Monthly Archives: May 2018

Primal morality and torture

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The morality of torture is back in the news with the confirmation hearings for Gina Haspel as director of the CIA, a woman with ties to post-9/11 secret rendition sites. In short, on September 12, 2001, the general moral consensus of the United States reverted to what I call “primal morality,” throwing out a couple of thousand years of rule-based,… Read more »

Are rules and duties sufficient?

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Deontology, which is the view that ethics and morality should be based on rules and duties, is the viewpoint that dominates a lot of conservative Christian and political thought, and it has been the focus of the last several posts in this series. [1] In its many forms and interpretations, deontology has long held a central role in ethical theory…. Read more »

Visualizing 7% investment risk

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A continuing theme in this blog is how the human brain is constantly evaluating probability and risk, and “acting” accordingly in controlling our bodies. Yet, most humans have a hard time visualizing what “risk” actually looks like. Even if we have a handle on the mathematics of probability, we can still have a hard time “seeing” it. Below is the… Read more »

If it’s not illegal…

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One of the great logic errors in ethical discussions is committed by people who shrug off a moral question by saying, “If it is not illegal, then it must be okay to do.” We see a lot of this thinking even among supposedly-conservative defenders of the current leadership in America. The corollary to that error tends to come from religious fundamentalists,… Read more »

Doing stupid stuff with the economy

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President Obama’s foreign policy doctrine was famously characterized as “Don’t do stupid s— (stuff).” I won’t weigh in here on the current president’s foreign policy, but I can assert that his economic policy has clearly veered into “stupid stuff” territory. I spent the better part of twenty years in the academic publishing business attending far too many meetings of professors… Read more »