Beauty in the eye of the beholder

Everyday Philosophy   I’ve been thinking a lot about art lately. I’ve been catching up on the excellent Risking Enchantment podcast, which discusses beauty in art and culture and its place in the Catholic faith. And I recently had the privilege of hearing the art historian Elizabeth Lev talk about Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings. I…

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What are mental images made of?

Everyday philosophy   Sometimes it’s worth doing philosophy because it has some immediate practical implications, changing what you think is right or the way you live your life. But sometimes it’s worth doing because reality is wonderful, and contemplating it is good in itself. Philosophy of mind is worth thinking about for both reasons. There…

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Vote Aontú and keep pro-life politics alive

Repeal activists are treating this election as a chance to finish off pro-life politics – to save it, pro-lifers need to canvass and vote for Aontú, writes Ben Conroy   It’s important for the pro-life movement to have a presence in political life. In this election, Aontú surviving as a political entity will help that…

Breaking down political philosophy

Everyday Philosophy An important distinction in political philosophy is that between substantive and procedural questions. If I have a substantive problem with an action, it’s because of the moral rights or wrongs of the action itself or its results. Imagine the government raised the top rate of income tax. If I were to criticise that…

Tackling faith questions at Christmas

Everyday philosophy As we celebrate the feast of Christmas, it’s time for this column to tackle the question of faith. This is a philosophy column, and so I’m not going to get into the precise nature of supernatural faith, or anything else that specifically depends on God’s revelation to us. But there’s a widespread idea…

Analogies are dying, and proper debates with them

Everyday Philosophy Analogies are a powerful aid to the truth-seeker. By comparing two relevantly similar situations, you can move from conclusions about one to conclusions about the other. Analogies can help expose inconsistencies: (‘how would you react if these accusations were being made against Bill Clinton rather than Donald Trump?’) or to help make a…

Thinking with traditions, not with tribes

Everyday Philosophy Tribalism in politics and ethics is an easy thing to criticise. By ‘tribalism’ I’m specifically talking here about tribalism about opinions: changing your beliefs in order to better conform with a group that you identify with in some way. This criticism is mostly right: I think this sort of tribalism is usually bad.…

The art of the possible

Everyday Philosophy   What’s the proper role of common sense in philosophy? In good thinking? The answer isn’t as straightforward as we might hope. I’ll begin as I often do by asking “what do we mean by common sense?” This time I’ll try to characterise it by examining its absence. We’re all familiar with cases…

The realities of moral relativism

Everyday Philosophy   Your humble columnist has encountered quite a few people who claim to be moral relativists. All of these people are wrong: not wrong to be moral relativists, but wrong in claiming that they actually are moral relativists. My contention – I know it’s a bold claim – is that no-one except a…