Category: Society

Should a liberal-democratic government protect the ‘social rights’ of its citizens?

It is self-evidently true that a liberal-democratic government should protect the ‘social rights’ of its citizens. There are copious arguments from various eminent thinkers that back up this claim. Ranging across eras and philosophical schools, various intellectuals have endorsed the protection of social rights of citizens. This essay will draw upon the ideas of philosopher Socrates (through his disciple Plato), American founding father James Madison, and 20th century political scientist T.H. Marshall. In doing so, the essay will back the position that a liberal-democratic government should protect the ‘social-rights’ of its citizens.

Social rights can be loosely defined as those rights which are operant in public places. While this is not a legal definition of the term, it serves as a guideline for the essay. In a nation with diverse racial, ethnic and religious demography as the United States, it is expected that the laws reflect secularism and social equity. These . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Influences shaping climate change discourse in the United States

One of the topics that had garnered media space in recent months is the issue of global warming. Without doubt it is one of the critical issues facing humanity. If solutions are not identified and implemented urgently, irrevocable damage could occur to the prospects of the species as well as the larger habitable environment. There are different stakeholders involved, including the policymakers, media, general public, the business community and the scientific community. The direction of the future discourse on the subject would depend on persuasiveness and collective representation of each of these groups. What follows is an evaluation of their relative ‘weight’ in terms of shaping the discourse on climate change. Newspapers such as New York Times and Washington Times were perused for this exercise.

The scientific community performs the crucial role of studying the problem and accurately projecting the future implications. But they have relatively weak influence over the . . . Read More

Continue Reading

American writers as critics of war, women’s status & slavery: Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass and Margaret Fuller

All the authors in the title have made key contributions to American literature, culture and politics. They used their literary talent as a means to not only create art but also to transform society. The 19th century was a period of great upheavals in American history. The nation was still young and uncertain of its own identity. It is quite natural that this milieu gave rise to several undercurrents of unrest. On the political front was class struggle between the propertied and un-propertied whites. In terms of social equations, the blacks were hoping for the abolishment of slavery. Women were still thought of as ‘property’ of their fathers or husbands or sons, let alone having the right to vote. In terms of general culture, the population was highly illiterate. It is these pressing issues that writers such as Melville, Douglass and Fuller sought to address through their work. It can be claimed that their efforts were not in vain, given how much the country has progressed in . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Human races: Are We So Different?

Recent scientific expeditions that have retraced all routes of human migration out of Africa in the last 50,000 years make for a fascinating story. In the exhibit perused for this exercise I discovered that the pivotal moment was the great Ice Age that set in 50 thousand years ago, up until when, the rich and diverse ecology of central and southern Africa began to change. With the substantial drop in temperatures, the erstwhile green and fertile regions began to dry up. And this crisis for survival is perhaps the most important event in anthropology.

The populating of the Australian continent is a tantalizing story of adventure and chance. Scientists were first confounded by the 6000 mile of ocean that separated the East African coast from the nearest shore in Australia. Later it came to light that the radically new geological conditions created by the Ice Age provided an easy passage wherever the sea had receded. Likewise the crossing of the arctic inhabiting Chikchu people . . . Read More

Continue Reading

My Experience attending Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

Although I am personally not addicted to alcohol or narcotic drugs, I participated in the Alcoholics Anonymous program in my locality. The purpose is to glean important key insights through first hand observation and direct interaction. Although most of the participants in the 12 step program were adults, there were some who were adolescents as well. It is saddening to see teenagers fall into the vicious trap of alcohol addiction. However, it is also consoling to know that they can get cured through participation in the program. I must say that, though at the beginning I was uneasy with the whole idea, by the end of the exercise I found it enriching and rewarding.

Addiction to alcohol poses serious problems for both the addict as well as his/her family. In a culture that associates drinking with festive occasions and celebrations, over-indulgence in alcohol is to be expected. In the case of teenagers, alcohol addiction is often the result of a dysfunctional relationship with . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Debate Paper: Should single individuals be allowed to adopt children?

NO. There are many conundrums, including legal uncertainties, question marks over suitability and the possibility of gender-based discrimination if single individual adoption is allowed.

Children need both parents for healthy psychological development. To successfully meet various socio-psychological developmental stages a child would ideally need both parents. Moreover, taking care of a child, especially in its early years is a strenuous effort and a couple is better disposed to share that responsibility. Moreover, identification with the same-sex parent is a key developmental milestone. (Samuels, 2012) There are also unanswered questions over the suitability of a single man in raising an adopted daughter, especially with respect to negotiating the biological and psychological upheavals during puberty. If we grant that only women can raise baby girls into maturity, then is it not discriminatory against men?

The other major problem with single individual . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Marc Sageman’s views on terrorism in the 21st century

Much of Sageman’s data set focuses on the central organization of Al Qaeda. Do you feel that this can be generalized to the larger jihadist movement?

Sageman’s contention that Al Qaeda is now a decentralized and more diffuse organization is quite correct. After the killing of Osama bin Laden and his top rung of aides, there seem to be a weakening of command-and-control style of organizational leadership. Sageman’s data, drawn heavily from the Islamic diasporas from across the world bear this view. The new modus of operation is for discrete and disparate groups of a few individuals to conceive and execute acts of terror. The result is that the scale of these acts tend to be smaller and its targets less specific. That there were no acts of terrorism to match the human and collateral damage witnessed on 9/11 supports this view. Hence what is observed with Al Qaeda is applicable to the broader jihadist movement.

Discuss the roles that social networks . . . Read More

Continue Reading

The key traits of North American Indian culture which flourished before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors in 1492

The simplistic version of history suggests a primitive/tribal way of life for indigenous Americans. Such a simplification detracts from the community a rich, ecologically informed culture, as well as an egalitarian social organization. The first chapter in the book by Roark, Johnson and team attempts to flesh out a complete picture of North American Indian culture before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.

One of the key characteristics of Native Americans is their unique genealogy, which derives from African and Asian populations. Although this connection is not the most intuitive, anthropological studies using genetic markers have substantiated this understanding. In the late medieval period, they were believed to have adopted a hunter-gatherer mode of life. It is an important revelation, for everywhere else in the world agriculture and urbanization has already become entrenched. Bison was a great stock prey during the time as the ecology of the Great Plains suited it . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Summary and Reflection of ‘Future of Medicine: Perfection and Beyond’ (Chapter 3) of Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

The chapter takes the reader through an imaginative journey of medicine in the future. Although some of the possibilities proposed appear like material from a science fiction novel, they are based on emerging scientific breakthroughs. One of the themes discussed in the chapter is the increasing mastery of human beings to ‘play God’. Evolving new technologies allow the medical professional to perform astounding feats of genetic engineering. This could happen at various stages of life – from neonatal to palliative. With this capability, people can augment their life spans, develop immunity to various viruses and even thwart cancer using nanotechnology.

In chapter 3, Michio Kaku makes predictions and depictions of future of medicine in all its possible manifestations. We read of ‘nanobots’ that would operate at sub-molecular levels in dealing with infections and diseases. The author also envisions advancement in stem cell extraction and utilization, whereby, new organs . . . Read More

Continue Reading

Connections between human trafficking and environmental destruction

The connection between human trafficking and environmental destruction is not obvious at the outset. But a closer scrutiny of human trafficking reveals how it does lead to the degradation of the environment.  When we study the life and works of luminary figures from past to present, they all acknowledge the centrality of human liberty for cultural progress.  Since the upkeep of our environment is a reflection of our cultural values, the link between human freedom and environmental conditions is established.

Saint Vincent de Paul’s words of divine wisdom offer guidance as to how we should consider human freedoms. In the theological context of his counsel, de Paul equated human freedom as the liberation from worldly attachments and desires. He said, “Naturally, everyone loves his freedom, but we must beware of this as of a broad road that leads to perdition.”  (De Paul) Since the moral preoccupations during his lifetime were about sin, salvation and redemption, his . . . Read More

Continue Reading