Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199687756_450

The hardest question for scientists

But this question of conscience goes beyond science. There is one clear axis along which we are all asked to act in life – in favour of ‘self’ or ‘society’. Do we always do what is best when it comes to deciding the balance? In all pursuits there is an innate tension between the interests of self and society. This tension has existed as long as we’ve had human society of any complexity.

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9780195387070

Not a dog’s chance, or one more impenetrable etymology

The word dog is the bête noire of English etymology. Without obvious cognates anywhere (the languages that have dog are said to have borrowed it from English), it had a shadowy life in Old English but managed to hound from its respectable position the ancient name of man’s best friend, the name it has retained in the rest of Germanic.

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The overwhelming case against Brexit

On 23 June, British voters will go to the polls to decide whether the UK should remain in the European Union (EU) or leave it in a maneuver the press has termed “Brexit.” As of late April, public opinion polls showed the “remain” and “exit” sides running neck– and — neck, with a large share of the electorate still undecided. The economic arguments for remaining in the EU are overwhelming. The fact that the polls are so close suggests that a substantial portion of the British electorate is being guided not by economic arguments, but by blind commitment to ideology.

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9780199914081

The Thatcherism of state-sponsored private sector retirement programs

With surprising speed, state-sponsored private sector retirement programs have assumed an important place in the nation’s public policy agenda. California, a pioneer in many trends, was a pioneer in this area also. The California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Trust Act, adopted in 2012, was the first law authorizing a state-sponsored retirement program for private sector […]

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9780198716464

Brexit and the World Trade Organization

As the debates regarding the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union heat up, attention has turned to the possible consequences of Brexit. There are even consequences from a World Trade Organization (WTO) perspective, flagging up implications for UK sovereignty. The point made here is simple: contrary to the prevailing view, remaining in the WTO post-Brexit could entail a greater threat to UK sovereignty than is currently the case.

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The Dismal Debate: would a “Brexit” mean more power for the UK?

“Money, money money. Must be funny. In a rich man’s world.” As an academic I’m highly unlikely to ever have either “money, money, money” or live in a “rich man’s world.” But as a long-time student of politics I’ve been struck by how the debate in the UK about the forthcoming referendum on membership of the European Union has been framed around just two issues – money and power.

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Book of the century: “The Subjection of Women”

In a dynamic demonstration of the motivating power of the written word, a ladies’ literary discussion group read The Subjection of Women in 1883. As soon as they had closed the book, they set up the Finnish Women’s Association to campaign for women in public life. It is not coincidental that in 1906 Finland became the first European country where women had the vote. J.S.Mill’s book is, with Marx’s Capital, one of the two most important political books written in Britain in the nineteenth century.

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9780190264451

What is really behind Descartes’ famous doubt?

Insofar as Descartes’ philosophical project is an attempt to overcome self-doubt, it doesn’t seem successful. His original reason for self-doubt was a clash between theology and experience. It is hard to see why, if this clash gave him good reason to doubt himself, the clash between providence and freedom would not do so as well. He seems to disagree with himself about the ultimate lessons to learn from disagreement!

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9780195596267

Is word-of-mouth more powerful in China?

The sheer size and increasing wealth of the Chinese population makes China an attractive target market. There is no doubt that Chinese culture and history differs from the western world, but how do these differences translate into differences in Chinese buyer behaviour? And are there differences that should affect a brand’s growth strategy?

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9780199464753

Family of Innovators: The Rays’ quest for modernity

Virtually everybody has heard of the filmmaker, writer, graphic artist, and composer Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) but except for Bengalis, few know much about the exploits of his formidable ancestors and their kinsfolk. And yet, over years of versatile creative engagements, Upendrakishore Ray (1863-1915), his father-in-law Dwarakanath Ganguli (1844-1898), his brother-in-law Hemendramohan Bose (1864-1916), his son Sukumar (1887-1923), and daughter-in-law Suprabha (the parents of Satyajit) charted new paths in literature, art, religious reform, nationalism, business, advertising, and printing technology.

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9780190201326

Defining resilience

Consider the following scenario: Two women both lost a son in a war. One returns to work immediately and starts volunteering at an organization helping families of fallen soldiers. The other is unable to leave home, spends most of her days crying and sitting in front of her son’s belongings that were left untouched. Who is more resilient? The answer largely depends on how one defines resilience.

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Sikhs and mistaken identity

American basketball star, Darsh Singh, a turbaned, bearded Sikh, featured this April in a Guardian Weekend piece on cyberbullying. He recalled how his online picture had been circulated with Islamophobic captions. Long before that he’d had to get used to people yelling things like “towelhead”. Since 9/11, Sikhs haven’t just been verbally insulted but have suffered ‘reprisal attacks’.

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Etymology gleanings for April 2016

Responses to my plea for suggestions concerning spelling reform were very few. I think we can expect a flood of letters of support and protest only if at least part of the much-hoped-for change reaches the stage of implementation. I received one letter telling me to stop bothering about nonsense and to begin doing something sensible.

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Kristina Spohr, The Global Chancellor: Helmut Schmidt and the Reshaping of the International Order

A prickly pair: Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter

Helmut Schmidt and Jimmy Carter never got on. Theirs was, in fact, one of the most explosive relationships in postwar, transatlantic history and it strained to the limit the bond between West Germany and America. The problems all started before Carter became president, when the German chancellor unwisely chose to meddle in American electoral politics.

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9780198729099

A new European Regulation on insolvency proceedings

In June 2015, EU Regulation 2015/848 of 20 May 2015 on insolvency proceedings entered into force. This Regulation reformed – or, to be more precise, recast – EC Regulation 1346/2000, in order to tackle in a much more modern way cross-border insolvency cases involving at least one Member State of the EU (except Denmark).

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