Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments

Simon Duffy

Thoughts, Bemusements & Arguments


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

Essays, thoughts, poems, prayers and quotes.

The Limits of Centralisation

3rd October 2011

Centralisation imparts without difficulty an admirable regularity to the routine of business... in short it excels in prevention, but not in action. Its forces desert it when society is to be profoundly moved, or…

The Paideia Proposal

26th September 2011

The Paideia Proposal was an educational reform plan proposed by Mortimer Adler in the USA. The description of the plan below is drawn from the article Reconstituting the Schools, included in the 1988 edition of his…

Democratic Welfare Reform

21st September 2011

The struggle for democracy offers us a parallel to the struggle for welfare reform. People need more control over their own lives, within an institutional framework that creates rights and opportunties for…

Mr Pye and Do-Goodery

19th September 2011

Mervyn Peake's novel Mr Pye is a wonderful fable on the perils of do-goodery. Bringing boundless wisdom and benevolence to the island of Sark he ends up, much to his own disgust, turning into a winged angel.What is at…

One Value of Diversity

14th September 2011

A diversification among human communities is essential for the provision of the incentive and material for the Odyssey of the human spirit. Other nations of different habits are not enemies: they are godsends. Men…

Not from Benevolence

10th September 2011

[each individual] stands at all times in the need of the co-operation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons... ...It is not from the…


7th September 2011

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That…

The Centre of Totalitarianism

7th September 2011

Just as the stability of the totalitarian regime depends on sealing off the fictitious world of the movement from the outside world, so the experiment of total domination in the concentration camps depends upon…

Science and Humanity

6th September 2011

Science in that sense moderates potential Hitlers [they need the scientists for their own victories and so must take care of them] - but only in that sense. In general it increases man’s power without increasing…

Towards a View from Nowhere

5th September 2011

In the pursuit of justice, positional illusions can impose serious barriers that have to be overcome through broadening the informational basis of evaluations, which is one of the reasons why Adam Smith demanded…

Do Not Harvest to the Edges - Biblical Social Justice Theory

1st September 2011

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for…

Citizenship in the Welfare State

1st September 2011

Above all, I think the idea of citizenship should remain at the centre of modern political debates about social and economic arrangements. The concept of a citizen is that of a person who can hold [their] head high and…

Sufficiency is Wealth

30th August 2011

Nevertheless the soul can be just as thoroughly ruined by excessive poverty as by excessive wealth; both wound with equal severity, for wealth and beggary are two extremes. The mean is called sufficiency, and that…

Perhaps His Blood is Redder

27th August 2011

In fourth-century Babylon, a man came to Rabbi Rava and said: “The governor of my town has ordered me to murder someone [who is innocent], and has warned me that if I do not do so he will have me killed. [Can I murder the…

The Prince and the Rooster

26th August 2011

Once, in an ancient kingdom, there lived a fine and handsome and intelligent prince. But one day he got it into his head that he was a rooster. At first the king believed this was simply a passing thought, a phase his son…

Three (or Four) Kinds of People

24th August 2011

Three officials were assigned to guard the king’s treasures. They proved to be corrupt, and dividing the valuables, ran away. One thought better of it, and returned of his own accord. The second was persuaded by a…

The Mohawk Prayer

22nd August 2011

"Because are human, we are going to mess up, we are going to make errors and omissions – so we are asking for your forgiveness in advance…"My thanks Nan Carle for sharing this with me. It needs no commentary.

Medical Power & Personal Health Budgets

22nd August 2011

The modern doctor evokes respect and awe, mixed with some fear and suspicion. At the most basic level a power relationship starts to exist as soon as we feel that another person holds in their hands an important key to…

Make Learning Fun for All

19th August 2011

The following lessons are shared by experts in inclusive education - committed to ensuring that disabled children play a full part in classrooms, schools and the whole educational experience.Teach people to get…

The Fictional Economy

10th August 2011

One of the most frightening things we do as human beings is to hurt ourselves with fictional entities. One of these fictional entities is 'the economy'.We tell ourselves that we must not lose the economic race…

Six Blind Men of Hindustan

4th August 2011

There were six men of Hindustan,to learning much inclined,Who went to see an elephant,though all of them were blind,That each by observationmight satisfy his mind.The first approached the elephant,and…

Churchill and the Persians

4th August 2011

Churchill observed "America will always do the right thing... but only after exhausting all other possibilities." He could have deduced this from Katz's Law which is that "Men and nations will act…

Little Faith in the Average Man

5th July 2011

The Fabian writer Beatrice Webb said "We have little faith in the 'average sensual man', we do not believe that he can do more than describe his grievances, we do not think he can prescribe the remedies."And it is true…


4th July 2011

Imagine a man who washes up on a desert island. He has all he needs, but then new people arrive on what he thinks of as ‘his island’. We can identify at least 4 different kinds of cases that each demand a different…