Author Archives: Marianne

About Marianne

Marianne is Director of Studies in Philosophy at Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education


During Michaelmas (Autumn) Term 2016 I gave a series of lectures on causation. This is a fascinating subject. Causation is one of the most fundamental relationship most of us ever deal with. We have myriad causal beliefs, so fundamental we … Continue reading

Posted in Podcasts, The Causation Lectures | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

What is Existence?

  You can’t get a question more basic than: what is existence? Presumably existence isn’t a thing (an individual), so it must be a property of things. Surely indeed it must be a property of everything! But we can’t experience … Continue reading

Posted in Monthly Conundrums, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Disability Rights

The last weekend school of the academic year was entitled Disability and the Right to Life: Would the Disabled be better off Dead? This got us off to a rather bad start – lots of people objected to the words … Continue reading

Posted in Blogs, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

The Refugee Crisis

So what should we do about the thousands of human beings risking their lives to find a safe haven in Europe? Newspapers are full of harrowing pictures; crammed boats negotiating wild seas, elderly people trudging through the snow clutching their … Continue reading

Posted in Blogs, Reflections | Tagged , , | 34 Comments

The Inconsistency of Science

Can a good scientific theory be logically inconsistent with itself? If you think not you’d be in good company: Karl Popper, the famous philosopher of science, believed that consistency was the sine qua non of a good scientific theory. It … Continue reading

Posted in Blogs, Monthly Conundrums | 17 Comments

Drones, Robots and the Ethics of Armed Conflict in the 21st Century

Wow! Did you know there are machines out there capable, once programmed, of searching out their target, and delivering their lethal ‘payloads’ without further human intervention? In other words the ‘decision’ to kill belongs to the machine itself. Alex Leveringhaus … Continue reading

Posted in Blogs, Monthly Conundrums | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Early Modern Texts

This month’s featured website is Early Modern Texts.  This wonderful websites hosts a number of classical (and more modern) books and papers rewritten in such a way that they are easier for the modern reader to understand. The site was started … Continue reading

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Do YOU eat genetically modified foods?

In August 1998 the popular science programme World in Action featured a scientist who had been feeding genetically modified potatoes to rats. A researcher at the prestigious Rowett Institute, Arpad Pusztai , a world expert on plant lectins, said that as a … Continue reading

Posted in Blogs, Monthly Conundrums | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Causation – a Philosophical Question

What do we mean when we say something like ‘the death of my cat caused me great sorrow’? How should we understand such a statement? And what sort of truth-maker makes such a statement true? The first question is a … Continue reading

Posted in Blogs, Monthly Conundrums | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Automated Robotic Weapons

In the House of Commons there are two red lines separating the two sides of the House. The lines are two sword-lengths apart. They are there to underline the fact that, in the House, disputes must be solved by discussion … Continue reading

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