liberty

liberty


Abortion Rights (and Wrongs)

abortion rights July 6th, 2022

Abortion is one of the hot topics du jour—unfortunately one of ten or twenty that are now crowding each other for center stage. Indeed, America is riddled with social problems and plagued by a tearing of the social fabric that holds this heterogeneous and highly class-based country together. Though gun violence, the vast Right-wing conspiracy to subvert democracy in 2020-2022, and economic troubles do prey on my mind, I think abortion is quite relevant to values—and therefore it concerns me here on this blog.

Indeed, abortion is all about values: First and foremost, the right a woman has to control her own body (autonomy, or privacy, or freedom, or equality, perhaps).

Secondly, the so-called rights of the unborn child.

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The Republican Party is a Clear and Present Danger

The Republican Party June 30th, 2022

Things keep coming across my desk that strike the same note of fear and anger: the skullduggery, chicanery, and corruption the modern Republican Party is engaging in is a clear and present danger to the fabric of American society. We must not take this lightly, be cowed into silence, or shrink from this grave danger. Obviously, no one has to agree with my take on vigilance, patriotism, or decency—or any other value, political stance, or threat assessment—but I believe it is imperative that we stay cognizant of just how extreme, dangerous, and self-aggrandizing this broken Republican Party is.

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Is Religious Tolerance or Fundamentalism More American?

religious April 26th, 2022

Is religious tolerance or is religious fundamentalism a better description of America and what the founding fathers believed we should be?  Did you know that 55% of Americans believe that Christianity was written into the Constitution and that the founding fathers wanted One Nation Under Jesus (which includes 75% of Republicans and Evangelicals) (USA Today)? It is true that Puritan pilgrims came here seeking religious freedom, and that today we are one of the most religious of industrialized nations. In this blog, I discuss this matter briefly and bring in a dozen or so elucidating quotes that are relevant. Bill Maher and Dennis Miller add a humorous flavor as well.

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A Progressive Perspective on Justice (V&E-19)

a progressive perspective on justice March 31st, 2022

The following piece is entitled “A Progressive Perspective on Justice, Liberty, and Social Problems” and constitutes chapter 19 of the book 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). My influential and tireless partners in dialogue are Michael Ratner J.D., and Matthew Rothschild. Mr. Ratner is the founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights, an outfit that consistently fights for the rights of the downtrodden, disappeared, and despised. Matthew Rothschild was Senior Editor of The Progressive for years.

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Liberty and Truth are Allied Values

truth requires liberty to flourish September 7th, 2021

Albert Einstein said, “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”

I found John Stuart Mill’s ideas on the freedom-truth relationship very enlightening and interesting when re-reading his book, On Liberty. Frankly, I hadn’t thought much about that exact relationship even though I have studied liberty and truth to some degree over the years. In some sense, I knew that a closed society or a cult would not facilitate the search for truth – that much is obvious. But in America, for example, the idea that truth is only apprehensible under conditions of openness and freedom and individuality is worth sustained consideration. What follows is a summation of Mill’s ideas about this relationship, and a little commentary from myself and relevant luminaries.

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Coronavirus Stretches America to the Limit

March 29th, 2020

I took a much-needed break from the media, politicians, and the disease COVID-19 last week. It felt pretty good! Perhaps because I’m lucky, because I chose not to have children, because I work from home, and because of the house my wife and I occupy, I can pull off “unplugging” from the Internet, phone, and cable news (mostly) for four or five straight days. I told my wife, “If we get a shelter-in-place order, hopefully you find out, because I won’t!” I was listening to the radio, watching movies and inane TV, reading, going to the gym (when it was still open), volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and so on. Gone was the “the sky is falling!” feeling that results from watching my wealth manager, whom I pay 1% of my stock assets to every year, having chose stocks that lost 30% in value in twenty days, hearing Donald Trump speak, and thinking of what the virus is doing to Italy and Spain. Now that I’m back, I feel like I’m back up on the cross, not only enduring raw facts about the disease, but all manner of bullshit from the land that invented steel-cage wrestling matches, Cheese-Puffs, and The Apprentice. Here are ten examples on my mind today:

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Paternalism: The Individual Vs. The People

November 21st, 2018

Paternalism is the idea that the State (one’s country) has a right to determine some rules that citizens are obliged to follow because the State knows better and something important is on the line. So, stopping at a traffic light might simply be a law – and one that everyone can agree with. Libertarians, however, object to some laws made by lawmakers on the grounds that they are unnecessarily paternalistic, and sap the liberty of the individual. Wearing helmets during motorcycling is a good example of an issue that is debated between libertarians and those who feel that the individual is not necessarily the best decision-maker when it comes to things such as safety. Clearly, gun rights are the issue du jour. Here are some thoughts about who gets to decide what, how, and why.

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Is There Hope for Free Will and Moral Choices?

free will November 12th, 2018

One of the oldest questions in psychology, and in other fields such as philosophy, is whether humans have free will. That is, are we able to choose what we will do with our lives?” This is how psychologist Seth Schwartz begins his trenchant piece entitled, simply, “Do We Have Free Will?” This article, which originally appearred on PsychologyToday.com, is particularly relevant to the section of this blog called Applied Psychology. I am eager to present this piece here because this 10-minute read carefully captures the intriguing and vexing issue of free will vs. determinism when it comes to human actions – and, importantly, morality.

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American History Reflects Certain Values

American February 13th, 2018

I came across a quote that really moved me, and I was getting into it with a friend about whether liberals are biased and whether conservatism is just a bit odious. I want to “sketch out” why I am a liberal (a political designation, but also the more philosophical meaning of the term), and why, therefore, I criticize America. To that end, I will use quotations, not by crafting sentences and paragraphs. I think of it like a mosaic – every piece is made of a small piece of glass, but together it makes sense to the eye. It’s going to read like social criticism mixed with a clear-eyed recognition of some American strengths. In so doing, I will look to history’s intellectuals, artists, and fighters for social justice to do the talking for me.

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Libertarian Quotes by Scholar David Boaz

libertarian February 6th, 2018

One modern expert on libertarian thought is Cato Institute scholar, David Boaz. I enjoyed reading his book The Libertarian Reader. Another interesting book seems to be Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom. He really knows the subject well, and for those who are interested in the strengths of the philosophy, he (and the myriad contributors to the compendium) lays it out clearly. I personally am not a libertarian per say, but I do see libertarianism as offering some “leavening” for my generally progressive outlook. Enjoy these David Boaz quotes: 

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