3 More Climate Concepts from Catholicism

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Energy

With the crucial UN Climate Conference taking place in Paris, 30 Nov–11 Dec 2015, it is fitting to look at some alternative ideas that have been published partly in an attempt to influence it. In a previous article I introduced Pope Francis’ environmentalist manifesto, Laudato si’, as a radical social justice document, and noted that recent papal writings have developed four concepts on debt, waste, ecology, and poverty. In that article I focused on Francis’ concept of ‘ecological debt’, so here I will overview the remaining three: ‘the culture of waste’, ‘integral ecology’, and ‘the earth as the poor’. Read the rest of this entry

Entering the Stoic World Pt. 2- Metaphysics

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Marcus Auerlius, Roman Emperor and Stoic

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Stoic. I was not able to source this quote but it looks cool.

This article examines the metaphysics or philosophy of nature behind the Stoic views on community and detachment described in Part 1, and how this metaphysics changed in the later centuries of the school’s history. Before going into detail it will be helpful to contextualise the Stoics’ metaphysics within their broader tradition of philosophy. Despite preferring their porticoes to the horticultural environs of their Epicurean contemporaries, a popular Stoic metaphor depicts philosophy itself as a garden where:

“Logic is the walls, metaphysics the soil, and ethics the fruit”. [G. & S., (2012)] Read the rest of this entry

Entering the Stoic World Pt.1- Cynicism 2.0

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Epictetus on Stoicism's fundamental principle.

Epictetus on Stoicism’s fundamental principle.

This article of mine was written for The Partially Examined Life.

This week, Monday 2nd to Sunday 8th November 2015, is the fourth annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. The organisers, Stoicism Today, have provided lots of resources on mental exercises and principles of virtue to assist you in the endeavor, along with psychological reasons for aspiring to this practice in the modern world. So why I am here? To provide some less practical, historical and philosophical background to the deeply inspiring, pragmatic tradition of Stoicism. The Partially Examined Life’s recent podcast focused on the Enchiridion, the popular handbook from the later Roman Stoic Epictetus (55-135 CE). This was wise because about half of Epictetus’ work survives, whereas as they noted, sadly very little survives from the earlier Greek tradition.

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Papal Environmentalism’s “Ecological Debt”

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This article of mine was originally published on The Partially Examined Life

That the Pope refers to experts rather than his own scientific research does not nullify Rick Santorum's embarrassment here.

That the Pope cites experts rather than scientific research of his own does not nullify Rick Santorum’s embarrassment.

If you needed proof that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on care for the environment, Laudato si’, was not only seminal but radical, it would be that it is now being published by Verso, a leading publisher of leftist continental philosophy. It is sad then, that rather than focusing on the ideas themselves, all of the attention being given to this event is to sensationalist reactions to the Pope among conservatives- not least of all when he visited the USA. Even the respected philosopher Robert P. George tried to downplay Francis’ ability to know that climate change is anthropogenic, presenting the consensus on the matter by 97% of scientists as if it were of equal weight to the opposite opinion. But as Francis says in the document, this consensus means that the burden of proof is on the proponents of a business as usual approach to demonstrate that it will not cause serious harms. (§186) In this piece I will engage with just a little of the criticism of Francis, as an aid to clarify the ideas as well as to examine their limitations. Read the rest of this entry

Any Hope (for the British) Left? 8 Positives from the 2015 Election

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Increased support for a more representative electoral system is one of the reasons to be hopeful.

Increased support for a more representative electoral system is one of the reasons to be hopeful.

In the UK, us left-wingers were dealt a devastating blow last week with the election of a Conservative government for the next 5 years. The proverbial dust has settled, but is this little more than glitter on a turd? I hope not, and here are my reasons for being positive.

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10 Reasons Not to Vote UKIP

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Unfortunate juxtaposition.

In the UK’s upcoming 2015 general election, many people seem tempted to vote for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (an anti-Europe, anti-immigration party), seeing it as a fresh change from the tired old politics of the main parties. Here are some rather quick, but no less damning thoughts as to why that’s a terrible idea. Read the rest of this entry

This week, let’s dump a few ice buckets to wipe out malaria too

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This week, let’s dump a few ice buckets to wipe out malaria too

Great, succinct explication of effective altruism and its importance, by reference to the concept of ‘donor-focused philanthropy’.

Quartz

The ice bucket challenge is a symbol for much that’s wrong with contemporary charity: a celebration of good intentions without regard for good outcomes. It is iconic for what I call donor-focused philanthropy—making charitable giving about the giver, rather than about those who need help.

In my previous article I mentioned one damaging aspect of donor-focused philanthropy: that it encourages a culture of great praise for small gifts. I believe this culture trades a small short-term gain in donations for a long-term harm by undermining a charitable attitude according to which there are serious problems in the world that desperately need our help, and that won’t be solved by a bucket of ice water. (For those who point to the now $8 million raised, I respond: should we regard the fact that the most widely-publicised fundraising campaign in years has raised 3¢ per citizen, or 0.00006% of GDP, as a cause for…

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