Digital Ecology

This is a lecture I gave at the University of Liverpool earlier this year, looking at the environmental impact of the production and consumption of digital technologies. It touches on the mining of minerals that go into the batteries of our smartphones, the huge amount of energy needed to cool server centres and sustain cloud computing, […]

Media, Morality and The Impossibility of Ethics

Global cosmopolitanism is one of those ideas that just sounds good. Certainly, the end result would be desirable: a world in which distance, both geographic and cultural, posed no barrier to moral responsibility is a world I want to live in. However, the role of the media in all this seems to be overstated. The idea that […]

A Return to Levinas IV: Otherwise Than Being

Otherwise Than Being was originally published in 1974. The title summarises well the approach taken by Levinas: to present an alternative to philosophies (especially Heidegger) that posit being as a self-interested affair, arguing instead that existence is fundamentally for others. Discussing the book in an interview with Phillipe Nemo, Levinas describes it as an argument […]

A Return to Levinas III: Totality and Infinity

Totality and Infinity was first published in 1961. Totality is the chief function of Western metaphysics, grouping everything together in a unity that recognises nothing beyond it and that loses sight of the singularity of that which is so grouped. Expanding upon this in an interview with Phillipe Nemo, Levinas explains that totalising is the […]

A Return to Levinas II: Time and the Other

Time and the Other began as a series of four lectures delivered at Jean Wahl’s Philosophical College in Paris from 1946 to 1947, and was first published as a lengthy essay in 1948. Describing the essay in an interview with Philippe Nemo, Levinas summarises that ‘Time and the Other is a study of the relationship […]

A Return to Levinas I: Reality and Its Shadow

Reality and Its Shadow originally appeared as an article in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Les Temps Modernes in 1948. Here Levinas is concerned to examine the relationship between that which is depicted by art and the work of art itself. He argues that at the most elementary level art is a procedure that substitutes an image for […]

Unconstrained Speech

In the final episode of the Media and Morality podcast, we’re looking at freedom of speech. John Stuart Mill provides perhaps the most influential account of freedom of speech in Of Liberty, arguing that the state should only suppress speech in order to prevent harm. He argued that speech that is thought to be false should not […]