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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

In defence of moral experts

I’m no expert. Still, I reckon the notorious claim made by Michael Gove, a leading campaigner for Britain to leave the European Union, that the nation had had enough of experts, will dog him for the rest of his career. In fact, he wasn’t alone. Other Brexit leaders also sneered at the pretensions of experts, the majority of whom warned about the risks – political, economic, social – of a Britain outside the EU.

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OUP Philosophy

How well do you know Aristotle? [quiz]

Among the world’s most widely studied thinkers, Aristotle established systematic logic and helped to progress scientific investigation in fields as diverse as biology and political theory. But how much do you really know about this ancient philosopher?

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The old age of the world

At the home of the world’s most authoritative dictionary, perhaps it is not inappropriate to play a word association game. If I say the word ‘modern’, what comes into your mind? The chances are, it will be some variation of ‘new’, ‘recent’, or ‘contemporary’.

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Periphrastic puzzles

Let us say that a sentence is periphrastic if and only if there is a single word in that sentence such that we can remove the word and the result (i) is grammatical, and (ii) has the same truth value as the original sentence.

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Moral responsibilities when waging war

In his long-awaited report on the circumstances surrounding the United Kingdom’s decision to join forces with the United States and invade Iraq in 2003, Sir John Chilcot lists a number of failings on the part of the then-British leadership.

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Coetzee’s Dialogues: Who says who we are?

Throughout his career, J. M Coetzee has been centrally preoccupied with how to tell the truth of an individual life, most of all, how to find the appropriate narrator and fictional genre. Many of his fifteen novels disclose first person narrators in a confessional mode, and so it is not altogether surprising that his latest book is a dialogue with a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, in which they explore together notions of selfhood, repression, disclosure and the nature of communication.

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Just because all philosophers are on Twitter…

Just because everyone is on Twitter doesn’t mean they’ve all got interesting things to say. I vaguely recall reading that late 19th-century curmudgeons expressed similar scepticism about the then much-hyped technology of the telephone.

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Is the mind just an accident of the universe?

The traditional view puts forward the idea that the vast majority of what there is in the universe is mindless. Panpsychism however claims that mental features are ubiquitous in the cosmos. In a recent opinion piece for Scientific American entitled “Is Consciousness Universal?” (2014), neuroscientist Christof Koch explains how his support of panpsychism is greeted by incredulous stares–in particular when asserting that panpsychism might be the perfect match for neurobiology

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Leibniz and Europe

At the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, national states were on the rise. Versailles was constructed as a stage on which the Sun King, Louis XIV, acted out the pageant of absolute sovereignty while his armies annexed neighbouring territories for the greater glory of France. At the death of Charles II of Spain in November 1700, the Spanish throne and its extensive possessions in Italy, the Low Countries and the New World passed to his grandson, Philip, Duke of Anjou.

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OUP Philosophy

Philosopher of the month: Aristotle

Among the world’s most widely studied thinkers, Aristotle established systematic logic and helped to progress scientific investigation in fields as diverse as biology and political theory. His thought became dominant during the medieval period in both the Islamic and the Christian worlds, and has continued to play an important role in fields such as philosophical psychology, aesthetics, and rhetoric.

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The last -ism?

There has lately been something like an arms race in literary studies to name whatever comes after postmodernism. Post-postmodernism, cosmodernism, digimodernism, automodernism, altermodernism, and metamodernism rank among the more popular prospects.

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The origins of political order

What importance do the civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean have for us? This question has been answered in different ways over the centuries, but for a long time the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome have been attractive as a baseline and a model, be it in economic, aesthetic, cultural, military, or political terms.

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Against narrowness in philosophy

If you asked many people today, they would say that one of the limitations of analytic philosophy is its narrowness. Whereas in previous centuries philosophers took on projects of broad scope, today’s philosophers typically deal with smaller issues.

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Why Christmas should matter to us whether we are ‘religious’ or not

There are many aspects of Christmas that, on reflection, make little sense. We are supposed to be secular-minded, rational and grown up in the way we apprehend the world around us. Richard Dawkins speaks for many when he draws a distinction between the ‘truth’ of scientific discourse and the ‘falsehoods’ perpetuated by religion which, as he tells us in The God Delusion, “teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding” (Dawkins 2006).

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Paradoxes logical and literary

For many months now this column has been examining logical/mathematical paradoxes. Strictly speaking, a paradox is a kind of argument. In literary theory, some sentences are also called paradoxes, but the meaning of the term is significantly different.

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