Category Archives: mortality

Dan Dennett: misguided about free will, accurate about Templeton

I was originally going to write in the title that philosopher Dan Dennett was “wrong” about free will, but whether or not humans have “free will” seems to be a matter not of right or wrong, but of semantics—how we define the term. “Compatibilists” like Dennett, who see free will as perfectly consonant with a world in […]

Daniel Fincke: morality is objective

Several of the talks at the Pittsburgh Atheist/Humanist meetings were excellent, and I hope to have time later to discuss one or two more. But first I want to say a few things about Daniel Fincke’s talk, titled “Empowerment Ethics.”  Daniel (I don’t know if he goes by “Dan”), as you may know, is a […]

The moral obligation to drink coffee?

I have to confess that I sometimes read HuffPo, but just for the articles—not the pictures! Seriously, folks, I do peruse two sections, “Food” (a perennial topic of interest to me) and “Travel” (ditto). And in the food section I found this weird headline and the article below it:  What? Science tells us we have a moral […]

The good and bad of humanity

It is a truism of both religion and biology that humans are simultaneously selfish and altruistic.  The faithful say the selfishness comes from original sin and the goodness from God, while the biologist imputes our selfishness to evolution (for how better can you ensure propagation of your genes than by taking care of yourself and […]

When did morality and moral responsibility begin?

Readers here will know that, being a determinist, I’d prefer to dispense with the term “moral responsibility,” replacing it with the simply idea of “responsibility.” That’s because I don’t think we have dualistic free will that would allow us to decide between doing “right” and “wrong”. If that’s the case, then why add the adjective […]

Robin Ince on why we don’t need religion

On his eponymous website, Robin Ince—comedian, writer, and co-host of the popular “The Infinite Monkey Cage”—has a nice piece on “Do we need religion to be a decent society“?  He’s an atheist, so of course the answer is “no!”.  The post is actually Ince’s notes for a debate he had two days ago: On Saturday, […]

Jesus ‘n’ Mo(rality)

I and others have spent hundreds of words trying to say what this cartoon conveys in just four panels.  Today’s Jesus and Mo is, by the artist’s admission, inspired by the recent and fatuous lucubrations of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: h/t: Ant

Baggini vs. Krauss on science, philosophy, and morality

Several readers sent me a link to yesterday’s Guardian dialogue between philosopher Julian Baggini and physicist Lawrence Krauss, “Philosophy v. science: Which can answer the big questions of life?” You should read it. Baggini has previously taken strong stands against “scientism” (which he defines in this piece as the insistence “that, if a question isn’t […]

Illegal ivory sold in New York

The New York Times reported yesterday on the arrest of two New York jewelry dealers for selling illegally poached ivory. The illegal goods weighed more than a ton—equivalent to 100 dead elephants. The case, brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, reflects an unsettling trend. Last year, some 24 tons of ivory was seized around […]

Anniversary: landmark legislation for women’s rights

Today (June 23) marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the U. S. Congress’s “Education Amendments of 1972″, which was signed into law by Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972. In 37 brief words, Congress eliminated discrimination against women in educational institutions. Section 1681. Sex (a) Prohibition against discrimination; exceptions. No person in the United States shall, […]


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