I’m teaching a new Adult Ed course. Register here.
The course will provide a comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of risk. It will examine the topic from a variety of different philosophical perspectives that will in turn operate as a way into understanding broader philosophical areas and questions.
In this regard over twelve weeks, we will come at the question of risk from different angles: as a question knowledge, as a question of morality, as a question of behaviour, as a question of calculation and so on. Towards the end of the course we will look at more real-life situations of risk and risk-taking, including questions concerning health (and the relation between individual and collective health), and where responsibility for risk lies politically.
Among the authors covered will be: Immanuel Kant, Daniel Kahneman, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Michel Foucault, Amartya Sen, Ulrich Beck, Deborah Lupton.
By the end of this course you will be able to:
– Explain key concepts in the philosophy of risk, including probability, outcome, error, information, intentional and unintentional risk exposure, consent
– Recognise the are covered by the philosophy of risk, and be able to discuss and debate the strengths and weaknesses of arguments relating to risk
– Relate concepts, ideas an arguments from the philosophy of risk to philosophy more broadly, but also to everyday life.
Platforms, available here, from the excellent Morbid Books.
The Art of the Incel for the Spectator, 13th June 2020
Within a few minutes the next attack will begin. Now that I am surrounded for the first time by all the members of my family it seems only fitting that a complete record should be made of this unique event. As I lie here – barely able to breathe, my mouth filled with blood and every tremor of my hands reﬂected in the attentive eye of the camera six feet away – I realize that there are many who will think my choice of subject a curious one. In all senses, this film will be the ultimate home-movie, and I only hope that whoever watches it will gain some idea of the immense affection I feel for my wife, and for my son and daughter, and of the affection that they, in their unique way, feel for me.
[This text was written the night of 11th December 2019]
Mood in advance of tomorrow – judgement in Alfie’s case expected, general election, forecast rain – dystopian, fatalistic, thinking about Edmund Burke, Margaret Thatcher, the English countryside I grew up in, the conservatism of the country, its separations and splits, its fractures and perennial class war, its blood sports, its interminable legal processes, its indifference to food, its grimy, seedy sex, its pasty bodies, its love of surveillance, the weaponised blithe spirit, the masochistic attachment to mediocrity, to greyness, to bedsits, mould, damp, bread, cruelty, moss, rabbit holes, rabbit pie, rabbits with mixy, white rabbits and Welsh rarebit.
[Text from April 2007]
We have now not only travelled through the land of pure understanding, and carefully inspected each part of it, but we have also surveyed it, and determined the place for each thing in it. This land, however, is an island, and enclosed in unalterable boundaries by nature itself. It is the land of truth (a charming name), surrounded by a broad and stormy ocean, the true seat of illusion, where many a fog bank and rapidly melting iceberg pretend to be new lands and, ceaselessly deceiving with empty hopes the voyager looking around for new discoveries, entwine him in adventures from which he can never escape and yet also never bring to an end – Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age – H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
[Note: this is the Dissertation I wrote for my Birkbeck LLB, which concluded in 2016. It touches on matters of the definition of, and political and policing implications of the term ‘public’ as it appears in Public Order law in England & Wales. In the background are the experiences I personally had campaigning with Defend the Right to Protest, and more specifically in relation to supporting Alfie Meadows in his on-going attempt to defend himself against the state and receive justice].
‘There is an order to be found, within things and between them, which binds and directs this world … No sooner does one lift one’s head to pay attention to the obstacles and difficulties of life, than it comes natural to ask how it is that on the one hand God takes care of human affairs, and on the other these same affairs are shot through with so much evil’ – St Augustine
‘At a moment when our grasp of the concept of the public has become so confused, paradoxes multiply and compound the confusion’ – Dan Hind
‘In public order law, legal powers and regulation are defined by vague terms, such as breach of the peace; threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour; and causing harassment, alarm or distress. Therefore, the police’s discretionary powers are so wide that virtually any action can, depending on its context, be plausibly branded as criminal so as to justify an arrest’ – Iain Channing
THEORY OF DANCE (in eleven theses)
So Mårten is all like ‘write something for my dance thing’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know anything about dance!’ and he says, ‘yeah I know, write some theory or something!’ and I’m like ‘No! I wanna write about dance! I’m sick of theory!’ So here is my THEORY OF DANCE in eleven theses:
What will our wager with the universe be? The more exhausted we are the more we look for signs. Or at least, the more signs take on a meaning for us. Where sometimes we are protected by a thin veneer of distance, the universe can always pour in. How can we make sense of this overwhelming feeling? We can make a bet – if the next car to come around the corner is red, then everything will be okay; if this object remains unbroken, then things are not so bad; if the cat says hello back, then I know that I exist. We rationalise our losses as we exaggerate our victories. To bet on the universe is to make a bet with all that which exceeds our control. We need to mediate our relative powerlessness – all the more so when we feel that our grip has gone and our skin faces only outwards.