Category Archives: morality

Pinker’s latest TED talk: Is the world getting better?

In case you don’t have the moxie to read Steve Pinker’s two latest books—The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now—you can see a summary of both in Steve’s new 18.5-minute TED talk. Posted three days ago, it concisely summarizes his theses that the world is getting better in almost every measurable way, that […]

Does religion promote morality?

Today’s New York Times op-ed features a piece with a provocative title (click on screenshot to read the article): The author, Mustafa Akyol, is described as “a contributing opinion writer. . . the author of “The Islamic Jesus” and a visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College.” Unfortunately, while Akyol properly calls out Turkey’s […]

Is religion good even if it’s not true?: A deceptive piece in the Daily Beast

Reader Saul called my attention to a Daily Beast article called “Can you be good without God?” (subtitle: “New research raises questions about whether people can be truly good or truly bad without religion”) by Brandon Withrow, who teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay. I call the article “deceptive” in the sense that both the […]

Now I am become Professor Death, the destroyer of infants

You should be able to recognize the source of my title; if not, go here. At any rate, the emission of outrage about my discussion of considering euthanasia for suffering and hopelessly ill or doomed infants continues, and one thing that marks that outrage is a complete failure to understand my point. (By the way, although […]

More outrage from the Right and the religious about infant euthanasia

UPDATE: Reader Pyers called my attention to a thoughtful piece by Melanie Phillips that analyzes the Gard case. She argues that the parents’ hopes may have been kept alive by the vociferous, bullying, and life-at-all-costs American Right: But here’s the really wicked thing about all this. The parents were reinforced in their refusal to accept […]

A neurosurgeon on medicine, euthanasia, and God

I’m off to my GP as I injured my shoulder, most likely acquiring bursitis, and will probably get a cortisone shot, which a friend just informed me “really hurts!” Now what was the point of telling me that? It adds no value to my day except a soupçon of fear (I’m not afraid of needles, […]

What are your moral foundations? Take the test!

If you go to this site, you can take what I’m told is Jon Haidt’s “Moral Foundations” test: a series of 36 questions telling you how people behaved in “moral dilemma” situations and then asking you to decide whether that behavior was good or bad (there are three degrees of goodness and of badness). Some […]

Should one be allowed to euthanize severely deformed or doomed newborns?

The question of whether one should be able to euthanize newborns who have horrible conditions or deformities, or are doomed to a life that cannot by any reasonable light afford happiness, has sparked heated debate.  Philosopher Peter Singer has argued that euthanasia is the merciful action in such cases, and I agree with him. If […]

Philosophy gone badly wrong

Matthew found this tw**t showing how a little kid solves the famous philosophical Trolley Problem (you should all know what it is). The boy starts off well, but then goes off the rails, so to speak. He needs a lesson from Rebecca Goldstein (see my post later today): What happens when you give a 2 […]

Shermer refutes Prager’s view that you can’t be moral without religion

A while back I put up conservative Dennis Prager’s video (here) claiming that you couldn’t have a justified morality without religion.  And then I briefly refuted that claim, which wasn’t hard because it rested largely on the Divine Command Theory: good and bad are absolutely determined by God’s dictates. The Euthyprho argument, one of the great contributions of […]