Category Archives: The Dice

A moral conversation about immigration

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The debate about immigration and asylum, especially on the southern border of the United States, has reached a fever pitch, and is even on the cusp of civil disturbance. In the language of a previous post, the moral conversation is NOT happening here, either between people or even, I would argue, inside the heads of most people. In that post… Read more »

The moral conversation

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I have been writing a continuing series about morality and ethics, which I summarize as being about “Why good people disagree,” since March, beginning with this post about the “first ethical dilemma,” as encountered very early in homo sapiens’ existence as a species. My basic position is that our theological and philosophical languages have evolved, over the centuries, as words for… Read more »

Faith, hope, charity and Roy Rogers

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One of my earliest memories as a small child in the 1950s is listening to a favorite 78 RPM record. On this little piece of yellow vinyl, husband-and-wife cowboy stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans sang: Have faith, hope and charity, That’s the way to live successfully. How do I know? The Bible tells me so! Faith, hope and charity… Read more »

The Big Question: Who ought I be?

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I introduced the idea of “Big Picture” meta-ethics in an earlier post. In Western philosophy, the Greek philosopher Aristotle (approx. 384–322 BCE) is usually seen as the first to go down this route (or the earliest whose ideas survive). Rather than seeing morality as being about a bunch of rules or propositions, he suggested that it is more about the “Big… Read more »

“Big picture” ethics

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The prior post in this series about “empathy-based ethics” confronted its “fatal flaw” in standing alone as a way to deal with moral dilemmas. The reality is that we can’t save every person who needs our help. And so, at some point, even the most empathetic among us have to start thinking in terms of the “bigger picture.” I can’t… Read more »

When you can’t save them all

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Earlier posts in this series have looked at two indications that the first two “vectors” of ethical models presented (both deontology and teleology), are insufficient in themselves for creating a realistic and robust system of ethics, despite having many strong advocates and long-winded defenses over many centuries, religions and cultures. On the other hand, empathy-based and relationship-based ethical models in… Read more »

John Rawls and justice ethics

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In my continuing series of posts on ethical systems and their relation to how our brain makes decisions, I have shifted to the vector of models that I call “empathy-based ethics.” The ethical ideal of justice as articulated by the late John Rawls fits well into this vector. Rawls, who died in 2002, was honored in 1999 by President Bill… Read more »

When God plays dice in Hawai’i

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Now I don’t know … I don’t know I don’t know where I’m a gonna go When the volcano blow.  – Jimmy Buffett – “Volcano” This blog has been going for some time now, but it started with pondering a basic human dilemma, best illustrated at this moment in time by the volcanic lava flowing into inhabited parts of the “Big… Read more »

Who is my neighbor?

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In the preface to Luke’s parable of the “Good Samaritan” [1], Jesus is challenged by the crowd, during a discussion of the deontological Jewish Law, to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” His answer was that the stranger who responded with compassion to the injured man lying alongside the road was his “neighbor,” even though the benefactor’s ethnicity was despised. [2]… Read more »

Ends, means and the banality of evil

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For each of the different types of ethical/moral systems that this blog has been exploring lately, I have been asking the question, “Is this ethical system sufficient for making moral judgements and ethical decisions?” This post looks at the “end-based” models of recent discussion, such as teleology and consequentialism. Two of the “fatal flaws” that render these moral systems as… Read more »