Ben Bernanke is a Rawlsian!

Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke

Well, maybe.In a speech at the Baccalaureate Ceremony at Princeton University on Sunday, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke was channelling some heavy luck egalitarianism along with some New Testament.He gives ten suggestions to the graduates. In particularly, number three stands out as particularly Rawlsian:The concept of success leads me to consider so-called meritocracies and their implications. We have been taught that meritocratic institutions and societies are fair. … [Read more...]

The Holocaust and Losing Faith in Christianity. #rawlsreligion

I started writing a while back about John Rawls and his journey away from a rather orthodox Protestant faith. Rawls mentions three incidents which he viewed as playing a significant role in this change. All are connected to World War II, with the first two dealing with specific experience Rawls had while fighting in the Pacific. I wrote about them here.The third incident is a much larger event. It is the Holocaust.Rawls recounts finding out about the Holocaust in the following way: It … [Read more...]

Kant on Duty, Inclination, and Loving Our Enemies.

Immanuel Kant

Along with my dissertation, I have been pondering and working on a project about the idea of loving our enemies.Earlier, I shared a variety of English translations of the fifth chapter of Matthew verses 43-48. The philosopher Immanuel Kant references these verses, specifically the instruction to love our neighbors and enemies, in his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.I was introduced to Kant in school. Much of my exposure to Kantian ideas came from reading John Rawls and Jurgen … [Read more...]

A Moral Critique of Guns and Gun Culture

I am working on a theological case against guns. Not so much for gun control, but against guns. My thinking keeps coming back to a recent appearance by Jeff McMahan on the podcast Philosophy Bites.You can listen to the podcast here. Philosophy Bites can also be found on iTunes.Take a listen. I would love to hear your thoughts.McMahan makes a similar argument in more detail in the New York Times.Gun advocates and criminals are allies in demanding that guns remain in private hands. They … [Read more...]

More or Less: Some Insights from Aristotle

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Jeff Shinabarger's More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity reminded me of two philosophers, Aristotle and Peter Singer and how they addressed the idea of generosity. Today, I want to focus on Aristotle.AristotleAristotle directly addresses the idea of generosity in his Ethics. Generosity is a virtue for Aristotle and as such it is the middle point between a deficiency and an excess. Both the deficiency and the excess, in this case, are vices.The key to generosity for … [Read more...]

Thomas Pogge on Studying Under John Rawls

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John Rawls is my hero, but I never met him. So, I love hearing personal experiences like that of Thomas Pogge. And to think...I have been accused of hero worship. :)Source: The Carnegie Council's Ethics Matters Series.I tend to side more with Pogge on the idea of global justice than I do Rawls. However, as Pogge mentions, many ideas about global justice, including the amazing work of Pogge himself, have been directly influenced by the Rawlsian concept of justice.  … [Read more...]

Israel, Mourning, and Longing for Justice

Martha Nussbaum in 1992 © Steve Pyke

Today, Boston Review shared a talk delivered by the philosopher Martha Nussbaum in 2008 when she became a bat mitzvah. The full talk, titled "The Mourner’s Hope: Grief and the foundations of justice" can be found hereNussbaums talk very much resonated with me, particularly given some of the questions I had raised yesterday. We appear, then, to be moving in two very different worlds: the inner world of the longing heart, of suffering that needs the consolation of an embrace; and the world of … [Read more...]


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