Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How to combat global economic challenges facing the 21st century

The world economy has been through a lot of challenges in recent years—from the challenges in healthcare, income inequality, restrictions in trade, and gender inequality and unemployment, to name a few. In this post, we’ve excerpted some thought-provoking chapters from recent titles that address central problems facing the field of economics today, while addressing some possible improvements.

Read More

AI is dangerous, but not for the reasons you think.

In 1997, Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion. In 2011, Watson defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the world’s best Jeopardy players. In 2016, AlphaGo defeated Ke Jie, the world’s best Go player. In 2017, DeepMind unleashed AlphaZero, which trounced the world-champion computer programs at chess, Go, and shogi. Perhaps computers have moved so far beyond our intelligence that we should rely on them to make our important decisions. Nope.

Read More

Why there is a moral duty to vote

In recent years, democracies around the world have witnessed the steady rise of anti-liberal, populist movements. In the face of this trend, some may think it apposite to question the power of elections to protect cherished democratic values. Among some (vocal) political scientists and philosophers today, it is common to hear concern about voter incompetence, which allegedly explains why democracy stands on shaky ground in many places. Do we do well in thinking of voting as a likely threat to fair governance? Julia Maskivker propose a case for thinking of voting as a vehicle for justice, not a paradoxical menace to democracy.

Read More

George Eliot 200th anniversary timeline

George Eliot (born Mary Anne Evans) was born 22 November 1819, 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of her birth. Eliot is considered one of the most important and influential writers in the history of English literature and her novels are often praised as being the prototypes for the modern novel, full of rich detail of English country life and complete with characters whose motivations are laid bare by the author’s probing psychological dissections.

Read More

To-Day and To-Morrow; the rediscovered series that shows how to imagine the future

Almost a century ago a young geneticist, J. B. S. Haldane, made a series of startling predictions in a little book called Daedalus; or, Science and the Future. Genetic modification. Wind power. The gestation of children in artificial wombs, which he called “ectogenesis.” Haldane’s ingenious book did so well that the publishers, Kegan Paul, based a whole series on the idea.

Read More

How meningitis has (almost) been conquered

Scientific discovery is often a messy affair. It’s sometimes intentional, sometimes accidental, sometimes cluttered with error, and always complicated. The ultimate value of scientific observations may not be recognized for many years until the discovery emerges to shed new insight on old problems and become etched in the scientific canon. Such is the story of the conquest of meningitis, a devastating infection of the brain that is usually fatal if not treated.

Read More

Introducing the nominees for Place of the Year 2019

2019 has been a year of significant events – from political unrest to climate disasters worldwide. Some of the most scrutinized events of the past year are tied inextricably to the places where they occurred – political uprisings driven by the residents of a city with an uneasy history, or multiple deaths caused by the […]

Read More

Q&A with author Craig L. Symonds

There are a number of mysteries surrounding the Battle of Midway, and a breadth of new information has recently been uncovered about the four day struggle. We sat down with naval historian Craig L. Symonds, author of The Battle of Midway, newly released in paperback, to answer some questions about the iconic World War II battle.

Read More

What we learned from the financial crisis of 2008

It has been over a decade since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, which threatened to destroy the financial system, and wreaked havoc on the financial well-being of households, firms, and governments.

Read More

Our souls make us who we are

The vast majority of today’s scientists and philosophers believe that human beings are just physical objects, very complicated machines, the essential part of which is our brain which is sometimes conscious. Richard Swinburne argues that on the contrary each human consists of a body which is a physical object, and a soul which is an immaterial thing, interacting with their body; it is our soul which is conscious and is the essential part of each of us.

Read More

Completing your verbs—infinitive and gerunds

Most of us have been told at some point that a sentence has a subject and predicate and that the predicate consists of a verb and an object—the girl kicked the ball. We may have been introduced to distinctions such as transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs (like carry, snore, and become, respectively). But there is much more to the intricacies of what must follow a verb.

Read More

How Brexit may have changed Parliament forever

During 2019, the Brexit process has radically changed the dynamics between the prime minister and the House of Commons. Normally the United Kingdom’s government, led by the prime minister and her Cabinet, provides leadership, and drives and implements policy while Parliament exercises control over the government by scrutinising its actions and holding it to account.

Read More

Brexit: when psychology and politics clash

With the recent publication of the UK Government’s Yellowhammer document outlining the financial disaster forecasted for Brexit, it would seem reasonable for people who voted to leave the European Union to change their opinions. Psychological research, however, suggests that once people commit to a decision, albeit a bad one, they are reluctant to change their minds. Why do […]

Read More

The Holocaust and the illusions of hindsight

Historians’ 20-20 hindsight makes them in a way blind, trapped on the far side of history’s moving wall from the actors they wish to study. Nowhere is this truer than when writing the history of periods of great uncertainty and struggle. The only chance of understanding those caught up in the maelstrom of such moments, is to plunge, as far as that is possible, into the uncertain waters of their present.

Read More