Robot at Burning Man
Robot at Burning Man

Take a look at the following two statements:

  1. Can robots have rights?
  2. Should robots have rights?

At first sight, it looks like these questions say different things. But in fact they only say different things if you apply a different approach to rights in each case. A person who consistently applies the same approach to rights in each case must admit that one of these two questions is either nonsensical, or reduces to the other.

Start with a realist approach to rights. A realist approach holds that rights are things that exist regardless of whether a particular society acknowledges them or not. …


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It’s ten years since Brexit. As everyone knows, Britain has become increasingly isolated since it crashed out of the European Union without a deal in 2019. Nobody expected back then that the country would close itself off from the rest of the world in quite such an extreme fashion as it subsequently did. Few outsiders have been allowed into the sceptered isle since the Church authorities announced the seclusion edict of 2022. It was therefore with great excitement that I received the news, last month, that the Archbishop of Canterbury had granted me a special dispensation to enter the realm.

It was like going back in time. The first thing that struck me was the appearance of the people. The average British man or woman of today resembles nothing so much as a medieval peasant. The men wear stockings and tunics, while the women sport long gowns with sleeveless tunics and wimples to cover their hair. Sheepskin cloaks and woollen hats are worn in winter for protection from the cold and rain. …


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When I tell my friends and colleagues that I admire Casanova, they all assume that it is his reputation as a seducer that I have in mind. Nothing could be further from the truth. Giacomo Casanova was indeed the most notorious lover the Western world has ever known, but this is not why I find him so fascinating. What intrigues me most about this mercurial character is his approach to life in general, his appetite for adventures of all sorts, and the delight he takes in all sorts of company, male and female, young and old.

Born in Venice in 1725, the son of two actors, everything about his life was theatrical. By turns a priest, soldier, violin player, doctor, conman, gambler, and prisoner, he played these and many more parts in his drama, which is essentially a tragicomedy. …


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Jordan Peterson has staked much of his scholarly reputation on his interpretation of mythology, especially the Jewish myths recorded in the Book of Genesis. Yet Peterson’s understanding of mythology is fundamentally flawed. The entire edifice of his thought rests on feet of clay.

The main problem with Peterson’s take on mythology is his misunderstanding of symbolism. The crucial thing about symbols is that they are multivalent. Unlike a metaphor, which is designed to encode one specific meaning, a symbol is designed to evoke many different interpretations. Anyone who claims to know what a given symbol means, or presents a particular interpretation as the meaning of a particular symbol, thereby demonstrates a basic failure to grasp the nature of symbolism. …


In his latest book, The Strange Death of Europe (Bloomsbury, 2017), Douglas Murray worries that Europe is committing suicide. It’s a strange concern, given that the Europe whose untimely death he laments has never, in fact, existed.

The Europe of Mr Murray’s febrile imagination is a curious amalgam of Latin Christendom and the French Enlightenment. Never mind that these two milieux are, in fact, antithetical; Mr Murray believes that he can cherry-pick the tastiest bits of each. So, in Mr Murray’s mythical paradise, traditional Christian piety rubs shoulders with gender equality and gay rights. I would dearly love to know which part of Europe, and at which point in European history, this marvellous concatenation is supposed to have occurred. …


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The sun was setting when the two weary travellers stopped to water their camels. The younger of the two men pointed to a strange statue protruding from the sands in the distance.

“What is that?” he asked his father.

“This was built by the deniers, my son. Their worldly power and wealth was of no use to them when God decided to punish them.”

“You mean the people of Thamud? Was it they who built this strange monument?”

“No, my son. The people of Thamud lived in the land of al-Hijr, which is far away from here. …

About

Dylan Evans

Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist

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