The Philosophers Zone

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The simplest questions often have the most complex answers. The Philosopher's Zone is your guide through the strange thickets of logic, metaphysics and ethics.
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Reparation

December 9, 2018 - 06:30
When individuals and communities today still suffer the consequences of past wrongs – slavery, dispossession, invasion, the theft of land and resources – what exactly is owed to them, and who should pay?

The vice of fear

December 2, 2018 - 06:30
Is fear such a bad thing? Nobody likes to experience it, but fear can be a spur to virtuous action, and overcoming fear is the essence of courage. But not everyone takes such a benign view.

Plato, Buddhism and storytelling

November 25, 2018 - 06:30
At a glance, Platonic philosophy and Buddhism might seem to have little in common. But their ideas on moral development and "turning the soul" towards reality have fascinating congruences.

Are we getting anywhere?

November 18, 2018 - 06:30
Is philosophy more about questions than answers? Not necessarily. It all depends on how you conceive of philosophy in the first place, particularly with regard to its institutional setting.

Playing around

November 11, 2018 - 06:30
Video games helps us to engage philosophically with issues of ethics, identity and more. This makes them potentially useful as a classroom learning tool — but what about all that violence?

Think global

November 4, 2018 - 06:30
Writing a global history of philosophy is a tricky business - but that hasn't stopped this week's guest from taking it on.

Learning Confucius

October 28, 2018 - 06:30
How's your Confucianism? If the answer is "a little rusty", then you're not alone. Confucianism and Chinese philosophy are niche subjects in Australia, even among students of Chinese background.

alt-Nietzsche

October 21, 2018 - 07:30
Few serious Nietzsche scholars today regard him as having been any sort of proto-Nazi. But that hasn’t stopped alt-right extremists today from "rediscovering" Nietzsche and claiming him as a philosophical ally.

Hospital ethics

October 14, 2018 - 08:30
What happens when doctors and ethicists get together – particularly when the patient under discussion is a young child? And how can philosophy help?

African philosophy and the West

October 7, 2018 - 08:30
How do you articulate African philosophy in a Western academic environment? And what gets lost in the project of “translating” the former into the categories of the latter?

Evolution is evolving

September 30, 2018 - 08:30
For 160 years now, Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been baffling and blowing minds - and it’s not done yet. Evolution is still evolving, carrying us into an age of post-intelligent design – which brings danger as well as opportunity.

Forgiveness

September 23, 2018 - 08:30
“To err is human, to forgive divine” – a popular notion, but what are we really doing when we forgive? Operating at the highest level of human sensibility? Or denying the wrongdoer an opportunity for valuable self-reflection? This week we’re picking at one of the less-interrogated areas of ethics.

Dignity and enhancement

September 16, 2018 - 08:30
Human dignity is one of those ideas that seem to have been around for as long as humans themselves, and few people would take issue with it. But like most ideas, human dignity has a philosophical pedigree, and there are in fact those who say we should abandon the notion—or at least modify its invocation.

Proof and beauty

September 9, 2018 - 08:30
Mathematicians routinely refer to complex proofs in aesthetic terms, citing their 'elegance' or 'beauty'. This has partly to do with the social aspect of such proofs—far from being a hermetic or exclusively cerebral practice, mathematics has never strayed too far from its roots in dialogue and debate.

Keeping them out

September 2, 2018 - 08:30
Most people agree that nation states don’t have any moral right to control the movement of citizens within their borders, or to prevent citizens from travelling beyond those borders. If states do see a need to exclude entry to refugees and immigrants, the reasons often appeal to a need to 'preserve' national values. But those arguments may not be so robust.

Women, autonomy, and social justice in China

August 26, 2018 - 08:30
Women in China have better access to education and job opportunities than ever before—yet a woman’s identity and value is still strongly linked with her role in the family, as wife and mother. This week, we’re looking at gender autonomy in China, the freedom of women’s choices, and a new take on Confucian ethics.