With the development of autonomous weapons we may avoid what Pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick described as war’s greatest tragedy, but will this lead to an even greater tragedy?

A summary of this piece appeared in The Spectator on 21/2/2021 (link below).

Chauvet–Pont–d’Arc Cave in the Ardèche department of southeastern France

The Chauvet–Pont–d’Arc Cave in France contains some of the earliest known Palaeolithic cave paintings, including those of cave lions, bears, and hyenas. They may be the earliest expressions of human fear. It is hard for us living in the mostly urban West to imagine how it must have felt living with creatures that recognise you as prey. This primal…


Dislocation of expectation and the problem of hope

The Plague at Athens’ by Nicolas Poussin depicting the infamous plague which struck ancient Athens in 430–427 BCE. (Gallery of Sir Frederick Cook, Richmond, UK) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

Having long promised that the UK would be able to celebrate Christmas with limited restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that new restrictions that would keep many families apart after a year of separations and sacrifices, dashing the hopes of many. After the announcement the Prime Minister was confronted by Pippa Crerar, of the Daily Mirror, who asked about his record of over-promising and under-delivering. Did he recognise it causes public confusion and erodes public confidence? His seemingly unironic response was: “We can certainly look forward to a very, very different world from Easter onwards”. …


We are the ones we’ve been waiting for

(Mario Tama/Getty)

I wonder how Superman would help us deal with COVID-19, how the Hulk would help bring Americans together through a divisive election and Brits through a no-deal Brexit, and how Batman would help us with the climate crisis. But we won’t know how superheroes would help us with some of the world’s greatest challenges, because in the real world there aren’t any.

But if, as Oscar Wilde claimed, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life,” then superheroes should be everywhere. I met some very brave men and women when serving in the military. The doctors, nurses, and carers…


How philosophy helps a soldier wrestle with ethical questions, and how it can help everyone

When I joined the British Army one of my biggest concerns was would I know the right thing to do in an extreme environment such as the battlefield. I received excellent training in leadership, the army’s values, and the laws of armed conflict. …


David Foster Wallace suggests; “Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” In The Sense of an Ending Frank Kermode claims of fictions; “we want them not only to console but to make discoveries of the hard truth here and now”. I believe this is truer of war literature than most forms of fiction. There are many writers who have written about war to make sense of trauma, placing their fragmentary experience of the battlefield into a coherent comforting narrative structure. …

Andy Owen

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