ethics

ethics


Aristotle’s View of Humanity’s Highest Aspirations

humanity's highest aspirations September 29th, 2022

Aristotle is the grandfather of ethics and human flourishing; his book The Nicomachean Ethics has been a classic read in philosophy and ethics courses at universities since about 340 B.C.E. He studied with Plato and is largely credited with inventing logic and natural science. In this blog, I will share a brief outline of Aristotle’s first section entitled “The Human Good”, including a few quotations about humanity’s highest virtues.

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Times Are A-Changin’

September 25th, 2022

As Bob Dylan wrote in 1964, the times they are a-changin‘! That might be an understatement when applied to today, in fact. The changes are coming in very rapid succession nowadays, and much of it ain’t good, as Dylan might have put it…
It’s not just a right-of-center phenomenon, since I too think that more progressively-minded people are right to lament ways in which society has changed since Reaganism was first ascendent (these individuals are relatively much more focused on the ways in which society is being prevented from changing by those at the top—more than any kind of moral degradation that has to do with the country failing to uphold its proper Christian values and virtue on the whole).

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Books About Wisdom, Values & Virtues

books about wisdom April 29th, 2022

Can wisdom be understood, developed, and improved?

Does wisdom really underlie success, fulfillment, and happiness?

What are the characteristics and skills of wise individuals?

Can one be happier and more fulfilled by “loving wisdom”?

Should books about wisdom ideally be secular, or religious in nature?

What do I need to know to successfully put wisdom to use in my everyday life?

Four-time author and philosophical thinker Jason Merchey answers these and many other important questions in his 2022 book, Wisdom

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Acting Morally is About Deliberation & Practice

acting morally April 23rd, 2022

For this piece, I looked back on one of the most significant, horrific, appalling cases of child molestation and cover-up by the Catholic Church. Grand jurors in Pennsylvania found that over seven decades 300 priests molested over 1,000 children. This is just beyond the pale. This is not a blog about the ineptitude or depravity of the Church of Rome, though. It is about making moral decisions, dealing with moral dilemmas, and acting morally when one faces a choice in the moral realm. In a word, What is the right thing to do?

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A Life of Philosophy: How To, and Why

living a life of philosophy March 20th, 2022

I was reading a book entitled Masterpieces of World Philosophy – 683 pages of serious cogitation for sure!  The chapter about the Apology (the trial of Socrates, as recorded by his loyal student Plato) was quite enlightening. Socrates is envisioned as one of the world’s first and foremost prophets (yes, literally, a prophet). I found it both enlightening and edifying. I was moved to stop and write about a lifestyle called a life of philosophy. This blog describes what I think it means.

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Moral Dilemmas: The Case of the Unabomber

moral dilemmas March 7th, 2022

Ted Kaczynski, as you probably know, was “the Unabomber.” His proficiency with creating bombs delivered through the mail was gruesome; many died from shrapnel and concussion opening a bomb, and they were absolutely innocent of any reasonable charge. His mentality was like something you would see in a high-ranking member of the Nazi party. He was extremely intelligent but had the morality of a sociopath. Quite a dangerous creature he was. Here is the story of his brother, David, who faced a moral dilemma about whether or not to turn his brother, the murderer, in. The topic of moral dilemmas is a most interesting and evocative one, so strap in.

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Virtue Ethics: Doing the Right Thing

virtue ethics January 28th, 2022

Virtue ethics is one of the top four or five ethical theories. Ethical theories are ways of organizing information in regard to right and wrong. Typically in science, theories can be shown in just one or two experiments or studies to be “false.” However, when it comes to ethics, it’s a bit more nuanced. The other major theories go by names such as utilitarianism, deontology (duty-based ethics), and religious ethics. Other contenders for the Top 10 include ethical subjectivism, religious ethics, casuistry, and authority-based ethics. Virtue ethics is one of my favorites for sure, and I will share some thoughts and perspectives about it in this blog. In the end, hopefully, the readers gain some appreciation for it, see how it is different from competing ethical theories, and recognize how to “use it” in real life (making ethical decisions, facing moral dilemmas, etc).  

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Ethics 101 (Highly Abbreviated!)

ethics: a noble pursuit August 5th, 2021

Ethics is a branch of philosophy with a long, storied past. Along with epistemology and aesthetics and metaphysics, ethics is one of the pillars of philosophical thought since Aristotle to the present day. Philosophers still study right from wrong in universities and books are written every year on the topic. What can we learn from studying it today; what dividend does doing so pay? The reason to learn more about right from wrong and morality is to be better able to make good decisions, live the kind of life an individual would really prefer, and have better and more functional relationships. After all, one has to be a good neighbor, responsible parent, trustworthy employee, and person of generally good character to get along well in society and both participate and benefit. Read on to find out more about what ethics really is about and how one can apply it successfully in one’s daily life. 

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Empathy is a Solid Route to Moral Goodness

moral goodness March 6th, 2021

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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Existentialism, Humanism, Responsibility and Freedom

existentialism August 24th, 2020

A while back, I took a wonderful class entitled “Meaning in Life.” It dealt with meaning, obviously, and personal significance, purpose, fulfillment, death, and philosophy. My professor was named Mattias Risse and he’s really quite erudite. The topic I wanted to write about follows a lecture of his about renowned existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. Ancillary topics are scientism, truth, and ethics. The background is in the era of 1900-1960, thinkers such as inimitable philosopher Bertrand Russell and the French intellectual Sartre were trying to find meaning and purpose in a secular-humanistic way. Much later, philosopher Robert Nozick made some improvements to their work. None wanted to slide into radical scientism as much as they didn’t want to resort to theological/religious assumptions. Indeed, Sartre penned a significant essay entitled “Existentialism is a Humanism”, and this is a medium-length encapsulation of how Sarte believes ethics is part and parcel of a developed form of existentialism.

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