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Beethoven’s Ninth at the G-20

The world leaders who had gathered in Hamburg, Germany, this summer for the twelfth G-20 summit on 7 July 2017 found an unusual item on their itinerary: a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony.

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Taxation and religion in 2018

2018 will be an interesting year for those concerned about the intersection of taxation and religion. Two important issues – the constitutionality of the parsonage allowance and the future of the Johnson Amendment – are primed for further controversy in the year ahead. Several months ago, Judge Crabb agreed with the FFRF that Section 107(2) is unconstitutional.

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What you can learn at a writing retreat

Recently I attended a writing retreat for faculty at my university. It was a three-day weekend break from email, grading and meetings. A dozen academic writers from a variety of disciplines gathered under the roof of a spacious rental home near a lake to talk about their projects, share strategies and concerns, and write for long stretches at a time.

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Organisms as societies

In the 19th century, biologists came to appreciate for the first time the fundamentality of the cell to all life. One of the early pioneers of cell biology, Rudolf Virchow, realized that the discovery of the cell brought with it a new way of seeing the organism and described it as a ‘cell state’. In the 20th century, this metaphor fell out of favour, but recent trends in biology suggest a revival.

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Why visit Vermeer?

An exhibition of paintings by Johannes Vermeer caused a frenzy in Washington DC in 1995. The National Gallery of Art was booked to capacity, and there were lines of hopeful visitors queued around the block, despite sub-zero conditions outside. Vermeer has just returned to Washington, and the gallery staff expects a full house, but have things changed now? Why would you bother to go to a museum to see great art? With the tap of a finger, you can see masterpieces up close on your screen; you can get nearer than any museum attendant would ever allow.

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Getting high on virtual reality

It’s a chilly November evening, but inside Apiary Studios in East London, things are heating up as the venue gradually fills with people. The atmosphere is electric; everyone is here for the Cyberdelics Incubator, an event aimed at showcasing the latest in psychedelic arts projects using immersive media and techno-wizardry.

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Quotes of the year: 2017 [quiz]

2017 certainly was a year to remember – from Donald Trump being inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, to the United Kingdom formally triggering Brexit with Article 50; from Britain releasing its first new pound coin in 30 years, to Facebook reaching two billion monthly users. Celebrities, politicians, and athletes were as vocal as ever last year when it came to current events, but do you know Theresa from Trump, or Putin from a pensioner? Which famous face tried to discourage middle-aged men from wearing Lycra, and who assumed their new role would be easier?

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Are there true philosophical theories that we cannot believe?

Few philosophical theories are so hard to believe that no philosopher has ever defended them. But at least one theory is. Suppose that you think lying is wrong. According to a view that is known as the error theory, you then take lying to have a certain feature: you ascribe the property of being wrong to lying. But the error theory also says that this property does not exist.

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Philosophy in 2017: a year in review [timeline]

This year a lot happened in the field of philosophy. As we come to the end of 2017, the OUP Philosophy team have had a look back at the past year and its highs and lows. We’ve compiled a selection of the key events, awards, anniversaries, and passings which went on to shape philosophy in 2017, from Alvin Plantinga receiving the Templeton Prize to the death of Derek Parfit.

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Carols for Choirs: a history

As Christmas draws to a close, so too does the busiest time of year for OUP’s Hire Library. Unsurprisingly, the majority of our most-hired materials this year have come from one of the most authoritative carol collections available to choirs today: the Carols for Choirs series and 100 Carols for Choirs. Whilst many singers are likely to have sung from this book, it is unlikely that many know the story of its conception.

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New year, new you: 13 books for self-improvement in 2018

Last year, twitter highlighted the most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2017—which included losing weight, reading more, and learning something new among the most common goals. With 2018 quickly approaching, people all over the world are taking the time to reflect on themselves and determine possible resolutions for the coming year. We’ve put together a reading list of self-improvement books to help our readers reflect and stick to their goals in the New Year.

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Choosing Normative Concepts

Normative thought and the boundaries of language

Consider this little story. On a planet somewhere far away there’s a community, the Tragic. The Tragic are deeply moral, in the sense of caring deeply about doing the right thing, even when that isn’t in their self-interest. They are also very successful in figuring out what’s the “right” thing, in their sense of right. So they very often do what’s “right” in their sense.

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How well do you know your December celebrations?

n many countries throughout the modern world, December has become synonymous with the celebration of Christmas. Despite this focus, there are many other December celebrations including the Buddhist Rōhatsu and Jewish Hanukkah, secular festivities such as Kwanzaa and Hogmanay, and ancient Roman rituals such as Saturnalia. Discover some fascinating (and lesser-known) facts on these December celebrations.

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Some of the mysteries of good character

he topic of character is one of the oldest in both Western and Eastern thought, and has enjoyed a renaissance in philosophy since at least the 1970s with the revival of virtue ethics. Yet, even today, character remains largely a mystery. We know very little about what most peoples’ character looks like. Important virtues are surprisingly neglected. There are almost no strategies advanced by philosophers today for improving character.

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The war on Christmas: a two thousand year history [timeline]

Is there a war on Christmas? Yes. And it’s been fought for almost two thousand years. Since their earliest incarnation, Christmas festivities have been criticized and even outlawed. In the timeline below, historian and Christmas expert Gerry Bowler takes a look at this long history—from nativity protests in 240 through the billboard wars of 2014.

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A composer’s Christmas: David Bednall

“I think that Christmas carols are deeply embedded in our psyche (even if many are not actually that old) and provide a reminder of our childhood, which is why we are drawn to them so powerfully.” We recently caught up with composer David Bednall to find out how he celebrates Christmas traditions, why music is important to people at Christmas time, and the sense of hope that Christmas brings.

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