Ethics & Morality

Ethics & Morality


Pandemic Pandemonium: Americans and Moral Irresponsibility

July 3rd, 2020

As I write, America is smack-dab in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Fifty states, for the first time ever, have declared emergencies. The economy has ground to a screeching halt. Social isolation, disease, and domestic violence are wracking our decaying country. These are hard times.
You know which groups of people are making it harder— and obviously endangering others’ lives, with their moral irresponsibility? Soulless politicians, stupid adolescents, ignorant worshippers, criminals, and misguided anti-science types. This utter lack of wisdom, principles, and insight speaks to the low level of moral and often psychological development on these individuals’ parts, and as I said, their choices can cost people’s lives. Since they are all essentially libertarians, the irony should be noted.

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Magnanimity & Altruism: Saving 50 Jews from Death

magnanimity June 25th, 2020

Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus are very likely two of the greatest unsung heroes in American history – at least, in Jewish history. I watched a documentary about their courageous acts (in 1939), which amounted to nothing less than a full-throated display of magnanimity and altruism. Here is their story. I will also include a selection of quotations about magnanimity by noted Holocaust survivors, human rights activists, altruism researchers, and stalwart exemplars of virtue and honor such as Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Viktor Frankl. 

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Noblesse Oblige: Caring for the Less Fortunate

May 16th, 2020

Author Steve Almond writes: “Although born into affluence, Trump developed a worldview indifferent, or perhaps hostile, to noblesse oblige—the notion, exemplified by the Kennedys—that nobility extends beyond lineage and requires constant compassion for the less fortunate. From early on, Trump favored a social dominance orientation, which describes the sort of person hung up on creating a hierarchy so he can be at the top of it. ‘Narcissistic Darwinism’ might also apply.” Here are a few thoughts on this idea that one with plentiful material comforts is best when they concern themselves with and help the less fortunate:

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Empathy is a Solid Route to Moral Goodness

moral goodness May 5th, 2020

Empathy is the degree to which a person can place oneself in another’s shoes. Anyone can feel pain when someone steps on their toe, but what if you see someone else wincing in pain, grasping their own toe? The question is related to what you experience when you determine, perceptually, that someone else is suffering in some way. Empathy is a key driver of moral goodness, I believe. Another way to describe this phenomenon is, acting right is about empathizing with the other. What follows is my rationale.

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The Ethical Life: Coping with the Pandemic

ethical April 27th, 2020

The following is a republication of a piece written by Mark Manson, who made a splash with his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life . Mark calls himself an “author/thinker/life enthusiast”, which I think is nicely done. I’m just getting to know his style and his merit, but I was willing to sign up for the $6 a month subscription (aren’t you glad you get to read my stuff for free!?). I found the following essay about ethical dilemmas and how to deal with life in the time of lockdown interesting enough to request to republish. Here you have it:

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The Wealthy and Privileged Elites During the Pandemic

the wealthy April 26th, 2020

Remember that old Mel Brooks line, “It’s good to be the king!”? Ya, well as we can see from the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on rich and poor, he ain’t lyin’.

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America’s Social Safety Net Is Embarrassingly Inadequate

social safety net April 17th, 2020

America was cruising along in the early part of the year, Trump touting the amazingly low unemployment and extremely high Dow Jones Industrial Average. Companies were making profits, and things were moving in that generally-optimistic direction. Infrastructure was being neglected, health insurance was a damnable mess, and Americans were probably more divided that any time since the tumultuous 1960s. Then, a bat’s DNA and some other animal’s DNA combined in a pernicious and horrifying way in some God-forsaken food market in Wuhan, China. All hell broke loose.
Instead of landing in a well-constructed and life-saving social safety net, millions of Americans are out of work, depressed, socially strained, and terribly pessimistic.
This blog features some markers of where we are, economically, in this, the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

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Social Cohesion and Progressivism vs. Rugged Individualism and Cognitive Bias

social cohesion March 10th, 2020

The New York Times columnist David Leonhardt worked his way into my respect naturally. Somehow, the NYT started sending me his opinion pieces maybe three or four times a week, and my first thought was, “Who’s the new guy?” A page that has featured Charles Blow, Thomas L. Friedman, Maureen Dowd, Nicholas D. Kristof, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert creates a high bar in my mind. But, over time, Leonhardt has grown to be one of my favorite and most-quoted writers. In one piece, he gives voice to a core is a political philosphy precept of mine: social cohesion depends on political progress. Another way to phrase this idea would be: social welfare vs. individual supremacy vis-a-vis political progressivism.

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Moral Dilemmas and Moral Hypocrisy: Politics in 2020

hypocrisy February 7th, 2020

Moral hypocrisy – basically making an exception of oneself when it comes to behavior that is wrong – is deeply embedded in political conservative ideology, in my opinion. In a written piece entitled “Why we are all moral hypocrites – and what we can do about it”, researcher Jared Piazza, who looked into morality, highlights the following: “In one study, we had people consider which traits they rate highest in people who occupied different roles in their life – from staff at the grocery counter to teachers, judges and parents. Moral traits, such as being honest, fair and trustworthy, were valued more than other traits, such as being sociable or intelligent, across these roles. We have also found that people with a moral failing are typically seen in a more negative light than people lacking other traits.” In this blog, I wish to think about politics in light of moral hypocrisy, inconsistency, bias, and a crass kind of moral reasoning that, not surprisingly, can be called quid pro quo.

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Senator Romney Finds His Courage

courage February 6th, 2020

Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate and current Senator from Utah (and Mormon, and former hedge fund guy) is in some ways the last person one would expect to be the shining light in the dark, dank place where the modern GOP dwells. This is a paean to Mr. Romney, having found the courage to stand up for what is right, despite the fact that the vengeful Republicans and their craven Führer are going to rain down punishment on him like a vengeful Greek god. This story is truly one of earnestness, religiosity, courage, and character.

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