Muslim  praying in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Islam has  ‘given rise to remarkably free societies as well as depressingly intolerant ones’. Photograph: AP/Muhammed Muheisen

Sometimes we forget just how weird we are – we who are part of the western, educated, industrialised, rich, and democratic (weird) world. More than t(...)

Eleanor Roosevelt holds up a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Photograph: Fotosearch/Getty Images

The language of rights has become the dominant way of communicating moral claims. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1798) conce(...)

Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

I inadvertently offended someone online recently. It can be hard to avoid. Twitter allows you a 140-character limit. Within those parameters it is al(...)

WB Yeats in Walter de la Mare’s garden at Taplow on September  14th,  1935: ‘Sligo is, indeed, a great place for fairy pillaging’

Editors’ introduction A good deal of WB Yeats’s work was informed by his idea that the richness of the Irish folk imagination owed much to the endurin(...)

Portrait of Francis Hutcheson by Allan Ramsay at Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow

It’s just like a philosopher to be born and to die on the same date. Such was the fate of Co Down man Francis Hutcheson (August 8th, 1694, to Augus(...)

Four Courts: Effective public scrutiny of courts requires both a happenstance audience and the hope that such public scrutinisers have some knowledge of fair proceedings

Open court facilitates public scrutiny of courts, in the words of Jeremy Bentham, “to keep the judge while trying, under trial”. However, the common v(...)