Meet the Russian feminists opposing Putin's war
New Humanist
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2d ago
Editor's note: This article was published in print the day before Alexei Navalny was pronounced dead, on 16th February 2024. For Sasha Skochilenko, life in a Russian prison cell began with five small slips of paper. Each had been designed to mimic an ordinary shopping label – but instead of prices, they bore information on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. One described the Russian bombardment of an art school in Mariupol, where 400 civilians had been seeking shelter. Another held a personal plea: “My great-grandfather didn’t fight in the Second World War for four years so that Russia could becom ..read more
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What can moral philosophy tell us about Israel-Palestine?
New Humanist
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2d ago
Jonathan Glover is one of the world’s leading ethical and moral philosophers. He is a fellow of both the Hastings Center and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and teaches ethics at King’s College London. His latest book is “Israelis and Palestinians: From the Cycle of Violence to the Conversation of Mankind” (Polity) Your 1977 book “Causing Death and Saving Lives” considers the moral questions involved in killing. What can moral philosophy tell us about Hamas’s attack on 7 October? Having spent many years teaching philosophy, I wish I could cite a set of principles, emerging from ..read more
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The west's crisis of confidence in science
New Humanist
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5d ago
Western societies seem to be facing a growing crisis of confidence in science. Nowhere is this more evident than in the US. According to the latest data from the Pew Research Center, 27 per cent of American adults have little or no trust in scientists “to act in the best interests of the public”. And just 57 per cent say science has had a “mostly positive” impact on society. However, when you dig into the data, a key aspect of the story is the growing polarisation of perspectives, a trend that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the US, this polarisation has largely followed party li ..read more
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Rethinking science: New Humanist spring 2024 is out now
New Humanist
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1w ago
The spring 2024 issue of New Humanist is on sale now! This issue we're delving in to the what science and the humanities can teach each other and why we need both. Subscribe to the print edition for just £27 a year or buy a single issue online and in all good newsagents. Read on for a peek inside the magazine. Beyond the two cultures Amid a polarised debate, science and art seem further apart than ever. Emma Park, editor of The Freethinker, explores what humanism has to teach us about the apparent conflict between these ways of thinking and how to bridge the divide. "While humanities scholar ..read more
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Book review: Israelophobia by Jake Wallis Simons 
New Humanist
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1w ago
Israelophobia: The Newest Version of the Oldest Hatred and What To Do About It (Constable) by Jake Wallis Simons The war in Gaza that began on 7 October 2023 was not simply another round in an endless conflict. Since Israel’s “disengagement” from direct occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005 (retaining effective control of its borders), Hamas and Israel would regularly engage in some time-limited sparring: rockets fired at Israel with some casualties; Israeli bombing of Gaza with many more casualties. Then there would be a ceasefire for a while, with perhaps a prisoner exchange. One way of unde ..read more
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In a word: Genocide
New Humanist
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2w ago
Genocide, 1940s: The crime of intentionally destroying part or all of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group There are some human actions so terrible that naming them could be said to diminish their monstrousness. Perhaps “genocide” is one of these. Naming is a way of classifying things, placing them in comparison with others. So genocide is made up of the Greek word “genos” – meaning a “race” or “people” – and the Latin suffix “caedo”, meaning the “act of killing”. Consciously or not, this places “genocide” amongst other “-cides”, such as suicide and homicide, rather than in a field o ..read more
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Solace for soldiers
New Humanist
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2w ago
Religious officials have accompanied British soldiers into war for centuries, offering moral and spiritual support to humans in the most inhumane situations. But it was only at the end of last year that the Ministry of Defence finally announced it would be recruiting non-religious pastoral support officers for the first time. “This historic step reflects growing demand for the service,” said Clare Elcombe Webber, head of humanist care at Humanists UK, which has been campaigning on this issue for years. “In times of critical need, people need person-centred support. Just as this is true of rel ..read more
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Book review: Rural
New Humanist
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3w ago
Rural: The Lives of the Working Class Countryside (William Collins) by Rebecca Smith When Rebecca Smith was a child, she remembers being invited to a Christmas party in a grand Victorian mansion on a country estate. While her parents, who worked with their hands, ate mince pies, Smith snuck off with her brother and some other kids to explore. They did not feel at home. “We sat on the red carpet and frightened each other with stories of the portraits’ moving eyes,” she writes. Yet Smith lived on the country estate. She grew up in what’s known as tied housing, in which her father, a forester fo ..read more
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No more porkies
New Humanist
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3w ago
Chris Packham, the television presenter and environmental campaigner, once said, if he was king for a day, the first thing he’d do is “change the labelling of food”. As with cigarette packets, he suggested, “maybe we should have photographs of the conditions that the animals are kept in on the food when you’re buying it. That would change people’s shopping practices instantaneously.” Few of us know much about where our food comes from and many meat producers are happy to keep us in the dark. If the reality of modern factory farming of animals was displayed on meat and dairy packaging, would t ..read more
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The wealthy were once seen as sinners. Now they're admired as heroes
New Humanist
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3w ago
Guido Alfani is professor of economic history at Bocconi University, Milan. His latest book is "As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West" (Princeton University Press) Your book covers the period from the Middle Ages until today. How has Western society’s view of the wealthy evolved over that time? In the Middle Ages, the perception of the wealthy (or at least, of wealthy commoners) was rather negative: they were regarded as greedy sinners. As such, they did not have a proper place in a Christian society, and they were required not to show their wealth. Today, becoming wealthy is a ..read more
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