February 1, 2023
What is Ethical Investing?
We all want our money to serve the right cause – but how can we make sure that it will? Catherine Greene on what is involved in ethical investing and ESG considerations. (more...)
January 27, 2023
In our societies, an impressive array of vices is on display. Hypocrisy, greed, cruelty, prejudice… But what if many of these vices were necessary for human life? (more...)
January 13, 2023
Kant’s Joke: Are Practical Jokes Wrong?
According to Immanuel Kant, practical jokes would be considered immoral because they treat the subject as mere means to others’ enjoyment. (more...)
January 9, 2023
When Does a Fetus Have Rights?
What sort of rights should a fetus or embryo have? A clear, comprehensive review of the arguments. (more...)
January 6, 2023
What does “March of the Penguins” have to do with Kant?
According to Kant, we wouldn’t be able to talk about ethics at all if we couldn’t see us as free beings who are capable of deciding. (more...)
December 19, 2022
What's So Wrong With Engaged Buddhism?
A reply to Ian Kidd
Does an ‘engaged’ Buddhist really have to draw on this picture of the Buddha as a ‘social activist’ to find support for their own activism? (more...)
December 12, 2022
Should Buddhists Be Social Activists? (Part 3)
I focus in this final piece on a neglected aspect of Buddha’s teachings: the condemnation of social activism and political engagement. (more...)
December 7, 2022
The Cicada and the Bird
Chuang Tzu's ancient wisdom translated for modern life
For Chuang Tzu, the Tao is the surface isness (the presenting phenomenology) of things. Excerpt from the book The Cicada and the Bird by Christopher Tricker. (more...)
December 5, 2022
Should Buddhists Be Social Activists? (Part 2)
Changing the world, challenging patriarchy, revolution, and the whole ethos of radical reformism is nothing like what the Buddha taught. (more...)
December 2, 2022
Passing Beyond Descartes
Ever since René Descartes wrote, in 1641, ‘The mind is really distinct from the body,’ we have struggled with the mind-body problem. (more...)
November 28, 2022
Should Buddhists Be Social Activists?
Buddhism is widely admired in the West for its commitments to progressive social activism. But is this really in the spirit of true Buddhism? (more...)
November 12, 2022
Books that Lead You to Philosophy
Karl Popper: The Open Society and Its Enemies
What are the books that brought us to philosophy? For John Shand, philosophy professor at the Open University, it was Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and Its Enemies” (more...)
October 7, 2022
A Short History of Happiness
From Eudaimonia to Gross National Happiness
The pursuit of happiness has always been one of the main driving forces of human lives. This article recounts the amazing history of the concept of happiness, from ancient times to today, from Eudaimonia to Gross National Happiness. (more...)
September 19, 2022
The Homeric Poems First of All
The poems of Homer, the Ilias and the Odyssey, mark the proper start of Greek civilization and can be seen as what shaped Greek identity, argues ancient philosophy Professsor Livio Rossetti. (more...)
September 16, 2022
What do religions say about fate?
An insightful new book sheds light on how a rich tapestry of religions answer life’s biggest questions. (more...)
September 2, 2022
Nigerian Scammers and Philosophical Muggers
A short story
A Short Story on Epistemic Humility and The Best Possible Life, All Things Considered (more...)
August 26, 2022
Kant’s Categories and the Stevenson Screen
One way of thinking about and getting an understanding of Kant’s Categories is to draw an analogy with the Stevenson Screen. This article sheds light on what Kant’s Categories are and how they function in our understanding of the world. (more...)
August 3, 2022
Is Abortion Ethical?
The main arguments
Is abortion morally right? We look at the main arguments for and against abortion. (more...)
July 15, 2022
Am I irrational?
And how would I know?
People as well as large-scale events, for example the Durch Tulip Mania or the technology crash in the early 2000s, are sometimes said to be irrational. But what exactly do we mean by that? (more...)
July 11, 2022
Steven Cassedy: What Do We Mean When We Talk About Meaning
Altogether this is the most comprehensive account of how the phrase ‘the meaning of life’ came to attain its current ubiquity that has yet been written. (more...)
July 6, 2022
The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness
Review of Uriah Kriegel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020, by Prof. Robert Zaborowski. (more...)
July 1, 2022
What’s Wrong with The Passion Economy?
Adam Davidson’s “The Passion Economy”
Adam Davidson describes the “Passion Economy” in a book released in 2020. This article shows why Davidson’s proposal is not a sustainable solution to fix our current relationship with work. (more...)
June 24, 2022
Is more knowledge always better?
Awareness of the knowledge-effect is important because it is something we need strongly to guard against if we are to make good normative judgements. (more...)
June 10, 2022
Can We Define Mental Health?
Disclaimer: This is an article about the definition of mental health. It is not meant and should not be used as advice on how to treat mental health problems. (more...)
May 13, 2022
Deepfakes, deception, and distrust
Epistemic and social concerns
The main epistemic concern in the light of the potential ubiquity of deepfakes is not that we are going to be massively deceived. Global distrust and not global deception could be the ultimate consequence of deepfakes. (more...)
May 6, 2022
The Wind on Your Face
The limits of language are all there before us in the everyday. For there is no description or account of the wind on your face (nor of the experience of seeing a red rose) that could give you any idea at all what the wind on your face was like to have. (more...)
Shénnóng and the Agriculturalist School
According to Shénnóng, rulers had a limited number of very simple functions, mainly concerning agriculture. A ruler should teach people agricultural arts, inspect their fields, and keep a grain store. (more...)
How to Recognise Pure Awareness
Douglas Harding and the Headless Way
What is pure awareness? Douglas Harding (1909-2007) proposed a series of simple but surprising experiments that one can perform to learn more about oneself as the subject of one’s own first person view. (more...)
Confucianism and Just War
Since governments are charged with pursuing the popular well-being and not state power or prosperity, wars of aggression are illegitimate. - David Cockayne on how classic Confucianism would see wars. (more...)
Philosophy and Nuclear Weapons
In 1964, Bertrand Russell wrote that the philosopher’s duty was now to forget philosophy and to study “the probable effects of a nuclear war.” (more...)
Jeremy Bentham on Animal Ethics
Philosophy in Quotes
A history of philosophy in its most famous quotes. Today: Jeremy Bentham on the suffering of animals: “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” (more...)
I’m depressed and it’s all your fault!
Separating depression from sadness
Are we driving ourselves insane? And have we been doing so for over a hundred years? To understand this, we need to understand how we came to think of ourselves as depressed. (more...)
The Empathy Paradox
It is often supposed that greater empathy is a good thing. But this is a mistake, unless one assumes that being empathetic will inevitably bring it about that one treats others better. (more...)
In Praise of Pyrrhonian Scepticism
Radical scepticism has a good claim to be both the longest lasting tradition in philosophy and the consistently least popular. There’s a lot to be said for it. (more...)
Nothing Matters. Or Does It?
What exactly do we mean when we say that “nothing matters”? More than sixty years ago, the British philosopher Richard Mervyn Hare attempted to answer this question in an early essay. (more...)
Meaning, Value, Death, and God
What makes our death bearable? How do we create meaning from the certainty of our own deaths? Prof. John Shand analyses the question. (more...)
The Hermit of Bundala
What is especially intriguing for students of eremitism is the intimate interplay of personal motives and philosophical commitments behind Nanavira’s decision to live alone. (more...)
Luis de Miranda on Esprit de Corps
Luis de Miranda is the founder of the Philosophical Health movement, author of Being & Neonness (MIT Press) and Ensemblance (Edinburgh University Press). (more...)
Mother Knows Best
A short story
I know it’s got to be done. Even so, I still feel bad about it. If it were up to me, we would cancel the whole thing. Fortunately, it’s not. It’s up to Mother, and Mother knows best. (more...)
Plato and the Ancient Politics of Wine (2)
Part B. The Test of the Wine
Plato’s use of drunkenness, mainly in the Symposium but also in the Phaedrus, is a metaphor designed to defend Socrates’ philosophical inspiration. (more...)
Plato and the Ancient Politics of Wine
Part A. The Philosopher’s Drunken Vision
We discuss Plato’s description of Socrates’ philosophical inspiration as “drunkenness” and/or Dionysian mania; Plato’s metaphor draws on earlier Greek poetry. (more...)
If only I hadn’t done that...
Why counterfactuals are misleading
What if the Second World War had turned out differnetly? This article explains why counterfactuals and alternative histories can be misleading. (more...)
Roman Yampolskiy on the dangers of AI
Dr. Roman V. Yampolskiy, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Louisville, speaks about the future of AI. (more...)
Retributivism and Uncertainty
Why do we punish criminals?
Why do we have a criminal justice system? What could possibly justify the state punishing its citizens? Retributivism is the view that we ought to give offenders the suffering that they deserve for harming others. (more...)
Gardens of Refuge
From the Garden of Eden to urban allotments, gardens have accompanied and enriched human history and culture from ancient times to now. In this article, Ian James Kidd traces the spiritual history of gardens as places of refuge from the world. (more...)
Andrei Simionescu-Panait on Elegance
Dr Simionescu-Panait talks about his research on the phenomenology of elegance, about ‘Socratic’ approaches to philosophical counseling and about his new book on elegance: “The Reconciled Body.” (more...)
A rhetoric of slowness and speed has been used by philosophers since the ancient periods to characterise and assess different ways of life. (more...)
Huts, Homelessness and Heimat
Chōmei and Heidegger
For Heidegger, we let things be what they are. Chōmei, steeped in the Buddhist conception of the interdependence of everything, would concur. (more...)
Wael B. Hallaq on Islamic Law and Human Rights
Wael B. Hallaq (وائل حلاق) is a leading scholar of Islamic law and Islamic intellectual history at Columbia University. In this interview, we ask his opinion on the tension between Western and Islamic conceptions of governance and human rights. (more...)
Why We Should Read Descartes
The overall aim of Descartes’ philosophy is to found science on a secure and absolutely certain footing. Without that anything built by science would be open to doubt following from the weakness of its foundation. (more...)
Luca Possati on Transhumanism
Luca M. Possati is researcher at the University of Porto, Portugal. Educated as philosopher, he has been lecturer at the Institut Catholique de Paris and associate researcher of the Fonds Ricoeur and EHESS (Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales). (more...)
Inventing the New World
Can AIs have intellectual property?
For the first time in history, an AI called DABUS has been granted a patent in South Africa. This article analyses the metaphysics of attributing inventions to non-human agents. (more...)
The hidden influencers
In a book published in 2008, R. H. Thaler and C. R. Sunstein define nudges as “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way.” (more...)
Agency in the Anthropocene
How much choice do you actually have?
If we are natural beings who evolved with everything else, why have we had such a hugely detrimental impact on that biosphere, which also happens to be our home? (more...)
What Are We Responsible For?
Intentions, consequences and character
How far does our responsibility extend? What can we rightly be regarded as responsible for? (more...)
Luis de Miranda on Philosophical Health
Luis de Miranda lives in Sweden and is a philosophical practitioner, founder of the Philosophical Health movement. (more...)
The Uncontrollability of AI
The creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds great promise, but with it also comes existential risk. (more...)
The New Companion
A short story
I’m not gonna lie to you: when I finally received the cybermail notification that my purchase was approved and I could pick it up from the Companions ‘R’ Us warehouse in Manchester, I was literally electrified. (more...)
The Rhetoric of Refuge
On the wish to retreat from the world
The rhetoric or metaphor of refuge from the world has largely disappeared from religious, social and ethical debate. The contrast with the past is striking. (more...)
Happy in a Concentration Camp?
It's possible, says Viktor E. Frankl
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who, because of his Jewish descent, spent the last six months of World War II in a German concentration camp, which he barely survived. (more...)
More Aristotle than Galileo?
Artificial Intelligence and scientific discovery
Can artificial intelligence discover new laws of physics? Possibly. An article in Technology Review suggests that data from a swinging pendulum experiment allowed a neural network to discover some of the laws of motion. (more...)
Does size or shape matter most?
We’ve heard it all our lives — size matters and bigger is better. But David Velleman wants you to believe that shape can matter more! (more...)
Assisted Voluntary Euthanasia
The main arguments
This a systematic survey of the arguments and counterarguments that are most commonly in play when considering the ethical rights and wrong of euthanasia and whether it should be legally permitted. (more...)
The illusive quest to predict the future
Why is it so difficult to make predictions about society? The problem is not the complexity of the task, but the concepts we use to think about the world. (more...)
Are You A Nihilist?
A Defence of Nihilism
The terminology of ‘nihilism’ and ‘the meaning of life’ emerged among a small group of German philosophers at the end of the 18th century who were worried about the French Enlightenment. (more...)
You Know You Want It
According to Psychological Hedonism, we are all just looking for fun. Psychological Hedonism is a theory about motivation. (more...)
What to Do When People Talk #$!!~#
The importance of meaningful disagreement
Can two people’s experiences and outlooks on life be so different that meaningful communication between them is impossible? Recent events suggest so. (more...)
If it feels good, does it matter whether it’s real?
Nozick asked readers to imagine a machine produced by “super-duper neuropsychologists” that could give you any experience you could think of without you realising it was all a computer simulation. He called it the Experience Machine. (more...)
Old Age and Death
Epicurus on trouble in the soul
The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus emphasises that, in a world that works according to physical laws, nobody ought to be afraid of either the gods or one’s own death. (more...)
The Real Happiness Machine
Ray Bradbury on living and dying well
In many of Bradbury’s stories we can find an entire philosophy of life that is well worth discovering and adopting. (more...)
Aldous Huxley’s “Island”
An even braver new world?
The last book of visionary writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Island, is a bold attempt to envision a utopian society that provides its members with everything they need to achieve happiness in life. (more...)
Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving
Do we need to learn how to love?
In his book “The Art of Loving” (1956) the psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm (1900-1980) discusses how love is often wrongly perceived as the passive “falling in love.” For Fromm, love is mainly a decision to love, to become a loving person. (more...)
Monism, Dualism and the Philosophy of Mind
Do we have a soul?
The human mind is unique and we know of no other comparable phenomenon in the universe. The philosophy of mind (monism, dualism, computationalism) attempts to explain what exactly the mind is. (more...)
How to Live an Aristotelian Life
Become happy through being good
Aristotle’s theory of happiness rests on three concepts: (1) the virtues; (2) phronesis or practical wisdom; and (3) eudaimonia or flourishing. (more...)
The Paradoxes of Zeno of Elea
Does an arrow really fly?
Zeno of Elea (490-430 BC) is famous for his paradoxes that seem to prove, among other points, that no movement is possible. If an arrow in flight is standing still whenever we take a photograph of it, when is it actually moving? (more...)
Novalis and the Romantic View of the World
From the Romantics to modern science
German Romantics, much like their English counterparts, valued spontaneity and naturalness, in part as a reaction to the beginning loss of the natural world due to industrialisation and urbanisation. (more...)
The Ethics of Organ Transplants
Can you kill one to save many?
Are we ever allowed to kill one in order to save many lives? Utilitarianism would look at the overall benefit and conclude that this might be permissible. (more...)
Kant's Ethics in 5 Minutes
What is a Categorical Imperative?
Kant’s ethics is based on the value of one’s motivation and two so-called Categorical Imperatives, or general rules that must apply to every action. (more...)