The Debate on Martin Rees’ Templeton Prize

Last week, the theoretical astrophysicist Professor Martin Rees, former president of the Royal Society and current Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, accepted the Templeton Prize. Funded by a massive endowment from the Tennessee-born billionaire Sir John Marks Templeton (1912-2008), the prize is awarded, according to its website, to ‘a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.’

That Rees’ acceptance of the prize has caused controversy should surprise few, given the number of highly opinionated and vocal participants in the current science-religion debate. Indeed one thing Rees was undoubtedly being rewarded for was his unusually conciliatory contribution to this often hostile conversation. But those who feel their hostility to be justified, particularly on the scientific side, regret what they perceive as the conversion of Rees into Continue reading “The Debate on Martin Rees’ Templeton Prize”

Can Twitter be used as an educational tool?

A paper recently published online in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning (JCAL) has generated lively discussion on how the educational use of Twitter can affect college student engagement and grades. The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades by R Junco, G Heiberger and E Loken was published in November last year. The paper ‘provides experimental evidence that Twitter can be used as an educational tool to help engage students and to mobilise faculty into a more active and participatory role’ (quoted from the abstract).

However, a JCAL reader, Dr Ellen Murphy, has raised some interesting issues about the paper, particularly about the language that is used to describe cause and effect, in a letter she wrote to the JCAL Editor, Charles Crook. Rather than being published in JCAL itself, we think the debate and correspondence between the authors, Dr Murphy and the JCAL Editor is better aired via this blog.


Charles Crook (Editor, JCAL)

JCAL Editor’s response
Letter to the Editor in response to The effect of Twitter on  college student engagement and grades (E. Murphy)

This letter was submitted with a view to publication in the journal.  Our advice on submissions does include the possibility of such correspondence.  However, in my 8-year tenure as Editor, this is the first time I have had to consider that possibility.  Moreover, ‘letters’ seem scarce items across the whole history of the journal.  On the other hand, it is certainly Continue reading “Can Twitter be used as an educational tool?”

College Sex: Philosophy for Everyone

So what does philosophy have to do with the real world, with things people care about, spend time on, and even obsess over?  What does philosophy have to do with life?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Wiley-Blackwell’s Philosophy For Everyone series are going to introduce the general reader to new ways of thinking about things they’re already interested in.

The above video is a promo for one of the books recently released in August of this year on College Sex. The book examines, among other things, the ethical issues of dating, cheating, courtship, homosexual experimentation, and drug and alcohol use. Intellectually raunchy stuff.

There’s a full list of titles here.

Philosophy For Everyone

Where Philosophy Comes To Life

Welcome to the home of the Wiley-Blackwell Philosophy for Everyone book series!

So what does philosophy have to do with the real world, with things people care about, spend time on, and even obsess over?  What does philosophy have to do with life?

As it turns out, quite a lot, and this series of books will introduce you to a new way of thinking about things you’re already interested in. You can read a book or two in the series to find out how, but in the meantime on this site you will find information, sample content, news, updates, and further resources for the Philosophy for Everyone series.  We’ll let you know about upcoming books in the series, interesting coverage, author events, and anything else that will be of interest to readers.

The Books!

You can find the full list of titles here, and you can order those that are currently or soon to be available here.

Super Bowl, Baby?

Oh, the Super Bowl! Unique among sporting events in the States, this annual tour de force remains incomparable. Long after the final minutes, the critical question lingers on – Which will be remembered, the game or the commercials?

However, this year, even by Super Bowl standards, the prospects of these ‘epic’ ads are already drawing more than their fair share of publicity. Continue reading “Super Bowl, Baby?”

The end of the university

Harvard_Museum_of_Natural_History_050227Kevin Carey thinks universities will soon go the way of the newspaper:

Colleges are caught in [a] debt-fueled price spiral… They’re also in the information business in a time when technology is driving down the cost of selling information to record, destabilizing lows.  In combination, these two trends threaten to shake the foundation of the modern university, in much the same way that other seemingly impregnable institutions have been torn apart.  … Students will benefit enormously from radically lower prices… But these huge changes will also seriously threaten the ability of universities to provide all the things beyond teaching on which society depends: science, culture, the transmission of our civilization from one generation to the next. Continue reading “The end of the university”

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