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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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Plato’s mistake

It started innocently enough at a lunch-time event with some friends at the Randolph Hotel in the centre of Oxford. ‘The trouble with Islam …’ began some self-opinioned pundit, and I knew where he was going. Simple. Islam lends itself to fanaticism, and that is why Muslims perpetrate so much violence in the name of religion. The pundit saw himself as Christian, and therefore a man of peace, so I had my cue. ‘Look out of the window. Over there in the fork of the road you see the Martyr’s Memorial. In 1555 the Wars of Religion were in full spate, Catholics were burning Protestants at the stake, Protestants were no less fanatical when their turn came, and things got even worse with the Civil War. So why are Muslims any worse?’

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How well do you know William Godwin? [quiz]

In October, William Godwin (1756–1836) was featured as our Philosopher of the Month. He was a leading political philosopher and public intellectual during the crisis in British politics in the 1790s and achieved fame with the publication of his treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’.

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Graffiti artists are gaining recognition—and rights

Graffiti used to be thought of primarily as vandalism—as a furtive, illegal activity that defaced public property. It was seen as both a reflection of and contributor to urban decay. However, several recent high-profile lawsuits involving what is now called “exterior aerosol art” reveal just how far graffiti has advanced in cultural esteem and recognition as a legitimate art form.

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The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Existentialist

At the end of the second world war, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre launched the “existentialist offensive,” an ambitious campaign to shape a new cultural and political landscape. The word ‘existentialism’ was a popular neologism with no clear meaning. They wanted to profit from its media currency by making their philosophy its definition. Sartre’s talk “Existentialism is a Humanism” was an instant legend.

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Philosopher of The Month: William Godwin [timeline]

This October, the OUP Philosophy team honours William Godwin (1756–1836) as their Philosopher of the Month. Godwin was a moral and political philosopher and a prolific writer, best-known for his political treatise ‘An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice’ and ‘Things as they were or Caleb Williams’, a political allegorical novel.

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It Keeps Me Seeking

Sometimes spouses will look back on the time of their getting to know one another and say, half-jokingly, that on a given occasion one was putting the other to the test.

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Oxford Think Festival: 10th – 18th November 2018

Oxford University Press is delighted to once again partner with Blackwell’s Oxford to host a weekend of talks and discussions. After three successful years as the Oxford Philosophy Festival, the event returns this year as the Oxford Think Festival.

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How well do you know Arthur Schopenhauer? [quiz]

This September, OUP Philosophy honors Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) as the Philosopher of the Month. Schopenhauer was largely ignored by the academic philosophical community during his lifetime, but gained recognition and fame posthumously.

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