Karl Kitching says he‘partly wanted to investigate how accusations of religious inauthenticity were laid at the feet of working class and Traveller families deemed to not be doing Catholicism properly’

Unthinkable: Snobbery surrounding First Communion shows up deep divisions in society

Trust me, I’m a celebrity: actress and model Jenny McCarthy. Photograph: AP/Chris Pizzello

Unthinkable: To become an expert you need to embrace a set of scientific values

Should one feel gloomy for being so small within the cosmos?  Photograph: Reuters/Nasa

Unthinkable: Reflecting on our place within the cosmos can be deflating

Some animals raised for food  have better lives and deaths than others.  Photograph: Reuters/Ilya Naymushin

Unthinkable: Eating the odd beef steak may be more ethical than living off eggs and fish

‘Mainstream games are more moral than most other media, partly because of their interactivity.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Unthinkable: Gaming can teach us ‘how to prepare for death’, a new book argues

A Europe-wide basic income ‘would provide our national welfare states with a common floor’. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Unthinkable: Finland has piloted a basic income scheme; could the EU follow suit?

Bad design: metal boxes located on College Green, Dublin to service the new Luas Cross City line. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Unthinkable: Bad environmental design can cause stress, alienation and even depression

Onora O’Neill: “Duty has become almost a dirty word – people prefer to talk about that much more charming notion: rights.”

It’s getting harder to distinguish between truth and lies but ‘people can learn to make better judgements’ about who to trust, say(...)

French president Emmanuel Macron. Photograph: GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images

Unthinkable: Macron studied under Ricoeur. What could it mean for his presidency?

A videograb of Thierry Henry’s handball that led to France’s goal against the Republic of Ireland in the 2010 Fifa World Cup play off. Photograph:  Sky Sports

Unthinkable: Each sporting code has its own moral customs but that doesn't necessarily mean all ethics is relative

Facing up or down? It’s the fluid in your ear canals that makes the front of the cabin look higher when you tilt backwards at takeoff. Photograph: EPA

Unthinkable: Philosophers need to grapple with the ‘symphony of senses’ being discovered by science

‘Anxiety cannot be deceived’. Photograph: The Image Bank

Unthinkable: The philosopher may give you a very different answer to the therapist

Dublin’s  March for Science on Earth Day, April 22nd last. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Unthinkable: Cherry-picking facts and nitpicking are common political ploys

‘Trust me’: US president Donald Trump on the campaign trail.  Photograph: Steve Pope/Getty Images

Unthinkable: We should cut experts more slack for telling us what we don’t want to hear, says philosopher Lizzie Fricker

‘To resist work, a person has to overcome society’s moral objections to idleness.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Unthinkable: The problems of modern labour call for a ‘collective and structural solution’, says David Frayne

Richard Dawkins: developed the theory of ‘memes’ in part to explain the durability of religion. Photograph: Alan Betson

Unthinkable: ‘Catholic agnostic’ Gary Gutting criticises pseudoscientific putdowns of religion

In recent experiments, scientists have identified “unconscious determinants” in the brain which can be detected before decisions are made. Photograph: Getty Images

Brain experiments have yet to shed light on the ‘freedom that matters’, says philosopher Markus Schlosser

A pool party: Not to be confused with hedonism. Photograph: Getty Images

Unthinkable: Far from being party people, true hedonists are sensible individuals

“Caring for our fellows and the places in which we live is as much the business of business as earning a profit.” Photograph: RubberBall Productions via Getty

Unthinkable: Companies have a duty to provide ‘meaning’ in society. An anti-evil slogan isn't enough

People have a natural tendency to judge their self-worth against external measurements. Illustration: Hong Li/Getty Creative

Flourishing in life starts with putting trust in yourself, argues philosopher Anna Bortolan

The Department of Education had  discussions with the Edmund Rise Schools Trust over the divestment of a former school at Basin Lane in Dublin.

Entity managing property interests initially refused to surrender vacant school premises

Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway: a champion of ‘alternative facts’. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Relativist thinkers are providing a ‘smokescreen’ for the likes of Donald Trump, warns professor of logic Timothy Williamson

‘Studies  show we often confuse being angry with actually doing something. We think, “I took a stand on Twitter,” and then we move on,’ says Brant Hansen, author of Unoffendable. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Unthinkable: Donald Trump may make your skin crawl but your anger ‘destroys you’ not him, argues Brant Hansen

Shane Hanna: “The space for explicitly exploring values in schools is limited. What about those for whom school and the Leaving Cert don’t fit?” Photograph: Getty images

Students should ask ‘what’s the point?’ rather than ‘how many points?’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he gave details of a meeting with Minister for Children Katherine Zappone which, in fact, never took place. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Research shows faulty recall is more likely to happen when you are stressed or overloaded

It’ll be after your job next: “Many of us may end up scrambling for  low-paid, part-time service jobs that cannot be done by automation.” Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

AI is displacing jobs – we need a ‘union 2.0’ to fight back, says William Myers

“We need to remember that sexual assault is not the only kind of sexual interaction that is ethically problematic,” says author Ann Cahill. Photograph: iStock

Unthinkable: Examples include ‘women being pressured – not quite to the point of outright coercion – to have sex, or to have sex w(...)

Academics believe there will be massive job losses as automation takes over more and more human roles. Photograph: Getty Images

Job insecurity and technology have created a crisis in today’s workplace

‘There are a lot of questions about how empowerment can operate for someone with advanced dementia.’  File image: John Stillwell/PA Wire

‘Empowerment is crucial for people with impaired capacity’ but it isn’t the only thing of value, says Prof Mary Donnelly

A new work by Dublin-based painter and NCAD graduate Shane Berkery of Donald Trump, whose rhetoric has the hallmarks of ‘gapped knowledge’. Photograph: Shane Berkery

The US president’s rhetoric has the hallmarks of a cognitive ‘stuttering’ that’s creeping into schools, argues Fiachra Long

Avicenna developed ‘probably the most influential and interesting medieval attempt to show that God exists’, says Prof Peter Adamson. Photograph: Detlev van Ravenswaay/ Getty images

Medieval philosophers don’t get much attention these days but Avicenna deserves it, says Prof Peter Adamson

The lies we tell: “Nietzsche claimed we lie to ourselves about 100 times more than we lie to others.”

Self-deception is rife, says Colm Fitzgerald, and our education system is to blame

“Yes, disability often involves some losses and hardships, but it involves many other things as well,” says Elizabeth Barnes, author of ‘The Minority Body: A Theory of Disability’

‘Being disabled is a way of being a minority,’ says philosopher Elizabeth Barnes

‘The democratic movement is the heir to Christianity,’ said German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Photograph: Getty Images

Unthinkable: The German philosopher foresaw the rise of ‘petty politics’ in Europe, says author Hugo Drochon

The citizens’ assembly underlines Ireland’s status as ‘the most innovative democracy in Europe’. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Unthinkable: Deliberative democracy experiment shows Ireland ‘trusts its citizens, instead of fearing them’

Denominational schools in Berlin can teach religious education through their own faith, as well as an ethics course, but they cannot skip the latter. Photograph: Cesar Manso/AFP/Getty

Irish schools introducing the new ‘religions and ethics’ course can learn from the Berlin experience

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina hosted a reception in Aras an Uachtarain for Philosophy Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: Julien Behal/Maxwells

President highlights need for citizens to identify ‘illusory rhetoric’ after recent events

Against Elections: The Case for Democracy proposes sortition – governing by the drawing of lots – instead of  election. Illustration: Oivind Hovland/Ikon/Getty

Brexit and the Trump presidency are making people ask whether the current form of democracy is the best we can do

Prof Harry G Frankfurt, moral philosopher at Princeton University. In his treatise On Bullshit he directs his fire at members of his own profession.

If the world stops making sense, call the philosopher

The secret of happiness is practising compassion, says the Dalai Lama, pictured on a visit to Ireland in 2011. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

‘To be truly benevolent we should solicit the kindness of others,’ argues lecturer Seán Moran

“The policy consensus on climate change in Ireland is very shallow.” Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Unthinkable: Democratic politics have not been good to the environment, but it needn’t be so, says Diarmuid Torney

The cast of ‘Friends’: Aristotle says older people often pursue the friendship of usefulness, young people most frequently the friendship of pleasure. Photograph: Reuters

Something you won’t hear on Facebook: only the virtuous can be true friends

‘You can’t understand the mind simply by looking at the individual brain. There is a role played by culture which you miss.’ Photograph: Science Photo Library

No, says Susan Haack, but scientists are generally better at producing answers than philosophers

“The idea that people are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at mathematics is deeply ingrained in popular culture,” says Eabhnat Ní Fhloinn. Photograph: Thinkstock

You can change your ability by first of all changing your mindset

An Occupy Toronto protester in 2011. Photograph: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Don’t underestimate your power to make a difference, says ‘effective altruism’ advocate William Mac Askill

People “have had enough of experts”, Leave campaigner and Conservative MP Michael Gove proclaimed during the EU referendum campaign. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Philosopher Julian Baggini says rationality needs to be rethought to counter the forces of unreason

“The animals are typically killed at a young age. Is this animal-friendly? I don’t think so.” Photograph: iStock

Unthinkable: The rights of animals cannot be dismissed, argues philosopher Tatjana Višak

1992: The demonstration against the High Court injunction forbidding a 14-year-old alleged rape victim from obtaining an abortion in Britain reaches Government Buildings. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Ahead of Saturday’s pro-choice rallies, a look at some of the most influential protests and counter-protests on abortion

Larry David in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’: the ‘cringe comedy’ premiered in 2000

Shared, unspoken knowledge is always the active ingredient in ‘getting the joke’

Prayer for enlightenment? Tom Inglis says few Irish  now look for religious answers. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty

There are ‘few indications’ that God matters to the Irish, says sociologist Tom Inglis

Users of Twitter tend to follow like-minded souls. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Philosophers should take the broadest possible measure of beliefs, argues philosopher Justin EH Smith

‘Philosophy is a powerful preparation for the journey upon which young people will embark’, Sabina Higgins told the launch of Philosophy Ireland at City Assembly House, South William Street, Dublin.

New organisation set up to support teachers who wish to offer Junior Cycle short course

High school students take the philosophy exam as part of  the 2016 baccalaureate at the Fustel de Coulanges high school in Strasbourg, eastern France. Photograph: Getty Images

Two new books, The Philosopher: A History in Six Types and Philosophy and Practical Engagement, ask if an ancient discipline has l(...)

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, ‘probably the most credible social commentator of the Irish left’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Values, free enterprise and religion can all play a part in winning over the voters

In the 1969 general election, the Labour party under Bredan Corish ampaigned under the slogan “the seventies will be socialist” and it promptly lost four seats.

Irish socialist thinking has moved on very little since the foundation of the State

Jean-Philippe Toussaint: ‘I am pretending to write about football, but I am writing, as always, about the passing of time.’ Photographs: Anna Toussaint

‘There are intellectual football-lovers but those who go to stadiums and bookshops are different’

George Berkeley: attempted to set up a college in Bermuda that would develop into a perfect Christian city

Utopian visions work because they are fictional, says sociologist Deirdre Ní Chuanacháin

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: giants of 20th-century philosophy. Photograph: STF/AFP/Getty

Irish governments have been slow to draw on philosophers, argues Joseph Mahon

“Ultimately one is not going to attain the beauty ideal.” Photograph: iStock

‘You are not going to be thin, with curves, on your deathbed,’ says philosopher Heather Widdows

“What the hell is water?” Photograph: Thinkstock

Art theorist Francis Halsall explains the enduring appeal of phenomenology

Photograph: Thinkstock

The cosmos’s ever-changing nature is cause for cheer, not despair, says author Niamh Brennan

Donald Trump: the US Republican presidential contest has become uncivil

Greater social inequality stands as a threat to civility, argues sociologist John A Hall

Róisín Shortall TD said the traditional approach of majority rule in the Dáil could be improved upon. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Public voting experiment in Dublin explores feasibility of electing a powersharing government

Political factions have been encouraged to embrace power sharing internationally when facing ‘external threats which would negatively affect all communities in a country’, says political scientist Dr Dawn Walsh. Photograph: Getty Images

Public invited to take part in role play to elect ‘government of national unity’ on Saturday

Patrick Pearse:  as a product of his time he would have “hated” the idea of same-sex marriage.

The difference between the reality of the men of 1916 and the way they are being used is ‘enormous’, says David Rieff

EO Wilson and Richard Dawkins: had a disagreement about evolution

An astrophysicist and a philosopher have teamed up to examine how experts disagree

Migrants and refugees clash with riot police during a protest to call for the reopening of the borders at their makeshift camp in the northern border village of Idomeni, on April 7, 2016.  A plan to send back migrants from Greece to Turkey sparked demonstrations by local residents in both countries days before the deal brokered by the European Union is set to be implemented. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC

Next time you bleat about your right to something think about what’s being done in your name in the Mediterranean

A banner used by demonstrators in Vienna, Austria last week against Iranian President Hassan Rohani over Iran’s use of the death penalty. Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before, according to Amnesty. Photograph: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Surge in death penalty in Pakistan, Iran and Saudia Arabia but China remains ‘world’s top executioner’

Abul A’la Maududi: one of the  founding fathers of Pakistan

Rigid notions of masculinity continue to cause a crisis in Islamic communities, says Dr Amanullah de Sondy

These books remind us that none of us faces the question of death alone. That in itself is some comfort. “To be oblivious of death is to be only half-awake,” writes Raymond Tallis, and it is impossible to come away from reading his work along with the other titles here without feeling a renewed gratitude for life. Moreover, they collectively show that you don’t have to thank Someone to be thankful

Joe Humphreys reviews books by five authors – a philosopher, a literary legend, a humanist, a former priest and a doctor – tacklin(...)

Should the Robin Williams test  replace the Turing test for AI?

Computers will never have human consciousness unless they have our foibles too, argues author Andrew Smart

A protest in Athens: people have become more nationalistic in countries that were worst hit economically. Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

The rise of nationalism in Europe and the US is a response to failures of internationalism, suggests sociologist Neil Fligstein

Photograph: Thinkstock

The mindfulness industry tells us to ‘be in the present’ but is that meaningful or desirable, asks philosopher Seán Enda Power

“One of the most eloquent quiet stares in human history”: Denial of Peter (detail) by Carl Heinrich Bloch

A person’s silence can send a powerful challenge to interpret it, says author Hugo Slim

Ballot box: election reformers want to see more of the people involved in more of the decisions more of the time. Illustration: Kevin Smart/Getty

As the parties pick over the results of Ireland’s general election, critics say that our blunt majority-rule system is an outdated(...)

Friedrich Nietzsche: what would he have thought of academics on Twitter?

Nietzsche believed expanding college access peddled the lie that all students were equally capable

The freedom to self-harm in the western, liberal tradition would have been anathema to Kant’s philosophy

Neglecting your health is immoral, said Kant: Trinity philosopher Alice Pinheiro Walla explains why

The state funds Catholic faith formation in the primary sector to the tune of € 90 million per year. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Penny slow to drop among Catholic Church in Ireland on issue of school patronage

“Vaccines aren’t perfect, nor can we expect them to be”

A combination of fear and distrust fuels the anti-vaccine movement, suggests American academic Eula Biss

“Reformers argue that the Koran is a living text and can be reinterpreted”

A Trinity scholar warns against generalising about a population of 1.6 billion

A visitor appraises Caravaggio’s The Calling of Saints Peter and Andrew. Photograph: Getty Images

‘The best art affects you as an individual,’ says art theorist Hugh Moss

Characters from the movie Inside Out

Poets rather than scientists are best-placed to explain our feelings, says ‘emotional archivist’ Tiffany Watt Smith

Photograph: Thinkstock

Food ethics has more to do with property rights than what we eat, says American philosopher Paul B Thompson

The dialogues the author creates between Plato and various contemporary characters, including a marketing agent, a Google employee, a Tiger Mum, a radio host and a neuroscientist, convincingly demonstrate the value of continuing the job that Socrates started in ancient Greece. But they also show just why Plato would struggle to be heard today. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Carefully researched and written with delightful verve and imagination, it captures the full scope and spirit of Plato’s dialogues(...)

‘I think cognitive enhancers should be allowed for academics’

‘Smart drugs’ pose dilemmas for students and academics, says an NUI Galway academic

Junior Cycle course seeks to promote the benefits of ‘changing one’s mind’

In general, university courses tend to have the highest retention rates. Photograph: The Irish Times

Irish Times figures show numbers failing to progress beyond first-year in each course

Academics have warned that students at third level are increasingly unable to cope with courses that require maths  competence and require support to pass exams. Photograph: The Irish Times

Up to 80% of students in some courses are failing to progress to second year

Whats not to like?: Pope Francis opens the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica, formally starting the Jubilee of Mercy, at the Vatican City, 08 December 2015.  EPA/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI

The church in Ireland promotes fundamental values and provides the basic unit of community

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at the opening of St James’s Catholic primary school in Basin Lane, Dublin, in April 2014, whose creation – out of two merging Catholic schools – allowed Educate Together move into a former Christian Brothers school next door. Photograph: John Mc Elroy.

Christian Brothers trust clashed with department officials, documents show

“Your first kiss will be forever located in some region of space-time.” Photograph: Thinkstock

Einstein suggests life events are an eternal part of the universe, says Daniel Deasy

Jimmy Rabbitte: “Irish are the blacks of Europe” had a ring of truth in late 1980s

Whiteness is as much frame of mind as skin colouring, says Linda Martín Alcoff

Astrology: a tool for interpreting the world? Illustration: Thinkstock

Philosopher (and Capricorn) Martin Cohen says star signs deserve a serious look

“Many people were so impressed by Mary Somerville it made a difference.” Above, portrait by Thomas Phillips

The status of women in science is distorting not just academia but knowledge itself, says Helen de Cruz

It seems a real shame that three things of significance have to share the one “feast day”: men, toilets and philosophy. File photograph: Getty Images

Thursday is ‘feast day’ for three good causes - but only philosophers are really persecuted

WB Yeats: unashamedly elevated imagination over rational calculation

Yeats engaged in ‘cultural mutiny’ against the encroachment of science

Parents who can’t afford fee-charging schools are effectively paying for those who are already privileged to go to private schools. Photograph: Thinkstock

Students and parents have duty to challenge unfairness in education system, argues Dr Audrey Bryan

Trinity College  Dublin paid external consultants €2.8 million to assist in “change management”.

Seven universities spent more than €24.6m on external consultants in three-year period

Towards light: imagine your life from the standpoint of darkness beyond it. Photograph: Thinkstock

Author Raymond Tallis imagines himself as a corpse and discovers new wonder for life

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