Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. On What Matters: Volume I By Derek Parfit (Oxford University Press, 540 pp., $35) On What Matters: Volume II By Derek Parfit (Oxford University Press, 825 pp., $35) I. The idea that ethics is the province of religion lingers even in relatively secular societies.
David Hume was born three hundred years ago, in 1711. The world has changed radically since his time, and yet many of his ideas and admonitions remain deeply relevant, though rather neglected, in the contemporary world. These Humean insights include the central role of information and knowledge for adequate ethical scrutiny, and the importance of reasoning without disowning the pertinence of powerful sentiments.