What We Are Reading Today: The Cat: A Natural and Cultural History by Sarah Brown

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Updated 27 March 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Cat: A Natural and Cultural History by Sarah Brown

Of all the domesticated species, cats have enjoyed the most complex relationship with people — one that still leads to arguments about whether you can truly call the cat asleep by your fire “tame.” 

The Cat is a comprehensive, richly illustrated exploration of the natural and cultural history of this much-loved pet. 

Chapters on Evolution & Development, Anatomy & Biology, Society & Behavior, and Cats & Humans take different angles on matters feline, offering rich information and insights about kitten development, the hierarchy of cats, how cats think, communication between cats and people, historic and extinct breeds, the challenges facing cats today and how we can help, and much, much more. 

The book also features a visually stunning photographic directory of more than forty popular breeds, with essential information about each. Filled with surprising facts, The Cat will enchant anyone with an interest in, or a love for, these animals.


What We Are Reading Today: The Privatized State by Chiara Cordelli

Updated 26 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Privatized State by Chiara Cordelli

Many governmental functions today—from the management of prisons and welfare offices to warfare and financial regulation—are outsourced to private entities. Education and health care are funded in part through private philanthropy rather than taxation. Can a privatized government rule legitimately? The Privatized State argues that it cannot.

In this boldly provocative book, Chiara Cordelli argues that privatization constitutes a regression to a precivil condition—what philosophers centuries ago called “a state of nature.” Developing a compelling case for the democratic state and its administrative apparatus, she shows how privatization reproduces the very same defects that Enlightenment thinkers attributed to the precivil condition, and which only properly constituted political institutions can overcome—defects such as provisional justice, undue dependence, and unfreedom. 

Cordelli advocates for constitutional limits on privatization and a more democratic system of public administration, and lays out the central responsibilities of private actors in contexts where governance is already extensively privatized. 

Charting a way forward, she presents a new conceptual account of political representation and novel philosophical theories of democratic authority and legitimate lawmaking.

The Privatized State shows how privatization undermines the very reason political institutions exist in the first place, and advocates for a new way of administering public affairs that is more democratic and just.