Philosophy & Critical Thinking

Philosophy & Critical Thinking


A Discussion About Values and Ethics (Part 1)

A Discussion About Values and Ethics July 1st, 2017

The following piece is slated to be chapter 3 in the second volume of Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom (itself based on an Internet-based talk radio show of the same name I did in times past). In this dialogue, author and philosophical thinker Jason Merchey is interviewed by noted communication expert and founder of the peace activist group Voices of Women, Jenni Prisk. Topics range from domestic to international politics, to “living a life of value”, to the role of the individual in society. Both interlocutors are candid, insightful, and informed.

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Philosophical Books: Three Down-to-Earth Ones

philosophical books June 17th, 2017

Philosophical books often don’t win many prizes. They can be difficult, abstruse, antiquated, or just plain boring. Most of us realize the power and the merit of reading in the field of philosophy, but are wary of picking up a Nietzsche book. Now, I do recommend the readable and fairly wide-ranging book Philosophy for Dummies, by public philosopher extraordinaire, Tom Morris, Ph.D. However, that is only going to take you so far because it is necessarily wide in its breadth. It’s a good “Cliff’s Notes” version of the field of philosophy, but it isn’t as deep in the area of applied philosophy as you are probably needing. That is where Values of the Wise comes in. Read on for more insight into three wonderful, philosophical books that you can really sink your teeth into and get a lot out of. 

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Books on Values: Building a Life of Value

one of the best books on values June 3rd, 2017

Values of the Wise has three wonderful, insightful books on values that range from $8 to $20. They primarily use quotations to evoke wisdom and inspiration. They are organized by value: in other words, the chapter on Truth & Justice features an introductory essay, eighteen pages of some of the best and most unique quotations on the subjects, and then a closing essay. The book is very accessible because you can flip to any page and start reading; there is no need to start at the beginning and read it like a novel. One doesn’t wear all of one’s jewelry (or clothes) every single day, and the same is true for the wisdom present in this book that Diane Zehr, Pastor of Florence Christian Church in Florence, KY describes with the following words:

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Wise Words About Life: The Wisdom Archive

wise words about life May 23rd, 2017

This is the page you need to see if you are searching for wise words about life! The Wisdom Archive is home to 25,000 great quotations on values & wisdom! I have collected these apt examples of values over a 13-year period. I have spent much money, energy, and time digitizing the collection and making it searchable based on keyword, subject, author name, author gender, value, and author ethnic background. No quotes about “fun” or “dogs” or “cooking” here! Indeed, these are the best quotes, the ultimate in wise words about life when it comes to values, wisdom, and ethics. How much does the Wisdom Archive cost? Nothing! Are there a bunch of ads that cheapen the site and the user experience? Negative!

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Supply-Side Economics: Unwise and Unkind

Economics for the rich May 22nd, 2017

Supply-side economics is on display in the latest budgetary proposals by the Trump Administration. The approach to governance he is showing is highly questionable, both from a wisdom perspective, and from an economic justice point of view. As Erik Wasson writes in his Bloomberg article, “Trump to Pitch Deep Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs and Medicaid:” “President Donald Trump plans to propose $1.7 trillion in cuts to a category of spending that includes major social and entitlement programs for lower-income Americans, as part of an effort to balance the budget within a decade.” He also notes that ‘This budget continues to reveal President Trump’s true colors: His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse to execute long-held, hard-right policies that benefit the ultra-wealthy at the expense of the middle class,’ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schemer said.” What could the populist-sounding candidate-turned-president have in mind? What is the justification? Is it wise, and is it just?

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Human Nature Reflected in Diverse Quotations

examination of human nature May 14th, 2017

What is the nature of human nature? Are humans bad, good, helpful, selfish, loving, dangerous, creative, self-destructive, evolving, devolving, satiable, insatiable, visionary, myopic, cruel, or cursed? Are we full of potential or destined for self-destruction? One thing is for sure – we have been thinking about, writing about, fighting against, and enjoying the fruits of human nature for ages. I just watched a movie that made me wonder, and yet Euripides was scratching his thoughts onto parchment 2,400 years ago. Here are some quotes on human nature to help you formulate some potential answers to this thorny question.

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Making Moral Decisions: Ethical Theories

woman making moral decisions May 13th, 2017

What is moral philosophy? How does one go about making moral decisions? How do you handle ethical dilemmas? What can philosophy do to help us live better? Morality (and its parent, moral philosophy) is one of the most interesting and least-known subjects. I read an informative and worthy textbook, Analyzing Moral Issues, a while back, and its fruits are as sweet today as ever. In this blog, I wanted to answer the above questions, and to summarize ethical theories (a.k.a. moral theories). What’s in it for you? The more you know about moral philosophy and theory, the better able you will be to think critically, deal with moral dilemmas, and live a life that would be considered “good.” This is really what making moral decisions is all about. Consider this a primer on deciding what is right and wrong.

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Critical Thinking Should Lead to Wisdom

critical thinking May 1st, 2017

How can one use critical thinking to navigate all the websites, “fake news,” and wool the politicians wish to pull over our eyes? I was asked to view an article on vaccine safety from a website called The Vaccine Reaction. I tend to come down on the “mostly safe, very effective” side of the vaccine safety/utility debate, but not reflexively so. I want to believe that the government doesn’t do things that endanger the citizens, and for one primary reason: I have a fear of corporations and plutocracy and those who love money dearly, and government is a potential bulwark against that overweening power. What did I find when I read the article? What does it have to do with critical thinking, wisdom, and self-reliance?

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Critical Thinking is a Virtue: a Case Study

critical thinking April 27th, 2017

Science is very important. Most people have a fair amount of respect for science and scientists, though America is a fairly religious country. To find wisdom, one must look beneath the surface and go beyond rumor, Reddit and Twitter, and biases. How trustworthy is science in modern America? Are scientists and their findings trustworthy, or like most things, has money ruined science, too? Enter critical thinking!

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Moderate or Milquetoast? David Brooks Quotes

David Brooks April 25th, 2017

Have you read any of David Brooks? He is a long-time New York Times opinion writer, contributor to the PBS nightly news, and multi-book author. Week after week, year after year, he can be counted on to write generally decent pieces that are center-right. He is kind of like Thomas L. Friedman: probably too “establishment” and “think-tanky” for me, but he is very tolerable. Lately, he has seemed fairly prescient, as someone of his ilk is just not cut out to appreciate, respect, or support the likes of Donald Trump. He’s more rational, sensible, anchored, and principled than that. He wrote an interesting piece on political moderation, and one on John McCain’s moral and political leadership. I realized then that I have quite a few David Brooks quotes. Is he wise, or wishy-washy? Magnanimous or milquetoast? Secretly co-0pted or smartly conservative? You make the call.

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