Category Archives: Good people disagree

Revisiting the “political restaurants”

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Markov Defections

A recent state legislature election in Virginia piqued my interest because it featured a candidate rematch of a contest that I featured in the first post of this blog almost two years ago because of its interesting mathematical implications. That 2017 House of Delegates vote ended in a tie, and it was resolved months later literally by drawing lots. The… Read more »

Book Review: “A Decent Life” by Todd May

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Ever since Aristotle tried to simplify the complexity of ethical reasoning down to his one-word concept of virtue, successive theologians and philosophers have been throwing out words or short phrases for labeling their life’s work formulations. Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) came up with his duty-based categorical imperative. My own study of this field in the 1990s was heavily influenced… Read more »

Donald Trump and the moral conversation – part 2

The moral conversation

In Part One of this post I looked at the first two “vectors” of the moral conversation that “walks our brain” through its different moral and ethical decision-making sub-parts as we contemplate the moral state of the Trump Presidency. In this last part I will “complete the circle” by looking at two more ethical vectors, empathy and meta-ethics.

Donald Trump and the moral conversation – part 1

The moral conversation

In a post last year I proposed a method with some decent theological, philosophical and scientific bases for conducting moral conversations about those difficult issues on which “good people disagree.” It is time to attempt to have that conversation about the state of the U.S. Presidency.

Bending the odds with social policy

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Anisela-and-Roberto

I became familiar with the work of two of the most recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics about seven years ago when I started volunteering with Outreach International, a non-profit organization that works in ten countries around the world to help communities find sustainable solutions to end extreme poverty. Nobel awardees Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo wrote an… Read more »

The helpless gun violence theodicy of “thoughts and prayers”

In a recent post I looked at the theodicy expressed or implied by people as they sought to explain some “larger meaning” in hurricanes and other natural disasters. Theodicy is literally “the justice of God,” or figuratively the broader question of “Why do bad things (or good things) happen in this world?” That latter interpretation has come to include both… Read more »

The three languages of right and wrong

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You likely don’t realize it, but whenever you talk about issues of “right” and “wrong,” you are at least “bi-lingual,” and often “tri-lingual.” Just as many Americans unconsciously and fluidly slip between speaking English and Spanish in a linguistic hybrid, most of us intermix at least three “cultural languages” when expressing our views on morality and the law. [1] I… Read more »

Applying John Rawls’ “maximin principle” on the border

The refugee crisis on the southern U.S. border confirms to me how impotent religion is in addressing the most pressing social and moral problems of our day, taking a back seat to political ideology and innate human “fear of the other.” The current administration’s policies of child separation, indeterminate detention, and harsh detention conditions for people convicted of no crime… Read more »

The elusive and infinitesimal “cause” of gun violence – part 2

In a prior post I looked at the “infinitesimal phenomenon” in gun violence occurrences, where the closer you look for “the one cause” of any gun event, the more it slips away. Yet, in aggregate and over time, the causes are clearly real. In this continuation, we’ll look at why gun violence statistics are so constant over time, or if… Read more »

The new religious Machiavellians

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The characteristic of the fundamentalist and evangelical Christian super-loyal endorsers of “Everything Trump” that continues to confound me most is how they have appeared to toss over three thousand years of classical Judeo-Christian moral/ethical thought in exchange for a decidedly-secular Renaissance ethical model, the famous one expounded by the Italian politician Niccolò Machiavelli. [1] Machiavelli’s famous dictum of “the end… Read more »