The simplest questions often have the most complex answers. The Philosopher's Zone is your guide through the strange thickets of logic, metaphysics and ethics.
Philosophy and ecology
What happens when we recognise non-human animals as sentient beings with rights? Why do women have a particular stake in environmental justice? What exactly do we mean when we talk about sustainability? Anyone looking for a way into these important contemporary questions could start by exploring the work of Val Plumwood, the pioneering Australian eco-feminist philosopher who died in 2008.
Feeling a little distracted lately? Most of us are, and not just lately. We tend to view withering attention spans and the compulsion to seek change for its own sake as curses of the social media era, but restless dissatisfaction has been the subject of philosophical inquiry for centuries.
Neurophenomenology and embodied sensemaking
“Making sense” of something is often understood as a rational, purely mental process – an understanding based on the Cartesian separation of mind and body. But what about the role of the senses in sensemaking? This week we’re looking at sensemaking as an embodied phenomenon in such highly rational, technocratic environments as seafaring and air control.
The problem with "moral machines"
There’s a lot of talk these days about building ethics into artificial intelligence systems. From a philosophical perspective, it’s a daunting challenge – and this has to do with the nature of ethics, which is more than just a set of principles and instructions. Can machines ever really be moral agents?
Honour in the institution
Institutions shape every aspect of our lives, yet they can be strangely amorphous things, operating according to norms and conventions that often undermine each other. For women, this can result in institutional discrimination – in workplaces and public organisations, but also in less tangible institutions like the family and the law. This week we’re talking feminist institutionalism, and the need for a women’s honour code.
Identity politics is grounded in the appeal to a stable, unified self and the authority of testimony. But this week we’re asking whether that foundation is solid, and if deconstructing it might allow for a more flexible approach to social justice.