Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Duty to Shut Up

Psychologists once conducted the following experiment.  Small children were left in a room with toys, one of which was particularly attractive.  Some were told that they would be punished if they played with the attractive toy.  Others were told that … Continue reading

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Religious ethics

Religious ethical theories are no improvement on secular ones. Followers of St. Thomas Aquinas argue, for instance, that human beings are essentially reproductive and that therefore homosexuality is wrong.  But if human beings are essentially reproductive and homosexuals are not, … Continue reading

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Supervenience and Procrustean Tendencies

There is no legal difference between two states of affairs without a difference in the material facts. There is no moral difference between two states of affairs without a difference in the material facts. Both of these statements appear to … Continue reading

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Supervenience and Hume’s Law

I have yet another criticism of contemporary ethics. Hume pointed out that prescriptions do not follow logically from descriptions. Most contemporary ethicists assume that they do. Most contemporary ethicists derive prescriptions from descriptions by means of the hypothesis that moral … Continue reading

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Ways in which philosophy depends on ignorance of evolution

Not all philosophical cleverness and sophistication is relevant to an understanding of the actual world. Ethics Natural selection is destructive.  If being ethical reduces fitness, it will destroy any ethical organism.  So, if your ethical theory does not explain how … Continue reading

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Geocentric Politics in a Heliocentric World

The normative content of my moral theory boils down to this:  we have to minimize the losses (deaths or significant injuries) suffered by other members of the moral community, but we do not have to do so by ourselves suffering … Continue reading

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Not Fit for Purpose

Here are two questions for moral theorists. 1)  Could people do wrong if your moral theory was true? 2)  Could people do right if your moral theory was true? It is obvious that most moral theorists would answer both questions … Continue reading

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The Uselessness of Utilitarianism

Why do philosophy courses still include utilitarianism?  Why is it regarded as a contender? There is literally no evidence that any utilitarian principle is true.  There never has been and, after hundreds of years of its failing to appear, there … Continue reading

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A Victim of the System

I attended a social event at which another guest expressed indignation about injustices he had suffered or would suffer. First, he was indignant that the gay man who spoke to Ivanka Kushner on an airplane had not been arrested.  He … Continue reading

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The Wrong Role Model

Some ethicists argue that we have obligations in virtue of our nature. “You are a rational being.  Rational beings are consistent.  Therefore, you ought to be consistent.” I suspect that they think they are modelling their argument on the following … Continue reading

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