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Russell Blackford

Russell Blackford

Russell Blackford is a Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle. He is the author of Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (2012), Humanity Enhanced: Genetic choice and the challenge for liberal democracies (2014), The Mystery of Moral Authority (2016), Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, minds, ethics (2017), and, most recently, The Tyranny of Opinion: Conformity and the future of Liberalism (2019). His personal website is In 2014, he was inducted as a Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.

Russell Blackford reviews 'Conformity: The power of social influences' by Cass R. Sunstein

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
In Conformity: The power of social influences, the renowned constitutional scholar Cass R. Sunstein acknowledges that social conformity can provide the glue to bind a society together. As he makes clear, there are many particular norms – legal or moral – that we would do well to follow for the sake of the common good. At the same time, he argues, conformity can facilitate atrocities, destroy c ... (read more)

Russell Blackford reviews 'A Thousand Small Sanities: The moral adventure of liberalism' by Adam Gopnik

September 2019, no. 414 26 August 2019
In an era of dogmatism, polarisation, and intolerance, visible on both the right and left wings of politics, liberalism needs more love. Part of its image problem is a widespread perplexity about what values and principles it really stands for. In different times and places, liberalism has meant many different, even contradictory, things. There are, among others, British and American traditions of ... (read more)

Russell Blackford reviews 'Trigger Warnings: Political correctness and the rise of the right' by Jeff Sparrow

April 2019, no. 410 04 March 2019
Whatever benefits it has brought, aggressive globalisation has also dislocated industries, wrecked communities, and fostered social alienation. Large numbers of working-class, blue-collar, and rural voters (these categories overlap) feel abandoned, anxious, and economically insecure, even when they have, as individuals, held on to well-paid jobs. This offers fertile ground to political candidates ... (read more)