Moral hyperopia: Tony Abbott can see the forest, it’s the trees he’s overlooking

When Prime Minister Tony Abbott was asked about dwindling support for his own party – ironically by ardent supporter Miranda Devine – last week, he responded that the people of NSW’s South Coast gave no indication that they believed his government to be in “diabolical trouble.” Instead, Abbott insisted that his party are “only ones with a plan for our country’s future.”

One wonders what the folks of Sussex Inlet think now.

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Names, Actors, and Storytellers

This essay was shortlisted for the New Philosopher Essay Prize

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,

And for that name which is no part of thee

Take all myself.

What’s in a name? Shakespeare’s star-crossed lover once asked. What matters isn’t what a rose is called, but how it smells – something the name has no power over. Juliet is right to belittle the significance of names with regard to roses, but her real point is to suggest that the names of people – Capulets, Montagues – are equally unimportant. However, pleasant though the poetry is, the sentiment is mistaken. The difference between roses and people is in no small part the fact that human names do matter: they name a unique self.

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A Call to Work? Vocations and Intrinsic Value

This essay was shortlisted for the New Philosopher Essay Prize

The relationship between work and flourishing has been a vexed one in moral thought. Aristotle insisted, for instance, that time spent in leisure was essential to living the good life and that the ultimate life (eudaimonia) would consist entirely in leisurely contemplation of philosophy. By contrast, religious traditions – in particular, Christianity – insist that work is a necessary activity of a life well lived. For this latter claim to be true we would need to establish work as a source of moral value.

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