Thursday, July 25, 2013

Duty of Care

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
- Elie Wiesel

Before the last election, I wrote this piece on asylum seekers, and in many ways it still stands. I wish I could say that nothing had changed since the last election, but the truth is things have just gotten a lot worse. Kevin Rudd's announcement that all asylum seekers who arrive by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement is so appalling and shameful that we flatly cannot allow it to go ahead.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Utopian Thinking

There is a long tradition of great thinkers trying to imagine Utopia - an ideal world that we should all strive to make real. Plato's Republic is one of the earliest examples, and Thomas More coined the term Utopia for his 1516 book of the same name. This in itself is a good thing - it's hard to create a better world if you cannot imagine what it might look like. The problem arises in the compromises we make trying to get there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Certainty Effect in an uncertain world

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

In the wake of Jill Meagher’s disappearance, Robert Doyle and Ted Baillieu were quick to capitalise on people’s fears by calling for more CCTV. Most recently, Tony Abbott has pledged his support to such programs if he’s elected, offering $50 million from the Proceeds of Crime fund.

This is all fairly unsurprising - they’re motivated by a need to get (re)elected, and Doyle and Baillieu in particular have a history of blustering, “Tough On Crime” stances that look good to voters while trampling their rights. What’s interesting is the mindsets of the people who vote for them - and the media outlets who, in typically bureaucratic language, call for them to call for it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Depression, Suicide, and Lying Brains

The words that help me make it through are “Depression lies.”
- The Blogess

The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would ever look.
- Julius Caesar

World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK day have both been held recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about the darker days. Thinking about the hole I was in, thinking about how I got out and where that path has taken me since. And especially thinking about those words I read quoted on Wil Wheaton’s blog, “depression lies.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who watches the Watchmen?

If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison.
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower

The government recently announced an inquiry into national security legislation, which would involve updating the various Acts that govern how ASIO, ASIS and other such clandestine organisations can spy on Australian citizens, to reflect the changes in technology since the Acts were first written.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Empirical Ethics

Imagine you need to navigate your way through an unfamiliar city. A friend of yours knows where you are, where you need to go, and how to get there - so he can give you directions. He basically has two options; either he can say “Left, then right, then right again, then straight, then left…” and so on until he’s directed you, step by step, to your destination. Or he can say “Go left on William Street, stay on there until you get to the lights at Elm Street, then take a right…” These two options for getting from A to B correspond to the two main methods of getting from what you currently know to what you want to know: logic and empiricism.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Alain de Botton's Atheism 2.0

“And the fox said to the little prince: men have forgotten this truth, but you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Alain de Botton, who is what you might call a pop philosopher, recently gave a TED talk that ties in with his new book, Religion for Atheists. I haven’t read the book yet (it was just released on the 26th) but what he says in the TED talk has some bearing on things I’ve dealt with recently.