Philosophy & Critical Thinking

Philosophy & Critical Thinking


Human Nature Reflected in Diverse Quotations

examination of human nature May 14th, 2017

What is the nature of human nature? Are humans bad, good, helpful, selfish, loving, dangerous, creative, self-destructive, evolving, devolving, satiable, insatiable, visionary, myopic, cruel, or cursed? Are we full of potential or destined for self-destruction? One thing is for sure – we have been thinking about, writing about, fighting against, and enjoying the fruits of human nature for ages. I just watched a movie that made me wonder, and yet Euripides was scratching his thoughts onto parchment 2,400 years ago. Here are some quotes on human nature to help you formulate some potential answers to this thorny question.

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Making Moral Decisions: Ethical Theories

woman making moral decisions May 13th, 2017

What is moral philosophy? How does one go about making moral decisions? How do you handle ethical dilemmas? What can philosophy do to help us live better? Morality (and its parent, moral philosophy) is one of the most interesting and least-known subjects. I read an informative and worthy textbook, Analyzing Moral Issues, a while back, and its fruits are as sweet today as ever. In this blog, I wanted to answer the above questions, and to summarize ethical theories (a.k.a. moral theories). What’s in it for you? The more you know about moral philosophy and theory, the better able you will be to think critically, deal with moral dilemmas, and live a life that would be considered “good.” This is really what making moral decisions is all about. Consider this a primer on deciding what is right and wrong.

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Critical Thinking Should Lead to Wisdom

critical thinking May 1st, 2017

How can one use critical thinking to navigate all the websites, “fake news,” and wool the politicians wish to pull over our eyes? I was asked to view an article on vaccine safety from a website called The Vaccine Reaction. I tend to come down on the “mostly safe, very effective” side of the vaccine safety/utility debate, but not reflexively so. I want to believe that the government doesn’t do things that endanger the citizens, and for one primary reason: I have a fear of corporations and plutocracy and those who love money dearly, and government is a potential bulwark against that overweening power. What did I find when I read the article? What does it have to do with critical thinking, wisdom, and self-reliance?

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Critical Thinking is a Virtue: a Case Study

critical thinking April 27th, 2017

Science is very important. Most people have a fair amount of respect for science and scientists, though America is a fairly religious country. To find wisdom, one must look beneath the surface and go beyond rumor, Reddit and Twitter, and biases. How trustworthy is science in modern America? Are scientists and their findings trustworthy, or like most things, has money ruined science, too? Enter critical thinking!

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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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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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