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We aim to report on the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought. The Culture Sector encourages intercultural dialogue and promotes cultural pluralism within humanity.
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Horse racing’s ethical steeplechase

 

This October's Paradubice in the Czech Republic and the forthcoming British Grand National in the Spring are two of the most famous sporting events in the calendar. 

Both races attract crowds in their tens of thousands and television audiences in their millions. Both races involve enormous jumps that are famous in their own right - Becher’s Brook, The Chair and Taxisuv Prikop, or Taxis Ditch. Every running sees new arguments as to the ethical merits - or otherwise - of these famously popular occasions.



It’s a question that depends in part on the degree to which you are prepared to extend the concept of ethics. Here’s one definition, “rules of conduct recognised in respect of a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture etc.” And here’s another: “that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions”. There are countless alternatives - let’s stop at two.

The first definition clearly ends at the limits of human interaction. What humans do with animals is beyond the terms of the discussion. But the second one is more interesting. There are plenty of passionate - if perhaps somewhat extreme - advocates who would argue that the concepts of rightness and wrongness extend beyond our own species.

They would argue that exploiting another sentient being is simply ‘wrong’. Irrespective of a formal definition of ‘wrongness’ these people might be inclined to invoke our second definition to decry events like the Pardubice and the Grand National. Both races have attracted their share of interventionist protesters over the years.

The contrary position is adopted by those directly involved; those who love their horses and want only the best for them. The animals involved are bred to run and jump - which is another way to say that their DNA represents a genetic blueprint for a running and jumping racing animal. Horse racing is as old as civilization itself. It is, in a profound historical sense, part of what makes us who we are today.

Such considerations clearly do not disturb those happy consumers considering Grand National tips or celebrating the athletic bravery of those involved in the Pardubice. That level of popular acceptance may speak of the cultural acceptance of these events but that is not the same as a consideration of their ethical merits. In the great steeplechase of popular opinion, philosophical merit falls at the first every time.

Of course the Pardubice and the Grand National are at the extreme end of the spectrum. Most horse racing is less controversial. But that is what makes those two famous races such useful examples. If their running can be justified then the case is made.

But this logic of extrapolation can quickly run away from us. Is it ethical to fix a plough or a carriage to a horse? Is it even ethical to farm animals for meat? We quickly find we have run away from sport in any form and are discussing the very basis of our own civilization.

It is in the nature of ethics that we must examine the very nature of the questions we ask. On that basis, our definitions of ethics quickly become more brittle than viable. It seems that there is no universal recourse to any absolute ethical determination, there are only contingent and relative ongoing judgements to be made moment by moment. Picking the one that applies in any one instance is a matter of requiring careful a detailed consideration.  

Some would say the same underlying principle applies to picking the winner of the Pardubice or the Grand National. In the English idiom they call it ‘horses for courses’.

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How to Holiday Like a Celebrity

The lifestyles of the rich and the famous is always an enviable thought for us mere mortals. Everyday we see pictures of celebrities walking around on holiday on beaches in exotic locations around the world, it is almost as if they were posing for a photo shoot. Here is how to have a holiday like a celebrity but without those annoying paparazzi following you around.

Location

The first and most important part of acting like a celebrity on holiday is choosing a location to go to, think of somewhere exotic, but make sure the place has some equally impressive places to stay. Some great holidays destinations are places like St Tropez, the Bahamas, the Maldives, etc. Once you choose your location the next step is renting a private luxury vacation rental in your chosen location, consider a place with a private beach or an exclusive location with some privacy for that added celebrity feel.

Travel in Style

When flying to your location upgrade or book a first class ticket and enjoy the flight and the privileges involved, you will certainly feel like a celebrity. When travelling by car it is a good idea to get a driver, the car does not need to be anything too crazy, but having a driver will take away the stress and allow you to think less and enjoy much more of the place you are visiting.

Act the Part

With great power comes great responsibility and if you want to act like a celebrity you need to be polite, humble and not act like a diva. It is important for people around you to believe that “being a star” has not gone to your head and people will be more likely to give you the star treatment. Playing it cool and the mystery of who you are will draw people to you.

Bring your Friends

As celebrities are never in the same place for very long naturally they bring their friends and relatives along with them. Treat this as an opportunity to share some quality time with your loved ones. The number of friends will also allow you to share some of the costs of the holiday.

Don’t do it yourself

When on holiday it is important not to leave things to chance, for example getting into a great restaurant or bar, it is best to get someone to make reservations for you, like a concierge, as they are likely to have some sort of connections and it may be easier for them to get the reservation. Also having someone organizing it for you is more likely to show how important you are to the bar or restaurant compared to making the calls yourself.

Obviously you don’t need to be a celebrity to enjoy a holiday like a celebrity, never forget that you are there to have a good time and let your hair down.

 

 

 

 

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