Articles by: Rachel Haliburton

Emery Barnes Park Playground, Vancouver, during coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by GoToVan from Vancouver, Canada / CC BY SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Preliminary Thoughts on a Pandemic

March 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm

There’s a passage in Emily St. John Mandel’s wonderful (and surprisingly not too depressing) book, Station Eleven, about the world before, during, and after a pandemic which I want to quote at length because it captures better than anything else I know how I am feeling right now. It goesRead More

Students reading in class, Leflore County Schools. (Carl Albert Research and Studies Center, Congressional Collection / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Educated for Life?

March 8, 2020 at 12:35 pm

As of this writing, elementary and high school teachers in Ontario are embroiled in an escalating dispute with Premier Doug Ford’s government. Teachers have held a number of one-day strikes and, I understand, have many more planned. While the government has been putting forward a narrative that consists of theRead More

Are We All Climate Change Deniers?

Are We All Climate Change Deniers?

February 12, 2020 at 12:47 pm

Last month, I discussed the work of an ex-student of mine, Caitlin Heppner, who recently defended a very interesting thesis on the epistemological dimensions of climate science. Caitlin explored both the question of why some people might be skeptical about the validity of the science and the motives of theRead More

Why Do Climate Skeptics Distrust the Science?

Why Do Climate Skeptics Distrust the Science?

January 15, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Last month, I argued that, when we think in Marxist terms about the contradictions of capitalism, perhaps the most striking and important contradiction of all is that to make the goods bought and sold to keep the capitalist machine running we are destroying the very planet we depend upon forRead More

Some of the 500, one-meter tall Karl Marx statues on display in Trier, Germany, 5 May 2013. (Photo by Pierre Wolfer https://www.flickr.com/photos/dewolfert/ CC BY-ND 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ via Flikr

Revisiting the Communist Manifesto

December 18, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Over the last few columns, I have been exploring our disordered relationship with our material possessions. One of the reasons that so many of us, even those of us who have limited incomes, can still accumulate too much stuff results from the fact that we live in a capitalist economyRead More

Minimalism: A (Pseudo) Ethical Lifestyle

Minimalism: A (Pseudo) Ethical Lifestyle

November 13, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Last month, I considered the surprising popularity of the KonMari method of organizing our homes, and argued that the attractiveness of this approach to decluttering results, at least in part, from our recognition of our disordered relationship with our stuff, and that this disordered relationship negatively affects our lives. WhatRead More

4 November 2015; Marie Kondo, Author and Organising Consultant, Marie Kondo, on the Society Stage during Day 2 of the 2015 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin, Ireland. Picture credit: 4 November 2015; Marie Kondo, Author and Organising Consultant, Marie Kondo, on the Society Stage during Day 2 of the 2015 Web Summit in the RDS, Dublin, Ireland. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE / Web Summit

The Ethical Dimensions of “Tidying Up”

October 23, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Like many North Americans, I recently binge-watched the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. For readers who have been living under a rock and are consequently unfamiliar with this show, it features the Japanese tidying guru Kondo and her (eventually) grateful clients. I found myself watching the show somewhatRead More

Prime Minister Stephen Harper uses a sign to show a future 1 percent cut to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at a Giant Tiger department store, on Friday June 30, 2006. The tax cut takes effect on July 1, 2006. JANA CHYTILOVA / OTT

Rachel Haliburton Asks About the GST

October 16, 2019 at 11:57 am

Rachel Haliburton, the Spectator’s Ethicist, who has written frequently about the necessity of taxes, asked this question of federal candidates in Cape Breton-Canso and Sydney Victoria: Given deficits are rising and healthcare in trouble, would you (or your party) consider raising the GST back to where it was before formerRead More

"Friends," oil on canvas, by Jerry Weiss, CC by 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons

On Friendship

September 18, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Earlier this week, as of this writing, I lost a very dear friend and her death has made me reflect on the ethical dimensions of friendship. Most contemporary moral philosophers agree that there are three major ethical approaches in the Western philosophical tradition, utilitarianism, Kantianism and virtue ethics. Surprisingly, itRead More

Toronto's Eaton Centre, facing south. (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Acedia and Consumerism

September 4, 2019 at 10:04 am

I am sitting in a board game café as I write this month’s column. I have my phone on the table in front of me, and I am surrounded by young people, most of whom are using computers and/or are holding phones in their hands. Our phones and our computersRead More