Category Archives: Ethical Issues

How to Live with a Progressive Conscience

Many progressives reading this post are, like me, privileged members of highly unequal societies. Although precarious employment with limited benefits afflicts many others, we are in secure jobs with secure futures. We can look forward to retirement. We do not need to worry that one bad illness will drive us into bankruptcy. The economies from which we benefit and our daily activities and pleasures also spew out prodigious volumes of carbon dioxide. Yet we are fairly well insulated from global warming, whereas the poorest and most carbon-frugal people, at home and abroad, are not. Most of us would welcome a drastic leap to a more egalitarian, secure, just and sustainable world, but that leap isn’t likely to happen soon. Continue reading

Where Lies the Heart of Darkness?

Notes For a Lecture


The central conundrum at the heart of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness  is: Why does Marlowe, the narrator, so admire the brutal Kurtz, as do others in the story [such as the Russian trader, the general manager]? Continue reading

Pursuing a Passion for the Possible

Albert Hirschman’s challenge to social scientists in A Bias for Hope (1971) to embrace a “passion for the possible” has largely been ignored in the mainstream disciplines. That is a pity for, in this age of high anxiety and disaffection, don’t we desperately need perspectives that transcend the limiting confines of liberal democracy and the commodification of everything? Continue reading


The NDP’s “Socialism” Debate: Guest Post

Guest Post by Frank Cunningham, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy & Political Science, University of Toronto
Premised on the philosopher, George Santayana’s often-proven adage that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it, this intervention in the (Canadian) New Democratic Party’s current debate over the “S” word situates these deliberations within the history of socialist and social-democratic movements. Continue reading