Category Archives: The Dice

Monday morning quarterbacking and unintended consequences

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) A major flaw in the “teleological” (end-based) ethical models I have been presenting in recent posts is that how you intend for the ethical dilemma to turn out, and how it actually does turn out, may well be two different things. In my earlier… Read more »

Iowa, abortion and ethical nuance

      2 Comments on Iowa, abortion and ethical nuance

With the signing of a draconian, and likely unconstitutional, anti-abortion law by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, I want to share the view of a different group of women on the subject. In an earlier post, I mentioned getting to know, as a non-Catholic, a group of anti-war nuns while doing graduate study in ethics during the first Gulf War in… Read more »

Telos: Seeking the “good end”

      7 Comments on Telos: Seeking the “good end”

“But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” (Matthew 6:33-34 KJV) While many strains of philosophical and theological ethical thought lie roughly down a vector of deontology’s focus on rules… Read more »

Primal morality and torture

      5 Comments on Primal morality and torture

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?

      3 Comments on Are rules and duties sufficient?

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 »

If it’s not illegal…

      1 Comment on If it’s not illegal…

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 »

Making the exception

      3 Comments on Making the exception

“Every rule has an exception, including this one.” (Anonymous) There is an old joke among tax accountants that there is really only one rule in the entire Internal Revenue Service Code: “Everything is taxable unless we say it isn’t.” The rest of the thousands of pages of code and revenue rulings consists of detailed exceptions to that one rule. That… Read more »

Book review: “The Human Instinct” by Kenneth Miller

I have long had a habit of looking in used bookstores for copies of a 1999 book by biologist and best-selling textbook author Kenneth Miller entitled Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, which I then give to friends. Miller’s book is one of the few scientifically-competent books about evolution that is written with the sensitive… Read more »