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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Dignified debates: a better way to argue about politics

Rebecca Roache expressed a common feeling when in 2015 she blogged, “I am tired of reasoned debate about politics.” Many people today find arguments unpleasant and useless. That attitude is both sad and dangerous because we cannot solve our social problems together if we know that we disagree but do not understand why. Luckily, arguments can help us accomplish a lot even in extreme cases.

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Consent on campus [podcast]

As students head back to university to start their fall semester, the conversation of consent will no doubt surround them on campus. But what can actually be defined as consent? Where do students learn what consent actually means? From the time of adolescence, students are taught the notion of consent, which impacts how they view the term in their later life.

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Not your grandmother’s women’s lib movement: Femen’s uncivil disobedience

Oksana Shachko died on 23 July 2018. She co-founded the feminist socialist collective Femen in her native Ukraine ten years ago, to fight against patriarchy’s three central forms—dictatorship, the sexual exploitation of women, and established religion. One of Femen’s first protests was a guerrilla theater performance protesting sexual harassment at the university.

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What would Margaret Cavendish say?

Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673) was a philosopher, poet, essayist, and fiction writer, and she had opinions. Lots of them, on topics from the cause of thunder, to the qualities of a good book translator, to the value of diverse opinions themselves (her assessment on this last point: “Several Opinions, except it be in Religion, do no harm.”).

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Fake news: a philosophical look at biased reasoning [excerpt]

In the search for moral truth, when we learn what is “right,” we in turn learn what is “wrong.” But how can we know whether our conclusions are sound, or the result of biased reasoning? In the following shortened excerpt from On Truth, Simon Blackburn examines how our minds move, and questions whether or not we’re capable of seeking out “truth.”

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The dilemma of ‘progress’ in science

Most practicing scientists scarcely harbor any doubts that science makes progress. For, what they see is that despite the many false alleys into which science has strayed across the centuries, despite the waxing and waning of theories and beliefs, the history of science, at least since the ‘early modern period’ (the 16th and 17th centuries) is one of steady accumulation of scientific knowledge. For most scientists this growth of knowledge is progress. Indeed, to deny either the possibility or actuality of progress in science is to deny its raison d’être. 

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How well do you know Saint Thomas Aquinas? [quiz]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. Aquinas is a well-known figure in theology and his ideas are becoming increasingly studied within the discipline of philosophy. His work on Aristotle and his two major texts Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae have gained him the reputation of being one of the greatest philosopher-theologians of his time.

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Philosopher of the month: Saint Thomas Aquinas [timeline]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. The Italian philosopher, theologian, and Dominican friar is regarded by many as the greatest figure of scholasticism. Thomism and Neo-Thomism are both popular schools of thought related to the philosophical-theological ideas of Aquinas.

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From Galileo’s trajectory to Rayleigh’s harp

A span of nearly 300 years separates Galileo Galilei from Lord Rayleigh—Galileo groping in the dark to perform the earliest quantitative explorations of motion, Lord Rayleigh identifying the key gaps of knowledge at the turn into the 20th century and using his home laboratory to fill them in. But the two scientists are connected by a continuous thread.

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How well do you know Merleau-Ponty? [quiz]

This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month.  Merleau-Ponty was a leading French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential school of philosophy. He was best known for his major work, Phénoménologie de la Perception (1945, Phenomenology of Perception) which established that the body was the centre of perceptions and medium of consciousness.

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How ‘the future’ connects across subjects

‘Today’s world is complex and unreliable. Tomorrow is expected to be more so.’ – Jennifer M. Gidley, The Future: A Very Short Introduction From the beginning of time, humanity has been driven by a paradox: fearing the unknown but with a constant curiosity to know. Over time, science and technology have developed, meaning that we […]

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Philosopher of The Month: Maurice Merleau-Ponty [slideshow]

This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month.  Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential philosophy. His work draws on the empirical psychology, the early phenomenology of Husserl, Saussure’s structuralism as well as Heidegger’s ontology. His most famous work Phénoménologie de la […]

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The varieties of shame

When my grandmother died in 2009, my far-flung family returned to east Texas to mourn her. People she had known from every stage of her life arrived to pay their respects. At a quiet moment during the wake, my aunt asked my grandfather how he felt about seeing all these people who loved him and who loved my grandmother. He answered, “Shame” and started to cry. 

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Philosopher of the month: Mullā Sadrā [quiz]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mullā Sadrā (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. Mullā Sadrā was born in Shiraz, southern Iran, but moved around when he was studying and for the many pilgrimages he embarked on in in his lifetime. He later returned to Shiraz when he began teaching and taking on followers of his philosophy.

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