Forward Thinking: What Are Our Ethical Responsibilities When Shocking Public Violence Occurs?


Yesterday in America we experienced yet another shocking indiscriminate attack on innocent people in a public place. These tend to have a distinctly traumatizing effect on the national consciousness. There are many reasons why. There are many instinctual reactions people have to such events. These are socially, politically, and morally precarious times, as people are terrorized and rumors are intermixed with information and fears and ideological confirmation biases in potentially dangerous ways. So here is my question: What are the ethical responsibilities, priorities, principles, and values that should be foremost in our mind when we interact with others immediately following upon violent attacks? What do we owe each other as fellow humans, as citizens, as teachers, as parents, as social media participants, as members of the media, as political partisans, as activists, as institutions, or in any other roles?

Send me your views on these or related questions, bloggers. Some of my own thoughts on this topic are in my posts On Criticizing Religious Statements in the Wake of Tragedy and A Sickening Act of Violence Has Struck Us Today.

The “Forward Thinking” is going to run every first and third Monday on both Camels With Hammers and Love, Joy, Feminism so, since April is a five Monday month, there will be three weeks before the next “Forward Thinking” posts instead of the two week period we have had all year so far. So, you have until May 5 to send me your blog posts. If you get them to me by then, I will post an excerpt and your link in my May 6 “Forward Thinking” post. In the meantime, also read Libby Anne’s round up of bloggers’ ideas about what the purpose of marriage is.

Your Thoughts?

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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