Philosophy & Law

Reinventing Islam

Elias Muhanna

4 March 2021

Inthe summer of 1325, Abu ʿAbdullah Muhammad al-Lawati al-Tanji, known to posterity as Ibn Battuta, left his home in Tangier to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca. He returned 29 years later,...

Read More

The Compensation Culture Myth

Stephen Sedley

4 March 2021

The​ United Kingdom has in recent years been blighted by a compensation culture generated by health and safety legislation and human rights laws and promoted by well-paid legal aid lawyers and credulous . . .

The Ramsey Effect

Kieran Setiya

18 February 2021

Picture,​ if you can, a single person with the talents of Keats, Schubert and Seurat: an inspired poet, a prodigious composer, a revolutionary painter, a figure of unlimited promise who died, like . . .

Charlie’s War

Jeremy Harding

4 February 2021

In an email to staff shortly before his murder, Samuel Paty explained that his class was meant to confront students with the following question: should cartoons of the Prophet not be published in order . . .

Holy Spirits

Marina Warner

4 February 2021

In​ the insistent and repetitive rhythm of lockdown, one month melts into another, but the monotony is shot through with dread that comes and goes with terrible intensity. The combination of plague-stricken . . .

Bantu in the Bathroom

Jacqueline Rose, 19 November 2015

Pistorius was surely not aware that when he insisted the person he shot in the bathroom was an intruder he was re-enacting one strand of his nation’s cruellest past.

Read More

The Adulteress Wife: Beauvoir Misrepresented

Toril Moi, 11 February 2010

In June 1946 Simone de Beauvoir was 38. She had just finished The Ethics of Ambiguity, and was wondering what to write next. Urged by Jean Genet, she went to see the Lady and the Unicorn...

Read More

Where is my mind?

Jerry Fodor, 12 February 2009

If there’s anything we philosophers really hate it’s an untenable dualism. Exposing untenable dualisms is a lot of what we do for a living. It’s no small job, I assure you. They...

Read More

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching: Richard Dawkins

Terry Eagleton, 19 October 2006

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology....

Read More

No, it’s not anti-semitic: the right to criticise Israel

Judith Butler, 21 August 2003

Profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-semitic in...

Read More

You can’t build a new society with a Stanley knife: Hardt and Negri’s Empire

Malcolm Bull, 4 October 2001

Forget Bob Geldof, Bono and the other do-gooders, Genoa’s only significance was as the latest battle in the war of Neoliberalism. It was a clear victory this time for the...

Read More

Why anything? Why this?

Derek Parfit, 22 January 1998

It might have been true that nothing ever existed: no living beings, no stars, no atoms, not even space or time. When we think about this possibility, it can seem astonishing that anything exists.

Read More

Subduing the jury

E.P. Thompson, 4 December 1986

It was nice to be awoken on 12 November by the BBC informing us that the Queen’s Speech would announce measures ‘to strengthen the jury system’. It is, after all, a very ancient...

Read More

The Contingency of Language

Richard Rorty, 17 April 1986

About two hundred years ago, the idea that A truth was made rather than found began to take hold of the imagination of Europe. The French Revolution had shown that the whole vocabulary of social...

Read More

In this febrile yet curiously static environment of competing claims on our subjecthood and sympathy, we could all do with bearing in mind Wollstonecraft’s distinction between real and affected sentiment....

Read More

The Bergoglio Smile: The Francis Papacy

Colm Tóibín, 21 January 2021

It’s easy to see why Bergoglio would have been selected for early promot­ion by the Jesuits and then by the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires and then by the Papal Conclave. He exudes authority...

Read More

Cynical Realism: Supreme Court Biases

Randall Kennedy, 21 January 2021

Although anxiety about the court is spreading, there is little chance that major reforms – the end of life tenure, for instance, or substantial enlargement of the number of justices – will...

Read More

Short Cuts: The Classic Apocalypse

Nick Richardson, 7 January 2021

One reason these stories are oddly comforting, for all their horror, is that they clear up the issue of what we’re doing here and who’s responsible. You may be doomed to burn in hell for all...

Read More

Short Cuts: RBG’s Big Mistake

Frederick Wilmot-Smith, 8 October 2020

Should Trump’s nominee be confirmed, the Supreme Court will shift to the right, probably far to the right, and will remain there for a generation. Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes the lion’s share...

Read More

Bats on the Ceiling: The Gospel of St Karen

James Lasdun, 24 September 2020

Certainly one wants at times to shake off this clammy individual, to say: pah, sociopath, case closed, not interesting. But something about this artful, artless wife-of-Jesus scheme of his, spreading out...

Read More

Whatever Made Him: The Bauman Dichotomy

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 10 September 2020

Do we need biographies of public intellectuals? Is knowledge about a scholar’s life relevant to an understanding of their work? The Polish-Jewish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman thought not, and sedulously...

Read More

Old Tunes

Stephen Sedley, 16 July 2020

The poet​ and songwriter Sydney Carter – remember ‘Lord of the Dance’? – wasn’t the only observer to notice that the 1950s British folk song revival was being...

Read More

Cultural conservatives aren’t trying to protect language from politics; they are simply sanguine about the politics that language already has. 

Read More

It isn’t wholly fanciful to envisage an aggressive Parliament determining that a judge who has stood up to the government on an issue of legal principle has failed to behave well, and using its majority...

Read More

Becoming homeless is easily done

David Renton, 7 May 2020

Early on it became clear that millions of workers were employed on contracts their employers regarded as temporary. Employers were perfectly willing to dismiss these workers, in some cases even refusing...

Read More

Twelve years after she published The Second Sex in 1949 she was still receiving letters from women who told her that it had ‘saved me’; psychiatrists, she heard, gave it to their patients....

Read More

Surplusage! Walter Pater

Elizabeth Prettejohn, 6 February 2020

Few authors​ of such historical importance have so high a proportion of their writings forgotten or neglected as Walter Pater. I used to think his essays on ancient sculpture the least studied...

Read More

Short Cuts: Life on Licence

Harry Stopes, 19 December 2019

The game, for four players, begins with their release from prison. One character is released to his own home, two to a hostel, one to homelessness. ‘We had a lot of discussion about how much to factor...

Read More

Autumn in Paris: Autumn in Paris

Musab Younis, 5 December 2019

On​ 11 October, Julien Odoul, an official from the Rassemblement National, formerly the Front National, interrupted a French regional council session to ask a woman in the audience either to...

Read More

Thriving on Chaos: After al-Baghdadi

Patrick Cockburn, 21 November 2019

For a brief, astonishing period, this reborn caliphate governed, in brutal but well-organised fashion, a population of ten million, claiming divine inspiration in its pursuit of true Islamic principles....

Read More

Wittgenstein wasn’t particularly impress­ed by Bertrand Russell’s adoration. If his philosoph­ical capacities were as exceptional as Russell seemed to think, then this was a curious...

Read More

In Court: The Prorogation Debacle

Stephen Sedley, 10 October 2019

For at least​ four centuries the courts have contested the claims of monarchs to untrammelled authority. ‘The king,’ Chief Justice Coke said in 1611, ‘hath no prerogative but...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences