Category Archives: Theory

>How far should we push equality?

>Technological developers and workers are predicting machines will be as intellectually capable as apes by the end of the century, and also able to feel and empaphize as we do. Suppose a situation came to be where machines were more intelligent than us, and just as life like in that they felt emotions as we do. Would you accord them equal rights? If we accorded them equal rights based on our similarities then why do we have greater rights than apes? If not then how do we justify our ‘human rights’ being solely available to humans?

>Does democracy encourage violence?

>I’m sure you’ve all heard the idea that democratic nations are less likely to go to war with each other, but what about how long they’re likely to stay in a war? Think about Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and you will probably think democracy encourages the troops to come home. But what about war that’s a little closer to home such as total war? In the limited wars of the seventeenth century countries would sue for peace if casualties looked too bad, or victory seemed too difficult to achieve. So what changed between then and the two world wars? At the time of the First World War all European state leaders feared their people and what they would do. I have recently heard it voiced by top Professors that it was democracy and nationalism that made it so difficult to accept peace talks during WW1. Do you agree?

>Are we at odds with nature?

>The dictionary defines ‘natural’ as those things that haven’t been altered by mankind. But what are we if not natural? Were we created in a different way to all other life?

But then if we are natural then how is it that we can seem to have different goals to nature? There strikes me as an odd similarity between nature and a hunter-gatherer society. Both house acts we would consider primitive and barbaric. If you look at the average murder rate for those tribes in the Amazon you’ll find that in comparison to more ‘civilised countries’ those tribes look very violent indeed. At the same time evolution seems very cruel, as does the circle of life. In both cases we (humanity) seem to be pitying them while in the process of wiping them out.

So are something ‘other’ than nature? Can we be at odds with it?

>Does such a thing as ‘truth’ exist? If so how do we know what is true?

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In Tarski’s undefinability theorem, 1936, Alfred Tarski said that arithmetical truth cannot be defined in arithmetic.

Yet the subject of truth expands throughout all subjects, and has had a lot of literature published on the subject in anthropology, sociology, theory, Post-Modernism and many other fields.

So is the truth subjective? Can one truth only apply for so many people? Or are there objective truths that will be no less true from any perspective? And if there is a truth is it possible for us to find it and define it?

>How do we cope with the disease of pointlessness?

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When critics of Western society actually have a point they usually draw parrallels to Ancient Rome and Greece. In recent years athiests, agnostics, and those believing in philosophies of religion rather than the supernatural, have boomed in number. Ferdinand Mount, who was once head of Thatcher’s policy unit in Downing Street, has written a book called “Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us”. In this work he paints: Anaximander, a pre-Socratic philosopher, as the first Darwinian; Lucretius as the Richard Dawkins of 55BC; Mithras and Mick Jaeger as the God and semi-God on the brink of satisfaction. Mental illness, and declining belief in what we had once said the West stood for: democracy, liberalism and freedoms; have resulted in apathy, depression and a feeling of pointlessness.

So how do we avoid/tackle this problem? If they followed from the lack of strong beliefs then how do we avoid the widespread immoralities often referred to throughout Ancient Greece and Rome?

I know this picture is a bit biased but imagine it correlated against a graph showing how many people felt life was pointless. And secondly, if Mount is right then might we be headed for a new Dark Ages?

>Does multiculturalism actually work?

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There have been many cases in history where people have praised how a country/empire has managed to peacefully manage a population of many different ethnic and linguistic groups. But they usually have difficulties too. It’s often put down to results. In 1998 when France won the World Cup it was seen as the success of multi-culturalism. Today, when French society is having significant problems and the wolrd cup squad seems to echo the country’s ethno-cultural divisions, many of the same commentators say that it points to the failure of multi-culturalism. Indeed since the recession hit Europe there has been a resurgence of the right wing, and a habit of treating immigrants as scape-goats.

So is there any truth in the current fears about multiculturalism? Is it merely scaremongering? Or is it a factor, but a less significant one than others such as the economy?

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