An open letter to the future Prime Minister (it could be you)

April 1st, 2015 by Rob Lawlor

To whom it may concern,
It is clear that many people have become disillusioned with the main political parties, and are torn between voting for the lesser of two evils or “wasting” a vote on a protest vote.

If you are willing to take up the challenge, however, there is another solution – a way of providing people with an opportunity to offer a real protest vote that would not be wasted.

The deadline to register to run for parliament is the 9th of April.

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Democracy and Revolution

December 30th, 2014 by Rob Lawlor

(Although I am posting this, most of the significant work here was written by Josie Freear, as you you will see…)

Traditionally, the new year is thought of as a time of new beginnings.Broken World book

And yesterday, I watched a news report about young people’s dissatisfaction with politics, and with the political parties, claiming that none of the main parties represent their views, and why, therefore, many are tempted not to vote, and even those who are politically motivated are tempted not to vote, preferring to identify as anarchists, and/or getting involved in more direct action.

At the same time, for those who do vote, it is not uncommon for people to say that they would vote for a smaller party, such as the Green party, but they don’t want to waste their vote, or they don’t want to split the left vote and risk another Conservative government.

I am also reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, which suggests that we need a more radical rejection of the status quo, a rejection of free market ideology, and a government that is more active in supporting clean energy and regulating carbon emissions etc.

So this seems a good time to reflect on the possibility of radical political change, particularly through democratic means.

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Hypocrisy and Demandingness

December 14th, 2014 by Rob Lawlor


Accusations of hypocrisy seem to have been flying freely recently. For example, Russell Brand is accused of being a hypocrite because he criticizes capitalism, but yet he is wealthy, lives in an expensive flat, and doesn’t stand for parliament.

This is not meant as a general defence of Brand. I have not read his Revolution, and neither do I intend to, but if it is true – as Langley claims – that the following is a typical passage then, as an analytic philosopher, I would be the first to distance myself from Brand:

“This attitude of churlish indifference seems like nerdish deference contrasted with the belligerent antipathy of the indigenous farm folk, who regard the hippie-dippie interlopers, the denizens of the shimmering tit temples, as one fey step away from transvestites.”

Similarly, I would distance myself from Brand because of his attempts to persuade people not to vote.

Here, I am focused only on the specific criticism that he is a hypocrite.

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Climate Change, Nationalism and Slavery

November 3rd, 2014 by Rob Lawlor


This week, a couple of ideas from entirely different areas, came together to combine in a very interesting way.

I am writing this on my way home from a conference on climate change ethics. One of the papers was presented by an environmental psychologist, Linda Steg. She debunked the myth that individuals are purely self-interest, with no concerns at all for the environment or for future generations. That, however, is not the idea that I will focus on here. Rather, I am interested in her claim that our past behaviour – and reflection  on our past behaviour – influence our self-perception, which in turn influences our motivation.

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Travelling to Holland by train, ferry and bike

June 25th, 2014 by Rob Lawlor
Cycling in Holland

Cycling in Holland

Last week, I travelled to Delft for a workshop on climate change. This was part of a project on climate change, funded by the AHRC. When I put in my application, I commented that I would visit Delft, as well as some universities in America, to discuss my work with other academics working on climate change. Before funding was offered for my project, one of the referees asked if this travel could be justified, environmentally. In addition to explaining the purpose of the trip, I said that I would avoid flying where possible (and offset the carbon emissions when I did fly).

Rather than fly, I got the train to hull on Tuesday, got the overnight ferry to Europort, and then cycled to Delft, taking a detour to cycle through Rotterdam on the way.

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Trust us

April 15th, 2014 by Jim Baxter

bank vault

If you want to know what an organisation is worried about, look at its advertising.  Banks’ TV ads at the moment are all about warm, cosy personal relationships.  Friends going out to dinner together.  Sons missing their parents.  People in big, fluffy jumpers, hugging, laughing, wiping away a tear… and warmly encircling them all, the bank.  A benign, supportive presence, ready to help you buy your first home, to pick you up when you fall over, to buy you a new pair of jeans.  The bank is ‘for the journey’.  It ‘cares about here’.  It is ‘for the moments that matter’. Read the rest of this entry »

How can you build a culture of integrity? First you need to know what integrity is…

April 1st, 2014 by Jim Baxter
A bank in a fake Old West town.

Photo by GravityX9 on Flikr.

Following the downturn in the public perception of banking ethics in recent years, integrity has become a particularly highly-prized commodity.  Banks promise it, their critics demand it, and customers, we are told, expect it.  But does anybody really know what it is?

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The Social Responsibility of Banks

March 24th, 2014 by Jim Baxter

Piggy Bank (image courtesy of idea that banks and bankers have a ‘social responsibility’ is one that many would agree with, especially since the financial crisis.  But where does this idea come from?  What is it about the activity of banking that generates this supposed responsibility?  And what does it mean in practice for individual bankers?  Thinking about the unique position of banks within society, and the role of bankers in serving social needs, can help to answer these questions.

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Police Surveillance, Privacy and Ethics

March 10th, 2014 by Kevin Macnish
[Photo: Copwatcher on Flickr]

[Photo: Copwatcher on Flickr]

How do, and how should, the police approach surveillance?  This was the issue that retired police Superintendent John Cummings addressed at February’s PEN evening.  Drawing on his experience as an authorizing officer with responsibility for permitting or denying requested police surveillance operations, John spoke on a number of issues concerning surveillance and ethics.

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Lord Guy Black at the Professional Ethics Network

April 30th, 2013 by Jim Baxter
Lord Guy Black

Lord Guy Black

Last Thursday, we were lucky enough to have Lord Guy Black, Executive Director of the Telegraph Media Group, as our speaker at the Professional Ethics Network.

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