The Optimistic Science of Leibniz

by Marc E. Bobro

When Leibniz is remembered at all today, it is usually for inventing the calculus or for calling this “the best of all possible worlds” — a phrase that Voltaire famously scorned. Marc E. Bobro argues that Leibniz’s optimism is best understood in the context of his grand project to unify science, religion, and pretty much everything else.

READ MORE Wikimedia

The Invention of the War Machine

by M. Anthony Mills and Mark P. Mills

Although we tend to think of World War I as a hinge in technological history, most of the war’s iconic technologies were not in fact invented during or because of the war. But, as M. Anthony Mills and Mark P. Mills argue, the war was a turning point in another way — it brought together technology, industry, academic science, and government as never before, the first glimpse of what would later be called the “military-industrial complex.”

The Forgotten Honor of World War I

by James Bowman

Responding to those progressive historians who call the war an avoidable mistake — and who hint that we, today, know better than they did — James Bowman shows how obligations of honor, which may seem arcane in our day, played a part in the war’s beginning.

Image via U.S. National Archives

The Genius and Faith of Faraday and Maxwell

by Ian H. Hutchinson

The religious commitments of the great scientists are often dismissed as vestiges of more superstitious times. Ian H. Hutchinson offers a window into the intellectual and religious lives of the two greatest nineteenth-century electricians and shows how their religious beliefs facilitated their scientific accomplishments.

READ MORE Images via flickr/Leo Reynolds (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
and flickr/David Farrer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Toward a Conservative Policy on Climate Change

by Lee Lane

“If politicians and policy analysts on the right were to look more carefully at the problem of climate change, they would realize that conservatism offers much more tenable approaches than does the environmentalist left — and they might just be able to stop running from the issue.”

Gambling with Global Warming

by Lowell Pritchard

“Most books on climate change are penned by journalists and advocates. A few are written by experts in the sciences. Fewer still are by economists, and none come from scholars as central to the study of climate change policy as William D. Nordhaus has been for the last forty years.”

The Sacred Power of the World

by Stephen D. Blackmer

“The environmental movement has largely forgotten or lost the sacredness that imbued its early years. It has become increasingly technocratic, placing its trust solely in science, technology, politics, and economics — the gods of our culture.”

Images via Shutterstock

by Alan Jacobs

If we live in a disenchanted age — an era of science, technology, and secular reason — why are stories about supernatural forces, magical beings, and godlike powers so popular? Alan Jacobs explains what fantasy lets us safely see.

READ MORE Image: Zsolt Kósa

Machine Grading and Moral Learning

by Joshua Schulz

A recent proposal to have computers start grading college essays raises deeper questions about the purpose of education. Joshua Schulz explains why grading is a moral craft.

Who Needs a Liberal Education?

by Gilbert Meilaender

Do universities really need more general education requirements? The liberal arts are neither attractive to nor practical for every college student, Gilbert Meilaender argues — and they are not the only path to wisdom and freedom.

Tocqueville on Technology

by Benjamin Storey

Critics say that Alexis de Tocqueville failed to notice the importance of technology in young America. But Benjamin Storey argues that the great student of democracy understood the power and poetry of technology better than he is generally given credit for.


Me, My Genome, and 23andMe

by Austin L. Hughes

The FDA put the kibosh on 23andMe’s diagnostic services — but not before geneticist Austin L. Hughes became a customer. He describes what he learned and asks whether the government is right to worry about the rise of personal genomics.

flickr/acme (CC)READ MORE

A Feeling for Pain

Modern medicine has mastered the elimination of pain to an impressive degree. But as Ronald W. Dworkin, a practicing anesthesiologist, shows, when science tries to explain pain, it often muddles what we know from experience.


Detail of Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (ca. 1546), by Agnolo Bronzino (via Wikimedia)

Liberty and the Environment

by Ronald Bailey

Are liberty and the environment simply opposed? Or can liberty and a flourishing natural environment reinforce one another, the good of one encouraging the good of the other? Ronald Bailey explores whether economic activity under a system of liberty can be environmentally sustainable in the long run.

Image: Robert Adrian Hillman
via Shutterstock

Evolution and Ethics, Revisited

by Gertrude Himmelfarb

The temptation to draw moral lessons from biology is strong today — but it is hardly new. As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb explains, the nineteenth-century scientist known as “Darwin’s bulldog” argued against those who wanted to apply evolutionary science to mankind.


My Brain and I

by Roger Scruton

Leading neuroscientists believe that we need to junk our everyday understanding of the mind, and that much of philosophy needs to go too. In this essay adapted from his new book The Soul of the World, Roger Scruton pokes holes in their confidence and proposes another way of understanding who and what we are.


When Technology Ceases to Amaze

by Robert Herritt

Our everyday lives are mediated by more magical-seeming technologies than ever before, but they fail to evoke a sense of mystery. Robert Herritt explores the reasons for our lack of wonder.


When Finance Met Physics

by R. McKay Stangler

Stock trading has become a form of mathematical modeling, with sometimes disastrous results. R. McKay Stangler reviews a new book that claims we need yet more and better models.


Scientism in the Arts and Humanities

by Roger Scruton

As the ideology of scientism spreads to the study of art and literature, Roger Scruton argues that we risk believing that brains are but matter, paintings are but pixels, and all culture is nothing but “memes.”


Brave New World, Plato’s Republic, and Our Scientific Regime

by Matthew J. Franck

The society depicted in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian warning bears a striking resemblance to the city described in The Republic. Matthew J. Franck compares their teachings on politics, philosophy, poetry, and the power of science.

"Delusion Dwellers," pencil on paper, ©LLipton (
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The Virgin Galactic Accident

In Defense of Daring

Analyst Rand Simberg on the Virgin Galactic accident, the purpose of test programs, and the future of private spaceflight.


Understanding Heidegger on Technology

by Mark Blitz

What can the controversial German philosopher Martin Heidegger teach us about technology? Mark Blitz argues that Heidegger’s work provides a challenging and timely (if not unassailable) way to think about the role of technology in modern life.


The Hollowness of Radical Bioethics

by John Sexton

In their new book, Genes, Cells and Brains, Hilary and Steven Rose offer valuable critiques of biological reductionism and technological “Prometheanism.” But John Sexton reveals something missing at the center of their leftist bioethics: human nature.


Reporting Mass Shootings and Suicides

Ari N. Schulman on the news media’s troubled coverage of imitative acts of violence.


The Secular Religions of Progress

by Robert H. Nelson

Economists often try to present their discipline as truly scientific — a value-neutral tool for predicting policy outcomes. But looking to history, Robert H. Nelson shows that economic science cannot be separated from its moral and even religious presuppositions.