Daniel Halliday reviews 'Decolonizing Universalism: A transnational feminist ethic' by Serene J. Khader
In November 2001, the United States – along with Australia and its other allies – prepared to embark on the now notorious military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the time, some effort was made to justify these actions to the American public. It fell to Laura Bush, the First Lady, to deliver the apparently feminist case ...... (read more)
William Poulos reviews How To Keep Your Cool by Seneca and How To Be a Friend by Marcus Tullius Cicero
‘Serenity now,’ repeated Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza whenever his blood pressure got too high. His doctor recommended this anger-management technique, but he might as well have got it from Seneca, whose De Ira (Of Anger) James Romm has edited ...... (read more)
It may be tempting to think we already know Socrates, the Athenian philosopher whose most famous dictum remains that he was wise only insofar as he was aware of his own ignorance. Although Socrates never published anything of his own ...... (read more)
David Neil reviews 'The Birth of Ethics: Reconstructing the role and nature of morality' by Philip Pettit, edited by Kinch Hoekstra with Michael Tomasello
The Birth of Ethics is a remarkably ambitious and innovative work by one of Australia’s most eminent philosophers. It is the full-length statement of an argument originally set out in Philip Pettit’s 2015 Berkeley Tanner Lectures on Human Values. The aim of the book is to ‘offer an account of ethics …... (read more)
Andrew S. Curran recounts the only meeting between the two great philosophes Denis Diderot and Voltaire early in 1778 when Diderot, aged sixty-five, insulted Voltaire, then eighty-five, by averring that contemporary playwrights (including, by implication, the two of them) would not brush Shakespeare’s testicles if ...... (read more)
My favourite image from Stanley Corngold’s Walter Kaufmann: Philosopher, humanist, heretic is set in Berlin as World War II concludes. Young Walter Kaufmann, a German Jew forced to flee the National Socialist regime to the United States, has returned to his native land as part of the occupying forces ...... (read more)
Benjamin Madden reviews 'Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanism and progress' by Steven Pinker
For a book announcing ‘the greatest story seldom told’ – that is, the triumph of the Enlightenment and its ‘stirring, inspiring, noble’ ideals – Steven Pinker’s ...... (read more)
Janna Thompson reviews 'Does Anything Really Matter?: Essays on Parfit on objectivity' edited by Peter Singer
Philosopher Derek Parfit claimed that nothing matters unless ethical and other normative beliefs are objectively true. Parfit, who died on 1 January 2017, wrote a three-volume work, On What Matters (2011–17), because he believed that the meaningfulness of his life, and the lives of others who devote themselves to ethical thought ...... (read more)
In 1784 Immanuel Kant wrote a remarkable essay entitled ‘An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?’ The essay, written for a magazine, provided an occasion for the great and difficult philosopher to present some of his ideas to a broader audience. The essay is short, accessible, and contains breezy descriptions of freedom, rationality, and human dignity. ...
Tim Smartt reviews 'The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children' by Alison Gopnik
Philosophers do not have the best track record as parents. Plato seemed to entertain the idea that children should be raised by the state. Rousseau abandoned all five of his children to an orphanage. There is a rumour that Descartes used to travel with a life-sized mechanical doll that he named after his daughter. Wittgenstein was encouraged to move on from his brie ...