Philosophy & Ethics


Eyes – windows on the soul?Credit: Ángelo González, CC BY-SA

By Tracy Long-Sutehall, University of Southampton

The word morality makes people uneasy – but not ethics. What is the basis of a moral education? Credit: Flood G/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Patrick Stokes, Deakin University

New research on the treatment of 'hardcore' female Mau Mau prisoners by the British in the late 1950s sheds new light on how ideas about gender, deviancy and mental health shaped colonial practices of punishment.

The treatment of the Mau Mau by the British has led to compensation claims in the courts. Last year the British government agreed to pay out £19.9m in costs and compensation to more than 5,000 elderly Kenyans who suffered torture and abuse during the Mau Mau uprising in the 50s. Two of those involved in the recent case were women and further female compensation cases are pending.

Is morality and happiness determined by how you affect the people around you? Credit: Shutterstock

By Peter Bowden, University of Sydney

It is a word we hear from time to time, but few of us know what it means.


A Liberian nurse disinfects a looted mattress taken from an elementary school that was used as an Ebola isolation unit in West Point, Monrovia, Liberia. AHMED JALLANZO/EPA

By Ian Kerridge, University of Sydney and Lyn Gilbert, University of Sydney

Getting informed consent from desperate people and their families for experimental treatments is quite easy.


Isaac Asimov's Three Laws Of Robotics, from the story "Runaround" in 1942, are arguably the most famous example of fictional ethics becoming so fundamental they are adopted spontaneously by everyone in an industry that hadn't even been created yet.(1)

Now that robots are widely used in caring for older people, as well as in military and industrial applications, scholars want to give them a 21st century update.

In 312, Roman Emperor Constantine was told in a dream to paint a cross on his army’s shields.[1] Based on that dream, he commanded his generals to slap crosses on pretty much everything. If it went into battle, it had a cross on it.

And lo, when his army faced the rebel army that was twice the size of his, his soldier guys smote them other soldier guys real bad and got all pre-medieval on their butts; and Constantine did declare, “Hot Damascus, it worked!” (Obviously, I am paraphrasing; I don’t speak Latin.) So, Constantine remained emperor of Rome and a Christian, sort of.

     Today is my 43rd birthday. When I was 34 years old, I walked along a narrow river through the city of Nanning in the south of China. I was lonely and depressed, no matter the PhD degree I had recently obtained, my freedom, the beauty all around, the women I could easily befriend wherever.

I came to the conclusion that my life is not worth its suffering, and that it must either change, that I must change, or it is idiotic to go on living. I asked myself: