Law, Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized, Veganism, Vegetarianism

Is Veganism Compatible with being Pro-Choice?

Last month I attended a protest in Dublin against slaughterhouses, where the impassioned cry rang out: ‘HUMANE MEAT IS A LIE. NO ANIMAL WANTS TO DIE’. I am guessing the vast majority of that crowd was pro-Choice, as I am myself. But I wonder is there a contradiction if we urge people to stop killing other animals, but remain silent …


Education, Ireland, Philosophy, Poetry, Uncategorized

The Leaving Certificate Mind

It is worth reflecting on why criticism is not easily absorbed in Ireland. Tempers seem to flare easily, often excluding meaningful dialogue. I attribute a great deal of this to a secondary education system which avoids profound interrogation of ideas. We lack the detachment gained from the French philosophical training in a Baccalaureate or even the English (or really Scottish) …


An Overflow of Violent Bacchanalia

Accounts of the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg on October 25th 1917 read more like those of a party being violently gate-crashed than the single most shocking event of the twentieth century: the emergence of the Bolsheviks as leaders of the first Communist regime in history, in the world’s largest country. The old European order would soon …

The Evil That Men Do

Published in the Dublin Review of Books: (http://www.drb.ie/essays/the-evil-that-men-do) The unconscious of a whole continent and age has made of itself poetry in the nightmare of a single prophetic dreamer Herman Hesse Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov casts a shadow over European literature. Sigmund Freud described it as ‘The most magnificent novel ever written’; while Friedrich Nietzsche acknowledged his Russian contemporary …

Can Justice be Poetic?

The Irish nation is rightly proud of its poetic inheritance. At first glance this sacred tradition has nothing to do with the law, but I argue that by engagement with our great poets we may arrive at a deeper understanding of the broader idea of justice. The lawyers and politicians who hand down our laws have studied poetry in school …

Wild Law Lecture

Delivered in Anglo-American University, Prague 19/11/15 It is sometimes observed in jurisprudence how Hitler came to power by legal means and continued to govern in accordance with the German constitution. Of course an American might argue that this could never happen there because of the separation of powers between the judiciary, executive and legislature in their constitution. But slavery was …

Democracy threatened by the torrent of the Internet

(Published in Village Magazine, July, 2016) We live in an age of digital ephemera that befuddles our wits and has thrown up the possibility of a Trump Presidency. Britain departs the European stage left after a campaign marred by misinformation. The siren sounds of advertising impel us to consume beyond what we need and Enlightened Despots in corporations exercise unaccountable …

The Body and Shame

Review of The Body and Shame: Phenomenology, Feminism and the Socially Shaped body by Luna Dolezal. Lexington Book, Lenham, 2015 (Village Magazine, July 2015) In Ireland philosophy rarely features in mainstream discourses. We seem more comfortable in either the narrow empiricism inherited from our former colonial overlords or the lyrical engagement found in poetry. The unflinching analysis of concepts found …

Imagining Ireland

(Published in Village Magazine, June 2016) The spark of any human venture is imagination. The Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1795-1827) in his ‘In Defence of Poetry’ distinguishes this from reason, the ‘enumeration of qualities already known’; whereas ‘imagination is the perception of the values of those qualities, both separately and as a whole … Reason is to imagination as …

Confronting the great men of history

(Published in Village Magazine, June 2016) That there was something altogether more disturbing about Hitler’s Germany than Stalin’s Russia is often assumed. Perhaps it comes from the idea of Germany, the most intellectually and industrially-advanced country of its time, being led by an individual whose core belief was the annihilation of a substantial ethno-religious minority. By comparison the aspirational ends …