259 research outputs found

    Let the People Speak 
 But Make the Politicians Decide

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    There have been a number of recent calls for referendums, for two reasons. First, some argue that ratification of the reshaped EU constitution can only be done on the back of a referendum. Second, others argue that the 'disconnect' between politicians and voters means that more power should be transferred to voters. This article examines the constitutional position, and also assesses Britain's one national referendum, in 1975, and concludes that there is no advantage to be gained by transferring power away from Westminster

    Vote Blue, Get Green Conservatism

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    An exploration of an apparent political paradox: how David Cameron's green conservatism fits into the conservative tradition

    Conservatism, epistemology, risk and mind

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    In this paper, I comment on recent contributions to the debate about what conservatism is, and delineate something central or even essential to conservatism as very broadly defined as “an ideology predominantly concerned with the problem of change: not necessarily proposing to eliminate it, but to render it safe” (Freeden 1996). If possible, any account should also illuminate, and make sense in the context of, at least some of the important political philosophers in the tradition of Burke and Oakeshott which is generally known as the conservative tradition. Given the promiscuity with which politicians and thinkers describe themselves as ‘conservative’, this is always a bit of a balancing act. I briefly summarise a series of papers about conservatism, from MĂŒller, Brennan and Hamlin, and Beckstein. I consider the importance to conservatism of a bias toward the status quo. Using a definition of conservatism which emphasises scepticism, I argue that a status quo bias is neither necessary nor sufficient for conservatism. I consider some of the consequences of the focus on epistemology in definitions of conservatism, arguing that the conservative is not prevented from acting politically, and that sceptical conservatism can inherit some moral force.<br/

    Carry On Cabby, Gender and the Local Industrial Power Nexus

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    This paper argues that the perceived homogeneity of the mass of 'Carry On' films is, to some extent at least, an illusion (fostered, no doubt deliberately, by the fact that they all have the same actors, scriptwriters, titles, and even jokes). Hence, sweeping generalisations about the films as a group are misguided. The paper argues that one film, Carry On Cabby, is actually premised on a highly reasoned and sensitive analysis of Britain’s post war industrial malaise and the effects of that malaise on the working class, together with a subtler than expected view of the way in which the post-war industrial situation affected relationships between the sexes. The theme of Carry On Cabby, as with so much post war British comedy, is “the battle of the sexes”; but it uses that standard to examine closely the need for change in industrial practice, taking a close look at the way in which change would affect the lives of “ordinary people.” Its conclusions are pretty safe and pretty conservative. But its analysis proves to be more prescient than those of either the governments of the 1970s, which, roughly speaking, attempted to preserve the status quo, or Margaret Thatcher’s radical Conservative government of the 1980s

    The Enlightenment: A Beginner's Guide

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    Blamed for the bloody disasters of the 20th century: Auschwitz, the Gulags, globalisation, Islamic terrorism; heralded as the harbinger of reason, equality, and the end of arbitrary rule, the Enlightenment has been nothing if not divisive. To this day historians disagree over when it was, where it was, and what it was (and sometimes, still is). Kieron O’Hara deftly traverses these conflicts, presenting the history, politics, science, religion, arts, and social life of the Enlightenment not as a simple set of easily enumerated ideas, but an evolving conglomerate that spawned a very diverse set of thinkers, from the radical Rousseau to the conservative Burke

    Narcissus to a Man: Lifelogging, Technology and the Normativity of Truth

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    The growth of the practice of lifelogging, exploiting the capabilities provided by the exponential increase in computer storage, and using technologies such as SenseCam as well as location-based services, Web 2.0, social networking and photo-sharing sites, has led to a growing sense of unease, articulated in books such as Mayer-Schönberger's Delete, that the semi-permanent storage of memories could lead to problematic social consequences. This talk examines the arguments against lifelogging and storage, and argues that they seem less worrying when placed in the context of a wider debate about the nature of mind and memory and their relationship to our environment and the technology we use

    Conservatism

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    The term 'conservative' - denoting groups as diverse and incompatible as the religious right, libertarian free-marketeers and free-spending neocons - has been lost to politics. Yet the original conservative ideology, first developed in the eighteenth century by Edmund Burke, was concerned with managing change. Genuine conservatism has its own relevance in a complex and dynamic world where change is rapid, pervasive and dislocating. Conservatism transcends traditional politics, and has surprising applications - not least as the most appropriate and practical response to climate change. Conservatism by Kieron O'Hara is a revision of the traditional conservative philosophy for the modern age. It shows what a properly conservative ideology looks like today, and demonstrates that self-styled 'conservatives' actually promote damaging change in their own and other societies. Drawing on such great conservative thinkers as Burke and Adam Smith, philosophers ancient and modern from Plato to Wittgenstein, and today's social commentators such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ulrich Beck and Jared Diamond, this outline of conservative philosophy lays bare our lack of understanding of our own societies, showing how risk pervades society and how it should be managed. It also proves that conservatism is distinct from neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism and the extreme positions of today's 'culture warriors'. O'Hara has written a complete and consistent description of a philosophy of change and innovation. His book shows how conservatism is an ideology sensitive to cultural differences between the US, Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and elsewhere, while highlighting the issues of technology, trust and privacy. This sample chapter sets out O'Hara's theory of green conservatism

    Trust in social machines: the challenges

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    The World Wide Web has ushered in a new generation of applications constructively linking people and computers to create what have been called ‘social machines.’ The ‘components’ of these machines are people and technologies. It has long been recognised that for people to participate in social machines, they have to trust the processes. However, the notions of trust often used tend to be imported from agent-based computing, and may be too formal, objective and selective to describe human trust accurately. This paper applies a theory of human trust to social machines research, and sets out some of the challenges to system designers

    Politics and Trust

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    I’ve been asked to speak briefly today about trust in public and political life, and the extent to which there has been a genuine decline in public trust over the last few years. To cut a long story short, I believe there has been something of a decline, although its properties may be a little different from those that some commentators have detected. I also believe that some of the remedies proposed for the decline are somewhat misconceived. In that context, let me begin by welcoming today’s report, which, as well as being a solid piece of work and a good read, brings together many aspects of the issue which are often neglected in debate

    Conflict Overrules Consensus

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