My first in-person conference at Brighton University for almost three years proved more interesting to me than I expected. But the keynote talk by rapper Lowkey reminded me this is one of those psychically dismal periods when many of us don't expect life to get better in moral terms. I guess one reason why some people expend absurd amounts of energy over the moral failings of the past is through fearing despair at the present.

Lowkey elaborated on the way the music business and the internet are set up to mine our lives (as packages of data) for advertising. It is still only a few years since I first met this picture in print from Jaron Larnier, but it has now exploded into the mainstream. So much for the liberation of the 1990s.

I am not in a position to judge Lowkey's claim that there has been no effective response to the Grenfell disaster, amid the welter of claims and counter-claims about relief for leaseholders in purpose-built flats. What I can readily believe is Lowkey's point that cheap flammable cladding was installed (in many buildings) to reduce energy consumption. So much for action to combat climate change.

All too often the various ideologists shout slogans about government regulation without troubling to assess the real value, or not, of specific regulations.

If we want any sort of moral progress we need to clear the persistent error in much moral philosophy - including analytic - of supposing that without a metaphysical grounding, moral or ethical standards have no rational basis (which is what 'emotivism' means, for instance). This is a legacy of the old rationalism of the 17th and 18th centuries and neglects the fact that we have now (rightly) expanded rationality to cover practical reasons and reasoning. This is in addition to the formal metaphysical reasoning we still need for logic and mathematics. 

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