CAVE in the media

Jeanette Kennett on ABC's All in The MindOur members often present their work to the public through the popular media. Collected here are the news articles, opinion pieces, and blog posts that are either written by or feature our members. There's a wide range of articles, from Conversation pieces to posts in the Brains blog to articles in the New York Times. There are also radio and podcast interviews where our members talk about their research or give their expert opinions on certain topics.

As an added feature, there are videos: some long ones, of the annual CAVE public lecture, and some short ones, including interviews and popular talks by our members at events such as TEDx.

These will give you a great introduction to the ideas and problems that this centre is interested in. We hope that you enjoy them!

Latest story:

New article: CAVE member Neil Levy on climate change and political belief. Read more.

New podcast: Our public lecturer, David Matas, spoke about organ transplants in China. Hear more.

For stories from previous years, please visit our media archive.



What Australia can do to avoid complicity in foreign transplant abuse, by David Matas

International Coalition to End Organ Pillaging in China, November 29, 2016
CAVE Public Lecturer 2016, David Matas

Public Lecture by David MatasPresentation to Macquarie University, Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics [CAVE] annual lecture 23 November, 2016 Sydney, Australia

Because of shortage of organs, patients in need of transplants wait endlessly and become desperate, spurring transplant tourism. The Government of China has been sourcing organs from prisoners in large numbers, in violation of international ethics. I and other researchers have concluded that these sources are mostly prisoners of conscience Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and, primarily, practitioners of the spiritually based set of exercises Falun Gong. The Government of China claims that prisoner organ sourcing has stopped, but the claim is unsubstantiated and there is much contrary evidence. Read more.

Our political beliefs predict how we feel about climate change, by Neil Levy

The Conversation, November 28, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

The man who called global warming a fabrication invented by the Chinese to make US manufacturing less competitive is now president-elect of the US. His followers expect him to withdraw the US from the Paris climate change agreement and eliminate the environmental regulations introduced by his predecessor.

But recently, Donald Trump has shown a few signs that he might be open to being convinced that climate change is a real problem requiring action. In discussion with journalists at the New York Times, he expressed the view that there is “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, adding that he’s keeping an open mind about it. Read more.

US military successfully test electrical brain stimulation to enhance staff skills, by Ian Sample

The Guardian, November 8, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

US military scientists have used electrical brain stimulators to enhance mental skills of staff, in research that aims to boost the performance of air crews, drone operators and others in the armed forces’ most demanding roles.

The successful tests of the devices pave the way for servicemen and women to be wired up at critical times of duty, so that electrical pulses can be beamed into their brains to improve their effectiveness in high pressure situations. Read more.

Constructing Race, by Richard Marshall

3:AM Magazine, November 5, 2016
CAVE Visitor, Ron Mallon

Ron Mallon is a philosopher who thinks about the philosophy of race and social construction. Here he discusses various default metaphysical positions taken regarding race, racialism, race talk, then goes on to think about the role of semantic theories, problems with this, whether we continue with race talk, whether race talk started in the west, ex phi, why there are so few non-white philosophers and what should be done about that (and sexism too). Roll on Ron… Read more.

Peirce, Pragmatism and Race, Racism, by Richard Marshall

3:AM Magazine, October 29, 2016
CAVE member, Albert Atkin

Albert Atkin is currently working on the philosophy of Race and Racism, and has a particular interest in how the definition of “racism” impacts upon applied social and political questions. He also has ongoing interests in the work of C.S. Peirce and pragmatism which is where this discussion starts. He discusses Peirce and ‘pragmaticism’ rather than pragmatism, his architectonic, his theory of signs, reference, Frege’s puzzle, Peirce’s link with John Perry, his formal logic and metaphysics. He then discusses philosophy of race, how he thinks race should be approached by philosophers, the whiteness of the academy, why he thinks philosophy is white, male and wealthy, and what is to be done. Take away the rag from your face, now ain’t the time… Read more.

On Sexism and Gender Bias, by Sally Haslanger

MIT SHASS: Great Ideas Change the World, October, 2016
CAVE Distinguished Visitor 2016, Sally Haslanger

"As long as 'being presidential' and 'looking presidential' are about being and looking masculine, we will be unable to address what is ripping us apart as a country." 

— Sally Haslanger, Ford Professor of Philosophy

For the first time in history, a woman is a serious contender for the U.S. presidency. Based on your research, to what degree do you think gender bias and sexism have been factors in the 2016 election process? What is the single most important finding/perspective about gender attitudes that would be useful for an American voter to know? Read more.

What do sugar and climate change have in common? Misplaced scepticism of the science, by Neil Levy

The Conversation, September 30, 2016
Practical Ethics: Ethics in the News, October 3, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Why do we think that climate sceptics are irrational? A major reason is that almost none of them have any genuine expertise in climate science (most have no scientific expertise at all), yet they’re confident that they know better than the scientists. Science is hard. Seeing patterns in noisy data requires statistical expertise, for instance. Climate data is very noisy: we shouldn’t rely on common sense to analyse it. We are instead forced to use the assessment of experts. Read more.

Cross-posted at the Oxford Uehiro Practical Ethics blog: Read more.

A Doctor's Morality or a Patient's Right to Treatment: Which Comes First? by Scotty Hendricks

Big Think, September 21, 2016
CAVE member Jeanette Kennett

Refusing to act is often as controversial as any action: whether Colin Kaepernick should stand for an anthem, for example, or the right of Kim Davis not to sign a marriage certificate. Also of particular interest is the right of healthcare providers to conscientiously object to providing certain medical treatments.

Is a medical professional entitled to deny care they object to? Even if the care is medically necessary? What if the objection is based on bad data or insincere claims of morality? What if it is based on sincerely held beliefs? Read more.

Westmead Hospital rejects China-link transplant 'benefits', by John Ross

The Australian, September 7, 2016
CAVE member Wendy Rogers

A Sydney teaching hospital has rejected claims that it benefited from its association with a Chinese hospital linked with transplants involving executed prisoners’ organs.

Westmead Hospital, which is aligned with the University of Sydney, says it trained staff at the central Chinese hospital in safe “xenotransplantation” research techniques — after learning that they planned to pursue such studies — because it wanted to help avert catastrophe. Read more.

Consensus statement on conscientious objection in healthcare, by Practical Ethics

Practical Ethics: Ethics in the News, August 29, 2016
CAVE member, Jeanette Kennett

On the 7th, 8th, and 9th of June 2016 a group of philosophers and bioethicists gathered at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in a workshop on healthcare practitioners’ conscience and conscientious objection in healthcare. Conscientious objection is the refusal by a healthcare practitioner to provide a certain medical service, for example an abortion or medical assistance in dying, because it conflicts with the practitioner’s moral views. Aim of the workshop was to discuss the ethical and legal aspects of conscientious objection in healthcare, in view of proposing some guidelines for the regulation of conscientious objection in healthcare in the future.

At the end of the workshop, the participants formulated a consensus statement of 10 points, which are here proposed as ethical guidelines that should inform, at the level of legislations and institutional policies, the way conscientious objections in healthcare is regulated. Read more.

Wendy Rogers on the Chinese organ trade, by Nina Yan

New Tang Dynasty TV, August 20, 2016
CAVE member, Wendy Rogers

Wendy Rogers was interviewed for the Chinese independent TV station, NTD, about the organ procurement for organ transplantation. There are two segments (in Chinese):

Segment 1 (Video and transcript): 澳医学专家:吁各界制止中国活摘器官

Segment 2 (Video and transcript): 器官移植大会召开 澳洲医学专家关注活摘

This interview also appeared in the Epoch Times (in Chinese).

Australian organ transplant doctors defend China ties, by Rick Feneley and Joel Keep

SBS, August 19, 2016
CAVE member, Wendy Rogers

Criticism is being leveled at clinicians from Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research, including Dr. Philip O’Connell and Professor Jeremy Chapman, the current and past presidents of The Transplantation Society – as the international body meets in Hong Kong for its 26th congress today.

Recently published research by author Ethan Gutmann, former Canadian politician David Kilgour and lawyer David Matas claims China is performing 60,000 to 100,000 organ transplants a year. They say this dwarfs the Communist regime’s estimates of about 10,000 and that it cannot be explained by China’s fledgling program for voluntary organ donors. Read more.

Video games - a moral game changer? by Macquarie Newsroom

Macquarie Newsroom, August 19, 2016
CAVE member, Paul Formosa

With 98 per cent of Australian households with children having at least one form of video game, it not only seems logical but indeed ethical that we discuss the moral content of videogames.

A recent paper by Macquarie University researchers challenges the concept that games are amoral spaces where actions are without ethical significance.

Dr Paul Formosa from the Department of Philosophy explains that artists across every medium engage audiences with challenging moral questions concerning topics of war, crime corruption, fidelity and the abuse of power. However, Formosa argues relatively few video games invite us to engage deeply with the morality of the worlds they depict or the behaviours they encourage us to adopt. Read more.

Why being a sporting role model isn't as simple as most people think, by Katrina Hutchison

The Conversation, August 17, 2016
CAVE member, Katrina Hutchison

New reports of Nikki Hamblin (New Zealand) stopping during the 5000m finals at the Rio Olympics to help fellow competitor Abbey D’Agostino (US) after they’d crashed on the track have evoked the “Olympic spirit”. The New Zealander also waited until D'Agostino, who was injured in the fall, could continue the race, sacrificing any chance of catching up to the main pack. Read more.

Here's what Australia can do to help end the Chinese organ trade, by Wendy Rogers

The Conversation, August 9, 2016
CAVE member, Wendy Rogers

Exact numbers are unknown, but a Daily Telegraph special feature reports at least some Australians travel each year to China for organ transplants. Many go for kidneys, some of which may come from living donors.

For those who travel to China for whole livers, lungs or hearts, there can be little doubt that, after organ retrieval, the donor is dead. When such operations are booked in advance, the death is timed to be convenient for the recipient and/or transplant team. Read more.

Won't someone think of the children? by Neil Levy

Practical Ethics: Ethics in the News, July 18, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Andrea Leadsom’s suggestion that being a mother made her a better candidate for being a leader than Theresa May, because it gave her a stake in the future that May lacked, seems to have sunk her leadership bid. The horrified responses to her remarks were motivated in important part by the observation that Leadsom was trading on the common sexist belief that it is somehow unnatural or perverse for women (but not men) to be childless. But might Leadsom have had a point? What do we actually know about how having children affects parents’ political engagement and orientation? Read more.

People who feel too specialised to transfer occupations may be at an increased risk of suicide-related thinking and behaviour, by Macquarie Newsroom

Macquarie Newsroom, July 13, 2016
CAVE member, Monique Crane

People who believe their occupational skills are non-transferable to other professions are potentially at an increased risk of suicide-related thinking and behaviour, a Macquarie University study has found. The study is the first to investigate how a person’s perceived skill transferability is linked to suicide-related thinking and behaviour, and has implications for clinical practitioners, human resource managers, and training institutions, such as universities. Read more.

The Stem Cell "Sell", by Megan Munsie, Ian Kerridge, Cameron Stewart, Tereza Hendl, Wendy Lipworth, Tamra Lysaght & Catherine Waldby

Australasian Science, July/August 2016
CAVE affiliate member Wendy Lipworth

The unfettered commercial environment that has allowed stem cell tourism to flourish must be challenged, and the professionals who enable it should be held to account. Read more (subscription required).

Biobanks Go Global, by Paul H. Mason, Wendy Lipworth & Ian Kerridge

Australasian Science, July/August 2016
CAVE affiliate member Wendy Lipworth

Global networks of depositories for biological samples open a range of scientific, legal and ethical challenges. Read more (subscription required).

Do insects have consciousness? by Abigail Tucker, July 1, 2016
CAVE member Colin Klein

Amid the usual parade of creeping horrors—super lice, mayfly plagues and a “troll-haired insect discovered in remote Suriname”—the exterminator news site PestWeb recently shared a piece of unsettling intelligence.

“Insects Have Consciousness, Self-Awareness and Egos,” the headline read.

Whether or not the consciences of professional bug slayers were burdened by this revelation, other people were alarmed. We’re a far cry from “insect rights,” mused the bioethicist and animal rights advocate Peter Singer, but the prospect of bugs’ inner lives ups the ethical stakes. Read more.

How to trick your brain into wanting less junk food, by Paul Biegler

Cosmos Magazine, June 22, 2016
CAVE member Neil Levy

All this might look like the bitter end for free will and food, but there could be a phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Neil Levy, a philosopher at Macquarie University and the University of Oxford, accepts the possibility of “determinism” – the view that every effect, including all human action, is preceded by a cause. If we knew every fact and physical law, we could predict human behaviour. Read more.

China accused of lying over organ harvesting, by Billy Briggs

The Ferret, June 17, 2016
CAVE member, Wendy Rogers

An Australian academic has challenged claims by China’s government that it has stopped removing organs from executed prisoners for transplants.

Professor Wendy Rogers spoke to The Ferret ahead of a visit to the Scottish Parliament for a special screening of a film on Chinese organ harvesting.

She called on MSPs to condemn the Chinese government for the practice and for the Scottish Government to pass a law to prevent people from taking part in the illegal trade of organs. Read more.

Would it be immoral to send out a generation starship? By Neil Levy

Aeon Ideas, June 13, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

If human beings are ever to colonise other planets – which might become necessary for the survival of the species, given how far we have degraded this one – they will almost certainly have to use generation ships: spaceships that will support not just those who set out on them, but also their descendants. The vast distances between Earth and the nearest habitable planets, combined with the fact that we are unlikely ever to invent a way of travelling that exceeds the speed of light, ensures that many generations will be born, raised and die on board such a ship before it arrives at its destination. Read more.

Scotland urged to speak out against China's horrific organ harvesting as more savage atrocities are revealed, by Billy Briggs

Daily Record, June 12, 2016
CAVE member, Wendy Rogers

SCOTS have been urged to join worldwide condemnation of China’s barbaric organ harvesting programme.

The Beijing authorities have come under huge pressure over the secret harvesting of organs from prisoners.

Professor Wendy Rogers, an Australian expert, called on Scotland to question all links to the Chinese government. Read more.

Affirmative Action for Women in Mathematics: Fighting Discrimination with Discrimination? by Neil Levy

Practical Ethics: Ethics in the News, June 7, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

The University of Melbourne (the most prestigious university in my hometown) has advertised three senior positions in mathematics. Like some (but not all) other STEM subjects, mathematics has a low proportion of female academics. In part, this is a pipeline problem: women are significantly less likely to do mathematics degrees than men (28% of maths students at Melbourne are female). The head of the school of mathematics and statistics at the university hopes that the appointments might help by fixing the leaking pipeline: the three appointments will provide role models and mentors for female students and might encourage more of them to enrol, finish and go on to higher degrees. Read more.

Prehistoric instinct could explain mystery of glucose-boosted self control, by Natalie Morrison

FoodNavigator, June 7, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Glucose’s mysterious positive effect on self control could be due to the brain’s natural instinct to grab immediate rewards when deprived of sugary foods, a new theory suggests. Read more.

No sweet surrender: Glucose actually enhances self-control, study shows, by ScienceDaily

ScienceDaily, June 2, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

In the age of the 'sugar tax', good news about glucose is hard to come by. But an Australian scientist has just proposed a new understanding of the established link between the sweet stuff and improved self-control

As Neil Levy, from Macquarie University, explains in the journal Philosophical Psychology, the current 'ego depletion' model of the link between glucose and self-control holds that self-control is a depletable resource. Or put another way, glucose is the fuel for the engine of self-control. Read more.

Don't dismiss conflict-of-interest concerns in IVF, they have a basis, by Jane Williams, Brette Blakely, Christopher Mayes, and Wendy Lipworth

The Conversation, June 1, 2016
CAVE affiliate member, Wendy Lipworth

It’s estimated over 5 million children have been born worldwide as a result of assisted reproductive technology treatments. Assisted reproductive technology, an umbrella term that includes in vitro fertilisation (IVF), is a highly profitable global industry, and fertility clinics are increasingly regarded as an attractive investment option. Read more.

My brain made me do it: will neuroscience change the way we punish criminals? by Allan McCay and Jeanette Kennett

The Conversation, May 26, 2016
CAVE member, Jeanette Kennett, and CAVE affiliate member, Allan McCay

Australian law may be on the cusp of a brain-based revolution that will reshape the way we deal with criminals.

Some researchers, such as neuroscientist David Eagleman, have argued that neuroscience should radically change our practices of punishment. According to Eagleman, the courts should give up on the notion of punishment altogether and instead focus on managing criminals and containing their behaviour in order to keep the rest of us safe.

Is this a good idea? And is this how Australian judges are responding to our increasing knowledge of the neurobiological bases of behaviour? Read more.

Also reported in The Independent: Can neuroscience revolutionise the way we punish criminals?

Blame it on the brain: How neuroscientific evidence is changing case law in Australia, by LSJ

Law Society Journal Online, May, 2016
CAVE member, Jeanette Kennett, and CAVE affiliate member, Allan McCay

“If you could trace back some awful behavior to something in a person’s brain that might be more worrying because it might indicate that they are intrinsically bad. A colleague of ours was interviewing judges and asked about how they would sentence an offender with a genetic predisposition related to anger and the judge said ‘Am I supposed to lock him up for less time, or more time?” - Jeanette Kennett. Read more (subscription required).

Budget Insider: Top new talent, by, April 20, 2016
CAVE student, Leigh Dayton is proud to announce three new experts who will join Budget Insider 2016’s brilliant line-up of panelists who will round up and dissect the innovation initiative expected from Treasurer Scott Morrison’s highly anticipated first Budget speech. Read more.

What it is like to be a bee: insects can teach us about the origin of consciousness, by Colin Klein and Andrew Barron

The Conversation, April 19, 2016
CAVE member, Colin Klein

Do bees like the taste of nectar? Does the ant foraging for your crumbs feel better when she finds one?

Are insects merely tiny robots? Or, in the phrase popularised by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, is there something it is like to be a bee?

Until recently, most scientists and philosophers would have laughed at the question. But now, research is challenging that dismissive attitude towards invertebrate consciousness. Read more.

Do insects have consciousness and ego? by Jason Daly, April 19, 2016
CAVE member, Colin Klein

Most of us think of insects as little automatons, living creatures driven by instinct and outside stimulus to slurp up nectar or buzz around our ears. But in a new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers suggest that insects have the capacity “for the most basic aspect of consciousness: subjective experience.” Read more.

Do Honeybees Feel? Scientists Are Entertaining the Idea, by James Gorman

The New York Times, April 18, 2016
CAVE member, Colin Klein

Bees find nectar and tell their hive-mates; flies evade the swatter; and cockroaches seem to do whatever they like wherever they like. But who would believe that insects are conscious, that they are aware of what’s going on, not just little biobots? Read more.

Insects could shed light on the evolution of consciousness, by Gemma Chilton

Australian Geographic, April 18, 2016
CAVE member, Colin Klein

Insects have the capacity for 'subjective experience' and the brain structures that support this basic form of consciousness originated more than 480 million years ago, two Australian researchers have argued in a paper out today. Read more.

Can neurolaw change the criminal justice system? by Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis

All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, April 15, 2016
CAVE Member, Jeannette Kennett

Could mental impairment compel you to commit a crime? And if it could, would you then be responsible for your actions? 'Neurolaw' raises complex questions about the nature of guilt, free will and culpability. Lynne Malcolm and Olivia Willis report. Read more.

This research was also reported in The Independent: Terence Martin: The Tasmanian MP whose medication 'turned him into a paedophile'.

Catalyst: Echolocation, by Graham Phillips

ABC Catalyst, April 12, 2016
CAVE member Greg Downey

The blind man leading the blind to see - how echolocation is redefining our understanding of vision. Daniel Kish is blind but his ability to "see using sound" is remarkable. His use of echolocation to effortlessly get around using mouth clicks has earned him the nickname "Batman". Now researchers are getting a clearer picture on the way his brain turns sounds into images and it's redefining our understanding of vision. Read more (video available).

How Can Philosophy Contribute to Public Debates and Discourse? by Nicole Vincent

Blog of the APA, April 6, 2016
CAVE Affiliate Member, Nicole Vincent

Really? What kind of question is that anyway? I mean, where do I even start?

Personally, I cannot imagine doing philosophy in any other way. But I do often wonder if this is just a reflection of my personal taste that the topics I choose to work on have the potential to contribute to public debates and discourse—for instance, free will and responsibility, neurolaw and neurophilosophy more generally, cognitive enhancement, moral enhancement, psychopathology and mental disorder, distributive justice, philosophy of technology, happiness, and, of late, gender and sexuality. Read more.

CommInsure scandal reminds us commercial forces are at play in medicine, by Wendy Lipworth, Ian Kerridge, and Narcyz Ghinea

The Conversation, March 10, 2016
CAVE affiliate member, Wendy Lipworth

A scandal has emerged involving the insurance giant CommInsure, following claims by the company’s (now ex) chief health officer that they purposefully sought to avoid paying health-related claims by using outdated disease definitions; dishonestly used medical reports; and denied claims for frivolous reasons. Read more.

Euthanasia: more options don't always expand our freedoms, sometimes it limits them, by Neil Levy

The Conversation, March 8, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Liberal democracies are built around individual freedom. That is, the freedom of the individual to act more or less as she wishes so long as she doesn’t harm others. We take this freedom for granted today, but it is historically novel. Read more.

Drug testing 'problematic', by Shane Manning

The Daily Advertiser, March 6, 2016
CAVE Affiliate member, Mary Walker

An ethics academic has weighed into the controversy surrounding the drug-driving laws clogging the court system.

The divisive issue has seen a heated debate emerge on The Daily Advertiser’s Facebook page, with many voicing their concerns.

It comes as an Advertiser poll, asking if the 'driving with illicit drug in bloodstream' charge was an attack on civil liberties, revealed 81.87 per cent of 1401 respondents believed the legislation encroached on their rights. Read more.

What defines a healthy population? by This Week

This Week, March 4, 2016
CAVE member, Sonia Allan

Dr Sonia Allan is Head of the Department of Health Systems and Populations in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Sonia was recently appointed by the Minister for Health in South Australia to review the changes to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 (SA).

We asked Sonia a number of questions about her professional background and expertise, and the opportunities and challenges for health that lie ahead. Read more.

The allure of Donald Trump, by Neil Levy

Practical Ethics: Ethics in the News, February 23, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

The primary season is now well underway, and the Trump bandwagon continues to gather pace. Like most observers, I thought it would run out of steam well before this stage. Trump delights in the kinds of vicious attacks and stupidities that would derail any other candidate. His lack of shame and indifference to truth give him a kind of imperviousness to criticism. His candidacy no longer seems funny: it now arouses more horror than humour for many observers. Given that Trump is so awful – so bereft of genuine ideas, of intelligence, and obviously of decency – what explains his poll numbers?  Read more.

A version of this article appeared in Quartz: Donald Trump’s fans may be influenced an evolutionary strategy called “prestige bias”.

This blog post was also reported in BioEdge: The psychology of Trump Voters.

Does the desire to punish have any place in modern justice? by Neil Levy

Aeon Opinions, February 19, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Human beings are a punitive species. Perhaps because we are social animals, and require the cooperation of others to achieve our goals, we are strongly disposed to punish those who take advantage of us. Those who ‘free-ride’, taking benefits to which they are not entitled, are subject to exclusion, the imposition of fines or harsher penalties. Wrongdoing arouses strong emotions in us, whether it is done to us, or to others. Our indignation and resentment have fueled a dizzying variety of punitive practices – ostracism, branding, beheading, quartering, fining, and very many more. The details vary from place to place and time to culture but punishment has been a human universal, because it has been in our evolutionary interests. However, those evolutionary impulses are crude guides to how we should deal with offenders in contemporary society. Read more.

Is technology eating our brains? by Michael Coulter

The Sydney Morning Herald, Digital Life, February 7, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Quick quiz. When was the last time you ...

a) wrote a letter by hand;

b) used a street directory or other paper map; 

c) multiplied two large numbers in your head; 

d) memorised a phone number that wasn't your own.

Chances are it's been a while, and there's a simple reason: technology means we hardly ever need to. With nine in 10 Australians carrying a smartphone in their pocket, skills that society once considered essential have become redundant. Read more.

On the cutting edge: Ethics and surgical innovation, by Wendy Rogers

Australian Quarterly 2016 Special Edition, January, 2016
CAVE member, Wendy Rogers

Surgery is such a central part of contemporary health care that we take much of it for granted. Joint replacements, once innovative, are now commonplace, while laparoscopic, or 'keyhole' surgery has become the norm for many surgical procedures. Developments like these are the result of innovation. Successful innovation can be highly beneficial to patients. Prior to the use of stents for coronary artery disease, many patients underwent invasive open heart surgery; while organ transplants have transformed the lives of countless recipients. Yet surgical innovation has a dark side. Sometimes trying something new can have catastrophic effects. Read more (subscription required).

Also available on Informit for download.

The Beauty of Limits: A Q&A with Dr. Nicole Vincent

Enhancing Life Project Blog, January 19, 2016
CAVE affiliate member, Nicole Vincent

Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are prescribed to children who have trouble concentrating in school, to help them focus. But increasingly, college students and professionals in competitive work environments are using these medications off-label to artificially enhance their cognition. Taking these drugs allows some people to think more sharply and concentrate for longer, even on little sleep, to enjoy their work more, and some argue that expanding access to these drugs could promise extraordinary gains in human efficiency—but at what cost? Nicole Vincent, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Neuroscience at Georgia State University, says that we need to think carefully about how and when technologies like so-called “smart drugs” should be used. We should be bolder about controlling these innovations, she argues, to prevent work and economic competition from taking over other—equally important—aspects of our lives. Read more.

Four psychological tricks to help stick to your New Year's resolutions, by Neil Levy

The Conversation, January 4, 2016
CAVE member, Neil Levy

Every year, millions of people around the world make New Year’s resolutions. And every year, the great majority of us break and abandon those resolutions.

Self-control is a major problem for many of us, so failure to maintain our resolutions isn’t surprising. But is it inevitable? Is there anything we can do to make it more likely that we stick to our resolve? Read more.



Tens of thousands of organ transplants still performed by Chinese government: report, by Fran Kelly

ABC RN Breakfast, November 23, 2016
CAVE Public Lecturer, David Matas

Ten years ago a controversial Canadian report brought the world's attention for the first time to a horrific allegation—that the Chinese government was secretly harvesting organs from political prisoners, including many followers of the spiritual practice known as Falun Gong. Hear more.

Australia's True Colours - What is Racism? by Ellie Cooper

Probono Australia, October 11, 2016
CAVE members Albert Atkin and Neil Levy

Australia’s racism has roots in its history of colonisation and migration, and, until recent years, racist policies and practices were embedded within Australian laws and institutions, and the debate has become tied up with national identity.

In the first episode in a three-part series, Australia’s True Colours, Not for Podcast investigates what racism is and where it comes from to ultimately find out, is Australia racist? Hear more.

Judging Remorse, by Rachel Carbonell

Law Report, ABC Radio National, September 27, 2016
CAVE member, Kate Rossmanith

How do judges and magistrates tell if someone is genuinely remorseful?

Is remorse legally defined?

An interdisciplinary research initiative with academics from legal philosophy, forensic psychology and cultural studies is investigating how remorse is evaluated in the courts. Hear more.

Pioneering Minds: Why our brains make us who (and what) we are: Prof. Greg Downey, by Macquarie Newsroom

Pioneering Minds Podcast Series, August 11, 2016
CAVE member, Greg Downey

Are we all the same, deep down, or do our specific circumstances create fundamental differences between us?

This is the question neuroanthropologist Professor Greg Downey seeks to answer, and he discusses it at length in this week’s Pioneering Minds podcast.

Professor Downey also discusses how culture informs us, the vital importance of research, and the fact that without our amazing brains, we would just be “fairly untalented, hairless apes.” Yep.

You can listen now on iTunes or Soundcloud.

From Macquarie Newsroom.

The pleasure-pain paradox, by Joe Gelonesi

The Philosopher's Zone, ABC Radio National, June 5, 2016
CAVE Visitors, Michael Brady, David Bain, and Jennifer Corns

Pain is a puzzle; and so is pleasure. For instance, how do you deal with the phenomenon of a pain that doesn’t hurt, or the pleasures for some of masochism? Yes, there are evolutionary and neuroscientific explanations, but somehow they don’t seem to tell the full story. Enter the philosophers, for whom the pleasure-pain paradox needs to be solved. Hear more.

Neuroscience and Criminal Punishment, by Jennie Lenman

Breakfast on Radio Adelaide, 101.5FM Radio Adelaide Digital, May 27, 2016
CAVE member, Jeanette Kennett

Researchers say that neuroscience could change the way the way Australian law punishes criminals. Should this happen and how are judges currently dealing with advances in neurological explanations for behaviour? Professor Jeanette Kennett holds a joint appointment between the Department of Philosophy and the Centre for Cognitive Science at Macquarie University and she joined us to discuss. Hear more.

The discovery of insect consciousness, by Michael Mackenzie

Afternoons, ABC Radio National, April 22, 2016
CAVE member, Colin Klein

Have you ever got up close and personal with an ant and really taken a look at what it's doing?

Did it make you wonder whether that ant was thinking and reflecting about its experience as it moved that crumb across the picnic blanket?

Well a new theoretical paper proposes that insects such as ants and bees do think and actually demonstrate a kind of consciousness.

It suggests that by studying the brains and behaviour of these creatures we can learn more about the evolution of our own human thought processes. Hear more.

Neurolaw, by Lynne Malcolm

All in the Mind, ABC Radio National, April 10, 2016
CAVE member, Jeanette Kennett

Can problems in your brain make you commit a crime? And if so, how much responsibility is yours? These are the complex questions being raised by the emerging field of neurolaw. Brain imaging and other neuroscientific evidence is now being brought forward in legal cases—and sometimes mitigating a sentence. This week on All in the Mind, neurolaw experts from the United States and Australia tease out some of the thorny issues. Hear more.

Pioneering Minds: Jeanette Kennett and Neuroethics, by Macquarie Newsroom

Pioneering Minds Podcast Series, February 24, 2016
CAVE member, Jeanette Kennett

This week’s guest, Professor Jeanette Kennett from the Department of Philosophy, is a pioneer of neurolaw – a new interdisciplinary field that investigates the relationship between neuroscience and law. In her interview with Ben Mckelvey she discusses the implications of this on moral agency, criminality and culpability, the establishment of the neurolaw database, and how she was drawn to questions of justice. Listen to this episode and subscribe to the series through iTunes or SoundCloud.

From the Macquarie Newsroom.

Colin Klein, What the Body Commands: An Imperative Theory of Pain, by Carrie Figdor

New Books in Philosophy, January 15, 2016
CAVE member, Colin Klein

Nothing seems so obviously true as the claim that pains feel bad, that pain and suffering go together. Almost as obviously, it seems that the function of pain is to inform us of tissue damage. In What the Body Commands: The Imperative Theory of Pain (The MIT Press, 2015), Colin Klein denies both apparently obvious claims. On his view, pain is a "protective imperative" whose content is to protect the body or body part: for example, "Don't put weight on that left ankle!". Klein, Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Macquarie University, discusses the problem of pain asymbolia, in which people report feeling pain but are not the least bit motivated to do anything about it; considers how to explain masochistic pleasure, where we deliberately act in ways that do not protect the body; and addresses the question: why do pains (typically, but contingently) hurt? Hear more.


Member Interviews

Meet our members:

Our Director, Catriona Mackenzie. She was interviewed in 2013 when she won the Jim Piper Award for Excellence in Research Leadership. In this video, she talks about what she does.

One of our executive members, Wendy Rogers. She won the Macquarie University Research Excellence Award in the category Resilient Societies in 2015, for her work on surgical innovation.

Some of our members in the Philosophy Department in 2015, talking of the research they do thanks to the grants that they have.

CAVE Public Lectures

Every year, CAVE has a public lecture, which is open and free to everyone. These are the recordings from our previous lectures:

2015: Gillian Triggs (President of the Australian Human Rights Commission), "The Business of Human Rights."

  • 2014: Julian Savulescu (Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics), "Enhancing responsibility." (not recorded)
  • 2013: Bernadette McSherry (Melbourne), "Legal Capacity, Mental Capacity and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with  Disabilities." (not recorded)

2012: Julian Burnside, AO QC, "Defining Our National Character: Our Treatment of Asylum Seekers."

2011: Thomas Pogge (Yale), "Human rights as constraints on global institutional arrangements."

Other talks

Some of our members participate in events like TEDx and the Three Minute Thesis Competition. Here are the talks.

2015: Sacha Molitorisz at the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT), "Morality bytes: Threats to privacy and truth, agency and autonomy in a new media world."

2015: Nicole Vincent at TEDxEmory, "Cognitive enhancements for prisoners with disabilities."

2014: Tereza Hendl at TEDxMacquarie, "Challenging Gender Selection."

2014: Nicole Vincent at TEDxSydney, "Enhancing Responsibility.

For stories from previous years, please see our media archive.

Return to CAVE main page.

Page last updated: 04 Dec 2016

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