Justice Everywhere

a blog about philosophy in public affairs

Author: Diana Popescu

An Interview with Jonathan Wolff (Beyond the Ivory Tower Series)

This is the third interview in our Beyond the Ivory Tower series (previous interviewees: Onora O’Neill and Marc Stears). Back in December, Diana Popescu spoke to Jonathan Wolff about his experience working on public policy committees and what philosophers have to learn from engaging with real-life problems and social movements. 

Jonathan Wolff is the Alfred Landecker Professor of Values and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford, he was Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Arts and Humanities at UCL. He is currently developing a new research programme on revitalising democracy and civil society. His work largely concerns equality, disadvantage, social justice and poverty, as well as applied topics such as public safety, disability, gambling, and the regulation of recreational drugsHe has been a member of the Nuffield Council of Bioethics, the Academy of Medical Science working party on Drug Futures, the Gambling Review Body, the Homicide Review Group, an external member of the Board of Science of the British Medical Association, and a Trustee of GambleAware. He writes a regular column on higher education for The Guardian

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The Women Men Don’t Hear

“The female lead never stands out”, Rosalind Franklin’s character bitterly remarks in Anna Ziegler’s play, Photo 51, right before the curtain drops. With the unlikely topic of the first image of human DNA as its central theme – an image captured by Franklin and illegitimately acquired by Watson and Crick to develop their famous DNA model – the play is a brilliant depiction of the various levels at which sexism in science operates. One such level, of diminishing or erasing women’s contributions, was recently instantiated by a series of newspaper headings referring to Esther Duflo, a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics, solely as the wife of another recipient, Abhijit Banerjee, sometimes without even mentioning her name (here and here).

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People versus Parliament: an interpretation

Motto: Would it not be easier

In that case for the government

To dissolve the people

 And elect another? 

(from ‘The Solution’ by Bertolt Brecht)

The UK Parliament has been prorogued from the 9th of September to the 14th of October 2019 – days before the UK’s scheduled exit from the European Union. On its final day before suspension, the Parliament acknowledged Royal Assent on the Benn Bill (which effectively turned an act blocking No Deal into law), made a formal request to the Government to acknowledge obeying the rule of law regarding Brexit, and passed a binding motion for the Government to disclose private communications concerning its decision to prorogue Parliament and its No Deal plans.

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