Disgust is often used to persuade. But are gut feelings a reliable guide to right and wrong? Carol Hays’ persuasive answer is that they are not. Reasons rather than emotions should guide our moral reasoning.
E1: What makes morality moral?
Lost in Rawlsland
George Yancy’s interview of Charles Mills: “Here in the United States, for example, we have the absurd situation of a huge philosophical literature on social justice in which racial injustice — the most salient of American injustices — is barely mentioned.” The interview raises challenging questions about how useful Rawls’ ideal social contract is for dealing with real-world injustice, especially racial injustice.
Are you a moral lark or a moral owl?
Does morality depend on the time of the day? Are you more likely to cheat in the morning or in the afternoon? Jalees Rehman reviews interesting questions about “how the external time of the day (the time according to the sun and our social environment) and the internal time (the time according to our internal circadian clock) affect moral decision-making.”
The Socrates we don’t know
Adam Kirsch uses Plato, Xenophon, and Aristophanes to “to triangulate the greatest man of antiquity — Socrates himself” … and also to reflect on how much we can know at all.
Empathy … for and against
Paul Bloom claims that “if you want to be good and do good, empathy is a poor guide.” Some agree, some disagree, and that leads to a very interesting exchange of ideas on empathy.
John Rawls: a failproof model for figuring out what is unfair
Good overview of John Rawls’ methods and philosophy. “Many of us feel that our societies are a little – or even plain totally – ‘unfair’. But we have a hard time explaining our sense of injustice to the powers that be in a way that sounds rational and without personal pique or bitterness. That’s why we need John Rawls (1921-2002), a twentieth-century American philosopher who provides us with a failproof model for identifying what truly might be unfair – and how we might gather support for fixing things.”
Know thy selfie
Philosopher Simon Blackburn thinks Narcissus would be busy on Instagram. “Can we have a virtuous sense of worth without the vanity of self-love?”
Language and moral judgment
Moral judgments depend on whether we are speaking a foreign language. “… when people are presented with the trolley problem in a foreign language, they are more willing to sacrifice one person to save five than when they are presented with the dilemma in their native tongue.”
The recurring myth about Nietzsche and fascism
Brian Leiter explains that when student members of the Union Council at University College London banned the Nietzsche Club, their “action betray[ed] profound misunderstandings of both Nietzsche and of universities.”
Is consistency a hobgoblin of moral reasoning?
Do our moral beliefs need to be consistent? Why should we care about logical consistency in our moral beliefs? Maybe it’s a bit obsessive to focus on asking whether your moral beliefs could be universal law.