Ethics & Morality

Ethics & Morality


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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Volkswagen Cheated Simply to Make More Money

Volkswagen February 14th, 2018

I learned about Volkswagen’s cheating on diesel emissions a year or two ago. It wasn’t until now that I watched a wonderful documentary on the debacle, Alex Gibney’s expose featured on the Netflix series, Dirty Money. It was outlandishly bad corporate behavior. In this drama, however, the State and Federal authorities were the good guys. Here is my take on it, and a few quotations to channel my feelings about it.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes

Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes February 5th, 2018

I was watching the Superbowl tonight, and was really moved by a wonderful quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. It got me thinking about what a powerful leader he was, how many obstacles he faced, and how educated he was. I would imagine that 24 out of 25 Americans know at least a little something about the reverend, and that is saying a lot, considering our spotty record of educating our youth here in America. There are many powerful, interesting, and wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes, and I present a couple dozen of my favorites, and connect them to the virtues the quotation represents. 

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Bernie Sanders Reflects on Trump’s 1st Year

Bernie Sanders January 29th, 2018

Such a huge conglomeration of lies, deceptions, broken promises, subterfuge, and chicanery has resulted from one year of a Donald Trump presidency (I can’t say I am surprised), that there is plenty of grist for the mill if someone wishes to criticize the man. It’s just been abysmal. A panoply of ostentatious dissembling, propaganda, and class warfare. Conservatives bemoan the power and size of government, and when George W. Bush was in office and now this guy, I see what they’re talking about! For us political progressives, this is a gruesome spectacle to witness, but all hope is not lost. The following is what Bernie Sanders has say to those of us who are worried, dispirited, appalled, or anxious about Donald Trump (the day before the State of the Union Address, 2018). It’s good enough to reprint here:

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