Ronnie de Souza has an interesting article at Aeon on why he thinks the concept of morality isn't helpful. His overall thesis is that the idea that there are things that are right or wrong without qualification, in and of itself, adds nothing useful to the conversation. We can find reasons why or why not … Continue reading Some words might simply no longer be productive for precise conversations
I'm not a moral realist. But I think we definitely have personal morals, the moral norms of the culture we live in, and the moral rules we encode in law. These all interact and influence each other in an ongoing feedback process. They can be studied with psychology, sociology, anthropology, law, history, and probably some … Continue reading The forlorn search for moral realism
This is an interesting video from Big Think. It features discussion from a variety of thinkers like Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, Susan Schneider, and others, including a lot of intelligent remarks from someone I wasn't familiar with until now, Joanna Bryson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETVr_lpIMO0 Consciousness lies in the eye of the beholder. There is no universally agreed … Continue reading Does conscious AI deserve rights?
Jason Mckenzie Alexander at iai.tv makes an interesting proposition, that morality is a social technology, one that goes out of date and frequently needs to be upgraded. He first describes the common sentiment that morals are objective in some timeless platonic sense. I discussed the problems with this view in a post a while back … Continue reading Is morality objective, yet relative?
The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. As someone who isn't able to find an objective basis for morality, I've often wondered what that means for the above statement from Martin Luther King. It certainly feels like we're making moral progress, that the status of previously oppressed or marginalized people … Continue reading Is there a moral arc to history?
I've written before on why science can't determine morality. This isn't a particularly controversial position (even if many of Sam Harris or Michael Shermer's followers find it so). No one seems to have found an intellectually rigorous answer to David Hume's is/ought divide, that you can't derive an ought from an is. To logically determine … Continue reading The unavoidable complexity of morality
I've had a few conversations lately on morality, and it strikes me that I haven't written about it in quite a while. The discussions focused on whether there is any objective morality, or any objective definition of good and evil. This is an age old question. It occurs to me that we can break moral … Continue reading In search of an objective morality
Justin P. McBrayer, an ethics and philosophy of religion professor, has an opinion piece in the New York Times bemoaning the fact that students are showing up for college not believing that moral rules are facts. What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true … Continue reading Students showing up at college understanding the fact value distinction is a good thing.
One of the things that a lot of people are often surprised to hear, is that most scholars don't believe that religion was always concerned with morality, that moralizing religion didn't exist to any significant extent before the 'Axial Age' circa 500 BC. Psychologist Nicolas Baumard has a theory about what may have led to moralizing … Continue reading Wealth may have driven the rise of moralizing religions
I'm not religious. I don't think morality comes from God, gods, or any religious precept. But often, when I see debates on whether or not morality can only come from God or religion, an atheist philosopher will mention the Euthyphro dilemma, state or imply that the question was conclusively handled over 2300 years by this Plato … Continue reading Does the Euthyphro dilemma actually prove anything?