Menu
Aeon
DonateNewsletter
SIGN IN

Philosophy

Essays and videos on philosophy, the history of ideas, ethics and life’s big questions
Cyclists in a professional race riding in rainy conditions. The leading cyclist in a blue jersey raises his arms in victory, with other cyclists closely following behind on the wet road. Everyone is wearing helmets and sunglasses for protection.
Save

essay

Sports and games

Performance-enhancing vices

Selfishness channels ambition, envy drives competition, pride aids the win. Does it take a bad person to be a good athlete?

Sabrina Little

A man and a woman in formal evening dress but with giant fish heads covering their faces are pictured beneath a bridge on the foreshore of a river
Save

essay

The environment

Emergency action

Could civil disobedience be morally obligatory in a society on a collision course with climate catastrophe?

Rupert Read

Four smiling flight attendants in bright-blue uniforms and matching hats, wearing identification badges, stand in a row saluting. They are indoors against a neutral background.
Save

essay

Ethics

The scourge of lookism

It is time to take seriously the painful consequences of appearance discrimination in the workplace

Andrew Mason

Pig walking down a narrow aisle between rows of stalls in a farming facility, with dim lighting and metal structures.
Save

essay

Bioethics

The dangers of AI farming

AI could lead to new ways for people to abuse animals for financial gain. That’s why we need strong ethical guidelines

Virginie Simoneau-Gilbert & Jonathan Birch

A weary looking medical staff member in scrubs and face mask sits at a desk in a hospital room surrounded by medical paraphernalia
Save

essay

Public health

It’s dirty work

In caring for and bearing with human suffering, hospital staff perform extreme emotional labour. Is there a better way?

Susanna Crossman

Drawing of a child pointing at a person carrying a giant cupcake, with an arm and hand emerging from the frosting.
Save

video

Ethics

For Iris Murdoch, selfishness is a fault that can be solved by reframing the world

6 minutes

A footballer in the Manchester United red strip runs past cheering fans in the stadium
Save

essay

Sports and games

The moral risks of fandom

Players, coaches and team owners sometimes do terrible things. What, if anything, should their fans do about that?

Jake Wojtowicz & Alfred Archer

A tree with exposed roots growing from an eroded cliffside, with dense foliage in the background.
Save

essay

Computing and artificial intelligence

Frontier AI ethics

Generative agents will change our society in weird, wonderful and worrying ways. Can philosophy help us get a grip on them?

Seth Lazar

Spacecraft approaching a large, rocky asteroid in the dark expanse of outer space, with a distant star shining in the background.
Save

essay

Space exploration

Capturing the cosmos

When self-replicating craft bring life to the far Universe, a religious cult, not science, is likely to be the driving force

Jay Olson

Portrait of a man in a red coat, seated, with his chin resting on his hand, an open book, and anatomical specimens in jars and bones in the background.
Save

essay

History of science

The rights of the dead

From the Irish Giant to the Ancient One, is it ever ethical for scientists and museums to study bodies without permission?

Anita Guerrini

A man dressed in white robes with his face obscured is seen in a cave entrance carved from rock
Save

essay

Comparative philosophy

Forging philosophy

A 17th-century classic of Ethiopian philosophy might be a fake. Does it matter, or is that just how philosophy works?

Jonathan Egid

A woman carrying a child walks past a burning structure in a smoky environment, appearing concerned and cautious.
Save

essay

Ethics

Ethics has no foundation

Ethical values can be both objective and knowable – torture really is wrong – yet not need any foundation outside themselves

Andrew Sepielli

Human figures beneath a glass dome watch the launch of a rocket from the surface of Mars
Save

essay

Space exploration

The final ethical frontier

Earthbound exploration was plagued with colonialism, exploitation and extraction. Can we hope to make space any different?

Philip Ball

Painting of a group of soldiers aiming rifles, preparing to shoot kneeling and fallen prisoners, with another soldier watching in the background. Dark, dramatic sky.
Save

essay

Ethics

Wrestling with relativism

Bernard Williams argued that one’s ethics is shaped by culture and history. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is right

Daniel Callcut

Children playing on swings in a park on a rainy day, with a girl standing nearby. Terraced houses are visible in the background.
Save

essay

History of ideas

Equality without compromise

Liberal philosophy has clipped the wings of the egalitarian ideal. We should return to the bolder ideals of Iris Murdoch

Christine Sypnowich

Satirical cartoon depicting a startled man at a desk with a large figure holding a crown, crucifix, and book behind him with clouds and beams of light.
Save

essay

Thinkers and theories

Remember Richard Price!

Demonised by the political establishment for his radical, dissenting views, this 18th-century Welsh polymath deserves better

Huw Williams

A Buddha statue sitting on rocks with a burnt-out car and leafless trees in the background, indicating a scene of destruction.
Save

essay

Philosophy of religion

Reckoning with compassion

After an abuse scandal destroyed my Buddhist community, I had to reconsider what it means to live an ethically attuned life

Jessica Locke

Surreal artwork of a woman submerged in water with fish swimming around her, her head inside an aquarium-like structure and her hair flowing upwards.
Save

video

Future of technology

Artificial ‘creativity’ is unstoppable. Grappling with its ethics is up to us

23 minutes

Save

essay

Ethics

The ethics of human extinction

Why would it be so bad if our species came to an end? It is a question that reveals our latent values and hidden fears

Émile P Torres

Save

essay

Ethics

If not vegan, then what?

A vegan diet can be hard to adopt, even if you’re convinced it’s the right thing to do. What are the next-best options?

Peter Godfrey-Smith

Save

video

Ethics

How many monkeys is it worth sacrificing to save a human life?

6 minutes

Save

video

Human rights and justice

Thirty years after one teenager shot another, is it time to forgive?

28 minutes

Save

essay

Ethics

Moral mathematics

Subjecting the problems of ethics to the cool quantifications of logic and probability can help us to be better people

Elad Uzan

Save

essay

Ethics

The lethal act

The Buddha taught not to kill, yet his followers have at times disobeyed him. Can murderers still be Buddhists?

Martin Kovan