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 »

Gun violence: What will really change the statistics?

The wave of mass shootings in the U.S. continues unabated and, based on my prior analyses of the math behind the shootings [1], it will get worse because Americans can’t or won’t deal with that math. It will get worse because the root causative factor is, simply stated, the ready availability of weapons, and the root predictor of “high-lethality events” is… 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 »

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

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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 »

Private equity in the new tax world

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Back in February I wrote a three-part series of posts about the abuses perpetrated by private equity (PE) takeovers of American businesses and their manipulation of the U.S. tax code for bad ends. A recent article in the Boston Globe by Evan Horowitz [1] describes how the shine is coming off PE investments, a welcome event, but Mr. Horowitz missed… Read more »