We can begin with the presumption that it is wrong to take human life. President Donald Trump won’t deny that. A year ago, for example, he said: “I will always defend the first right in our Declaration of Independence, the right to life.” Trump was addressing his remarks to anti-abortion campaigners, but a right to life that applies to fetuses must also apply to older humans. Is there an exception for “bad guys,” though? Was the double assassination at Baghdad International Airport ethically defensible? - Peter Singer
You are here
Results for Op-Ed World Culture & Society
Tuesday 7 January 2020
Tuesday 20 August 2019
Auckland, New Zealand
Dear Australian Deputy PM ... Your fruit grows with the phosphate taken from the islands...where they can no longer bear fruit. Yuki Kihara 2019.
Tuesday 2 July 2019
Wellington, New Zealand
Wherever one looks – the media, political leaders’ rhetoric, or online discussions – one finds a bias toward bad ideals. This is not to suggest that we (or most of us) endorse, say, racism, misogyny, or homophobia, but rather that we grant them efficacy. We believe that extremist ideals must be combated, because we implicitly consider them potent enough to attract new adherents, and contagious enough to spread. At the same time, we tend to take positive ideals less seriously. By Nicholas Agar.
Thursday 6 June 2019
In short, the big religion story in the last century is not one of ideological struggle between Christianity and Islam, with Islam winning. It is a story of growing corporatization, with local and folk religions everywhere being gradually but inexorably replaced by churches and mosques that are affiliated with two of the world’s main religious brands. You may regret it or welcome it, but it has proved unstoppable. By Paul Seabright.
Tuesday 14 May 2019
Having watched popular protests, from the color revolutions in the former Soviet Union to the Arab Spring, challenge their counterparts’ power, the world’s autocrats have been adopting legal measures aimed at incapacitating civic groups, including pro-democracy movements and human-rights NGOs. Among the most sweeping measures are those enabling officials to monitor and punish activists’ online activities. For activists, pushing back against draconian cyber laws and other forms of digital repression will not be easy, not least because it remains uncharted territory. By Janjira Sombatpoonsiri.
Wednesday 10 April 2019
Auckland, New Zealand
Tongan people, a product of centuries of monarchy and social hierarchy, are never born free or equal, and the Tongan language has no word for ‘rights’ as in ‘to have rights’, nor a conventional way of saying that one has a voice in something. Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau examines the gulf between modern and traditional Tongans and why the language has no term for human rights. She says the knowledge gulf between the two camps is huge.
Saturday 23 March 2019
Oxford, United Kingdom
The Commons originally elected a Speaker to help it speak truth to power, find strength in numbers, and resist intimidation. The voices of the less important were no longer drowned out or fragmented, and could challenge entrenched authority. Where did the Speaker come from, and why was the position created during England’s so-called “Good Parliament” of 1376? By Marion Turner
Monday 18 March 2019
Celebrating Easter on the right date has always been a source of worry for the Christian churches. Because what is the right date? In early centuries, one tried to follow the Jewish Passover, but that was wrought with problems. Our calendar, or rather the Roman calendar, as it was in use at that time, is based on the yearly movement of the sun, while the Hebrew calendar follows the moon. By Firitia Velt.
Saturday 2 March 2019
Wellington, New Zealand
For some activities, the involvement of a machine spoils the experience. Consider social media. Facebook and Twitter cannot reduce loneliness, because they are designed to serve up a biased sample of social experience. Like digital sugar, they can make a social interaction instantly gratifying, but they always leave an empty feeling behind. By offering merely a simulation of social experience, they ultimately make us lonelier.
Tuesday 12 February 2019
First, an almost infinite amount of speech is set free by digital democracy. The web then becomes a crowd, a free-for-all, where everyone shows up armed with his or her personal opinions, convictions, and truth. ... We thought we were giving every friend of the truth the technical means with which to contribute, boldly but modestly, to the adventures of knowledge. Instead, we convened a feeding frenzy. Truth’s body was laid out on the table and, fueled by a cannibalistic urge, we set to tearing it apart. By Bernard-Henri Lévy
Tuesday 13 November 2018
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate on October 2 has focused attention on the Saudi regime. And yet the strong response to Khashoggi’s brutal murder stands in stark contrast to the relative indifference the West has shown to the vastly larger number of victims of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. Saudi airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians, including children who died when school buses were bombed. Now those deaths are themselves heavily outnumbered by the toll of the widespread famine engulfing Yemen “much bigger than anything any professional in this field has seen”. By Peter Singer.
Wednesday 3 October 2018
New York, USA
Does human nature exist? The answer has implications for anyone concerned about ethics. In an era defined by amoral political leadership and eroding social values, thinking about the essence of humanity has never been more important....Views on human nature affect views on ethics. And today, our ethics are a mess. By Massimo Pigliucci.
Friday 1 June 2018
London, United Kingdom
A big reason why Western politics is in such disarray is voters’ pessimism about the future. Today’s naysayers come in three shades: Accepting pessimists; Anxious pessimists and ...finally, Angry pessimists – often populists and their supporters – who think economies are rigged, politicians corrupt, and outsiders dangerous. They have no desire to manage decline; they want to destroy the status quo. And they may pursue lose-lose outcomes simply so that others will suffer. What these groups have in common is a dearth of viable solutions. Philippe Legrain.
Wednesday 4 April 2018
It’s not just in America that a youth-led revolution is coming alive. Around the world, young people are becoming a power in their own right. These new movements reflect our current digital age, in which young people can increasingly connect with one another in their own countries and across borders. In doing so, they are exposing the gap between the promise of opportunity and the grim reality of unequal chances – especially for girls. The torch is not being passed to a new generation; this new generation has had to seize it. They deserve our support. By Gordon Brown
Friday 16 February 2018
Closing the divides in our fractured world will require collaboration among many stakeholders. And, more often than not, it is dialogue that sets cooperation apart from conflict, and progress from painful reversals of fortune. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak."
Monday 29 January 2018
New York, USA
Each new wave of technology increased productivity and access to knowledge. Technology powered globalization and economic growth. For decades, it made the world a better place. We assumed it always would. Then came 2016, when the Internet revealed two dark sides. By Roger McNamee.
Thursday 4 January 2018
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Because mankind has a deep yearning for a sense of belonging and for leadership, humans naturally form groups with established leaders. Some groups are positive manifestations of collaboration and solidarity among individuals. But when groups are based on an ideology or a particular tribe, they can become discriminatory and oppressive toward non-members, especially if a domineering, charismatic leader is in charge. The emergence of populist and nationalist movements in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other European countries suggests that tribalism is on the rise in the West. By Sami Mahroum.
Wednesday 13 December 2017
A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food. - Peter Singer.
Wednesday 4 October 2017
London, United Kingdom
This weekend, Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, from an overlooking hotel, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 others. Paddock, a 64-year-old former accountant with no criminal record, was ultimately found in his hotel room, dead, with some 23 guns, including more than ten assault weapons. Police later found an additional 19 firearms, explosives, and several thousands of rounds of ammunition in Paddock’s home. What the authorities have not yet found, however, is a motive.
Saturday 9 September 2017
New Delhi, India
With every new crisis that the world faces, humanity’s differences appear increasingly intractable. Religion, ethnicity, history, politics, and economics have all become tools to denigrate and demean. People seem to be drifting apart, and no country is immune from divisive discourse. But there is one fundamental issue where contrasts dissolve into consensus: the desire to keep children safe. By Kailash Satyarthi.