A Video Of Me Rambling About Nietzsche

This is from 2007 and I just found that it pops right up when one Googles me. It’s hard for me to watch because it involves watching me. But I figured it might be of interest to others. Forgive the extemporaneousness of it all and enjoy some of the more hilarious hand gestures. (My favorite [Read More...]

The Separability Of Metaethics From Questions Of Theism

Earlier today, I argued that atheists cannot duck metaethics challenges from theists (or anyone else) and that we should not respond to such challenges with the knee jerk response that we are being bigotedly assumed to be incapable of moral behavior.  I wrote: it is not mere prejudice for theists to demand atheists give an [Read More...]

James Fallon: Confessions of a Pro-Social Psychopath

Thanks to Dunc, here is a fascinating video of James Fallon, at the World Science Festival: Below the fold is more on the history of the development of the science of psychopathy, including a long segment on Fallon himself, from a much darker toned documentary on the BBC. In the second video below, Fallon explains [Read More...]

Being Personally Moral Is Not Enough, Atheists Need A Coherent Metaethics

Atheists can be as moral as anyone else.  When theists imply that atheism by itself entails that people will either likely or necessarily be less moral, they trade in oblivious, self-satisfied, prejudicial thinking which besmirches atheists unfairly. But it is not mere prejudice for theists to demand atheists give an account of their metaethical positions. [Read More...]

Moral Luck, Sarah Palin, And The “Targeting” Of Gabrielle Giffords

Contrary to first impressions, it does not seem at this point that Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and nineteen other people was directly inspired by the Tea Party movement or by Sarah Palin. What has dribbled out so far about Loughner’s ideas seems closest to anarchism in ideology and there are amateur diagnoses [Read More...]

TOP Q (7): When, If Ever, Are Intellectual Mistakes Morally Culpable?

Can we morally blame people for failing to pursue the truth well enough or for employing irrational methods of belief formation?  Is belief something not in our volitional control at all?  Is it an entirely passive thing to “just believe” something?  Or even if we have some volitional control over what we believe, does it [Read More...]

On Defending True Spirituality And Taking The Word Back From Spiritually Bankrupt Fundamentalism

So Chris Mooney’s article in Playboy about the spirituality of scientists has sparked some interesting debate in the atheist blogosphere. His new post on the subject explicitly interprets his aims and themes in the piece as essentially saying what I interpreted them to be—to defend the idea that you can have completely sufficient spirituality without [Read More...]

TOP Q (6): Why Should Pleasure And Pain Matter Morally?

I have already begun to explain my own view of the nature and limits of the ethical value of pleasure and pain (and I’d pleased if you considered my views there and, admittedly, a bit pained if you do not bother to!)  But I would like to throw this out as today’s open philosophical question: [Read More...]

3rd TOP Q: Can Virtues Conflict Or Must Every Truly Virtuous Action Be Approvable According To Every Other Virtue As Well?

Would you ever call a terrorist brave?  Were there brave Nazis?  Does fighting using unjust tactics or fighting for an unjust cause make one’s own willingness to face mortal threats less brave or can one have the virtue of bravery even though one resorts to evil techniques or serves evil purposes? Assuming the soldier or [Read More...]


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