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Racist jokes may be worse than racist statements

Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse tells her father, “Mr. Knightley loves to find fault with me, you know—in a joke—it is all a joke.” Mr. Knightley isn’t joking, as he and Emma know; he presents his criticisms without a hint of jocularity. But if Emma persuades Mr. Woodhouse to believe Mr. Knightley is joking, he “would not suspect such a circumstance as her not being thought perfect by everyone.” A little over 200 years after Emma was published, the comedian Roseanne Barr defended a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former adviser, in a further tweet, “It’s a joke—”.

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Who invented modern democracy?

Did modern democracy start its long career in the North Atlantic? Was it invented by the Americans, the French and the British? The French Revolution certainly helped to inject modern meaning into a term previously chiefly associated with the ancient world, with ancient Greece and republican Rome.

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Will robots really take our jobs?

Will computer technology and robotics lead to the automation of our jobs, leading to rising job losses and income inequality? Or could the use of technology intended to replace certain low-wage jobs lead to offsetting employment growth in other types of jobs?

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12 of the most important books for women in philosophy

To celebrate women’s enormous contributions to philosophy, here is a reading list of books that explore recent feminist philosophy and women philosophers. Despite their apparent invisibility in the field in the past, women have been practising philosophers for centuries.

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Harold Wilson’s resignation honours – why so controversial?

On February 6 Marcia Falkender, the Baroness Falkender, died. She was one of the late Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s closest and longest-serving colleagues, first as his personal then political secretary. An enigmatic figure, she has been variously reviled, mocked, and defended since the end of Wilson’s political career.

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Yes means yes: why verbal consent policies are ineffective

Communication around sex on college campuses tends to be poor in general—not only do students struggle to communicate and have hang-ups and fears about communicating, but hookup culture is one that privileges noncommunication. After all, what better way to signal a casual attitude toward your partner than to ignore him or her? Because students are […]

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What makes the EU, the UN, and their peers legitimate?

The first “Brexit” is almost a century old, and it did not even involve Britain. It occurred on 14 June 1926, when Brazil notified the League of Nations it would leave the world organization. Paraguay, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Venezuela, and Peru, together with Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan, followed in the 1930s. […]

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What is kidnap insurance?

Millions of people live and work in areas where they cannot rely on the state to keep them safe. Instead, their security is provided by armed groups: for example, community or clan militias, warlords, rebel movements, drug cartels, or mafias – i.e. local strongmen that can defend their territory against intruders and keep order within it. But their deal with the population usually goes far beyond providing physical security.

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Why do girls outperform boys on reading tests around the world?

All around the world, girls outperform boys on reading tests. Why is this? In and outside of academia, people have been concerned about girls’ under-performance in math, or more generally: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). There have been fewer academic studies and media coverage about boys’ under-performance in reading. This is surprising, since it might offer an explanation for boys’ lagging educational attainment today.

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How to really build a better economy

Through our tax and spending policies, we can expand our economy or let it wither; make society more equal, or less; expand opportunity or continue to let tens of millions of struggling families fend for themselves. There is a way to pay for the government that people want, and shape that government and the economy in ways that serve us all.

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Social Work

The myth of a color-blind justice system in America

Ever wonder why Lady Justice looks the way she does? She is modeled after the Roman goddess Iustitia and is an allegorical personification of the justice system. She is usually depicted with a scale in one hand, a sword in the other, and wearing a blindfold. Why? Well, she is to use the scale to weigh the evidence.

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How Tony Blair’s special advisers changed government

Tony Blair is one of the great conundrums of our time. We all know his legacy, from the widely-condemned invasion of Iraq to bequeathing a great National Health Service to the United Kingdom. But how he governed, how decisions were made, is still hotly debated. Was he radical, was he “unconstitutional”? Public service reform, from […]

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Has China’s one child policy increased crime?

China’s launched its one child policy in 1979 as a means of reducing population growth in the world’s most populous nation. Several authors draw attention to the potential for crime and social conflict – and a 2013 study finds that crime is higher in provinces with higher ratios of men to women.

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