Accepting that the world is full of uncertainty and ambiguity does not and should not stop people from being pretty sure about a lot of things.

Big sporting events and spectacles might give the national morale a shot in the arm, but they are too transient and taste-specific to stand as robust symbols of nationhood.

Justice can only be dispensed when you have all the facts in front of you.

Atheists should point out that life without God can be meaningful, moral and happy.

True humility is expressed in deeds, not words. The humble are those who truly walk the same ground as everyone else - not necessarily with grovelling, hunched backs, but certainly not lording it over others, either.

The only good reason to embrace a philosophical position is that you are convinced it is true or at least makes sense of the world better than the alternatives.

No genuine choice is ever simply a matter of the arbitrary exercise of will. Take your choice of lunch today. You can't decide to want anything, but what you want will at least in part be a result of a series of other choices and judgments you've made in your life to date.

We can take suffering to be an opportunity to learn and to grow. But if we are honest, we should remember that this is making the best of a bad job, and that minimising suffering takes priority over optimising its outcome.

It is often said that having gone through any kind of suffering tends to makes you appreciate life more and live more in the present. I'm not sure how universal or long-lasting these effects really are.

Since Plato, we have been considering the nature of knowledge, the meaning of meaning and the status of the physical world.

Constructive complaint requires only two things: that what you are complaining about should be different, and that it can be different. It sounds simple, but too often our protests fail this test.

Dover's cliffs call to mind the Roman invasion; the Battle of Britain; our proximity to, yet difference from, mainland Europe; and international trade and exploration, both fair and exploitative.

Indeed, without emotion it seems unlikely we can even have morality.

Anger clearly has its proper place at work, which is neither wholly absent nor ever present. The manager who is an emotional blank is just as hard to work for as the volcanic boss, and both can do great harm by setting an unhelpful example for what kind of emotional expression is expected and accepted.

One reason why it has become harder to promote the beneficial side of emotions such as anger is that the moral vocabulary of good and bad has been replaced by the self-help lexicon of positive and negative thinking.

Atheists have to live with the knowledge that there is no salvation, no redemption, no second chances. Lives can go terribly wrong in ways that can never be put right.

Stress means something different if it is the result of rewarding work rather than struggling to keep the family out of debt.

Metaphorical tone deafness is when people are unable to discern what is of value in something. I think I'm tone deaf to poetry, for instance. Despite having studied it into a second year of university, most of it just leaves me cold.

Believers are right when they say that to understand a religion properly you need to get under its skin. But to understand it fully, you cannot stay there: you have to take a more objective view, too.

To become a stoic is to endorse the truthfulness of its world view and accept its prescription for how you ought to live, not just to like how it makes you feel.

Love is indeed, at root, the product of the firings of neurons and release of hormones.

If there is an art of living, it is not something that can be taught timelessly. We have lessons to learn from Aristotle et al, for sure, but not if we simply uproot them from their epoch and stamp them into 21st-century soil.

As a teenager, I increasingly had questions about religion to which I found no good answers.

'That which does not kill me makes me stronger' is not a law of the universe. What it can be, if we so choose, is a resolution.

Cooking can be rewarding when it is a choice and no longer the onerous duty of the housewife, and when a dishwasher can lighten the load at the other end of the process.

Happiness is not the same as life satisfaction, while neither are identical to what we might call flourishing.

Untested assumptions and lazy habits of thought can be shown up, once put in a spotlight of a different hue.

The truly humble feel the ground beneath their feet every day and do not only become aware of it when held aloft or pushed down to their knees.

Right and wrong are not simply matters of evolutionary impacts and what is natural.

There is such a thing as fanaticism, it is always wrong, and if you disagree, you're wrong too.

The idea that the mind can extend even beyond the body is an intriguing one, and is bound to become more pressing as we increasingly develop technologies that augment our natural abilities.

No one who has understood even a fraction of what science has told us about the universe can fail to be in awe of both the cosmos and of science.

I don't feel proprietorial about the problems of philosophy. History has taught us that many philosophical issues can grow up, leave home and live elsewhere.

Trade has played a vital role in the social evolution of humankind. It allowed people to specialise, which raises both skill levels and efficiency. It brought people from different lands together, co-operating rather than competing over resources.

I don't believe in God because certain reasons and arguments weigh more heavily in my mind than others, not because I have willfully decided to reject my creator, as many religious people seem to think. I could no more simply decide to believe in God than I could decide to like beetroot, just like that.

Most people believe, more or less, that the value of a human life is the same, irrespective of where on the planet it happens to find itself. But, of course, not every life has the same value for us.

Economics is uncertain because its fundamental subject matter is not money but human action. That's why economics is not the dismal science, it's no science at all.

If you believe you are right, then you should believe that you can make the case that you're right. This requires you to deal with serious objections properly.

Yesterday's news feeds our fear that our neighbours are more likely than not to be bad eggs: benefit fraudsters, bogus asylum seekers, paedophiles or jihadist terrorists.

I maintain the importance of an absolute prohibition against torture, while acknowledging that even absolute prohibitions can sometimes be broken. If that is a contradiction, it is a contradiction that ethics has to embrace, or else it becomes like glass: hard, clear, but fatally inflexible.

People do care where their food, or other goods, comes from, not merely if the price is right. And that means no business can afford to ignore the impacts their buying practices have on producers and on the perceptions and choices of consumers.

You don't choose what you believe moment to moment, but choices you have made do shape what you come to believe.

Daily life is better when it involves interactions with real people who have a personal investment in their labour, like shopkeepers, than it is with someone 'just doing my job' or the infernal self-checkout machine.

Instead of showing strangers kindness and giving them the benefit of the doubt, we increasingly show them only fear, and that is bad for us and them.

Nature deals the cards without thought or care, and there is no point in blaming the dealer. All we can do is make the best of the hands we have been dealt.

The capacity to make free choices is not something we either have entirely or not at all. Rather, choices become freer the more they are the result of our own capacity to reflect on and assess facts and arguments.

If we now find ourselves looking down on the cheap and convenient, it is only because we now have better things which are affordable.

In my experience, those who make the biggest fuss about not spending much at Christmas are generally the ones who buy what they want and eat where they want 12 months a year.

It may not have the virtuous ring of the golden rule, but the maxim 'never say never' is one of the most important in ethics.