Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

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Simon is a philosopher and activist. He is Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform and Secretary to Citizen Network: a global cooperative to achieve a world where everyone matters.

Essays, thoughts, poems, prayers and quotes:


Incentives Can be Badly Misused

26th April 2012

The effect of high rewards or similar in creative jobs is thus very often to encourage people to misallocate their effort between tasks, to fixate on a given target, to take too much or to little risk, to have…

How to Reduce the Riskiness of Trust

18th April 2012

Confucius says "I do not see how a man can be acceptable who is untrustworthy in word. When a pin is missing in the yoke-bar of a large cart or in the collar-bar of a small cart, how can the cart be expected to go?"Lao Tzu…

Mexican Salsa - Simple Recipe

30th March 2012

Chop up and gently fry a large onion until translucent, add fresh chilli (or powder would do, but add it early on and don’t over heat). Add chopped garlic and then a chopped bell pepper and again fry but not to…

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Welfare Reform

15th March 2012

The Welfare Reform Bill is the most radical reform of the tax-benefit system since Beveridge. It is a mixture of the good, the bad and the very ugly.At its best it recognizes the problem. It recognizes that the current…

Athenian Citizenship

7th March 2012

We regard wealth as being something to be properly used, rather than as something to boast about. As for poverty, no one need be ashamed to admit it: the real shame is in not taking practical measures to escape from it.…

Machiavelli on Fair Weather Friends

7th March 2012

I say that nobles should be considered chiefly in two ways: either they conduct themselves in such a way that they commit themselves completely to your cause or they do not. Those who commit themselves and are not…

The Disappearance of the Labour Party

7th March 2012

The Labour Party made the inevitable compromise with the new society it had done so much to create: it ceased to exist.Michael Young from The Rise of the MeritocracyMichael Young was one of the central figures of the…

What does 'God' mean?

7th March 2012

The rav asked a disciple who had entered his room: "Moshe, what do we mean when we say 'God'?" The disciple was silent. The rav asked him a second and third time. Then he said: "Why are you silent?""Because I do not…

From Caring Comes Courage

7th March 2012

...the most important term of Taoism: Tz’u, which can be translated “caring” or “compassion” and which is based upon the character for heart.In the sixty-seventh chapter of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu…

Designing with Constraints

7th March 2012

Good design is the art of progressively adapting oneself to increasingly high levels of constraint  - until only one solution is possible - the best.

The Benign Dictatorship of Democracy

7th March 2012

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild.…

Thought is Like a Ladder

27th February 2012

Thought is like a ladder, it can quickly extend to the stars. But to be of any use it must lean on something solid.

Taxing Love

27th February 2012

You can't redistribute love. Love is the most important thing in life. It is what keeps us strong, makes great children and build good citizens.The government cannot take away someone else's love and use it on…

Brokered by Love

25th February 2012

Happiness and virtue are brokered by love.In moral philosophy there is a significant divide between:Those who think morality has a purpose - telos - or Those who believe moral action is just about…

Making the Story True

25th February 2012

"Pride" she [Isak Dinesen] once wrote in her notebook, "is faith in the idea that God had, when he made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and aspires to realise it."…she did write some tales about what…

How Euthanasia leads to Eugenics

8th February 2012

…a [Nazi] Ministry of Justice Commission on the Reform of the Criminal Code drafted a similar law sanctioning "mercy killing" of people suffering from incurable diseases. The law read, in part: "Clause 1…

The Rich need the Poor

3rd February 2012

The Scotsman reported on 3rd February 2012:High-earning migrants and promising student entrepreneurs will find it easier to work in Britain as the coalition aims to ensure only “the right people are coming…

Sufficient unto the Day

3rd February 2012

Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.Matthew 6:34nolite ergo esse solliciti in crastinumcrastinus enim…

Difference evokes Meaning

28th January 2012

The philosopher, and disabled activist, Judith Snow tells us that disability is a gift.Disability is a gift because all of our distinct features - everything that makes us different and unique - is a  gift.Of…

Odysseus and Taxation

23rd January 2012

Sometimes, like Odysseus before the Sirens, we seek to limit ourselves, to put ourselves under the control of others, because we do not trust ourselves.Insurance has this function - we tax ourselves in order to put…

Selfishness and the Self

15th January 2012

The selfish act is not an act overly focused on the self; it is an act which depends upon a narrow or shrivelled sense of self or one which is overly concerned with the self as it appears in the eyes of others.We must love…

Tools Don't Work

7th January 2012

Give a man a tool and he'll go and build himself a tool-shed.Collecting tools is far easier than finding out how to use them well.Tools do no work - only human beings do the work. Tools, if well used, just make that work…

Different People, Equal Joy

7th January 2012

We are born into a human body and we find great joy in it. Yet there are other lives within the transformation of the ten thousand beings that are just as good and equally full of joy. Chuang Tze from the Tao Te…

Cultivate Yourself First

7th January 2012

The sage of old cultivated himself before he attempted to help others. If you yourself are not cultivated, what help could you possibly be for others? Do you know how virtue is lost and how mere knowledge arises? True…