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Beyond the Ivory Tower Interview with Dana Mills

This is the latest interview in our Beyond the Ivory Tower series, an interview between Dana Mills and Zsuzsanna Chappell about Mills’s activist work in Israel-Palestine. Dana Mills is a writer, dancer, and peace and human rights advocate. She received her DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2014. As an academic, she has held posts, among other institutions, at the University of Oxford, NYU, Northwestern University, American Dance Festival, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, University of Amsterdam and the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. Since 2021 she has been working in Israeli-Palestinian civil society on a variety of issues. Mills has written many articles and three books: Dance and Politics: Moving beyond Boundaries (MUP, 2016); a biography of Rosa Luxemburg (Reaktion, 2020) and Dance and Activism: a century of radical dance across the world (Bloomsbury, 2021).

An inverted verification principle for political theory

What do these four countries have in common?

Protecting Territorial Minorities: Defensive Federalism

In this post Marc Sanjaume-Calvet (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), discusses the role of federalism as a way of protecting from the tyranny of the majority, safeguarding both against the ills of centralised power and territorial self-government. The reflections in this post stems from his recently published book, coedited with Professor Ferran Requejo (UPF), Defensive Federalism Protecting Territorial Minorities from the “Tyranny of the Majority” (2023, Routledge).

Image by George Becker from Pexels
Image by George Becker from Pexels

Disney’s Frozen: Acceptance, Passing and Covering (Part 2)

In this two-part blog post, Zsuzsanna Chappell examines the issues Disney’s Frozen films raise about the possibilities and problems faced by people who do not conform to our idea of “normal” or “usual”. The story raises hopes for those of us who are “unusual” or living with “difference”, but she argues that in the end we just end up with new forms of discrimination and new demands to fit in with the majority. Part 1 (“Otherness, Masking and Control”) can be found here.

Disney Frozen two film banner. Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf, wintery forest background

How the animal industry undermines consumers’ autonomy

In this post, Rubén Marciel (UPF and UB) and Pablo Magaña (UPF) discuss their article recently published in the Journal of Applied Philosophy on the ethical legitimacy of misleading commercial speech for ‘green’ or ‘ethically produced’ animal products.

Photo by Mae Mu with Unsplash Licence.

Disney’s Frozen: Otherness, Masking and Control (Part 1)

In this two-part blog post, Zsuzsanna Chappell examines the issues Disney’s Frozen films raise about the possibilities and problems faced by people who do not conform to our idea of “normal” or “usual” . The story raises hopes for those of us who are “unusual” or living with “difference”, but she argues that in the end we just end up with new forms of discrimination and new demands to fit in with the majority.

More Open Access, More Inequality in the Academia

For many political philosophers, the beginning of 2024 has turned out to be – in one respect – rather disconcerting, as it ushers in the widespread boycott of one of the community’s leading publications. Many readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with the unfolding situation. In April 2023, Wiley decided to remove Robert Goodin from his position as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Political Philosophy at the end of the year. This in turn led to swift resignations from the Editorial Board of the journal, and a statement of non-cooperation signed by more than a thousand political philosophers, pledging not to submit or review papers for the journal, or to join its editorial ranks, unless Goodin is reinstated. Since this has not happened, with JPP’s website not indicating any editorial composition as of the moment when this article was published, the boycott is now in effect. The likely demise of the Journal of Political Philosophy as a consequence of these developments is profoundly distressing. But the wider context which led to it is even more worrying, not only for political philosophers and not only in regard to research quality, but also in regard to the deepening of academic inequality in both philosophy and many other research fields as well.

Good Friendships for Real People

In this post Simon Keller (Victoria) discusses his recently published article in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, in which he asks what it means to be a good friend in non-ideal circumstances.

Image by efes from Pixabay

Modern education systems erode trust – this may be a big problem.

Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

As teachers, our work is inescapably affected by a range of structural features such as the marketisation and commodification of higher education, the erosion of benefits and of pay, and more. Many of these have been amply studied and debated, including on this blog. Today, however, I want to discuss a relatively underexplored dimension of all this – the slow erosion of trust between staff and students.

In a (higher) education setting, trust is an important value, for several reasons. For one, students are typically young adults and being given responsibility – and being trusted with that responsibility – is an important part of the process of growing up. I’m specifically inspired here by an approach to assessment known as ‘ungrading’. Regardless of the merits of the method, Jesse Stommel’s summary of the core philosophy of ungrading is something that needs to be taken extremely seriously: ‘start by trusting students’.

But it’s also a principled point. From a broadly Kantian perspective, one important aspect of ethical behaviour is respect for others as ‘ends in themselves’. While we all may occasionally jokingly remind each other that students’ brains haven’t fully developed yet, it is important to remember that this does not mean that they lack the capacity for autonomy. Indeed, because of their age, it is perhaps more important than ever to allow them to practice, or exercise autonomy.

Why we need alternative voting methods

Don’t you find it highly frustrating when you want to vote for a person or party you like but you can’t really do it because you know that the person or party has a very low chance of being elected or being part of a coalition government? You may think it’s frustrating yet unavoidable. After all, isn’t it part of what making a choice means to sacrifice some attractive options? Well, no, or so I argue in a recently published article. We have a right to voting methods that allow for a more honest and complex expression of our preferences, that do not force us to sacrifice the expression of our genuine preferences. And the good news is that appealing alternative voting methods exist.

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