The New Science of Morality
How Humans Became Moral Beings
A BOOK IN PROGRESS [PART 9]: MARTIN LUTHER’S ACCIDENTAL REVOLUTION Continuing the series of extracts from the book that I am writing on the history of moral thought, we have reached Chapter 10, which looks at the Renaissance and the Reformation and at the impact of both on moral philosophy. This excerpt is about Martin Luther’s theology and about the ambiguities of the Reformation, an intensely conservative religious reaction against the spirit of reason that Aquinas had introduced into Christianity that was nevertheless also the source of a radically libertarian revolution, the harbinger of a liberal modernity. ‘Here I stand. I can do no other’.
A BOOK IN PROGRESS [PART 13]: NIETZSCHE, NIHILISM AND THE DEATH OF GOD In the series of extracts from my almost-finished book on the history of moral thought, I have reached Chapter 14, which is devoted to the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. This extract is from the discussion of Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals. Nietzsche trained as a philologist, not as a philosopher, and his writing is quite unlike traditional philosophical work, whether the dry, rigorous plodding of an Aristotle or a Kant, or the flights of sometimes barely-intelligible fancy that mark the work of a philosopher like Hegel and, later, Heidegger.
Evil, Ethics, and the Imagination: An Interview with Richard Kearney, Part I : The Other Journal In this three-part interview, the illustrious Irish philosopher Richard Kearney explores the human experiences of evil. Part I of the interview considers theodicy and human responsibility for evil by contrasting Gnostic understandings of cosmological evil to St. Augustine’s understanding of evil as the privation of the good. During the course of this conversation, Kearney characterizes the human imagination as a creative capacity that can be turned to both good and evil purposes, and he urges us to develop “an ethical imagination responsive to the demands of the other.” The Other Journal (TOJ): I’d like to begin our discussion by taking you back to one of your earlier books, The Wake of Imagination. This book, as well as much of your subsequent work, defends the importance of the imagination in human life and seeks to retrieve this capacity from the philosophical and religious neglect it has suffered in modern Western intellectual history.
by Massimo Pigliucci Ethics, its implications and its justifications keep appearing at Rationally Speaking in a variety of forms, from my critique of Sam Harris’ scientism to my rejection of Objectivism, from Julia’s skepticism about meta-ethics to Michael’s criticism of the non-morality of markets. This is, of course, inevitable because ethics is both a crucial component of our lives and a topic that can — with due caution — be approached rationally, which means it does belong to this blog. Moral philosophy’s third way
Does moral theory create extremism? Moral theory is what most moral philosophers spend our time doing. We try to clarify our moral intuitions about things like fairness, freedom, and responsibility and how they relate to each other. We do that by working them out as specific concepts which operate according to consistent and coherent rules (theory).
by Massimo Pigliucci [This post is part of an ongoing series on ethics in which Massimo is exploring and trying to clarify his own ideas about what is right and wrong, and why he thinks so. Part I was on meta-ethics; part II on consequentialism; part III on deontology; part IV on virtue ethics.] Contractarianism
by Massimo Pigliucci [This post is part of an ongoing series on ethics in which Massimo is exploring and trying to clarify his own ideas about what is right and wrong, and why he thinks so. Part I was on meta-ethics; part II on consequentialism; part III on deontology.] After my meta-ethical introduction to this series we have examined the two leading contender ethical theories of consequentialism and deontology. The third one is, of course, virtue ethics, which originated with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and was recently reintroduced to philosophy beginning with a classic paper by Elisabeth Anscombe in 1958. The first, and perhaps more fundamental, thing to understand about virtue ethics is that it is concerned with a radically different sort of question from consequentialism and deontology, so much so that perhaps it is misleading to compare the three directly. Virtue ethics
by Massimo Pigliucci [This post is part of an ongoing series on ethics in which Massimo is exploring and trying to clarify his own ideas about what is right and wrong, and why he thinks so. Part I was on meta-ethics; part II on consequentialism.] Most people are familiar with two types of deontological ethical doctrines: Judeo-Christian style commandments (of which, as we all should know, there are many more than the canonical ten, 613 to be precise) and Kant’s famous categorical imperative. For the purposes of this discussion I will set aside any theologically based system of ethics, for two reasons: a) I think the idea of deities is incoherent or at least irrational; b) Plato showed convincingly in his Euthyphro dialogue that even if gods existed they would not help at all settling the question of morality. Deontology
by Massimo Pigliucci [This post is part of an ongoing series on ethics in which Massimo is exploring and trying to clarify his own ideas about what is right and wrong, and why he thinks so. Part I was on meta-ethics] Consequentialism
"Aha" says the Moral Philosopher triumphantly, polishing his monocle ferociously with a large handkerchief. "You have contradicted yourself! If you say yes to the first case you should say yes to the second, for you have already revealed your acceptance of the principle that one person should be sacrificed for the many." Many people - even many philosophers - think that morality and ethics are the same thing. But they are not. Morality vs Ethics: The Trolley Problem
The Life You Can Save
“We Are Moving in a More Humanitarian Direction”: An Interview with Philosopher Peter Singer (Full Text and Video) Peter Singer is perhaps the world’s most influential philosopher and the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. In late August, I sat down with him to discuss his most recent book, The Life You Can Save. Full text below. At the outset of your recent book, The Life You Can Save, you lay out two goals: to challenge readers to think about their obligations to those trapped in extreme poverty, and to convince readers to choose to give more of their income to help the poor. What do you mean by extreme poverty?
Should We Ban Cigarettes? - Peter Singer - Project Syndicate Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space PRINCETON – US President Barack Obama’s doctor confirmed last month that the president no longer smokes. At the urging of his wife, Michelle Obama, the president first resolved to stop smoking in 2006, and has used nicotine replacement therapy to help him. If it took Obama, a man strong-willed enough to aspire to and achieve the US presidency, five years to kick the habit, it is not surprising that hundreds of millions of smokers find themselves unable to quit.
The Ethics of Voting : the art of theory – a quarterly journal of political philosophy I. Good Intentions Aren’t Enough Betty Benevolence wants to save the world. Yet she has crazy ideas about how to do it.
Ethics and economics have a troubled relationship. The public is generally under the impression that ethics is about being nice or fair to other people, while economics is about the machinery of translating individual selfishness into general wealth. One should not ask what each can say to the other, but which one we should choose. Strangely enough this is also approximately how most ethicists and economists think about the relation between their disciplines, as a result of a tacit agreement to perpetuate mutual ignorance and antipathy. Ethicists think economists are clumsy buffoons with an impoverished view of human nature and morality, obsessed with incentives and markets as the answer to everything. Economics for ethics
What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets Can anything be bought and sold? Are there no limits to what is for sale? We are familiar with the fact that if you have money you can get to the head of almost any line, whether at the airport or the doctor's office.
Ethics and Global Climate Change
'Out of Character': The Good and Evil in All of Us - Maria Popova - Life
Moral hypocrisy, and how to avoid it |
Confessions of an Ex-Moralist
A Convenient Untruth: God and the Evolution of Ethics – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics
Anthropology, Moral Optimism, and Capitalism: A Four-Field Manifesto
Christine Overall’s Why Have Children?, reviewed
"Are Humans Getting Better?" by Peter Singer
Does Mars Have Rights?
sp!ked review of books preview | Animals don’t have morality, people do
Animal Rights and the Predation Problem « The Thrifty Philosopher
Robot ethics: Morals and the machine
Peas and quiet
Does Altruism Actually Exist? - Alice G. Walton - Life
Why we have moral rules but don't follow them - science-in-society - 16 February 2012
Recovering Adam Smith's ethical economics
Reading Jane Austen as a moral philosopher
Is Incest Wrong? | Think Tank
"Weigh More, Pay More" by Peter Singer
The Benevolent Deception: When Should a Doctor Lie to Patients? - Marc E. Agronin - Life
The Passion of Mike Daisey: Journalism, Storytelling and the Ethics of Attention
Who matters (or should) when scientists engage in ethical decision-making? | Doing Good Science