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?
Tina at Diotima's Ladder put up a very cool entry: What’s Your Philosophy? | Diotima's Ladder. BLOGGING EVENT! Tell the world. Don’t be shy. Yes, we’re used to piggy-backing off the famous philosophers, and that’s why I came up with this prompt. Those well-versed in philosophy will appreciate a grassroots approach, even those who spend every … Continue reading What are your philosophical positions?
Often, when I write about moral instincts, people respond with assertions that we're essentially selfish creatures and that nothing about morality is natural. There's a name for this concept of the solely self serving human being, "Homo economicus." The Neuroskeptic discusses a study that looked for them: Spotted at last: "Homo economicus"? - Neuroskeptic | DiscoverMagazine.com. … Continue reading The vast majority of us are not “Homo economicus”.
The TED talk by Ruth Chang gets at some of the points I've made before, namely that reason only carries you so far, and that reason exists to serve intuitive goals. This comes out in hard decisions, when reasoning by itself is often insufficient, and we have to fall back on our innate values, on … Continue reading Ruth Chang: How to make hard choices
A few years ago, Sam Harris published a book, 'The Moral Landscape', which argued that science could determine moral values. To say that it received substantial criticism, from scientists, philosophers, and others, would be an understatement. Late last year, Harris issued a challenge for people to submit 1000 word essays challenging the thesis of his book. He … Continue reading Sam Harris, the fact-value distinction, and the problem with a science of morality
This video has also been around a while, but I just saw it this weekend. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLErPqqCC54 Watching this, I had three conflicting sets of emotions. The first is amazement that there are still tribes in the wild that have not yet been contacted by the outside world. I find that remarkable. The second is a feeling of … Continue reading The ethics of allowing uncontacted natives to remain uncontacted
Gallup did a poll on American positions on various moral issues, finding that Americans are now more accepting than ever on a range of issues. Most of these I don't find particularly surprising. Of course, it turns out that Democrats and Republicans have differences of opinion on many of them. HuffPost, in their write up of … Continue reading American positions on moral issues and tensions between the moral foundations
Massimo Pigliucci is doing an interesting series of posts on his philosophical positions. In the first part  of this ambitious (and inevitably, insufficient) essay I sought to write down and briefly defend a number of fundamental positions that characterize my “philosophy,” i.e., my take on important questions concerning philosophy, science and the nature of … Continue reading My philosophy, so far — part II | Scientia Salon