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Philosophy for our times: cutting edge debates and talks from the world's leading thinkers

life and the
Life and the Universe
Are we alone in the cosmos?

Copernicus and Darwin taught us that we are not the centre of the universe. But fifty years have passed since we began listening for life in the cosmos. A billion radio channels have scanned the sky. No extra terrestrial intelligence has been found. Is it once again time to think we may be alone, and to reassess what it is to be human?
Cool Values
Categories: Narrative & Reality
Speakers: Mike Figgis, Caspar Melville, Sandra Newman
Does being cool teach us how to live?

Like Roman stoicism and Japanese bushido, modern-day ‘cool’ is sleek, capable and unfazed by fortune. Is it simply a product of consumer capitalism, or, in our relativistic age, might cool be a value that we should take seriously, and which could even teach us how to live?
gathering storm
The Gathering Storm
Russia, China and the New World Order
Russia, China and the New World Order

China may be on the way to replacing the US as the world's dominant economic power, but with Russia also growing its reach, could the future be more dangerous still? Do we face an uncontainable multipolar world with many nations vying for power? Or should we applaud a break from US global dominance and look forward to a more equal future?
ethics moral maze
Escaping The Moral Maze
Is morality a figleaf for prejudice?

Despite the decline in religion, most of us remain attatched to morality. Yet as the Moral Maze attests and suicide bombers confirm, there are an unlimited number of contradictory 'moral' outlooks. Should we recognise morality as a figleaf for prejudice? Or is this to give up on a capacity that makes us human?
Lightbulb hi res
Dangerously Big Ideas
Do we need grand theories?

Our culture and philosophy is sceptical of grand theories and big ideas, which we think best left to Parisian taxi drivers.  But aren't grand theories unavoidable?  Would it not be better to explore and embrace big ideas rather than pretend they have been banished?  Or is this the route to dangerous nonsense?
The Persecution of Heretics
Categories: Life & The Living
Speakers: David Healy
Is science really a noble, unbiased search for truth? Psychiatrist David Healy uncovers the politics of unpopular research.   "Definitive" Guardian
The Crisis of Masculinity
Speakers: Diane Abbott
With rapid economic and social change leaving Britain’s men behind, Labour politician Diane Abbott imagines brave solutions to an impending social diaster.
habits of nature
The Habits of Nature
Do natural laws evolve over time? Biologist Rupert Sheldrake questions science's fundamentals. "An excellent scientist; the proper, imaginative kind that in an earlier age discovered continents" New Scientist
secrets of the mind
Secrets of the Mind
Can science explain consciousness?

We have no explanation of consciousness. Yet from the origins of life to the workings of the atom, science has provided answers when none were thought possible.  Might we be about to crack consciousness as well?  An impossible fantasy or an exciting adventure for mankind?
The Open Society and its Enemies
Privacy and security in the digital age

Oligarchs and government spies know where we are, what we want, and even our innermost thoughts. Who can protect us? Are whistleblowers like Snowden the white knights of the digital age? Or is the pursuit of radical openness itself the real threat we face?
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