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Philosophy can teach children what Google can’t

April 2, 2017

At the controls of driverless cars, on the end of the telephone when you call your bank or favourite retailer: we all know the robots are coming, and in many cases are already here. Back in 2013, economists at Oxford University’s Martin School estimated that in the next 20 years, more than half of all jobs would be substituted by intelligent technology. Like the prospect of robot-assisted living or hate it, it is foolish to deny that children in school...

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University students demand philosophers be taken off the syllabus

March 16, 2017

They are said to be the founding fathers of Western philosophy, whose ideas underpin civilised society. But students at a prestigious London university are demanding that figures such as Plato, Descartes and Immanuel Kant should be largely dropped from the curriculum because they are white. The student union at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) insists that when studying philosophy “the majority of philosophers on our courses” should be from Africa and Asia.The union said it is part...

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‘Philosophy needs to be given its proper place at the heart of UK education’

March 13, 2017

One director of learning calls for the subject to have a GCSE all of its own Why do we go to school? This isn’t just a question that children (or teachers) are prone to ask on a cold winter morning. It’s a philosophical question – a question about the point of education. Why do we do it? Much educational thinking is based on the assumption that the answer is an economic one: learning is a preparation for working life. Education...

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Bertrand Russell: the everyday value of philosophy

March 10, 2017

Many teachers and students of philosophy today feel that the subject is under threat – not only from funding cuts, but from a more pervasive and less quantifiable cultural shift towards measuring value only in instrumental and monetary terms. But when we philosophers try to defend our discipline, the question of why philosophy is important sometimes gets entangled with our own self-importance. More to the point, perhaps, when we seek to protect philosophy we are also protecting our livelihood. There...

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