ten things we never knew about atheism.

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Thomas Paine’s Common Sense turns 240 years old

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe

The OUP Philosophy team have selected Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe as their January Philosopher of the Month. Anscombe was born in Limerick, Ireland, and spent much of her education at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge. An analytical philosopher, Anscombe is best known for her works in the philosophy of mind, action, language, logic, and ethics.

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9780199658015

Generations of asylum seekers

With this family history behind me, questions of immigration are never far from my mind. I owe my existence to the generosity of the UK in taking in generations of refugees, as well as the kindness shown by one wealthy unmarried Christian woman – who agreed to foster my father for a few months until his parents arrived, but as that never happened, becoming his guardian until adulthood.

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A world with persons but without states

Kantian ethical anarchism is ethical anti-statism. It says that there is no adequate rational justification for political authority, the state, or any other state-like institution, and that we should reject and exit the state and other state-like institutions, in order to create and belong to a real-world, worldwide ethical community, aka humanity, in a world without any states or state-like institutions.

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OUP Philosophy Crest

Test your knowledge of Baruch Spinoza [quiz]

This December, the OUP Philosophy team has chosen Baruch Spinoza as their Philosopher of the Month. The seventeenth century philosopher was seen as a controversial figure due to his views on God and religion, leading to excommunication from the Amsterdam Jewish community and his books being banned by the Church.

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White and Baker-Economics and the Virtues

The Big Picture and The Big Short: How Virtue helps us explain something as complex as the Financial Crisis

The star-studded new film The Big Short is based on Michael Lewis’s best-selling expose of the 2008 financial crisis. Reviewers are calling it the “ultimate feel-furious movie about Wall Street.” It emphasizes the oddball and maverick character of four mid-level hedge fund managers in order to explain what it would take to ignore the rating agencies’ evaluations and bet against the subprime industry—that is, their own industry.

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9780199315628 Debating Brain Drain

Debating the brain drain: an excerpt on emigration

While there has been considerable normative theo­rizing on the topic of immigration, most analyses have focused on the relation between the migrant or prospective migrant and the society she will join—issues of admission, accommodation, integration, and so forth.

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