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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

British Journal of Aesthetics

Perfumes, olfactory art, and philosophy

What could philosophy have to do with odors and perfumes? And what could odors and perfumes have to do with Art? After all, many philosophers have considered smell the lowest and most animal of the senses and have viewed perfume as a trivial luxury.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

The OUP Philosophy Festival 2015

The Oxford Philosophy group teamed up with Blackwell’s Bookshop Oxford to celebrate Philosophy in all its diversity. From a philosophical balloon debate (where David Hume blew the audience away with a song about the problem of induction) to panels dealing with the ethics of everyday life, we explored a huge variety of philosophical problems and had fun in the process.

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Cook_Yablo Paradox

Paradox and self-evident sentences

According to philosophical lore many sentences are self-evident. A self-evident sentence wears its semantic status on its sleeve: a self-evident truth is a true sentence whose truth strikes us immediately, without the need for any argument or evidence, once we understand what the sentence means.

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Battin Ethics of Suicide Cover

‘Death with Dignity': is it suicide?

But what’s the right term, really? After all, much of the political disagreement and legal wrangling over this issue is rooted in this fundamental conceptual question, is “physician-assisted suicide” really suicide? Let’s see if we can figure it out.

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Neuroscience of Consciousness cover

Can neuroscience explain consciousness?

Long excluded from serious consideration within psychology and the neurosciences, consciousness is back in business. A new journal Neuroscience of Consciousness will catalyse this new understanding by publishing the best new research, review, and opinion on how our “inner universe” comes to be.

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9780198744429 Fernandez-Armesto_Foot_in_the_River

“Challenging change” – extract from A Foot in the River

We are a weird species. Like other species, we have a culture. But by comparison with other species, we are strangely unstable: human cultures self-transform, diverge, and multiply with bewildering speed. They vary, radically and rapidly, from time to time and place to place. And the way we live – our manners, morals, habits, experiences, relationships, technology, values – seems to be changing at an ever accelerating pace. The effects can be dislocating, baffling, sometimes terrifying. Why is this?

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Seders, symposiums, and drinking parties

The symposium is a familiar feature of academic life today: a scholarly gathering where work on a given topic or theme is presented and discussed. While the event may be followed by a dinner and drinks, the consumption of alcohol is in no way essential to the business of the gathering.

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OUP Philosophy Creast

How well do you know Karl Marx? [quiz]

This October, the OUP Philosophy team has chosen Karl Marx as their Philosopher of the Month. Karl Marx was an economist and philosopher best known for ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and ‘Das Kapital’. Although sometimes misconstrued, his work has influenced various political leaders including Mao Zedong, Che Guevara, and the 14th Dalai Lama.

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What might superintelligences value?

If there were superintelligent beings – creatures as far above the smartest human as that person is above a worm – what would they value? And what would they think of us? Would they treasure, tolerate, ignore, or eradicate us?

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Ethics at the chocolate factory

Two women are being trained for work on a factory assembly line. As products arrive on a conveyor belt, their task is to wrap each product and place it back on the belt. Their supervisor warns them that failing to wrap even one product is a firing offense, but once they get started, the work seems easy.

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An ‘in-spite-of’ joy

The Armenian genocide and the Holocaust took place decades ago, but the novelist William Faulkner was right when he said that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It had been hoped that “Never again!” might be more than a slogan, but in April 1994, the Rwandan genocide began and was soon in full cry.

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Sex, death, booze, and mung bean sandwiches

How do opera and philosophy intersect? At first glance, this might seem like a strange question, for opera and philosophy are unlikely bedfellows. To speak of philosophy conjures up images of dry abstraction and bookish head-scratching, whereas to talk of opera is to call to mind cacophonous spectacles of colours and voices, of multitudinous audiences enthralled by impassioned song.

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In defense of myth

I approach myth from the standpoint of theories of myth, or generalizations about the origin, the function, and the subject matter of myth. There are hundreds of theories. They hail from anthropology, sociology, psychology, politics, literature, philosophy, and religious studies.

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A world with persons but without borders

Robert Hanna presents an argument based on some highly-plausible Kantian metaphysical, moral, political premises, about a huge real-world problem that greatly concerns me: the global refugee crisis, including its current manifestation in Europe.

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Perceiving dignity for World Mental Health Day

Each year in July, I greet a new group of post-doctoral psychiatric trainees (‘residents,’ ‘registrars’) for a year’s work in our psychiatric outpatient clinic. One of the rewards of being a psychiatric educator is witnessing the professional growth of young clinicians as they mature into seasoned, competent, and humanistic psychiatrists.

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Is “Nothing nothings” true?

In a 1929 lecture, Martin Heidegger argued that the following claim is true: Nothing nothings. In German: “Das Nichts nichtet”. Years later Rudolph Carnap ridiculed this statement as the worst sort of meaningless metaphysical nonsense in an essay titled “Overcoming of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language”. But is this positivistic attitude reasonable?

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