// archives

Reason & rationality

This tag is associated with 132 posts

“Irrational” Discourse and the Public Square

For the community of reason to thrive, we need to regain our respect for reason and also to bring it closer down to earth. And it is only by using our reason that as a society we can debate our differences and come to, if not agreement, then at least a respectful accommodation.

Simpsons philosophy class makes perfect sense

A scepticism persists that those who claim to see philosophical depth in The Simpsons are simply betraying our shallowness or having a laugh. But far from there being anything paradoxical about a cartoon having philosophical substance, cartoons are actually the ideal artistic vehicle for philosophy.

Trust the people? Not completely

Western democracy is built around a tripartite trust: trust in the people to hold government to account and to set the general direction of policy, but also trust in politicians to make specific decisions, and in institutions to provide safeguards against rash or tyrannical actions. What we are seeing all over the western world are the last two pillars being torn down, leaving all trust resting on the people.

Should party whips be abolished?

The sound of the continued cracking of the whip is the cry of a failing party system trying desperately to reassert its authority. It isn’t working and it’s time to try something else.

The Edge of Reason

“Julian Baggini has written a masterpiece, and what a timely masterpiece it is. The toxic gloating of ‘gut feelings’, hateful politics and heart-over-head attacks on good sense urgently need an antidote. Baggini has risen to the occasion. In this compelling book, he is fair-minded, incisive and bold; he never ducks the hard questions, but faces […]

In Defence of Reason

Gottlieb avoids the “learned Gibberish” John Locke lambasted, written by scholars who “cover their Ignorance with a curious and unexplicable Web of perplexed Words”. Instead, he wears his learning lightly with an engaging and entirely comprehensible sequence of crystal-clear paragraphs.

Anger—what is it good for?

When a philosopher writes a book with five abstract nouns in a six-word title, you might justly fear a laboured tome of desiccating logical analysis. When the author is Martha Nussbaum, however, you can be reassured. Nussbaum is one of the most productive and insightful thinkers of her generation, though strangely undervalued in the UK. She combines a philosopher’s demand for conceptual clarity and rigorous thinking with a novelist’s interest in narrative, art and literature.

The surprise of political upheaval

TODAY – BBC RADIO FOUR. I was discussing Why were we surprised by recent political upheaval? with David Spiegelhalter on Monday’s programme. Listen here.

Atheists don’t need faith

What we all need is not best described as faith. It is simply more than can be proven by logic and science. We need to believe in things that are not entirely justified by reason, but that does not require us to embrace creeds that reason tells against.

Review: The Age of Genius

The main weakness of the book is that its impressive erudition is not sufficiently ordered, filtered and edited to make it serve the central argument. In his enthusiasm to gather and share his evidence, Grayling has neglected to turn it into a convincing case.