Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now February/March 2018

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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$9.20(Incl. tax)
$33.75(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
sticks and stones

“I don’t know what weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” (variously attributed to Albert Einstein, President Harry Truman and an unnamed US Army lieutenant at the Bikini Atoll A-bomb tests) It’s always an advantage in any philosophical debate to have the last word. If civilisation gets wiped out in a nuclear war this month (and I’d love to believe that this is a far-fetched scenario) then perhaps future archaeologists, human or otherwise, will unearth a few scorched copies of this magazine in the topmost layers of debris. That seems a good enough reason for this issue to have a theme of war and peace. War has been a topic of scholarship and discussion since ancient times. Some of the…

4 min.

• Remembering Murphy’s Law • Control cars with your mind! (What could go wrong?) • Children and chimpanzees crave revenge News reports by Anja Steinbauer and Filiz Peach Inventor of Murphy’s Law Born 100 Years Ago Does a dropped slice of toast always land buttered side down? Is the queue you choose at the supermarket checkout always the slowest moving? January saw the 100th anniversary of the birth of Edward A. Murphy Jr, inventor of Murphy’s Law. An aerospace engineer, he is reported to have said “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” during a frustrating set of rocketsled experiments in 1949 in which he was investigating how much acceleration the human body could withstand. As it turned out, the sixteen painstakingly-arranged sensors on the test pilot had been fastened at the wrong…

11 min.
the philosophy of war

Aterm such as ‘the laws of war’ seems oxymoronic in nature: a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, law is a rigid structure of rules that’s associated with order; on the other hand, war is an activity characterised by chaos and destruction. Yet there is now an understanding that when one goes to war, certain behaviours are expected, and when these standards are violated, demands for international justice are broadcast on the air, written in the papers, and shouted through the megaphones. Institutions such as the United Nations are chided as toothless, useless due to their limitations. The International Criminal Court is caught up in the debates about the laws and lawfulness of war, and they are numerous, concerning drone warfare, artificial intelligence, collateral damage, winning hearts and minds,…

1 min.
the rules of just war theory

Jus ad bellum These are the rules for when it is just to go to war. 1) Does the war have Just Authority (Auctoritas)? 2) Does the war have Just Cause (Causa)? 3) Is the war being started with the Right Intentions (Intentio) 4) Is the proposed military action proportional to the situation? 5) Is there a good probability of success in achieving the war’s aim? 6) Peaceful alternatives must all have been exhausted first. Jus in bello These are the rules guiding behaviour once a war has started 1) Discrimination: no violence towards civilians, or combatants who have surrendered. 2) Proportionality: harm to lives or property must not be disproportionate to the military advantage expected to be gained. 3) Responsibility: Every individual, regardless of rank, is personally responsible for any war crime that he might commit. Soldiers must refuse to obey…

2 min.
siddhartha gautama: the buddha (563-483 bce?)

All ceases to be Suffering is eternal Let go and be free Throughout his youth, Siddhartha Gautama was just your typical humble North Indian prince growing up in luxury and splendour and shielded from suffering. Inevitably, given this upbringing, he was shocked to discover the suffering and death of ordinary people beyond the palace walls. So at age twenty-nine he decided to give up the trying existence of a prince in favour of the simpler life of a wandering seeker after truth. He ditched not only his wealth and the creature comforts wealth brings, but his wife and son also (incidentally, he’d named his son Rāhula, meaning fetter – make of that what you will), and took to the road as a wandering ascetic (sort of like a wandering minstrel, but…

11 min.
bergson:rights, instincts, visions & war

While he is almost forgotten today, the French thinker Henri Bergson (1859-1941) was perhaps the most famous philosopher of the WWI era. His extraordinary skills as a lecturer, and his 1907 bestseller Creative Evolution, made his visit to the US a media event and a public street nightmare. Strange as it seems to us now, the first rush hour traffic jam on New York’s Broadway was caused by the flood of people hoping to attend a Bergson lecture. Bergson always approached philosophical problems by separating out quantitative differences – differences in degree or amount – from qualitative differences – differences in kind. Differentiating differences in kind from those in degree is a bit like the old saying in math classes that you can’t add apples to oranges. When this sorting and…