Ethics & Morality

Ethics & Morality


Altruism in Action: Helping Others is a Virtue

altruism May 8th, 2017

Altruism is one of the most intriguing virtues. I have always found it to be “upon high,” very worthy, truly excellent. It has been called “selfishness in reverse,” and is basically when a person is helpful to another when “no benefits are expected or offered in return.” It sometimes involves self-sacrifice (for example, if you give money to someone, you don’t have that money any longer, or if you run into a burning building, you may be injured). It’s human beings helping human beings, and choosing to allocate valuable resources in such a way that one does not expect to keep a lion’s share of it. Is it real? How does is mesh with capitalism and the “rugged individualism” that the wealthy and powerful have fomented in this country since the very beginning? Is love really the answer?

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Einstein Quotes: Words of Wisdom Indeed!

Einstein quotes are remarkable words of wisdom May 5th, 2017

Albert Einstein not only has one of the most recognizable mugs of any person alive or dead, he worked extremely hard and intelligently throughout his long life. A genius in physics, he also was a committed peace activist and socialist. Almost everyone remembers him fondly, and though that is perhaps a bit unwarranted, in general he was an affable, productive, dedicated, ingenious, creative, kind, magnanimous individual. He was also very quotable! Many of his quotes were about values.

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Media Ethics & and Role in Society (V&E 15)

media ethics is critical April 26th, 2017

The media play[s] an extremely important role in our society, and in this blog, Jason interviews two experts on media ethics. The overall goal is determining what the function of the media is and what ethical standards the media ought to be upholding. As the critical “Fourth Estate,” it has been remiss in prior decades (centuries?) in its duty, due in no small part to political influences and the awesome power of money. Interviewees are Dan Hallin, Ph.D., Professor of Communication at UC-San Diego. Fred Brown also joins Jason; he is the co-chairperson of the ethics committee of the Society for Professional Journalists (www.spj.org) and before that, he was at The Denver Post. It’s an engaging discussion.

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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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Progressive: Promoting Social and Economic Change

Was America Ever Progressive? April 14th, 2017

Considering the relative powerlessness of political progressives (i.e., those on “the Left”), it’s obvious that such individuals are in it for the love of principle. As compared to the lure of power and money, the struggle for rights, social welfare, true democracy, true freedom, humaneness, and other ideals/values is a noble sentiment. The goals of social activism are also usually superior to conserving the status quo and bolstering institutional power. It has never been easy; from securing a fair wage to voting rights to being free of conscription to breaking the shackles that enslaved, progressives have not had much power on their side. Power concedes nothing without a demand…. Frederick Douglass wrote. A comparison and contrast of progressivism (“liberalism”) and conservatism follows.

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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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Aristotle Quotes: World’s Greatest Philosopher?

Aristotle quotes March 10th, 2017

Aristotle has discovered and formulated every canon of theoretical consistency, and every artifice of dialectical debate, with an industry and acuteness which cannot be too highly extolled; and his labors in this direction have perhaps contributed more than any other single writer to the intellectual stimulation of after ages ~ Alfred William Benn. The rigorous Macedonian thought leader was a remarkable man. Not perfect, but he was simply called “The Philosopher” by Aquinas and others for centuries for a reason. A pioneer in the area where philosophy meets science, he achieved much in politics, ethics, natural science, and the like. Few come close to his curiosity, intellectual power, or high-minded intent.

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Is Capitalism Ethical? Economically Just?

Is capitalism ethical? January 3rd, 2017

This is such a funny picture, I had to blog about it. I’m afraid I don’t know whom to give credit to for the photo, but they are obviously a genius. There is great wisdom in it, I believe. So, what did Jesus value? Does that matter? Can one live a life of value and chase down the almighty dollar? In a word: is capitalism ethical? Here are some questions to consider when comparing capitalism to its alternatives: socialism, welfare statism, egalitarianism, communitarianism, and social democracy. 

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