Our Inconsistent Ethical Instincts
We like to believe that the principled side of the equation is rooted in deep, reasoned conviction. But a growing wealth of research shows that those values often prove to be finicky, inconsistent intuitions, swayed by ethically irrelevant factors. What you say now you might disagree with in five minutes. And such wavering has implications for both public policy and our personal lives. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jun 18, 2013 -
The Delights Of Disgust
I confess I am disgusted by a great many things about people (and about myself, but let's put that aside). I do not believe it is particularly urgent for me to overcome my disgust, even if I recognize that this emotion must remain entirely separate from my thinking about which laws would be most just. I am disgusted by other people's dandruff, facial moles, food stuck in their beards, yet I do not accept that in feeling this way I am judging those people to be subhuman. I take it rather that humanity, while endearing, is also capable of appearing disgusting. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Jan 16, 2013 -
During the Golden Age of Hollywood and until 1967, mainstream movie studios were banned by the Production Code
from depicting taboo topics like drug addiction, explicit murder and venereal disease, or even showing explicit nudity. But in the 1930's and 1940's, films marketed as "educational" could and did fly under the radar, and three of the best known 'educational' propaganda exploitation films are: Sex Madness
(1935), Reefer Madness
(1936) and The Cocaine Fiends
(1938). [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 15, 2012 -
"Assassination and targeted killings have always been in the repertoires of military planners, but never in the history of warfare have they been so cheap and easy. The relatively low number of troop casualties for a military that has turned to drones means that there is relatively little domestic blowback against these wars. The United States and its allies have created the material conditions whereby these wars can carry on indefinitely. The non-combatant casualty rates in populations that are attacked by drones are slow and steady, but they add up. That the casualty rates are relatively low by historical standards — this is no Dresden — is undoubtedly a good thing, but it may allow the international media to overlook pesky little facts like the slow accretion of foreign casualties." -NYT Opinionator: The Moral Hazard of Drones
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Jul 23, 2012 -
A Swarthmore College student-reporter's questioning of whether it is moral to go into banking
sparks NYT columnist Nick Kristof to not only assert the affirmative, but to argue (in part) that in fact more well-educated, liberally-mined people should go into "conservative" industries like banking in order to reform it from the inside.
In effect, Kristof suggests, socialist-leaning, educationally-empowered students should hunker down, swallow their disdain, and apply their ideals to change finance. Said student responds (in Slate): elite, ostensibly liberal-leaning students don't seem to be particularly discouraged from capitalism or going into banking in this climate, and probably never have been.
posted by Keter
on Jan 24, 2012 -
Art. 6(2)(c) of Directive 98/44/EC
, passed by the EU Parliament and Council back in 1998, ruled that, among other things, "uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial
purposes" were to be considered unpatentable because of their being contrary to "ordre public" or morality. After German researcher Prof. Dr. Oliver Bruestle
was granted a patent
concerning a method for creating nerve precursor cells on the basis of embryonic stem cells, Greenpeace Germany
(in German) filed a lawsuit for annulment of the patent. The German Federal Court of Justice then referred to the European Court of Justice the question of whether embryonic stem cell therapy constitutes such a use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes, under Directive 98/44/EC. [more inside]
posted by Skeptic
on May 1, 2011 -
The New Science of Morality
: An Edge
seminar featuring talks (with full
video, audio and text transcripts) by Paul Bloom, Roy Baumeister, Joshua Greene, Jonathan Haidt, Sam Harris, Marc Hauser, Josua Knobe, Elizabeth Phelps, and David Pizarro.
posted by AceRock
on Jul 26, 2010 -
"A growing body of evidence suggests that humans have a rudimentary moral sense
from the very start of life... Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone... [But] the sense of right and wrong that [babies] naturally possess diverges in important ways from what we adults would want it to be."
posted by AceRock
on May 10, 2010 -
Sam Harris's talk on morality
at TED has sparked a debate on whether science can have anything to say about moral problems. Harris, a prominent author and outspoken atheist, makes the politically incorrect assertion that there are right and wrong answers to questions of morality (as opposed to the concept of moral relativism), and that the methods of science can be used to determine them. [more inside]
posted by knave
on Mar 29, 2010 -
"Although the word “entitlement” fits, it’s been used so frequently as to have become inadequate to capture the preening self-regard, the obliviousness to the damage that high-flying finance has inflicted on the real economy, the learned blindness to vital considerations in the pay equation. Getting an education, or even hard work, does not guarantee outcomes. One of the basic precepts of finance is that of a risk-return tradeoff: high potential payoff investments come with greater downside.
But how did that evolve into the current belief system among the incumbents, that Wall Street was a sure ride, a guaranteed “heads I win, tails you lose” bet?"
Yves Smith writes an essay
on 'indefensible men.'
posted by ennui.bz
on Mar 19, 2010 -
"The more we understand why we demonise certain scientific advances, the better we will be able to decide whether some areas of research are so sensitive they should always remain off limits to science." Is Science Out of Control?
posted by tybeet
on Jan 10, 2009 -
What Makes Us Moral
and The Morality Quiz
. It's war time, and you're hiding in a basement with a group of other people. Enemy soldiers are approaching outside and will be drawn to any sound. If you're found, you'll all be killed immediately. A baby hiding with you starts to cry loudly and cannot be stopped. Smothering it to death is the only way to silence it, saving the lives of everyone in the room. Assume that the parents of the baby are unknown and not present and there will be no penalty for killing the child. Could you be the one who smothered it if no one else would?
posted by amyms
on Nov 25, 2007 -