Philosophy & Ethics

Theist, gnostic, agnostic and atheist. What is the difference? Link:

By Mark Beeson, University of Western Australia

Getting on for 14 billion years ago the universe suddenly sprang into life.

I can’t actually do the math, as they say, but I’m happy to accept the word of those who can that the physics is unambiguously nailed down. But for all their undoubted brilliance, mathematicians and physicists don’t know what was going on before the big bang.

The terrorist attack of two days ago in Paris to the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo left most of us hit hard by the blow to freedom of the press and freedom of thought, which are among that core set of rights on which we have built our society and which we feel we really cannot give up.

I confess I have never unfolded a copy of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, but I am quite familiar with the work of Wolinski, the 80-year-old cartoonist, who perished in the attack along with his colleagues. I liked his sense of humor and his cartoons a lot, and I am quite pissed off by those two morons taking that away from me.

Marcus Aurelius.

By Robert S. Colter, University of Wyoming

A guy messes up his life, and the lives of those around him. We send him for rehabilitation: A jail term, AA meetings, community service, anger management classes, or restitution to victims.

“Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus, 6.431 (emphasis added)


-- What is that even supposed to mean, “Finding eternity in the now”?

You don't have to be a jerk to get the right thing done but sometimes out-of-the-box thinking requires some angry evangelism. Yet even legendary jerks like
Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison
knew you can't use the belligerence strategy too often or the next brilliant idea you have could fall on deaf ears.

Samuel Hunter of Pennsylvania State University and Lily Cushenbery of Stony Brook University, writing in the Journal of Business and Psychology, say jerks that are disagreeable by nature, overly confident, dominant, argumentative, egotistic, headstrong or sometimes even hostile are lauded, like Jobs, if they are innovative and succeed and happen to be CEO of the company, but for most people it can backfire. 

It's the research that counts. Shutterstock

By Ottoline Leyser, University of Cambridge

You can be a doctor without becoming an American citizen, people move here all of the time and go to medical school.

They just do it legally. The US president has used an executive order to grant amnesty to an unknown number of illegal aliens currently residing in America and now a group of scholars writing in Academic Medicine contend that not only should people in the US be able to go to medical school if they apply, it is an ethical mandate.

You might never know that you're hard of thinking. Robin Zebrowski/Flickr, CC BY-NC

By Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Bristol and Richard Pancost, University of Bristol

It is an unfortunate paradox: if you’re bad at something, you probably also lack the skills to assess your own performance. And if you don’t know much about a topic, you’re unlikely to be aware of the scope of your own ignorance.

Knockaloe Camp. Stefan Manz

By Stefan Manz, Aston University

The German-Jewish painter and writer Paul Cohen-Portheim had spent a peaceful summer in 1914 visiting friends in Devon and enjoying the beautiful south-west coast.

But his idyllic holiday came to an abrupt end after Britain’s entry into war on August 4. Despite there being no suggestion of any sympathy towards his homeland’s military ambitions, Cohen-Portheim was classified as an “enemy alien” and prevented from leaving the country.