Suicide of the West?

In 1900, most citizens of the West felt tremendous pride and confidence in their civilization. There was a strong sense, common to Americans and British, to Europeans and Canadians, to Australians and New Zealanders, of…

The mommy wars

Being a parent takes you by surprise. As much as you might love whatever you do for a living, that thing is going to seem less important when a child enters the picture. Ask anyone…

The limits of autonomy

In On Liberty, Mill famously propounded a view of the good life as the autonomous life. On this view, it is crucial that people develop and exercise, to a high degree, their ability to reason…

The wonders of Scotland

What is the legacy of the Scottish enlightenment? To answer that, I think one first needs to ask “the legacy for whom?” and also to get clear about the scope of that enlightenment in its…

Guilty giggles

In the episode “Fatbutt and Pancake Head,” Cartman performs a ventriloquist act, using his hand as a puppet of Jennifer Lopez. The “Hennifer Lopez” puppet sings about running for the border, burritos, and taco-flavoured kisses.…

Justice for all?

“When somebody fucks with what we do, we go after them.” Thus spoke drummer Lars Ulrich in an interview about Metallica’s lawsuit against Napster. Other than the complete absence of guitar solos on St. Anger,…

The return of Xenophon

Xenophon the philosopher? But wasn’t he a historian – the man who wrote the famous and thrilling campaign narrative The Expedition of Cyrus (in Greek, The Anabasis) and who completed Thucydides’ unfinished history of the…

The unnatural selection of consciousness

We have grown accustomed – perhaps too accustomed – to the idea that every characteristic of living creatures has been generated by the operation of natural selection on spontaneous variation; that it is there because…