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Articles & Essays

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The Thought Police

Detective Ed Gillespie has made the ancient Greek philosopher part of Baltimore Police Department’s annual in-service training. Here are some suggestions for what should be on any police force’s reading list.

Can a dog really be brave?

Seeing animals as too like or too unlike ourselves are equal and opposite mistakes. The way to avoid this error is not to imagine that other animals are more human-like than they really are, but to accept that we are more like other animals than we generally believe.

Our obsession with empathy is flawed

Given a choice between complex cogitations and simple emotional reactions, most of us, most of the time, opt for the latter. This choice is usually automatic and unconscious. The emphasis on empathy encourages us to indulge this weakness, to believe that feelings are all we need to be better people in a better world.

Is Truth a Political Luxury?

It is easy to profess allegiance to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but in a world where opponents are using every trick in the book to defeat you, can anyone afford to be so high-minded?

The triage of truth

If we are sincerely interested in the truth we can use expert opinion more objectively without either giving up our rational autonomy or giving in to our preconceptions. I’ve developed a simple three-step heuristic I’ve dubbed ‘The Triage of Truth’ which can give us a way of deciding whom to listen to about how the world is…

Unravelling the Truth

In an exclusive introduction to his new book A Short History of Truth, celebrated philosopher Julian Baggini takes on the thorny problem of veracity, uncovers ten types of truth and examines why, now more than ever, it’s our most valuable commodity.

Truth? It’s not just about the facts

From time to time, not very often, it looks as though the world has given philosophy a job to do. Now is such a moment. At last, a big abstract noun – truth – is at the heart of a cultural crisis and philosophers can be called in to sort it out. Send them back…

Six things… that challenge truth

I’m not convinced we live in a post-truth world. But truth is certainly in some kind of trouble, challenged on many fronts. Surprisingly, the sources of several of those challenges are good things…

A level playing field? No thanks, we’re British

It was just a small practical change to help keep people moving. Transport for London painted some green lanes on the King’s Cross Victoria line platform to keep space clear for passengers to alight without having to face a wall of commuters just as eager to get on. But not since Mars of Slough removed the little cardboard tray from its Bounty bars has so much outrage been caused by so little…

Meeting of Minds

The Infidel and The Professor is a lean, easy to digest read while being rich with interesting detail. It is anchored by weighty scholarship but not burdened by its excessive demonstration. Pick it up and you might find yourself agreeing with Hume that “reading and sauntering and lownging and dozing, which I call thinking, is my supreme Happiness.”

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