Philosophy & Critical Thinking

Philosophy & Critical Thinking


Moderate or Milquetoast? David Brooks Quotes

David Brooks April 25th, 2017

Have you read any of David Brooks? He is a long-time New York Times opinion writer, contributor to the PBS nightly news, and multi-book author. Week after week, year after year, he can be counted on to write generally decent pieces that are center-right. He is kind of like Thomas L. Friedman: probably too “establishment” and “think-tanky” for me, but he is very tolerable. Lately, he has seemed fairly prescient, as someone of his ilk is just not cut out to appreciate, respect, or support the likes of Donald Trump. He’s more rational, sensible, anchored, and principled than that. He wrote an interesting piece on political moderation, and one on John McCain’s moral and political leadership. I realized then that I have quite a few David Brooks quotes. Is he wise, or wishy-washy? Magnanimous or milquetoast? Secretly co-0pted or smartly conservative? You make the call.

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Truth: Detecting and Defending It

finding truth can be elusive April 22nd, 2017

“We may not always know what is true, but we can develop some proficiency at detecting what is false” ~ Michael Parenti – a wonderful quote about truth. This is such an intriguing quote, I was amazed to find it virtually buried on page 37 of Professor Parenti’s 2007 book – a compilation of essays. It is, pound for pound, a great look at the value of truth. He also wrote: “Our readiness to accept something as true, or reject it as false, rests less on its argument and evidence and more on how it aligns with the preconceived notions embedded in the dominant culture, and assumptions we have internalized due to repeated exposure.” So, what is true? How can we know it? How to defend it? Read on.

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Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom

Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom April 20th, 2017

It seems like daily we are inundated by superficial social media, “fake news,” political demagogues, intolerant youth, and oppressive societal institutions. How can one find concentrate on what is real, wholesome, and reliable? Can we reach back into the past and access classical wisdom, traditional values, and a greater sense of fulfillment, meaning, and optimism? Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom (2017; Palmetto Publishing Group; $17.95 softcover) aims to address big-picture topics such as values, virtues, ethics, and wisdom. The following is a pitch for the book, including endorsements, reviews, an excerpt, description, and author bio.

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Animal Rights: Zoos, Hunting, Circuses, & Meat

a question of animal rights April 19th, 2017

Animal rights is an issue that sometimes comes to the fore based on some significant event that the media picks up. Often it is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals doing something dubious (e.g., in regard to wearing fur or vivisection or something). Today is a momentous day, though, because the Ringling Brothers Circus, after nearly 150 years, is calling it quits. I for one am a tad bit sad to see that unique piece of Americana go, but mostly relieved that finally those animals who are – let’s face it – slaves, will get to retire. So, almost everyone feels something about animal rights – experimentation, circuses, zoos, shelters euthanizing unwanted dogs and cats, or eating animals, but what are the moral issues involved? How should we probably be deciding about this thorny ethical issue? What rights do animals have that ought to be respected?

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Is Atlas Still “With Us?”

Dog March 17th, 2017

I was speaking with my wife yesterday about our dog, as it was the 1-year anniversary of his death. I noted that I was having trouble feeling acceptance, finding meaning, and being “okay” with his passing. It feels to me to be a loss — and very little consolation comes with that. It hurts. I feel like I used to have a great dog, but no more. She feels quite differently…

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Civil Liberties Dialogue: A Response

lady justice February 24th, 2017

I shared the post from February 22nd with a friend who is an economist, and tends to see things in ways that is similar to, but different from, me. He had some interesting commentary that focused on justice, truth, and progress. I thought I would just paste his response here. His name is Robert L. Lloyd. Read the original blog first. We are discussing civil liberties, social justice, truth, and America’s social problems. 

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Social Justice and Civil Liberties: Case in Point

social justice and civil liberties February 22nd, 2017

I get that being a cop is difficult, for all kinds of reasons. One is that we don’t pay them, select them, or supervise them all that well. Also, the culture of many law enforcement agencies has some problems that new recruits have to adjust to – the blue code of silence or whatever it’s called. Clearly, there are a lot of trashy people in a country of over 300,000,000, and cops are on the front lines in dealing with them. So, I do think we should have police, but like most agencies – from schools to government to courts – the institution should be improved, amended, and altered. Social justice and civil liberties are two aspirational goals America was founded on (well, that is arguable).

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