Category Archives: Social Commentary

Published on
28 October 2013

What Good is Religion in Public Life?

‘We don’t do God’ said Alastair Campbell. In an increasingly secularised world the idea that religion might play any constructive role in public life is ever more considered a relic of the past. Religious institutions are considered at best well-meaning repositories of old thoughts in beautiful buildings the like of which we shall simply not […]

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Published on
23 August 2013

Caring for the Poor, and the ‘Doctrine of Socialist Intuition’

In one way or another the assorted strands of the wide Judeo-Christian tradition have always acknowledged divine revelation as the source of a duty to care for the poor and destitute. Islamic scholars and authoritative sources in many other religious traditions have also emphasised the importance of caring for the poor, arguing that as God’s […]

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Published on
5 August 2013

Sexuality, and the Conflicted Contortions of Modern Liberalism

Andrew Brown in a recent blog for The Guardian argues that Catholic attitudes to gay sex fail to account for human beings. Though his conclusions are different, in terms of  argumentation Brown often seems to adopt an approach that is quite like that of Judeo-Christian moralists, so it is refreshing to discuss an issue while […]

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Published on
1 July 2013

PRISM and the Long View of Modern Secularism

In order to maintain public order secularism in our time relies on well- established delineation of ‘public’ and ‘private’ realms. While attempting to play down divisions between social groups, secularism reinforces a distinction between public conduct and private life. In this way a moderate secularism can reduce public conflict by emphasising those aspects of public […]

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Published on
10 April 2013

Welfare and the Winds of Change

The strongest in society have a duty to support the weakest. As with any duty it is better that it be fulfilled voluntarily. In this instance this is by far the better course because such a duty frequently concerns the disposal of private property. But this duty is rarely fulfilled to the satisfaction of social […]

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Published on
19 December 2012

Penetrating the Cloud of Unknowing: Policy, Rhetoric and Public Bewilderment

In a three-part lecture series at St Peter’s College, Oxford, Mark Thompson, former Director-General of the BBC has addressed public understanding of, and engagement with, political and other public issues. These lectures naturally touched on questions of political and journalistic integrity, public authority and recent developments in media technology. 1) Is Plato winning the argument? […]

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Published on
22 November 2012

Religion, Secular Politics and Intelligible Values

Religious experience is, for many sceptical or simply indifferent secularists, something unintelligible. The idea that there is a God who can become a man and forgive sins — even that there is such a thing as God or as sin — is for them unacceptable. Religious people must remember that this is no simple matter […]

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Published on
29 October 2012

In Creating a ‘Super Humanity’ We Would Forfeit Liberty

In a recent lecture at Davos Julian Savulescu argued that it is not beyond the reach of modern science to create human beings with considerably greater powers of intelligence, physical strength and even moral rectitude. It was possible, he suggested, to create a ‘super-human’, a person, or kind of person, capable of transcending ordinary biological […]

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