The ethics underpinning socialized healthcare in the U.K. and how coronavirus could shift the focus of the debate in the U.S.

When my American husband became part of my British family it was necessary for him to be trained up on tea. He took to the subject matter well, and is careful to remind my mum whenever it is time to send more Marks & Spencer extra strong teabags stateside. What has struck him as noteworthy about our ritual of tea is the following pattern:

Person A and Person B are sitting relaxing. Person A says to Person B, “Make…

Drawing the line so that all but the most extreme positions are tolerated

Credit: Andrew Renneisen (Getty)

Chick-fil-A, a hugely popular fast food chain with about 2,400 outlets across America, has made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the U.K. market. Of its two pilot outlets, the one in Aviemore has been closed and the six-month lease on the one in Reading has not been renewed. Both outlets were subject to LGBT protests which mirror protests against Chick-fil-A in the United States.

The company is owned by a Baptist family, and Dan Cathy, the president, has stated that the company supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.” The company’s philanthropic foundation has made donations to charities, such…

Lady Justice — Holding scales to weigh the cases put by each side

Human rights have, for many decades now, been a central concept in cultures which embrace the idea of the sovereign individual. When the individual is understood as being ensconced within a sphere of liberty, there are necessarily hard limits upon the power of the state to make incursions into that sphere. What a person believes, says, wears or does is prima facie no business of the state. …

The U.K. and the U.S. both seem to be losing the spirit of constitutionalism, the sense of a game within a game. This is not a phenomenon limited to the political classes however. It reflects a broader change in attitude within the body politic.

It is often suggested that the U.K. doesn’t have a constitution. That view is wrong. The U.K. has legislation, case law, conventions, traditions and precedents that cumulatively set out the framework by which it is constituted. That framework represents the boundaries within which the day to day game of politics is played.

The U.S. also has…

Politicians don’t believe the public can handle difficult discussions. They’re mistaken.

London New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration

A wise man once said, “It’s all a question of degree.” The older I get the more convinced I am that he is right.

When you carefully examine any challenging issue, any ethical conundrum, what you find underpinning it are important values which have a deep, universal truth to them, but which, in the context of any given factual matrix, are in tension with each other.

Take, for example, the interminable debate about abortion. It is interminable because it finds in tension two fundamental values—that of the bodily sovereignty of the individual, and that of the dignity of human life…

The abuses are real—no doubt about that. But my own experiences with men incline me against the kind of generalizations some are making.

I have been thinking of writing this piece for some time now. Yet a concern of mine is it will come across in a way I don’t intend. Specifically, my worry is that given the nature of this topic it will be difficult for me to express my point of view without appearing unsympathetic or self-satisfied. But I have decided to move forward with it because I keep coming back to a sense that this is a point which ought to be made. So here goes.

My experience of men, from my dad to my husband to all the less…

The stability of tradition; the dynamism of change.

Royal weddings are always a spectacular occasion full of pomp and circumstance, ritual and symbolism. This one added another ingredient to the formula though. The word that springs to mind is transcendence. The wedding somehow transcended both the old world and the new, and thereby produced something better than either.

It is almost trite to observe today how divided our politics are. The center has been abandoned. Everyone has decamped to trenches well to the left or well to the right. The capacity for creative dialogue seems, at times, to have been lost completely. Lost with it is any sense…

Hyper-subjectivity is threatening our most essential social and legal norms

We are living in bewildering times socially and politically. One reason for this is surely the unprecedented number of lives each of us encounters on account of exponential developments in communications. The early 21st century — perhaps specifically its second decade — will, I suspect, be remembered for the centrality of the subjective narrative, the so-called “lived experience.”

There is nothing wrong, per se, with a flourishing of narratives. We all have our stories to tell and, now more than ever, we have the means through which to tell them. We must, however, stay vigilant to the ways in which…

A philosophical look at immigration

The debate about immigration lumbers on across the Western world, but rarely with any clarity or rationality. Instead it is deeply emotional and ideological. The subject matter, therefore, is crying out for some philosophical consideration — for discussion which, without pre-judgment, seeks to define the terms and explore the topic in a rational way.

When Chelsea Manning recently declared her intention to run for Senate, her policy position on immigration was unusual in that she explicitly stated that U.S. Borders should be open:

We shouldn’t be denying the absolute right to come into the United States. …

The middle finger of freedom

In the past week the picture of Juli Briskman giving Donald Trump’s motorcade the finger has gone viral, as has the fact that her employer promptly fired her.

It got me thinking about the centuries of legal, political and cultural evolution it took to reach the point that — trigger-happy employers aside — it is safe to flip off the President.

It is certainly not safe around the globe. Run an experiment: try flipping off Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe, or Xi Jinping and see if it works out well in the end.

But we don’t need to hypothesize: currently, a…

Elizabeth Finne

Law (U.K. and U.S.), Philosophy, Politics and Mothering: Articles in @ArcDigi @QuilletteM @AreoMagazine

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