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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Celebrating notable women in philosophy: Philippa Foot

This March, in honour of Women’s History Month, and in celebration of the achievements and contributions of women to the field of philosophy, the OUP philosophy team honours Philippa Foot (1920–2010) as its Philosopher of the Month. Philippa Foot is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive and influential moral philosophers of the twentieth-century.

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The ethics of the climate emergency

During the last few days of February we experienced the warmest Winter day since records began, with a high of 20.6 degrees (Celsius) at Trawscoed in mid-Wales. As if that was not enough, the record was broken again the next day with 21.2 degrees at Kew Gardens.

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Is there room for creative imagination in science?

Not just once, but repeatedly, I have heard something like “I just didn’t see in science any room for my own imagination or creativity,” from young students clearly able to succeed at any subject they set their minds to. It is a tragedy that so many people do not perceive science as a creative. Yet […]

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Philosopher of the Month: Plato [infographic]

This February, the OUP Philosophy team honours Plato (c. 427–347 BCE) as their Philosopher of the Month. Together with Socrates and Aristotle, Plato is recognized as one of the most influential figures of ancient Greek philosophy.

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Some value safety, others value risk

No one has ever crossed the Antarctic by themselves and without help from other people or engines. To me, this is very unsurprising and uninteresting. No one (outside of superhero movies) has ever shrunk themselves to the size of an ant, or turned back time by causing the earth to rotate backwards either. Big deal. […]

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Ice Cube and the philosophical foundations of community policing

The recent “First Step Act” is the most significant federal criminal justice reform in decades. Still, it is a modest first step. The law eases the sentences of some inmates in federal prison, but it will not impact the problem of mass incarceration significantly because it does not address the many inmates incarcerated in state and local facilities.

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Congratulations to Cyberwar

Oxford University Press has won the 2018 R. R. Hawkins Award, which is awarded by the Association of American Publishers to a single book every year to “recognize outstanding scholarly works in all disciplines of the arts and sciences.” 

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Are our fantasies immune from morality?

Immoral fantasies are not uncommon, nor are they necessarily unhealthy. Some are silly and unrealistic, though others can be genuinely disturbing. You might fantasize about kicking your boss in the shins, or having an affair with your best friend’s spouse, or planning the perfect murder.

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Philosopher of The Month: William James (timeline)

This January the OUP Philosophy team honours William James (1842-1910) as their Philosopher of the Month. James was the founder of pragmatism, an influential Harvard philosopher and scholar on religion and was arguably considered one of the dominant figures in psychology of his day, before Sigmund Freud.

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OUP Philosophy

Philosophy in 2018: a year in review [timeline]

2018 has been another significant year for the philosophy world and, as it draws to a close, the OUP philosophy team reflects on what has happened in the field. We’ve compiled a selection of key events, awards, and anniversaries, from the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx to Martha Nussbaum winning the Berggruen Prize and the death of the philosopher Mary Midley.

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On observing one’s past

Let me share a memory with you. It’s a childhood memory, about an event from when I was around 13 or 14 years old. My father and I are playing soccer together. He is the goalkeeper, standing between the posts, I am the striker, taking shots from outside the box.

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The merits of and case for Land Value Taxation

Politics matters for tax as tax matters for politics. The high-minded Scottish economist Adam Smith had ‘four maxims of taxation’: 1) Tax should be progressive.
2) Tax should be certain, not arbitrary.
3) Tax should be paid at the time most convenient to the contributor.
4) Tax should take as little from the contributors as possible to pay for the state.

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The adventures of a nitrogen atom

You have more than six hundred muscles in your body. Pick one of those muscles at random—say one of the eight in your tongue. Its cells will contain protein fibers. These consist of long chains of amino acids, which in turn contain nitrogen atoms. Now pick, at random, one of those nitrogen atoms.

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There are two different types of Jane Austen fans

There is a theory current among many of my fellow Janeites about what kind of a Jane Austen devotee one can be. Either, it is said, one unreservedly cleaves to the Austen of Pride and Prejudice and Emma, or one emphatically embraces the Austen of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

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A surprisingly religious John Stuart Mill

Your most recent book, John Stuart Mill: A Secular Life, is in OUP’s ‘Spiritual Lives’ series and is essentially a religious biography of Mill. Mill decided that strictly in terms of proof the right answer to that question of God’s existence is that it is ‘a very probable hypothesis’.

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