Tag: Philosophy

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A philosopher writing in the New York Times: Don’t blame postmodern philosophers for moral relativism. Blame the public schools. And there’s more. The article speaks for itself pretty darn well. I’m resisting the urge to add anything to it. Maybe better informed Ricochetti can add helpful things in response, perhaps along these lines: What are the immediate […]

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A fellow parishioner used to work at the FBI as an investigator of counterfeit money. In training, he said, they focused exclusively on the features of real American currency. They did not study examples of counterfeit dollars. It’s the sort of thing that’s surprising and yet makes good sense. If the agents had extensively studied […]

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I Don’t Believe in God, I Believe in Science

 

Scott Walker’s evolution question has been hashed over quite a bit. Themes that I’ve read include relevancy to the presidency (is that a good band name? or some sort of L. Frank Baum chant?), fear of the creationist’s inquisitional powers in the classroom, the hypocrisy of the question, and the ulterior motive of either tripping up or exposing Scott Walker as a rube.

Was this question a nascent litmus test of belief in science as a replacement for a belief in God for the office of president? But no matter, because….

Allan Bloom and the Culture of Indignation

 

allan bloomHere is a passage I ran across while reading (I’m ashamed to say for the first time) The Closing of the American Mind:

[I]f a student can — and this is most difficult and unusual — draw back, get a critical distance on what he clings to, come to doubt the ultimate value of what he loves, he has taken the first and most difficult step toward the philosophic conversion. Indignation is the soul’s defense against the wound of doubt about its own; it reorders the cosmos to support the justice of its cause. It justifies putting Socrates to death. Recognizing indignation for what it is constitutes knowledge of the soul…

If I’m reading him correctly, Bloom’s point is that the first step toward thinking deeply about an issue is to understand why we instinctively — i.e., before thinking it through — expressed indignation at someone else’s opinion.

The Abortion Debate Is Not About When Life Begins

 

shutterstock_139005974January 22, 2015 marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, yet the abortion discussion remains mired in confusion. The debate is too often framed as a debate over “when life beings.” That misleading phrasing obscures the two distinct questions, one biological and one philosophical, at the heart of the issue.

The biological question is not open to reasonable dispute. As shown below, an embryo created through human reproduction is indisputably a living member of the human species. Even many of the most ardent pro-choicers acknowledge this. The philosophical question is the real point on which pro-lifers and pro-choicers disagree. That question explores when a living human obtains full human rights. Is every living human entitled to human rights, or is there another requirement? Asking the question in that matter clarifies the actual dispute between pro-lifers and pro-choicers.

Absent the controversy over abortion, it is inconceivable that anyone would dispute that an embryo is a living member of the human species. This fact is reported without equivocation in embryology text books. For example, Medical Embryology 3rd edition, by Jan Langman, reports that “[t]he development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism.”

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That is not a rhetorical question. There are indeed things we value more than life itself. That is why soldiers risk death in war, rather than surrender to conquerors and live under oppression That is why police officers patrol the streets, rather than surrender to criminals and live in abuse. That is why civilians risk death every […]

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Take the 5-Dimension Political Compass Quiz!

 

shutterstock_113785711I’d wager most of us are at least aware of The World’s Smallest Political Quiz (in which my results are “90% Libertarian”, with the extra 10% coming from quibbles over definitions).

Today, my Facebook feed is full of links to “The 5-Dimension Political Quiz,” also described by some as the “World’s Strangest Political Quiz”.

Many of the folk who have posted this link on Facebook are generally being satirical about the results it spits out, but I rather think the label it gave me is pretty accurate.

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Is the division between Left and Right purely political? Or is it pre-political? Is an identical division found between theologians, for example, that suggests a general perception of the world which colors all of one’s philosophies and judgments? This topic is open to all, but allow me to provide a specific example which is more […]

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Conservative Classics: Oakeshott’s ‘Rationalism in Politics’

 

OakeshottMichael Oakeshott (1901-90) was one of the great conservative thinkers of the last century. After serving in World War II, Oakeshott was appointed Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics (LSE), where he replaced Harold Laski. The two men could not have been more different: Laski was a Marxist thinker and a life-long apologist for socialism; Oakeshott was an important conservative political philosopher.

The year he joined the faculty of the LSE (1947), Oakeshott published an essay, “Rationalism in Politics,” which has become one of the classics of conservative thought. In this age of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, an unfettered EPA, Common Core, the exponential growth of government regulations, ad nauseum, this essay deserves to be read widely (a pdf copy of the essay is available here).

It is a short, brilliant critique of the mode of thought that now dominates leftist thinking in America (and, sadly, the kind of thinking that animates far too many politicians who call themselves conservatives).

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I see statements like this a lot here, but usually only in relation to the marriage issue. I could say the same thing about other issues, such as abortion: “I don’t see how somebody else’s abortion affects me.” As another example, so far this year there have been 108 murders in Chicago. I live in […]

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The Morality of Hermits?

 

shutterstock_181793927I was recently listening to the Rationally Speaking podcast, a show that discusses philosophy, science and the relationship between the two. While the co-host, Massimo Pigliucci (a philosophy professor at CUNY-City College) was running through what various philosophers thought about suicide (that episode’s topic), he got off on a tangent about hermits. (You can listen to it here, with the hermit section arriving at about the ten minute mark.)

 Specifically, the discussion turned to the morality of being a hermit, which Pigliucci has a problem with because

I do think that if you choose to be a hermit, you are essentially abandoning the rest of society, therefore whatever moral duties you have to society, and therefore you cannot have a eudaemonic life.

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In Denise’s very moving post about her experience in consideration of abortion, we see a clear example of justice without mercy. That is not to say that her former church community was actually being just, but rather that they concerned themselves (in this case) only with justice to the exclusion of mercy. Many Ricochetti expressed […]

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The human body is comprised of countless living cells. Are all of the cells which shape and operate the body necessarily parts of that body? May they all be called human cells? Or are some better classified as non-human symbiotes, even if they exist within the human body? Does it matter if a single-celled organism […]

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Relayed from a Facebook group:  “Our Blessed Lord said that the Truth would make us free. By this He meant that only by obedience to the highest law and authority do we become free. Take an example from the realm of arts. If an artist in a fever of broad-mindedness and a desire to be […]

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Christians and other religious types occasionally like to discuss evil. It’s not because we particularly like it, it’s pretty obvious we don’t, but because we believe we need to know the nature of what we oppose (or dismiss as non-existent in some philosophies). We don’t always categorize it, however, which I believe is to our […]

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Do you take pride in your work? I mean not only your occupation but all of your labors, around the home and beyond it. From what does that pride stem? Is it the effort or a successful result? Do you give yourself “an A for effort” even if the endeavor fails? Perhaps your answer depends […]

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Why Philosophers Hate Economists

 

I can’t be the first person on Ricochet to have noticed that philosophers and economists don’t always get along. The tension between the two bears some resemblance to the tension between conservatives and liberals. As the old trope goes, conservatives believe that liberalism is wrong, while liberals believe that conservatism is evil. Similarly, when economists and philosophers disagree, the economists believe it’s because the philosophers aren’t making sense, while the philosophers believe it’s because the economists are morally bankrupt.

Do you have a theory about this? I do. Here goes: