Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Book thumbnail image

Torture: what’s race got to do with it?

By Rebecca Gordon
June is Torture Awareness Month, so this seems like a good time to consider some difficult aspects of torture people in the United States might need to be aware of. Sadly, this country has a long history of involvement with torture, both in its military adventures abroad and within its borders.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Derrida on the madness of our time

By Simon Glendinning
In 1994 Jacques Derrida participated in a seminar in Capri under the title “Religion”. Derrida himself thought “religion” might be a good word, perhaps the best word for thinking about our time, our “today”. It belongs, Derrida suggested, to the “absolute anachrony” of our time. Religion? Isn’t it that old thing that we moderns had thought had gone away, the thing that really does not belong in our time? And yet, so it seems, it is still alive and well.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The point of view of the universe

By Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer
We are constantly making decisions about what we ought to do. We have to make up our own minds, but does that mean that whatever we choose is right? Often we make decisions from a limited or biased perspective.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Morality, science, and Belgium’s child euthanasia law

By Tony Hope
Science and morality are often seen as poles apart. Doesn’t science deal with facts, and morality with, well, opinions? Isn’t science about empirical evidence, and morality about philosophy? In my view this is wrong. Science and morality are neighbours. Both are rational enterprises. Both require a combination of conceptual analysis, and empirical evidence. Many, perhaps most moral disagreements hinge on disagreements over evidence and facts, rather than disagreements over moral principle.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The viability of Transcendence: the science behind the film

In the trailer of Transcendence, an authoritative professor embodied by Johnny Depp says that “the path to building superintelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe.” It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the possibility of artificial intelligence and how it will affect society. 

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Inferring the unconfirmed: the no alternatives argument

By Richard Dawid
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. Thus Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes describe a crucial part of his method of solving detective cases. Sherlock Holmes often takes pride in adhering to principles of scientific reasoning.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Does torture really (still) matter?

By Rebecca Gordon
The US military involvement in Iraq has more or less ended, and the war in Afghanistan is limping to a conclusion. Don’t the problems of torture really belong to the bad old days of an earlier administration? Why bring it up again? Why keep harping on something that is over and done with? Because it’s not over, and it’s not done with.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Disposable captives

By Lori Gruen
The decision by the administrators of the Copenhagen Zoo to kill a 2-year-old giraffe named Marius by shooting him in the head on February 2014, then autopsy his body in public and feed Marius’ body parts to the lions held captive at the zoo created quite an uproar. When the same zoo then killed the lions (an adult pair and their two cubs) a month later to make room for a more genetically worthy captive, the uproar become more ferocious.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Philosophy and its history

By Graham Priest
If you go into a mathematics class of any university, it’s unlikely that you will find students reading Euclid. If you go into any physics class, it’s unlikely you’ll find students reading Newton. If you go into any economics class, you will probably not find students reading Keynes. But if you go a philosophy class, it is not unusual to find students reading Plato, Kant, or Wittgenstein. Why?

Read More
Book thumbnail image

A question of consciousness

By Susan Blackmore
The problem of consciousness is real, deep and confronts us any time we care to look. Ask yourself this question ‘Am I conscious now?’ and you will reply ‘Yes’. Then, I suggest, you are lured into delusion – the delusion that you are conscious all the time, even when you are not asking about it.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

When science stopped being literature

By Jim Secord
We tend to think of ‘science’ and ‘literature’ in radically different ways.  The distinction isn’t just about genre – since ancient times writing has had a variety of aims and styles, expressed in different generic forms: epics, textbooks, lyrics, recipes, epigraphs, and so forth.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Is our language too masculine?

As Women’s History month comes to a close, we wanted to share an important debate that Simon Blackburn, author of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction, participated in for IAITV. Joined by Scottish feminist linguist Deborah Cameron and feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan, they look at what we can do to build a more feminist language.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Gloomy terrors or the most intense pleasure?

By Philip Schofield
In 1814, just two hundred years ago, the radical philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) began to write on the subject of religion and sex, and thereby produced the first systematic defence of sexual liberty in the history of modern European thought.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect: 50 years on

By Alfred Mele
A famous experiment on the behavior of bystanders was inspired by an electrifying episode in New York City in 1964 when Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in the middle of a street. According to newspaper reports, although many people witnessed the early morning attack from their apartment windows when they heard screams, no one tried to stop the assault, and no one even called the police.

Read More