right and wrong

right and wrong


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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Morality as it Relates to Politics

morality as it relates to politics February 16th, 2020

When we talk about Bernie Sanders supporting a “Medicare for All” approach to healthcare, there are many distinct and legitimate approaches one can take when thinking about it. One is functionality; another is cost. Viability is a third, and unintended consequences is yet another. There are also moral aspects of politics, for example, when it comes to healthcare. For example, is it a right or a privilege? Can a CEO promise it during heated negotiations with employees, and take it away the next quarter? Is there equal access to quality healthcare, or is it, as with most goods in society, available in varying degrees based on one’s privilege, wealth, and power? This is but one example of morality as it relates to politics, the subject of this blog.

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Quotes That Clarify the Cardinal Virtues

cardinal virtues September 11th, 2018

Have you heard the phrase the cardinal virtues? This is how Wikipedia describes their early beginning: “Plato identified the four cardinal virtues with the classes of the city described in The Republic, and with the faculties of man. Plato narrates a discussion of the character of a good city where the following is agreed upon. “Clearly, then, it will be wise, brave, temperate [literally: healthy-minded], and just.” (427e; see also 435b) Temperance was common to all classes, but primarily associated with the producing classes, the farmers and craftsmen, and with the animal appetites, to whom no special virtue was assigned; fortitude was assigned to the warrior class and to the spirited element in man; prudence to the rulers and to reason. Justice stands outside the class system and divisions of man, and rules the proper relationship among the three of them.” This blog examines the cardinal virtues from a transcultural and temporally-unlimited perspective.

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Discrimination, Affirmative Action, & Distributive Justice

discrimination September 1st, 2018

As of this writing, another rights issue has taken the stage: Asian-Americans ability to gain entrance into the most selective private universities. Now, I went to the University of California, Irvine which as high as seventy percent non-white. Diversity is a societal good, and discrimination – not so much. The Asian-American students who are suing for an end to race-based preferences at Harvard University have a point to make, namely, that when it comes to education, the country should be purely a meritocracy. Is it discrimination when private colleges and universities such as Harvard have a quota for the maximum number of Asian-Americans they admit each year? Some considerations around affirmative action, distributive justice, and fairness are considered. Harvard’s history of anti-Semitism must be considered as well.

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Acting Morally is About Deliberation & Practice

acting morally August 15th, 2018

As of this writing, what must be the most significant, most horrific, most appalling case of child molestation and cover-up by the Catholic Church just hit the papers. 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, this is about making moral decisions, dealing with moral dilemmas, and acting morally when one faces a choice of two or more alternatives in the moral realm. In a word, What is the right thing to do?

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Examples of “Might Makes Right” & Other Moral Theories

July 27th, 2018

It took me a while to watch the movie Sicario, and I was impressed. It’s suspenseful and such, but it also highlights ways that the characters (and people in general) make decisions about right and wrong, moral conduct, and ethical behavior: what are called moral theories. They are also known as ethical theories. In this blog, I look at various moral theories vis-a-vis characters in movies and literature, as well as politics, religion, and so on. The goal is to shed a little light on how we make moral decisions and what folks do when faced with ethical dilemmas and other challenges to their moral values.

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Fulfillment and Happiness Are Worthy Goals

fulfillment and happiness March 5th, 2018

According to half of the population, it’s all about happiness. Whatever gets you through the night, as it were. Football, nachos, sex, rest, hanging out by the pool – these are considered lower-level forms of happiness. The extremely influential 19th-century philosopher and more-or-less libertarian John Stuart Mill, however, noted that in this “utilitarian” pursuit of the greatest happiness by the greatest number, much is lost. He favored higher pleasures, and noted that it is better to be Socrates unsatisfied than a pig satisfied. American writer George Will put it this way: “Modern Americans travel light, with little philosophic baggage other than a fervent belief in the right to the pursuit of happiness.” We can do better, and go deeper; somewhere between pigs and philosophers lies the truth. In this blog, I will explore the fundamentals of finding fulfillment and happiness, considering them as worthy goals for a person who wishes to live life in the best possible way. Psychology and philosophy will assist me, as usual!

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Ethics Quotes: Inspiration for Action!

ethics quotes January 19th, 2018

Thousands of quotations about morality, ethics, & good conduct can be found here on Values of the Wise, where ancient wisdom and progressive thinking are brought to life. There is a huge grouping of ethics quotes and quotations about values under the rubric of “Honor, Integrity, & Morality”. How do you make moral decisions? Need inspiration and enlightenment about right and wrong? Look no further, for moral decision making and character are able to be learned, implemented, and improved upon!

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Virtue Ethics: Doing the Right Thing

virtue ethics September 17th, 2017

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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Morality Quotes from Books of Wisdom

Morality quotes August 16th, 2017

One of the themes running through civilization of every stripe since mankind began to organize itself into cities has of course been morality. One of the earliest written sources we still consult is the Hebrew bible – the Old Testament as Christians call it – and as soon as the characters meet God, God is giving them direction. The choice to disobey (and eat the forbidden fruit) is a testament to the will humans possess. We don’t want to be indoctrinated, subservient, and mindless; we desire deeply to decide what we think is right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust. Click through to see a diverse grouping of morality quotes from books of wisdom: the three books that comprise the Values of the Wise Series. 

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