Is Oxytocin The "Morality Molecule"

That is Paul Zak’s theory. The video is fascinating: Now I just need to find 8 people to hug me everyday. (via Philosopher’s Haze, who you can read for a summary if you cannot watch the video for some reason). Patricia Churchland’s book Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality explores the role of Oxycotin in morality [Read More...]

Qualia Soup on Morality Part 3: Of Objectivity and Oughts

Qualia Soup makes the case for a J.L. Mackie sort of subjectivism in ethics against William Lane Craig. I think more can be said for objectivity than he allows. As I summarized last week, in my own objections to Craig’s positions: I, for one, am convinced atheists can have a perfectly fine naturalistic ontology of objective goodness, which allows us [Read More...]

Force and Reason

In previous posts (like Rational Passional Persuasion and On Zealously, Tentatively, and Perspectivally Holding Viewpoints) I have argued that there is a proper place for emotional appeals as part of a rational argument. In the last couple of weeks, though, I have also argued firmly against certain kinds of emotional appeals that I consider abusive, counter-productive, and hypocritical [Read More...]

From Is To Ought: How Normativity Fits Into Naturalism

In a previous post, I laid out a number of reasons that people think values cannot be grounded in naturalistic ways or that if they were they would be values which would threaten vulnerable groups. In this post, I want to address the charge of the naturalistic fallacy: i.e., the claim that you cannot derive [Read More...]

Fighting The Dictionary

Ophelia wrote an insightful, controversial paragraph: Churches don’t do education. Religion doesn’t do education. Churches and religion do religion, which is different from education. Education is what schools do. It is fundamentally secular – it is about the world, and exploring and learning about the world. Like newspapers, like forensics, like medicine, like so many human institutions, [Read More...]

Nietzsche: We Cannot "Selflessly" Investigate Morality

Nietzsche writes a lot of things which attack the ideal of selflessness. Yet he does not make any blanket call for an ideal of unmitigated, small-minded selfishness. He calls for certain kinds of self-concern and in some cases certain kinds of self-denial in the pursuit of higher purposes or higher ideals of self-cultivation. Rather than [Read More...]

Homosexuality As Naturally Good Part 1: Laying Out Objections To Ethical Naturalism, Some On Behalf Of Gays

I intend to lay out the case for the ethical goodness of homosexuality for homosexual people in a way that is consistent with my funadmentally naturalistic ethical theory. Many philosophers, natural scientists, social scientists, and laypeople alike are averse about trying to base ethical judgments on appeals to nature. And there are a number of [Read More...]

Nietzsche: "'Good' Is No Longer Good When One's Neighbor Mouths It"

I argued yesterday that Nietzsche believes that there are objective standards of value for assessing divergent moralities. In reply, Juno (of the blog Letters from Le Vrai) asks what I would make of Section 43 of Beyond Good and Evil which reads, in full, as follows: Are these coming philosophers new friends of “truth”? That is probable enough, for [Read More...]

Nietzsche: Moral Absolutism and Moral Relativism Are "Equally Childish"

Recently Joel Marks, a career moral philosopher, concluded that the moral certitude he has felt and argued for his entire career was built as much on faith as many theists’ belief in God is. And in response he swung radically in the opposite direction and came to believe that there can be no rational objectivity [Read More...]

The Moral Toll of Executions on the Consciences of Executioners

Allen Ault is the retired director of the Georgia Department of Corrections and former warden of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison which handled Troy Davis. Ault oversaw executions for the state of Georgia. He is now Eastern Kentucky University’s dean of “College of Justice and Society” and well-informed from an academic perspective about the [Read More...]