Apr 30, 2010

A cloud over airplane safety

PRINCETON, N.J. — When airports across Europe reopened after the closure caused by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, it was not because the amount of ash in the atmosphere had dropped, but because the risk that the ash posed to airplane safety had ...

Apr 5, 2010

The unknown promise of Internet freedom

MELBOURNE, Australia — Google has withdrawn from China, arguing that it is no longer willing to design its search engine to block information that the Chinese government does not wish its citizens to have. In liberal democracies around the world, this decision has generally ...

Mar 11, 2010

Free Tilly and other circus animals

MELBOURNE, Australia — Last month, at the Sea World amusement park in Florida, a whale grabbed a trainer, Dawn Brancheau, pulled her under water, and thrashed about with her. By the time rescuers arrived, Brancheau was dead. The death of the trainer is a ...

Feb 23, 2010

Needs of Haiti and the limits of generosity

MELBOURNE, Australia — All over the world, people have responded generously to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti. In just three days, more than a million Americans had donated $10 by sending text messages from their cell phones. People with very little themselves, like ...

Jan 7, 2010

Keys to keeping your New Year's resolutions

MELBOURNE — Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps you resolved to get fit, to lose weight, to save more money or to drink less alcohol. Or your resolution may have been more altruistic: to help those in need, or to reduce your ...

Dec 17, 2009

Do humanoid robots deserve to have rights?

PRINCETON/WARSAW — Last month, Gecko Systems announced that it had been running trials of its “fully autonomous personal companion home care robot,” also known as a “carebot,” designed to help elderly or disabled people to live independently. A woman with short-term memory loss broke ...

Nov 18, 2009

Slippery slope of doctor-assisted euthanasia

PRINCETON — Of all the arguments against voluntary euthanasia, the most influential is the “slippery slope”: once we allow doctors to kill patients, we will not be able to limit the killing to those who want to die. There is no evidence for this ...

Oct 23, 2009

A day to act in the name of planetary justice

PRINCETON, N.J. — What we are doing to our planet, to our children and grandchildren, and to the poor, by our heedless production of greenhouse gases, is one of the great moral wrongs of our age. This Saturday is a day to stand up ...

Sep 3, 2009

Crime, punishment and the quality of mercy

PRINCETON, N.J. — The recent release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, sparked outrage. Around the same time, the Philadelphia Eagles, an American football team, offered a second chance to former star ...

Aug 25, 2009

Opening a regulated market for kidney sales

PRINCETON, N.J. — The arrest in New York last month of Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, a Brooklyn businessman whom police allege tried to broker a deal to buy a kidney for $160,000, coincided with the passage of a law in Singapore that some say will open ...