The Prisoner Dilemma

It is an issue that has been brewing for almost a decade now, since prisoner John Hirst first had his case dismissed by Britain’s High Court in April 2001, and, because in November 2010 the Council of Europe gave Britain six months to bring themselves into alignment with the judgements of the Strasbourg Courts, the question is now on everybody’s lips: Should prisoners be allowed to vote?

Back in March 2004, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that a blanket disenfranchisement of prisoners, irrespective of crime or sentence, was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. By the time of the 2010 elections, the British government had failed to materially respond to these rulings, but now Europe has mounted pressure to change – forcing the new Conservative government to tread carefully the line of avoiding in the future paying out tens of millions of pounds in compensation to prisoners while still keeping sweet the Conservative supporters who want to see Europe’s power over policy in Britain lessened. Continue reading “The Prisoner Dilemma”

Time to say ‘sorry’?

Turing_PlaqueIt is unusual for a philosopher to be the subject of headline news. However, in recent days the media has widely covered a high-profile campaign seeking an apology to Alan Turing from the British Government .

Of course, Turing was not just a philosopher: in academic terms, he was primarily a computer scientist, although he is perhaps most widely known outside of academia for his work at the code-breaking institute Bletchley Park during World War II, where he was a major contributor to breaking the Nazi ‘Enigma’ codes. Nevertheless, his contribution to the study of artificial intelligence provoked much debate in philosophy by way of his Turing Test. Continue reading “Time to say ‘sorry’?”