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Peto’s paradox

After writing a few recent articles on politics and philosophy, I am happy to do a light one on paradoxes again – today: Peto’s paradox. Peto’s paradox is not a humorous one, like the South Park paradox, but one of those nerdy science ones like the Ross-Littlewood paradox. Peto’s paradox originates from a relatively simple observation by … Richard Peto that there is no correlation between the size of an animal and risk of cancer....

Busting myths around assertive behaviour

As I gradually progress in my career, I notice quite a few places asking for ‘assertive leadership skills’ as a requirement in the endless bullet list of skills and experiences. Being assertive, however, is not something that many of us understand – not only in the job market, but also in our personal and familial relationships. Are we ‘assertive’ when we tell our children not to have too many snacks or eat their vegetables? Are...

old picture of Statue of Liberty

How democracy leads to tyranny; or, how Socrates predicted Trump (et al.)

One question often posed to philosophers, and indeed one circulating on online fora somewhat too often, is the relevance of philosophy today. In this article, I want to show that relevance by looking at something deeply entrenched in American politics today – the election (and possible re-election) of Donald Trump as the president of the United States. In order to address Trump’s election, we have to ask whether Trump is not in essence a democratic...

What is philosophy?

What is philosophy?

Granted, this question is somewhat untimely for a blog that exists for four years. And yet, keeping up with tradition, it is very timely to ask this after you have dealt with the subject for a decade. So what is philosophy? In a very straightforward way, it could be said to be one of the following: The use of reason in understanding such things as the nature of the real world and existence, the use...

What is Renaissance Philosophy?

What is Renaissance Philosophy?

As in other disciplines, the Renaissance period in philosophy falls between the Medieval and Modern periods and cover the thinkers of the 15th and 16th centuries. It is sometimes argued that the Renaissance period forms the foundation for Modern philosophy, because it gradually sways away from thinking in traditional terms and focuses on Reason – which, arguably, is at the centre of Modernity. Etymologically, Renaissance is derived from French and means ‘rebirth’. The aim of...

What is Egalitarianism?

What is Egalitarianism?

Introduction Egalitarianism is a doctrine in moral and political philosophy that maintains the equality of all people. By and large, equality is understood as appearing equal under law, rather than social and/or economic equality. Nevertheless, Egalitarianism does highlight that human beings are to be treated equally with regards to social and economic rights. It thus advocates the removal of all kinds of inequalities that could lead to political inequality. Most common aspects of equality for...

What is Epicureanism (Brief)?

What is Epicureanism (Brief)?

Introduction Epicureanism is a Hellenistic doctrine that is named after its found: the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. The foundations for Epicureanism were laid out after Epicurus opened his school in his own garden in 307 BC – the school was thus aptly named ‘The Garden’ (or Epicurus’ Garden). At the core of his teachings were a materialist conception of the universe, which were a continuation of the earlier philosopher Democritus and the Atomists. Epicureanism was initial intent was to challenge the dominating Platonism....

What is Pluralism (Ancient)?

What is Pluralism (Ancient)?

Pluralism is a philosophical doctrine that can be attributed to three figures of 5th century BC: Anaxagoras, Archelaus, and Empedocles. All three made attempts to resolve the differences between refutation of change by Parmenides (and the Eleatic School more generally) and the manifest sense perception of the world. Their attempts could be said to have culminated in a project of looking for a singular source of all change. First, Anaxagoras’s point of view was that all matter has existed from...

What is Ordinary Language Philosophy (Brief)?

What is Ordinary Language Philosophy (Brief)?

Introduction Ordinary Language Philosophy is a method to approach traditional problems in philosophy as misunderstandings of the use of words. In particular, the argument is that philosophers often forget that words have ordinary meanings in language and are not always to be understood in an abstract sense. Defenders of Ordinary Language Philosophy thus pay closer attention to how words are understood ordinarily and attempt to dissuade philosophical discussion to be about solving age-old philosophical problems. Instead,...

What is Hedonism (Brief)?

What is Hedonism (Brief)?

Introduction Hedonism is a philosophical doctrine originating from the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greece. While there are many doctrines that incorporate elements of hedonism, the one constant that they all have in common is the centrality of the pursuit of pleasure. In particular, hedonists agree that human beings should always aim to maximise pleasure. While the Greek philosopher expressed a form of hedonism in the 5th century BC, its earliest explicit proponent was Socrates’s student Aristippus of Cyrene, who...