Friday, 10 December 2010

Tuition Fees - Recent Demonstrations

Hi all

Given the publicity given to the recent student demonstrations I think that we probably need to address some of the wider philosophical and political issues associated with these events.

Please keep the conversation civil!

The real issue for me here isn't really about education at all - rather, the transfer of debts accrued by one generation onto another.

Therefore, it is important not to get too bogged down in the minutiae of the policy dimensions of the debate - for example, about the whether the university teaching grant was cut too much, or whether something else might have been cut instead. The question is why the cuts have had to be made at all and who we call to account for this.

In this way, we must feel some sympathy for the next generation of students - a generation that is likely to be somewhat less affluent and have fewer opportunities than than the one preceeding it.

However, it is less easy to feel sorry for the majority of demonstrating students in narrow political terms. Most voted liberal democrat at the last election (alongside a number of academic staff, it must be said) and so politically these students have, in a sense, 'got what they deserved'.

This phenomenon - to vote lib dem as an expression of 'disaffected radicalism' - began in 2005; when a numerous students and academic staff voted lib dem as a protest against the Iraq war. This significantly reduced the labour majority and put the Tories within striking distance of government. This trend was repeated in 2010 - giving us in the end the new Tory-Lib dem coalition.

Why did this happen? Self interest? A loose concern with 'lib demish' humanitarian issues such a 'ecology' etc?. Perhaps a combination - I don't think that we can dismiss this phenomenon as simply a symptom of intellectual confusion and/or self-preoccupation. The best explanation for me is that it simply became 'fashionable' to do so.....

Overall, this is a hard lesson in economic and political realities for a new generation of people depolicitised by markets and distracted by the media.

Welcome to the real world!


Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Infinite Monkey Cage

See below for a recommendation from Rob Humphries (final year Philosophy student:

The radio 4 show The infinite monkey cage has broken from it's usual scientific subject matter to deliver a show on philosophy


Always nice to see a popular rationalist hero (in this case Dr. Brian Cox) get grilled by a philosopher or two. I think Julian Baginni is on the panel.