Category Archives: Good people disagree

Lifeboat ethics #2 – Ventilators and PPE

Pittsburgh Triage

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only near the beginning of March that I wrote a post about the literal application of lifeboat ethics that was being forced onto passengers on two cruise ships denied docking privileges to offload passengers still uninfected by the Coronavirus. At that point, only nineteen people had died of COVID-19 in the… Read more »

COVID-19 and real-life lifeboat ethics

Before there was the “Trolley Problem,” ethics classes would commonly haul out “Lifeboat Ethics” scenarios to stimulate class discussion. In my years of teaching ethics, I never used either because I dislike them both. They both ask the wrong questions, and they lead the Stephen Millers of the world to invoke horrendous “Lord of the Flies” government policies like caging… Read more »

Free Will in 1000 words

      1 Comment on Free Will in 1000 words
Junction

This is the second in a series trying out pithy explanations of words I use a lot in this blog. The first was on the word probability, linked here. I prefer the word volition, but the overlapping terms of free will and choice are more in the common vocabulary. So, here’s my take on free will. The usual “Big Question”… Read more »

Impeachment and the death of professional ethics

Legality Morality & Professional Ethics

One part of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump disturbed me more for professional reasons than did some of the other absurdities. I watched White House counsel Pat Cipollone publicly violate at least three professional ethical standards required of attorneys with no consequences while standing in front of “potted plant” Chief Justice John Roberts in defense of the President…. Read more »

Gaslighting and the ethic of veracity

      No Comments on Gaslighting and the ethic of veracity
Gaslight

I don’t know who are worse. Is it the cultists like Fox News’ Stuart Varney who says with a straight face that “Donald Trump has never lied to the American people”?  Or the Machiavellian congressmen and religious leaders who downplay the lies for their own endgames? Or the cynic’s shrugged-shouldered “All politicians lie”? My longstanding ethical credo has been that… Read more »

William Barr and the binary God

      1 Comment on William Barr and the binary God
Binary God

Besides wandering the globe apparently looking for the “real killer” in the O.J. Simpson case, Attorney General William Barr made two recent high-profile speeches that are disturbing on several levels. His November 15 speech was to the right-wing, highly political Federalist Society (from which have come all recent Republican Supreme Court nominees), where he complained about aggressive oversight from Congressional… Read more »

Revisiting the “political restaurants”

      No Comments on Revisiting the “political restaurants”
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 »

Worth a read: A Decent Life by Todd May

      1 Comment on Worth a read: A Decent Life by Todd May
A Decent Life

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.