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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Will robots really take our jobs?

Will computer technology and robotics lead to the automation of our jobs, leading to rising job losses and income inequality? Or could the use of technology intended to replace certain low-wage jobs lead to offsetting employment growth in other types of jobs?

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At least in Green Book, jazz is high art

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Bolden, a film about the New Orleans cornettist Buddy Bolden (1888 – 1933) who may actually have invented jazz. But since Bolden will not be released until May, and since April is Jazz Appreciation Month, now is a good time to talk about the cultural capital that jazz has recently acquired, at least in that […]

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12 of the most important books for women in philosophy

To celebrate women’s enormous contributions to philosophy, here is a reading list of books that explore recent feminist philosophy and women philosophers. Despite their apparent invisibility in the field in the past, women have been practising philosophers for centuries.

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Is it right to use intuition as evidence?

Dr. Smith is a wartime medic. Five injured soldiers are in critical need of organ transplants: one needs a heart, two need kidneys, and two need lungs. A sixth soldier has come in complaining of a toothache. Reasoning that it’s better that five people should live than one, Smith knocks out the sixth soldier with […]

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Harold Wilson’s resignation honours – why so controversial?

On February 6 Marcia Falkender, the Baroness Falkender, died. She was one of the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s closest and longest-serving colleagues, first as his personal then political secretary. An enigmatic figure, she has been variously reviled, mocked, and defended since the end of Wilson’s political career.

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The Cambridge Philosophical Society

In 2019, the Cambridge Philosophical Society celebrates its 200th anniversary. When it was set up in 1819, Cambridge was not a place to do any kind of serious science. There were a few professors in scientific subjects but almost no proper laboratories or facilities. Students rarely attended lectures, and degrees were not awarded in the […]

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How industry can benefit from marine diversity

The global economy for products composed of biological materials is likely to grow 3.6% between now and 2025. This in response to serious environmental challenges the world will face. Such products have enormous potential to provide solutions to global challenges like food security, energy production, human health, and waste reduction. This economic growth may strongly […]

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National Women’s History Month: A Brief History

Every year, I teach a course on U.S. women’s history. Every year, I poll my students to find out how many of them encountered any kind of women’s history in their pre-college educations. They invariably say that they didn’t learn enough about women (this is a self-selecting group after all), but they also easily recite key components of U.S. women’s history: the Salem witch trials, Sojourner Truth, the nineteenth amendment, Rosie the Riveter, second-wave feminism, among others.

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Yes means yes: why verbal consent policies are ineffective

Communication around sex on college campuses tends to be poor in general—not only do students struggle to communicate and have hang-ups and fears about communicating, but hookup culture is one that privileges noncommunication. After all, what better way to signal a casual attitude toward your partner than to ignore him or her? Because students are […]

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Germanic dreams: the end

It turned out that the melancholy idiom send one to Coventry may not have anything to do with that town. To reinforce this unexpected conclusion, I’ll relate another story. At one time, the phrase up at Harwich existed; perhaps it is still known in the eastern counties.

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What makes the EU, the UN, and their peers legitimate?

The first “Brexit” is almost a century old, and it did not even involve Britain. It occurred on 14 June 1926, when Brazil notified the League of Nations it would leave the world organization. Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, and Peru, together with Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, followed in the 1930s. […]

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What makes arrogant people so angry?

Arrogant people are often intolerant of questioning or criticism. They respond to genuine and even polite challenges with anger. They are bullies that attempt to humiliate and intimidate those who do not agree with, or explicitly defer to, their opinions. The arrogant feel superior to other people and arrogate for themselves special privileges. This sense of entitlement […]

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What is kidnap insurance?

Millions of people live and work in areas where they cannot rely on the state to keep them safe. Instead, their security is provided by armed groups: for example, community or clan militias, warlords, rebel movements, drug cartels, or mafias – i.e. local strongmen that can defend their territory against intruders and keep order within it. But their deal with the population usually goes far beyond providing physical security.

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W(h)ither the five-paragraph essay

I was surprised to learn from my students that many of them are still being taught to write the five-paragraph essay in high school. You know it: an introductory paragraph that begins with a hook and ends in a thesis statement.

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Why do girls outperform boys on reading tests around the world?

All around the world, girls outperform boys on reading tests. Why is this? In and outside of academia, people have been concerned about girls’ under-performance in math, or more generally: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). There have been fewer academic studies and media coverage about boys’ under-performance in reading. This is surprising, since it might offer an explanation for boys’ lagging educational attainment today.

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