Showing posts from May, 2013

Should We Try to Create a Rational Society?

Should we try to create a rational society? It may seem obvious that the answer to this question is ‘Yes’, since being rational is almost by definition a good thing. If being rational is good, then it is logical that we should want a rational society because that would mean a good society; therefore it would be a good thing for us to try to make that society come about. However, when we start to unpick the different words in the question we quickly run into difficulty. Let’s start with ‘society’. Society is composed of a great number of different elements without which it wouldn’t be society; or rather it wouldn’t be this society. The idea that all of those different elements should form a rational whole and that we are capable of bringing it about is a major claim. But saying that we should try to create this rational whole from present society (the elements of which are constantly changing, for example by immigration and emigration), is an even greater claim

Gay Marriage and the Two Different Meanings of Right and Wrong

When someone tells you: “I am right, and you are wrong,” what are they talking about? Do they mean that they are speaking truth while you are saying things that are not true? Or are they claiming they are doing the right thing while you are doing something wrong? On one hand we have right and wrong as truth and untruth, for example: ‘Barack Obama is President of the United States’, or ‘The Labour Party forms the Government of the United Kingdom’. On the other hand we have right and wrong as judgement. Whether moralistic or practical, this makes claims over what is good and bad; for example: ‘Immigration benefits Britain’ or ‘Gay marriage is wrong’. Sometimes these two meanings overlap, but for the most part they are two completely different conceptions. However we tend to use them interchangeably, mixing them up and confusing them in the process. Gay marriage and immigration are interesting topics on many levels, not least for the way that strongly-held views

Frank Field: some home truths on Labour’s ‘equalities agenda’?

On Thursday 2 nd May, The Spectator published a fascinating interview conducted by Isabel Hardman with Frank Field in which Field ranged freely and controversially across subjects including welfare, immigration and the EU, the ‘Living Wage’, his role advising the current Government – and unions (“We won’t win the election because of the unions, we’ll win it in spite of them”). Field talked of personalities, including Gordon Brown (who “never really understood anything, let alone the economy”), Ed Miliband (“should just take a few more risks”) and Jon Cruddas (who “has got the job of saving us”). He also made some barbed comments about Labour’s loss of working class women voters, linking it explicitly to the “equalities agenda” pursued by the party under the aegis of deputy leader Harriet Harman – something which I have been critical about here and elsewhere. Field said: “Why has our vote collapsed amongst working class women? Because they do not relate to the equ