Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

To blame or to forgive?

What do you do when faced with wrongdoing – do you blame or do you forgive? Especially when confronted with offences that lie on the more severe end of the spectrum and cause terrible psychological or physical trauma or death, nothing can feel more natural than to blame.

Read More
OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: David Hume

Born in Edinburgh, Hume is considered a founding figure of empiricism and the most significant philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment. With its strong critique of contemporary metaphysics, Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40) cleared the way for a genuinely empirical account of human understanding.

Read More
9780199336883 - Military Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know by George Lucas

The ethics of war

People often do not associate war and ethics with one another, given the death, conflict, and senselessness that typically arises. However, in this sampling from Military Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know®, author George Lucas argues that ethics are paramount in military service and typically more complex than “good versus evil.”

Read More
British Journal of Aesthetics

Art in the streets

Street artists are placing their bets on a new artistic practice, a new medium for art-making – one that ignores the institutional structures of the artworld, and rejects their role as arbiters of artistic excellence. Taking art to the streets allows artists to redefine the criteria by which to be assessed.

Read More

The true meaning of cell life and death

Two hundred years ago, William Lawrence blew the roof off the Hunter Lecture Series at the Royal College of Surgeons by adding the word “biology” to the English language to discuss living physiology, behavior, and diversity as a matter of gunky chemistry and physics, sans super-added forces.

Read More

Why we do what we do

You walked out the door this morning. Why did you do it? Perhaps because you wanted to stretch your legs. Perhaps because you wanted to feel the fresh air on your face and the wind blowing through your hair. Is that it? Not quite. I bet you also walked out the door this morning because the phone didn’t ring a second earlier.

Read More
OUP Philosophy Crest

How well do you know Plato? [quiz]

The OUP Philosophy team have selected Plato (c. 429–c. 347 BC) as their February Philosopher of the Month. After his death in 347 BC, educators at the Academy continued teaching Plato’s works into the Roman era. Today he is perhaps the most widely studied philosopher of all time.

Read More

Slavery contracts

Guy and Doll have agreed that Guy will act as Doll directs, and that Doll is entitled to use force or punishment to get Guy to do as she directs if he ever demurs or falls short. Guy has contracted to be Doll’s slave. Such contracts are familiar from fiction and from history; and some people may have familiarity with them in contemporary life. It is common for philosophers to argue that such contracts are impossible.

Read More

Platonic reception: that obscure object of desire

Of all the things we could possibly care about, why should we care about the reception of Plato? Wars rage round the world. The planet is in the process of environmental meltdown. Many remain mired in poverty, oppression, and disease. Surely this is a most obscure, not to say obscurantist, pursuit. But perhaps we are too hasty.

Read More
Engster-Justice, Care and the Welfare State

What can political philosophy contribute to policy debates?

Political philosophy explores questions relating to the best organization of our collective political and economic institutions and policies. As such, one might expect that detailed discussion of policy issues would be commonplace in political philosophy. Just the opposite, however, is usually the case.

Read More

Fences and paradox

Imagine that you are an extremely talented, and extremely ambitious, shepherd, and an equally talented and equally ambitious carpenter. You decide that you want to explore what enclosures, or fences, you can build, and which groups of objects, or flocks, you can shepherd around so that they are collected together inside one of these fences.

Read More

Divine Command Theory and moral obligation

‘Divine Command Theory’ is the theory that what makes something morally right is that God commands it, and what makes something morally wrong is that God forbids it. Of the many objections to this theory, the four main ones are that it makes morality arbitrary, that it cannot work in a pluralistic society, that it makes morality infantile, and that it is viciously circular.

Read More
OUP Philosophy Crest

Philosopher of the month: Plato

The OUP Philosophy team have selected Plato (c. 429–c.347 BC) as their February Philosopher of the Month. The best known and most widely studied of all the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato laid the groundwork for Western philosophy and Christian theology. Plato was most likely born in Athens, to Ariston and Perictione, a noble, politically active family.

Read More

Are you really free? Yes: a new argument for freedom

How is human freedom really possible in the natural world as correctly described by modern physics, chemistry, biology, and cognitive neuroscience? Or, given the truth of modern science, are you really free? By ‘real freedom,’ I mean ‘real free will and real rational agency’.

Read More

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.

Read More

The resource curse – Episode 31 – The Oxford Comment

Global inequality, particularly as it exists today, is more “process” than natural phenomenon. An era of unprecedented interconnection means that individual practices, just as much as large-scale social, political, and economic actions, shape, sustain, and reinforce power dynamics.

Read More