Ethics & Morality

Ethics & Morality


Making Moral Choices on a Daily Basis

moral choices July 16th, 2018

Socrates is purported to have claimed at his trial (for which he received the death penalty), “Are you not ashamed of caring so much for the making of money and for fame and prestige, when you neither think nor care about wisdom and truth and the improvement of your soul?” This blog is about considering the moral consequences of all you do in life, from (as Socrates pointed out) work to entertaining yourself to eating to voting. A few additional interesting and unique quotes about the consequences of our behavior and the moral choices we make will be presented.

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What Does “Moral Values” Mean?

moral values July 5th, 2018

Values is a neutral term; one could value relaxation, competition, humor, sexual conquest, helping others, or swindling them successfully (subterfuge and personal gain). It means what it sounds like it means – a value is something which a person holds in high regard, pursues, and even loves. Values tend to include hallmark ones such as truth, justice, humility, goodness, and kindness. In this blog, I explore the idea of moral values, asking what the term means, which values probably qualify as moral values, and how one implements them in one’s life.

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Christian Capitalism and American Ignorance

Christian May 24th, 2018

Did you know that 55% of Americans believe that Christianity was written into the Constitution and that the founding fathers wanted One Nation Under Jesus (which includes 75% of Republicans and Evangelicals) (USA Today)? It is true that Puritan pilgrims came here seeking religious freedom, and that today we are one of the most religious of industrialized nations. But the fact that the vast majority of Americans think we are and are supposed to be “a Christian nation” is disconcerting, for two reasons. One, we certainly are not; America has slowly come to accept that religious pluralism and toleration and separation of church and state are ideals worth striving for. Some of the founding fathers were deistic and not particularly religious. But perhaps even more so, how can we be considered a Christian nation when we have this level of political chicanery, poverty, militarism, materialism, and greed? Those counter-ideals are literally antithetical to the message we believe Jesus was trying to convey during his brief time on Earth. This is a blog about the ignorance many Americans have, and even court.

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Pithy Quotes by Unitarian Universalists

Unitarian Universalist philosophy April 16th, 2018

I have been looking more and more into the religious/spiritual movement of Unitarian/Universalism. Not sure if you’ve heard much about it. It’s in the category of agnosticism, spirituality, deism, and pantheism as far as being a reasonable, admirable, defensible, humanistic approach to personal growth and community enrichment. I wanted to share a bit about the philosophy (I think that is a decent word to describe this thing – more apt than “religion” or “sect” or something. Perhaps “tradition” or “movement” would be fine, too. To that end, I will quote liberally from the Unitarian Universalist Association website and then I will share a few quotations from prominent (even, famous) U-U thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Existentialism, Humanism, Responsibility and Freedom

existentialism April 13th, 2018

I am taking a wonderful class entitled “Meaning in Life.” It deals with meaning, obviously, and personal significance, purpose, fulfillment, death, and philosophy. My professor is named Mattias Risse and he’s really quite erudite. The topic I wanted to write about follows a lecture of his about renowned existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. Ancillary topics are scientism, truth, and ethics. The background is in the era of 1900-1960, thinkers such as inimitable philosopher Bertrand Russell and the French intellectual Sartre were trying to find meaning and purpose in a secular-humanistic way. Much later, philosopher Robert Nozick made some improvements to their work. None wanted to slide into radical scientism as much as they didn’t want to resort to theological/religious assumptions. Indeed, Sartre penned a significant essay entitled “Existentialism is a Humanism”, and this is a medium-length encapsulation of how Sarte believes ethics is part and parcel of a developed form of existentialism.

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Income Inequality: Right or Wrong?

income inequality April 7th, 2018

Thomas Piketty, a French economist, made a big splash in 2014 with his book Capital in the 21st Century. It piqued my interest in regard to social justice. Specifically, social mobility, status quo, and economic freedom. I believe that America has a serious issue with wealth inequality, and income inequality, and has for quite some time. We are now less of a socially-mobile society than many countries in Europe are. Cross that with some of the standard of living/life satisfaction measures in which Europe and a few other countries do well, and you have a fairly grim assessment of the United States. Here are some thoughts on income inequality by Thomas Piketty.

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Teaching Virtue & Character Education (V&E-20)

character education April 2nd, 2018

This blog is excerpted from chapter 20 of the book Values & Ethics: From Living Room to Boardroom and explored character, and a phenomenon called character education. We’ve all seen examples on television – and many of us on our very streets – of children and adolescents who are somehow “off-track,” selfish, crass, violent, careless. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the family, community, political and socioeconomic environment in which the child is embedded. Should schools be teaching children how to be good, responsible adults with integrity and ethics? Or does that step on religious institutions’ toes? What would it look like to teach something as hard to communicate as virtue? Jason interviews character education expert, former professor, and author, Bernice Lerner, Ed.D. to find answers to his questions.

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Magnanimity & Altruism: Saving 50 Jews from Death

magnanimity March 22nd, 2018

Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus are very likely two of the greatest unsung heroes in American history – at least, in Jewish history. I watched a documentary about their courageous acts (in 1939), which amounted to nothing less than a full-throated display of magnanimity and altruism. Here is their story. I will also include a selection of quotations about magnanimity by noted Holocaust survivors, human rights activists, altruism researchers, and stalwart exemplars of virtue and honor such as Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Viktor Frankl. 

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Quotes About Philosophy, by Modern Philosophers

quotes about philosophy March 16th, 2018

Quotes about philosophy, by philosophers, is the subject of this blog. I myself have been collecting philosophical quotes for 25 years now, but obviously the hobby goes way back. In fact, I have a penchant for collecting old books of quotes, and it’s really neat to open a book from the ’30s or ’40s and see what quotes about philosophy, science, politics, and values were like. I believe that a short collection of some intriguing quotes about philosophy by modern philosophers (mostly) is a cool idea, so here I go! Enjoy. 

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Meaning in Life According to Irving Singer

meaning February 21st, 2018

Irving Singer (1925-2015) was a prominent philosopher at MIT. I read his book Meaning in Life: The Creation of Value, and liked it about a B+ on an A-F scale. It is rife with quotes about meaning, fulfillment, ethics, value, values, philosophy, and self-examination. In this blog, I will reflect on a few quotations, but will also provide all the quotes about meaning I found in the book, which are many. Enjoy! 

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