In the light of recent EU developments, here are two videos that analyze Brexit from a philosophical perspective.
In this video, Philosophers’ Mag asked several philosophers from leading universities their take on the EU referendum arguments. Drawing on the work of Michael Dummett and his views on governments as the moral representatives of citizens, Dr. Alexander Douglas argues that there should be a shift in the EU referendum debate from a focus on how to make Britain stronger to how to make the country better and more able to do the most good. UCL Professor Jonathan Wolff points out that “British independence” is a myth, and Professor Lucy O’Brien draws attention to an interesting contradiction that seems to have informed the voters’ behavior. She says that “after the 2008 crash, there’s greater awareness of our epistemic frailty on socioeconomic matters: we know that we do not know. This is tempered by a strange faith that if either option were disastrous, we wouldn’t have been given the choice.” I found her observation particularly illuminating considering that according to Google, after seeing the results of the referendum and the reaction it caused in the media, UK voters overwhelmingly searched for “What is the EU?” The rest of the video explores the importance of prudence, irrationality, how mass distrust affects our ability to get to the truth, and more.
For a look at the concept of sovereignty, immigration, and how it all ties in with the EU, this video on PhilosophyTube provides some valuable insight. The EU referendum has been heavily reliant on ideas of autonomy, self-determination, and national sovereignty. But what is national sovereignty and how does it differ from individual autonomy? What did the UK lack in sovereignty within the EU and what does it hope to gain outside of it? If we define national sovereignty as the right to exclude others, then we need to ask ourselves who we are excluding, and what will happen with the people we decide to exclude. Might strengthening UK sovereignty imply letting other people die? Olly (the guy behind Philosophy Tube) draws from the philosophy of Achilles Mbembe and his essay “Necropolitics” to address these questions. Mbembe writes that “The ultimate expression of sovereignty resides, to a large degree, in the power and the capacity to dictate who may live and who must die.” Watch the video to see how Olly ties this in with the idea of “camps,” and our brain’s ability to replace a complex issue with a far simpler one in order to make sense of reality.
Ana Sandoiu is a writer, researcher & philosophy lover living in Brighton, UK. She also writes on her personal blog, On a Saturday Morning.